June 2011 | Issue 10 | print friendly version | send to a friend

The Safe Haven updates you every month on safety issues confronting communities, including child abuse, cyberbullying, financial elder abuse, and more. Through awareness and education, we can work together to help the vulnerable—kids, tweens, teens, and elders—stay safe.


Tip Saves Kids from Exploding Meth Lab

A neighbor’s tip prompted Ohio social workers to take 3 young children into foster care within hours before a methamphetamine lab at the children’s home exploded. The neighbor had reported suspicions of child neglect, a house in poor condition, and drug abuse by the children’s mother. Social workers who visited the home found the 29-year-old mother “erratic, emotional, crying one moment and laughing the next,” as well as materials used to manufacture meth. After obtaining proper legal authority, the social workers returned to the home, located the kids at another neighbor’s house, and took them into protective custody. About one and one-half hours later, the house the children had lived in caught fire following a meth lab explosion on the second floor.

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Gallery’s Photos Inspire 5,000 Adoptions

It started 10 years ago when Diane Granito, newly hired to promote adoptions of New Mexico’s foster kids, realized that their photos were “uniformly bad.” To “help capture the beauty and spirit” of these children, Granito tapped the state’s photographer-talent-pool to take new photos, then formed the Heart Gallery to exhibit them. The gallery was an opening-night smash. Today, Heart Gallery is a national organization, directly inspiring more than 5,000 adoptions. One of the photographers, who adopted the 10-year girl she was assigned to photograph, testified to the power of these portraits: "On the way back home from the shoot, I called Diane and said, 'I think I'm in trouble, I really fell for this girl'… I certainly wasn't looking for it or planning on it… It's like falling in love. You don't expect it — it just blindsides you."

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- Tip Saves Kids from Exploding Meth Lab
- Gallery’s Photos Inspire 5000 Adoptions
- Pet Abuse Predicts Child Abuse


- A Prom Story

- Summer Safety


- Party Crashers
- Facebook Technology Targets Child Porn


- Fine Line Between Caring and Killing

- Crime of the Century Not Solved

- Energizing Seniors


- “Mother May I?” Not Required
- Legislative Updates

quiz corner Know the numbers on caregivers in the US
  • 58 percent of all known child abuse web domains are housed in the United States.
  • 40 percent of arrested child pornography possessors had also sexually victimized children.
  • 39 percent of child porn images depict children between ages 3 and 5.

To read more facts on child porn, visit the Enough is Enough website:

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Pet Abuse Predicts Child Abuse

Maltreatment of pets is a bellwether of abuse in the home, according to statistical data, says John Spieser in a recent article. Just as apparently abrupt and spontaneous natural disasters — such as the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 — result from preceding seismological chains of events, domestic violence can often be traced to prior incidents of abuse, particularly with pets. These incidents include abusers threatening or killing a pet to gain psychological leverage, as well as children in dysfunctional families taking out their frustrations on animals. “The equation seems to be: families + pets in trouble = people in trouble,” says Spieser. “Ironically,” he continues, “the same formula that provides us a chance for salvation in the throes of a natural disaster is what can save us from a domestic one.”

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A Prom Story

At a time when stories of bullying regularly flood the blogosphere, it's a breath of fresh air to stumble upon one about kindness and friendship. Maisie Garouette, a 19 -year-old high school senior with Down's Syndrome, was crowned prom queen after even the other contenders campaigned for her. Her teacher describes Maisie as "the sweetest person" who volunteers at the school delivering mail, rolling the teacher's cutlery, and high-fiving students as the morning greeter. Many of Maisie's classmates have known her since she was 5 years old and, her father says, "The other girls gave up [their] chance to be prom queen to let my Maisie get the crown — and that's tough for an 18-year-old girl to do." Maisie was overjoyed at winning the crown and wore it to school for the next two days.

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Summer Safety

For better or for worse, summer jobs are part of the teenage experience. But as with any workplace, sexual harassment is a big problem for teens, especially girls. Teens are a prime target for harassers as they tend to target those with the least experience and the least power. According to a study cited in the PBS program "Is Your Daughter Safe at Work," 200,000 girls are assaulted in the workplace every year. A 2005 study showed that nearly half of teenage girls surveyed had been harassed at their jobs. The EEOC recently announced that it had settled a case against a Dunkin' Donuts franchise, in which "a manager had repeatedly touched, hugged, and made lewd comments to female teenage employees." In order to combat the problem, the EEOC has set up its Youth at Work website which gives teens information about their rights and responsibilities to remain harassment-free at work.

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Party Crashers

More than 1,500 guests showed up to a teenage girl's birthday party in Germany after she forgot to set the invitation to "private" on Facebook. The invitation went viral and some 15,000 people confirmed their plans to attend. When the girl's parents found out, they made her cancel the party, informed police and hired security for the night. The birthday girl went into hiding when it was clear that the crashers were determined to celebrate. One hundred police cordoned off the house and, according to a police spokesman, "eleven people were temporarily detained, one police officer was injured, dozens of girls wearing flip-flops cut their feet on broken glass and firefighters had to extinguish two small fires. Nonetheless," he said, "the party was a hit."

