Winter 2012 | Issue 11 | 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.


Teen-Age Mom Duct-Tapes Toddler

High on drugs on New Year’s Eve, a young Nebraska couple apparently considered it a joke to duct-tape the teen-age mom’s two-year-old son to a wall with green duct-tape—and photograph him. The photos include one of the toddler’s hands wrapped in the tape, and another showing a sippy cup taped to the wall just out of the crying child’s reach. The mother later showed the photos to a friend, who didn’t think they were funny. Neither did the police when the friend brought them the camera with the images.

At the couple’s home, police found drugs and paraphernalia, as well as stolen weapons within the toddler’s reach. The boyfriend, a 19-year-old ex-convict, now faces up to seven years in jail on child abuse and stolen weapons charges. The toddler’s mom spent ten days in jail and is on probation for two years.

Although the child was temporarily removed from the home, the mother currently has custody pending a further investigation. She’s agreed to drug counseling and to cooperate as a witness against her boyfriend as part of a plea deal.

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Icy Crawl for Injured Kid

A six-year-old boy with a broken leg and a concussion was forced to crawl more than 200 feet over an icy playground after his teacher told him, “You’re a big boy — I can’t carry you,” according to a lawsuit filed in Illinois.

The boy’s mother says she found her son on his hands and knees when she came to pick him up, and that the school had failed to call an ambulance or provide proper medical attention for a contusion “the size of a tennis ball.” The boy allegedly broke his leg when he slipped and fell on an icy patch, then fell a second time when his teacher demanded that he try to walk back to school.

The suit, which seeks more than $200,000 in damages, claims that the boy suffered a fractured tibia and a hematoma to his head as a result of the school’s negligence.

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Deadly Defense

A Florida teen who stabbed a bully in self-defense has been acquitted of second-degree murder under the “Stand Your Ground” law, which says that a person is not obligated to retreat if attacked and may use deadly force if she feels that her life is in danger. Jorge Saavedra, 14, had several altercations with Dylan Nuno, 16. One day, some teens announced a fight between the two boys. Saavedra got off the bus several stops earlier than the spot designated for the fight. The judge interpreted this action as the boy trying to avoid the fight. Nuno got off after Saavedra and punched him in the head. Saavedra then stabbed Nuno 12 times with a pocketknife, scratching his heart and killing him. Nuno’s parents deny that their son was a bully. At least 17 states have their own “Stand Your Ground” law.

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Got Attitude?

As irritating as it can be to parent a teen who constantly talks back, there may be a hidden benefit. New research shows that teens who argue with their mothers using reasoned logic (but not pressure, insults, or whining) are better at resisting negative peer pressure. The teens who are able to stick to their values and beliefs in the face of opposition have a higher level of autonomy than those who give in. This developed sense of self carries over from home into school and peer interactions. Researchers also stress that supportive parents are important for teens so that they don’t feel overly-dependent on peer opinion.

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A Case of Mistaken Identity

In 2010, Houston police arrested a runaway Dallas teen for shoplifting. She supplied police with a fake name that turned out to match the name of an illegal immigrant from Colombia who had warrants out for her arrest. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) failed to properly confirm the girl’s identity and mistakenly deported her to Colombia where she was given a work card and released. Over the course of the year, the teen adjusted to her new life, got a job, got a boyfriend, and even got pregnant. She is currently safely back in the US after a diligent search effort by her grandmother.

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Love Stinks

Many people feel the sharp sting of romance scams after the holidays. Romance scams are perpetrated by thieves who find their victims on online forums and dating services, and cultivate long-term, long-distance romantic relationships through e-mail, instant messaging, and phone calls. They then ask for large sums of money for various reasons, including to pay for a trip to meet the victim. Romance scams are particularly devastating because of the emotional nature of the crime. Many victims do not report the crime because they are afraid of being ridiculed or shamed. Still, Western Union receives hundreds of complaints per month, from victims ranging in age from 18 to 80.

