Safe Haven Newsletter
Fall 2012 | Issue 14 | print friendly version | send to a friend

The Safe Haven updates you quarterly 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.


Is Pedophilia a Disease?

New research by neuro-scientist James Cantor indicates that pedophiles' brains have "crossed wiring" which makes their impulses — but not their behavior — impossible to change.  And Fred Berlin of Johns Hopkins University has been successfully changing the behavior of sex offenders referred to him through the criminal justice system for much of his long career.

However, few "minor-attracted persons" (MAP) — another term for pedophiles who have never molested a child — voluntarily enter therapy to learn how to control their behavior. Berlin, who considers pedophilia a public health issue similar to alcoholism, partially blames a therapeutic community "still in the pre-Betty Ford era" when it comes to recognizing pedophilia as a disease.

Judith Reisman of Liberty University claims pedophilia is not some fluke of nature, but the product of an evil culture "breeding a nation of pedophiles." Rather than therapy, she suggests total isolation for MAPs, "like people who cannot go outside because they're allergic to everywhere outside their home."

Less draconian approaches focus on prevention, peer support, and amending mandatory reporting laws to offer safe havens for seeking treatment without fear of being stigmatized - or worse, turned in - by less-than-empathetic therapists for the "thought crime" of feeling unacceptable impulses.

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In the Name of Scouting

Local police and community leaders helped protect the good name of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) by hushing-up allegations of child sex abuse for decades, according to over 1,200 so-called "perversion files" made public under court order. Even when the police were notified, justice often faltered or failed.

For example, in one case, a Scout master who confessed to molesting three boys and raping one of them was never prosecuted to "save the name of Scouting." In another case, two of three judges who sentenced a child predator in the ranks were members of the Scout's Executive Board, and kept the name of the Scouts from being mentioned as part of the case.

Although the "perversion files" were apparently meant as a blacklist to keep predators out of the ranks, Dr. Jennifer Warren, a psychiatrist BSA paid to review the files, acknowledged that they also reveal a complicity that was "a natural desire . . . to be somewhat protective over (the BSA)."

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No License For Sex

Parents of preteen girls have one less thing to worry about: the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine does not encourage promiscuity in young girls. According to the study funded by Kaiser Permanente and Emory University, teenage girls who received the vaccine did not appear to have significantly different sexual behavior than their non-vaccinated peers.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all 11- to 12-year-old girls receive the HPV vaccine in order to build immunity before sexual activity begins. Of the 1,398 medical records studied, around 900 girls received other recommended adolescent vaccines, but only about 500 girls received the HPV vaccine.

CDC surveys also show that the number of sexually active 15- to 17-year-old girls is declining. Hopefully, more data will result in more HPV vaccinations.

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Useful Tool, Dangerous Trigger

The Internet can be a confusing place, especially when dealing with the aftermath of a tragic death. The suicide of bullied Canadian teen Amanda Todd has re-kindled conversations about cyberbullying and teen suicide throughout the web.

Amanda uploaded a video to YouTube in early September detailing the abuses she went through at the hands of a unidentified man who had pressured her into exposing her breasts online when she was in the 7th grade.

One year later, he tracked her down and leaked the photos to all of her Facebook friends, subjecting Amanda to relentless torment at the hands of her classmates.

The hacktivist group Anonymous took it upon itself to work with police to expose her tormentor, stating that "We generally don't like to deal with police first hand but were compelled to put our skills to good use protecting kids." The alleged harasser appeared in court on Monday on charges of sexual assault and sexual interference with a minor, unrelated to Amanda.

While Amanda made the video to send a message so it wouldn't happen to someone else, the British Columbia Education Ministry warned teachers against showing the video in classrooms for fear of triggering suicidal ideations in vulnerable students, advising that "for those who have or are being seriously bullied, Amanda's video is currently "traumatic stimuli" for them."

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"Watching" Devices on the Rise

Watching TV is on the decline, but watching TV shows on other devices is on the rise. Game consoles like PlayStation, Xbox and Wii are becoming the entertainment hub of the family home.

Nearly 36 million mobile phone owners also watch videos on their smartphones which are more prevalent in homes than digital video recorders.

"Shifts in the distribution of time spent across screens and devices demonstrate that more and more of us are taking advantage of the increased ability to determine what we watch, how we watch and where we watch," according to Nielsen's latest Cross-Platform Report on media consumption in the home.

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Granny Bail Denied

The woman who called 78-year-old Dianne Murray impersonated Murray’s 22-year-old granddaughter "perfectly." She even referenced the mole on her granddaughter's neck (scammers find personal information online to make their stories more believable to the victim).

She told Murray that she'd been arrested in Toronto, Canada, for driving intoxicated and needed thousands of dollars to get out of jail. But, when the "granddaughter" said she didn't want her parents to know, Murray told her "You're in a foreign country, you need some help with this … your parents need to know." She also thought to herself, "maybe a few hours in the holding tank isn't such a bad idea."