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Facebook Technology Targets Child Porn

Facebook is using new image-matching technology PhotoDNA to scan uploaded pictures for evidence of sexual exploitation of children. The technology was developed by Microsoft and Dartmouth College in 2009 and relied on a database of images from the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. PhotoDNA is both efficient and accurate, having not falsely identified a single image in the two billion images scanned during tests. “The technology will allow us to block their upload, prevent their distribution and the re-victimisation of the children who are depicted in those images, and also allow us to refer and report those incidences to law enforcement so they can take immediate action,” said Facebook assistant general counsel. A beta test has already led to arrests in New Zealand.

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Fine Line Between Caring and Killing

“Concha” Lopez died at age 91. She weighed 35 pounds, suffered from dementia and was covered in bed sores. After watching her three sisters die in medical facilities, Concha refused care from visiting nurses and refused to go to the doctor. Her 26-yearold great-niece, Stephanie Hernandez, who cared for Concha the last three years of her life, was charged with murder and elder abuse. Stephanie spent 14 months in jail and lost custody of her 4-year-old daughter, but ultimately a jury found her not guilty on all charges after a five-week trial. According to Dr. Brad Stuart, chief medical officer for Sutter Care at Home and a researcher in the management of advanced illness, “this is not going to be an unusual case in a few years.”

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Crime Of The Century Not Solved

A new study is out and it’s not good news for the growing “oldest old” (80-89) population. It reports a 12% increase in financial exploitation of older Americans, from $2.6 billion in 2008, to $2.9 billion (with a “B”) in 2010. Men, ages 30-59, represented nearly 60% of the perpetrators. The largest number of cases were committed by family, friends and neighbors during the holidays. And the highest average dollar loss per victim was caused by business perpetrators. Despite these numbers, the MetLife Study says “Elder financial abuse … remains under-reported, under-recognized, and under-prosecuted.”

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Energizing Seniors

Living Essentials makes energy shots — pocket-sized bottles of drinks packed with caffeine — and is targeting the growing over- 60 population for the company’s next sales jolt. Full-page ads appear in the AARP Bulletin and thousands of samples of 5-hour ENERGY® shots were distributed at the annual AARP convention. "It was amazing to see the number of people who took it right there and then," says CEO Manoj Bhargava, who staffed the booth. A recent ConsumerLab.com review found a 5-hour shot contains 207 milligrams of caffeine, compared to a tall-sized Starbucks coffee which has about 260 milligrams. The founder of the International Council on Active Aging points out that diet and exercise, not some magic elixir with a big caffeine rush, is the key to having more energy.

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legal lookout

“Mother, May I?” Not Required

Acting on a tip, a child protective services worker and a deputy sheriff questioned a 9-year-old girl at school who told them that she had been sexually abused by her father. Later, her mother sued the caseworker and police officer for violating her daughter’s constitutional rights by failing to obtain a warrant or her parent’s consent before conducting the interview. Last month, nearly ten years after the interview occurred, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a warrant or a parent’s permission is not required to interview a child about possible abuse or neglect. Camreta v. Greene (US SCt No. 09-1454, 05/26/2011)

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Legislative Updates

Maryland recently became to last state in the nation to criminalize child neglect, with the signing of a bill by the governor late last month. Under the new law, a parent or guardian who intentionally fails to provide a child with necessary nourishment or a clean, safe place to live will be guilty of a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

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Oklahoma's governor signed into law a measure requiring criminal background checks on all adults living in a home before a foster child in state custody can be reunited with a parent or guardian.

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Maine became the 33rd state to pass a bill banning texting while driving. It sets minimum fines at $100 and follows a distracted-driving law that was enacted two years ago. Nearly 5,500 people in the U.S. were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2009.

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Adult Courses

Recognize & Report Child Abuse

Recognize & Report Mistreatment of Vulnerable Adults

Recognize & Report Elder Financial Abuse

Volunteer Diversity: Skills for Collaboration

Inquiry v. Investigation

Eliminating Bullying


Cyberspace: Risks and Solutions

Detecting Predators

Sexual Exploitation of Adults

Pastoral Services - Visiting Vulnerable Adults

Adult Member Comments

“I have a degree in social work and have worked within the social services field, mainly in domestic violence cases, for about 15 years. I have always wondered about the training provided to coaches and I am walking away knowing that they are offered an appropriate training when it comes to working with kids.”

"I liked taking the class on line rather than going to a workshop. The on line course used concrete examples, facts were straight forward and it kept my attention more than listening to someone speak. It was a good course."

“I was surprised at the level of intelligence, clarity and sensitivity of this training. The quiz sections were very helpful in the training.”

"I have been through several trainings on this subject from previous schools and jobs. This one was the best. To the point, lots of good info."

Student Courses

Teen Safety Overview

Bullying, Not Cool

Be Safe, Stay Safe

Block the Bully

Cyber Safety

Dating Abuse

Safety Smarts for Kids

Student Member Comments

“I thought it was a great video and I learned a lot from it!”

"I think that this taught me a lot of things about bullying! It helped me SO much!"

“This was a good course for people who are or will get bullied. Good job!”

"Was good to see the real life examples"

"I really enjoyed doing this course because of the real-world example"

A Shared Responsibility

Shield the Vulnerable is dedicated to raising awareness of abuse and neglect, and providing training and resources to help protect the most vulnerable members of our communities.