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A Less Creepy Internet

In heartening news, a study from the University of New Hampshire Crimes against Children Research Center shows that unwanted sexual solicitations as well as unwanted exposure to pornography are both declining for youths online. The percentage of youth receiving unwanted online sexual requests declined to 9 percent in 2010, from 13 percent in 2005. Youth experiencing unwanted pornography exposure declined to 23 percent, from 34 percent over the same period. Researchers say that aggressive campaigning as well as arrests and education are probably responsible for the precipitous drop of solicitation rates (down over 50% since 2000 when the problem was first identified.) Unfortunately, rates of online harassment have risen to 11 percent, from 9 percent in 2005.

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No Autopsy, No Abuse

An investigation of 2,300 coroner and medical examiner offices uncovered what is described as "a hidden national scandal"—elders dying under suspicious circumstances but, without an autopsy, never finding the correct cause of death. 

In most states, doctors who fill out death certificates don't have to examine the body. Even if they did, doctors who are not trained in forensics have trouble recognizing unusual deaths (abuse, neglect, homicide, suicide, or accident).  And, when a death certificate reports natural causes, there is almost never an autopsy.

This explains why the doctor who filled out a death certificate for 83-year-old Joseph Shepter cited natural causes despite the 16-inch bruise on his body. After Shepter's body was exhumed based on a tip from a nursing home employee, an autopsy found that he died of ailments related to poor care.

A nursing home doctor signed a death certificate, citing "failure to thrive," when she hadn’t seen William Neff during the two weeks before he died, and didn't examine his body after he died. The funeral home director contacted the county coroner because Neff's 83-year-old body was bruised and his ribs were broken. An autopsy found that the cause of Neff's death was a violent impact that broke five ribs and pierced his lung.

In 2008, autopsies were performed on just 2% of the 1.8 million seniors who died in the U.S. According to a professor of geriatrics at UC Irvine, "Coroners will say, ‘We don't have enough money to autopsy every old person who dies,’" but that is used "as an excuse not to autopsy any older person who dies."

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Elder Protection Laws

Effective January 1, 2012, California has new laws to protect against elder abuse, including:

— establishing a confidential Internet system for reporting suspected elder abuse

— preventing abusers from using senior’s assets to fund their defense

— increasing penalties for elder financial abuse

— removing the expiration date on a law that made bank employees mandatory reporters of financial elder abuse

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legal lookout

Legislative Updates


Mandatory Reporters at University of Wisconsin (UW): Reacting to the Penn State scandal, Governor Scott Walker recently signed an executive order adding UW employees to the state’s list of “mandatory reporters” required to report suspected child abuse and neglect, to include professors, administrators, coaches, and other staff members.

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Mandatory Reporters at public schools: All school employees—not just teachers, administrators, and counselors—are now mandated to report suspected child abuse to the authorities. Also, anyone who makes a good faith report of abuse to the appropriate government agency is protected from their employer’s retaliation, and threats of retaliation, including discipline, discrimination, or termination.

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Intentionally False Reports: Anyone who makes an intentionally false report of child mistreatment to try to influence child support, custody, parenting time, or visitation is now guilty of a Class A violation. Prior to this law’s enactment, only certain professionals (mandatory reporters) who failed to report child mistreatment faced charges.

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Increase in Class A Fines: Mandatory reporters who fail to report when they should, and persons making an intentionally false report of child mistreatment, now face increased fines up to $2,000 for a Class A violation.

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Mandatory reporters at abortion clinics: As of January 1, 2012, Illinois now requires medical professionals who provide abortions, abortion referrals or contraceptives to report suspected child abuse and neglect. Abortion clinics and offices must also provide child abuse training material to non-medical staff members, and instruct them to notify the facility’s medical professionals of any suspected child mistreatment.

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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.



- Teen-Age Mom Duct-Tapes Toddler
- Icy Crawl For Injured Kid


- Deadly Defense

- Got Attitude?

- A Case of Mistaken Identity


- Love Stinks
- A Less Creepy Internet


- No Autopsy, No Abuse

- Elder Protection Laws


- Legislative Updates

quiz corner Know the numbers on the effects of abuse in the US
  • 30 percent of abused and neglected children will go on to abuse their own children.
  • 60 percent of people in drug rehabilitation centers report having been abused or neglected as a child.
  • 80 percent of 21-year-olds that were abused as children met the criteria for at least one psychological disorder.

To read more facts on the effects of abuse, visit the Childhelp website:

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