A man called back claiming to be the granddaughter's attorney, telling Murray, "We were told her parents wouldn't help." Murray replied, "No, they can help." So the man snapped back at her, "Well, can't you help?"

That's when Murray remembered reading about scams like this and answered, "This is beginning to sound more and more like a scam phone call, and my next call will be to the police station." The line went dead.

She reported the phone number to police who advised anyone in Murray's situation to verify all information before taking any action because scammers "prey on citizens who want to help."  Murray advises you to "do your best to remain calm and just listen, you will hear the holes in their story."

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Risky Reverse Mortgages

Many seniors who are 62 or older borrow money against the value of their homes and do not have to pay it back until they move out or die (called a "reverse mortgage"). Sounds like a great way for seniors to stay in their homes and get money for retirement, right?  Not when there are hidden risks. 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is studying those risks and talked to a number of seniors who were encouraged to make the older spouse the sole borrower on the loan, but weren't told that doing so meant larger fees for the brokers.

Even more troubling is that they weren't told that they would face foreclosure after the older spouse died. For example, one month after losing her husband, Joan Serioux-Forde, 72, received a notice that it would cost her $293,000 to avoid foreclosure on her home. She now stands guard by the window much of the day. "I have nowhere to go," she says in a wavering voice.

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legal lookout

Legislative Updates

California AB 1817

Effective January 1, 2013, the list of mandated reporters of child abuse will include commercial computer technicians; college employees and administrators; athletic coaches, administrators, and directors; and assistant coaches.

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California SB 1172

Gov. Brown signed the first law in the nation to prohibit state-licensed therapists from engaging in therapy that tries to turn gay minors straight. The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality said it plans to seek a temporary injunction before the law goes into effect on January 1st.

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A new law expands the definition of the crime of child abuse to include causing a child pain through "any means other than accident."  According to some concerned Delawareans and citizen groups, the new law makes it illegal for parents to spank their children.

But Attorney General Beau Biden (Vice President Joe Biden's son) denies that the law takes rights away from parents.  "This will not do anything to interfere with a parent's right or ability to parent as they see fit, but it also makes it clear that if you abuse a child in any way, shape, or form, we're going to have a statute that we're going to be able to use to protect kids."

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Court Decisions


On June 22, a jury found Msgr. Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's former secretary for the clergy, guilty of felony child endangerment. On July 24, the judge sentenced Lynn to three to six years in state prison because he allowed "monsters in clerical garb [to] destroy the souls of children [in] the most terrible way."

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On September 6, Kansas City Bishop Robert W. Finn was found guilty of failing to report suspected child abuse. Finn was told by a computer technician that Rev. Shawn Ratigan's laptop contained pornographic photos of young girls. Instead of reporting, Bishop Finn assigned Ratigan to live in a convent and ordered him to stay away from children. Ratigan continued to take lewd photos of girls until church officials reported him without Bishop Finn's approval. Read more»

Adult Courses

Protect Children

Detecting Predators

Protect Vulnerable Adults

Prevent Elder Financial Abuse

Don't Fall For Scams

Visiting Vulnerable Adults

Volunteer Anti-harassment & Diversity

Inquiry v. Investigation

Eliminate Bullying

Cyberspace: Risks and Solutions

Adults in Pastoral Relationships

Adult Member Comments

"I've been a cop for 23 years. I've participated in investigations that resulted in predators going to prison for essentially the rest of their lives. I've participated in investigations that resulted in the arrest of teachers and school admin staff that used the internet to build relationships with students they molested. As online training goes, you're stuff seems top notch to me." C.T.

"I am a social worker and did my graduate school thesis on child abuse. This course was done very thoroughly and clearly." P.K. "

"I have worked in the health field for 30 years, Emergency Room and Health Department. Have taken many classes on this subject, but this course was the best I have ever seen. Very well put together, lots of great scenarios." L.C.

"I am very impressed with this course. As a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE-RN) I have had extensive training in abuse of all types in pediatric patients and found this course incredible impressive and thorough. Great job!" J.S.

Student Courses

Safety Smarts for Kids (Grade 4)

Block The Bully (Grade 5)

Be Safe, Stay Safe (Grade 6)

Bullying, Not Cool (Grade 7)

Digital Citizenship (Grade 8- available January 2013)

Teen Safety (Grade 9)

Dating Abuse (Grade 10)

CyberSafety (Grade 11)

You're Legal, What Now? (Grade 12)

Student Member Comments

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

"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!"

"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.



» Is Pedophilia a Disease?
» In the Name of Scouting


» No License for Sex


» Useful Tool, Dangerous Trigger
» "Watching" Devices on the Rise


» Granny Bail Denied

» Risky Reverse Mortgages


» Legislative Updates

» Court Decisions

quiz corner Blog Know the numbers
  • Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
  • Five children die every day in the U.S. as a result of child abuse — the worst record of industrialized nations.
  • Around 80% of children who die from abuse are under the age of four.

For more facts on child abuse and its consequences, visit the Childhelp Website:

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