Putting our children at risk

David Webb
The Rare Reporter

Child sexual abuse a concern for everyone, especially LGBT parents

Most people would probably agree there is no resource that a society cherishes more than its children. So it is hard to fathom how sexual predators manage with such apparent ease to carry out horrendous, undetected assaults on children practically under the noses of their families and others who are charged with their protection.

As horrific as the crime of child sexual abuse is, there are no firm estimates of its prevalence because it often goes undetected and is seriously underreported, according to agencies that study child abuse.

Less than 100,000 crimes of sexual abuse are reported each year because children fear telling anyone, and adults who become aware of the activity are often reluctant to contact law enforcement agencies, even though there is usually a legal requirement to do so.

With so many LGBT households now raising children, it is obviously vital that all parents be aware of the tactics used by sexual predators to seduce children without arousing the suspicion of their families, and aware of the symptoms victims of child sexual abuse exhibit.

The critical need for sustained intervention into child sexual abuse recently gained national attention following a grand jury’s indictment of retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on 40 counts of child sex abuse involving eight victims over a 15-year period. The victims reportedly came into contact with the now 67-year-old, married Sandusky in connection with the Second Mile, a children’s charity the former football coach founded.

Although Sandusky denied, this week in an NBC interview, engaging in any type of sexual activity with the pre-pubescent boys, he acknowledged showering and “horsing around” with them after exercise. He also admitted hugging young boys and putting his hand on their legs when they sat next to him.

His admissions shocked viewers and confirmed in many minds what was already suspected — Sandusky is most likely a pedophile that has taken advantage of young boys with the unwitting complicity of their families.

It is a devastating scandal that will likely rival the one that rocked the Catholic Church a decade ago when it became known that untold numbers of Catholic Church priests sexually abused young boys and violated the trust of their families.

If the charges against Sandusky are true, the accounts by the victims portray a classic pattern of enticement and betrayal practiced by the former football coach in his pursuit of the young boys. Likewise, the lack of action by those who knew about Sandusky’s alleged criminal activity parallel what often happens when the abuser commands power and respect in a community.

Much of the difficulty in combating child sexual abuse can be attributed to its relative youth in terms of public awareness about the crime. The first studies on the molestation of children began in the 1920s, and the first estimate of the prevalence of the crime was reported in 1948.

In 1974 the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect was founded, and the Child Abuse and Treatment Act was created. Since then, awareness about the problem has grown dramatically, and much more is known about deterring the crime and assisting victims of it.

Children’s advocates have identified “red flags” to help parents and others protect children from sexual predators. They warn parents to be wary of someone who wants to spend more time with their children than they do, who attempts to be alone with a child, who frequently seeks physical closeness to a child such as hugging or touching, who is overly interested in the sexuality of a child, who seems to prefer the company of children to people their own age, who lacks boundaries, who regularly offers to babysit,who often gives presents or  money to children, who frequently walks in on children in bathrooms or locker rooms, who frequents parks where children gather, who makes inappropriate comments about a child’s appearance or who likes to photograph children.

Signs of possible sexual abuse in children include a fear of people, places or activities, reluctance to undress, disturbed sleep, mood swings, excessive crying, fear of being touched, loss of appetite, a drastic change in school performance, bizarre themes in drawing, sexually acting out on other children, advanced sexual knowledge, use of new words for private body parts and a reversion to old behavior such as bedwetting or thumb sucking.

Aside from the moral responsibility to protect children and other weaker members of society that all people share, it is essential to intervene in child sexual abuse because of the long-lasting psychological damage it usually causes. The problems can include feelings of worthlessness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and distorted views of sexuality.

Also, victims of child sexual abuse tend to become sexual predators as adults, making it a crime that begets more crime.

The Sandusky scandal will undoubtedly lead to devastating repercussions for Penn State, for the Second Mile charity with which the former football coach is no longer affiliated and for law enforcement and university officials who became aware of concerns about the former football coach’s activities and failed to act on them.

But the real tragedy — if the allegations are true — will be the lasting impact upon the victims.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.        

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

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—  admin

Hate Crime Suspected at East Carolina University

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—  John Wright

TENNESSEE: Lesbian Couple’s Home Torched, Homophobic Neighbor Suspected

A lesbian couple in rural Tennessee returned from a trip to Nashville to find their home burned to the ground and the word “QUEERS” spray-painted on their garage.

The couple feels they’re victims of a hate crime, and were targeted because they’re gay. They’ve been together for more than 15 years. Carol Stutte has an adult daughter from a previous relationship who also lived with them. At the time of the fire, they were in Nashville celebrating their fifth anniversary in Tennessee. “My daughter was supposed to be here. She was sick,” Carol Stutte said. “I was grateful my baby girl didn’t get killed in this fire. She would have been trapped in the basement.” The couple moved to Vonore from Oklahoma. Carol Stutte says her partner is too afraid to come back to the property since the fire. She says they’ve been harassed all five years they’ve lived there by one neighbor. She also says recently the neighbor threatened to kill them and burn down their house,” Stutte said. “I knew we had been threatened, but we never thought anything would be followed through.”

The local police and the state arson squad are investigating the fire as a possible hate crime. PFLAG has sent out a call for donations of cash and household items for the women. The Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church is also taking donations.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Tennessee lesbian couple burned out of home in suspected hate crime needs help

Venore, TN is reeling from what is being investigated as a hate crime against Carol and Laura Stutte, whose home was destroyed in a fire this week. The garage had “QUEERS” spray painted on it. The couple had been routinely harassed by a homophobic neighbor. (WATE):

Carol Stutte has an adult daughter from a previous relationship who also lived with them. At the time of the fire, they were in Nashville celebrating their fifth anniversary in Tennessee.

“My daughter was supposed to be here. She was sick,” Carol Stutte said. “I was grateful my baby girl didn’t get killed in this fire. She would have been trapped in the basement.”

…Carol Stutte says her partner is too afraid to come back to the property since the fire. She says they’ve been harassed all five years they’ve lived there by one neighbor.

She also says recently the neighbor threatened to kill them and burn down their house,” Stutte said. “I knew we had been threatened, but we never thought anything would be followed through.”

PFLAG-Maryville is getting the word out about immediate needs of this family for those who are asking how they can help.

The Stuttes have identified the following immediate needs:

  • Women’s clothing size 10 and size 16
  • Women’s clothing for college-aged daughter size 18
  • Women’s shoes size 6, 8, and 9
  • Toiletries (soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo…)
  • Dog food for 3 dogs (Purina Dog Chow)
  • Women’s scrubs size small in both top and bottom (Navy Blue along with other styles/color)
  • Other items that could be useful…used laptop, tools, cleaning supplies, gift cards (dept. store, grocery, restaurant), storage tubs.

Options for donating $$: TVUUC, MCCK, Knoxville Pridefest.

A letter from activist David Massey is below the fold.


Sept. 10, 2010–David Massey Email

All,

Please forward this email to your friends and networks.
The two-story home of a lesbian couple in Vonore, TN, was completely destroyed by fire this past Saturday evening, and there is little doubt that it was arson. The word “Queers” was painted in large letters on the side of the garage. WATE covered the story; go to www.wate.com.

Efforts are underway to support the couple, Carol Ann and Laura Stutte, and their adult daughter.

First, the newly formed Maryville chapter of PFLAG (Parents Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) will be gathering needed clothing and household items.

Second, the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church is collecting financial donations. Please make your check payable to TVUUC and write “Vonore Family Fund” in the memo line. Send the check to Vonore Family Fund, c/o TVUUC, 2931 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919.  This fund starts off with a 0 donation from the Knoxville Area chapter of PFLAG. Please include your email address so we can let you know how much money was raised.

Third, we want to be sure that the arson investigation is not swept under the rug, and there is reason to believe that it could be. If you know a Tennessee state representative or senator, please call that legislator and urge him or her to contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and express interest in the arson investigation at 2715 Highway 360, Vonore, TN 37885.

Fourth, join the campaign to write a letter to your local newspaper… or post messages on media websites … expressing your outrage at such hate crimes in the state.

Stay tuned for a possible “gathering of support” for this family.

David Massey

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright