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

CORRECTION: All major candidates for Dallas mayor vied for LGBT vote in 2002

In my cover story for this week’s paper, I made a minor mistake. Actually it was fairly major. The opening paragraph of the story, as originally written, stated that 2011 marks the first time in history that all major candidates for Dallas mayor have actively courted the LGBT vote.

As former DV staff writer David Webb pointed out in the comments to the story, that’s not true. In 2002, Laura Miller, Tom Dunning and Domingo Garcia — the three major candidates for mayor — all courted the LGBT vote.

From The Dallas Mornings News on Jan. 15, 2002:

Dallas gays and lesbians, who used to hope that they could just find a candidate who wouldn’t be hostile to their interests, find themselves for the first time being wooed from all directions in what boils down to a three-way citywide race – and disagreeing about whom to support.

“It’s the first time I haven’t had to go vote for the lesser of two evils,” said Deb Elder, a Laura Miller supporter and political organizer. “Nothing has piqued my passion like this mayoral vote.”

Put another way, with major candidates Ms. Miller, Tom Dunning, and Domingo Garcia all touting their support for including gays in a nondiscrimination ordinance, a sector of voters that was shunned not long ago can’t lose this time around.

“It’s historic. I knew it would happen, but I didn’t know it would be this soon,” said Michael Milliken, one of the city’s first publicly identified gay appointees. “The gay community is in a unique position this year.”

I had based my report on statements by openly gay former City Councilman Ed Oakley, who called the 2011 mayoral election “a watershed moment for the community” and “unprecedented.”

While that may be true in some other respects, this isn’t the first time all major mayoral candidates have sought the LGBT vote, and I apologize for the error.

—  John Wright

Hampton Roads Calls on Senator Webb for Repeal

The following is from HRC Field Organizer Sarah Showalter:

I hit the road this week to work in a region of Virginia where every branch of the military can be found. Hampton Roads has a very large military presence and is even the home of the largest naval base in the world, Naval Station Norfolk.  The best part about my visit here is that support for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” can be found around every corner.

While in Norfolk, I had the opportunity to meet with supporters of DADT repeal at a local Democratic committee meeting. Committee members pledged to join us in making calls and writing letters to Senators Webb and Warner. Many people even pulled out a phone and called right there at the meeting. I also teamed up with the Old Dominion University Young Democrats for a calling event on campus. Both students and professors jumped at the chance to call Senator Jim Webb to urge him to vote for repeal.  Hampton Roads is ready to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” once and for all.

If you are a family member of a veteran or active duty service member from Virginia, please call Senator Webb’s office today at 202-224-4024 and ask him to put aside politics and pass the National Defense Authorization Act with language that repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

To get involved in our DADT efforts in Virginia, please call me at 804-283-5435 or email me at sarah.showalter@hrc.org Time is short. We need your help.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Virigina Students Push Webb and Warner on Repeal

The following is from HRC Field Organizer Sarah Showalter:

As a Virginia resident and new member of the HRC team, I was very excited to hit the ground today in Richmond. I am already overwhelmed by the community support for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” here in my hometown.  We hit the streets of Virginia Commonwealth University this morning to find that students are very supportive of our continued efforts to end this discriminatory law once and for all.  Students at VCU are energized and ready to take action by calling Senators Warner and Webb. A student film crew even stopped us on the street for an interview about our actions on campus.  It was very exciting to meet so many people who realize that the time for repeal is NOW!

If you are a family member of a veteran or active duty service member from Virginia, please call Senator Webb’s office today at 202-224-4024 and ask him to put aside politics and pass the National Defense Authorization Act with language that repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

To get involved in our DADT efforts in Virginia, please call Sarah Showalter at 804-283-5435 or email me at showalterse@gmail.com. Time is short. We need your help.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

GetEQUAL visits Senator Jim Webb. Servicemembers leave their combat boots.


Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) voted against the compromise DADT amendment in the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 27th. He’s getting a visit from GetEQUAL today, which you can follow on GetEQUAL’s Facebook page and via twitter. Servicemembers will be leaving their combat boots for Webb, which is a powerful symbol. During the 2006 campaign, Webb wore the combat boots of his son who was serving in Iraq.

We’ll have more on this soon.

Also, SLDN released its target list — and Webb is uncommitted on the filibuster:

KEY SENATORS UNCOMMITTED ON BREAKING THE FILIBUSTER:

–Susan Collins (R-ME)

–Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

–Mark Pryor (D-Ark.);

–Richard Lugar (R-IN);

–Judd Gregg (R-NH);

–Jim Webb (D-VA)

–George Voinovich (R-OH);




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Senator Webb gets a visit from DADT repeal activists and discharged service members

(Sorry I was slow getting this up; this mini-flu bug had me flat out most of the week)

During his 2006 campaign for the United States Senate, Senator Jim Webb wore his son Jimmy’s old pair of combat boots on the campaign trail every day. Senator Webb said he wore the boots in tribue to his son, Jimmy, and in tribute of “all the people sent into harm’s way”.

And that set the stage for today’s protest by GetEQUAL, The Sanctuary Project and H.E.R.O. to point out that the Senator needs to support repeal of DADT. (GetEqual):

“Senator Webb wore combat boots on the campaign trail every day in 2006 for, as the Senator said, ALL servicemembers serving their country. We are here today to remind Senator Webb that all servicemembers includes the thousands of gay and lesbian servicemembers sacrificing their safety and security by serving honorably in our country’s armed forces,” said Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL. “We honor Senator Webb’s direct action in 2006, to show his deep committment and passion for his son and others defending our country. We have organized this action in solidarity with that vision, because we want the Senator to truly honor the service of gay and lesbian servicemembers by fully supporting the passage of the Defenese Authorization Act next week, which contains language to further the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’.”

“As a Semper Fi, former Marine, I’m here today to tell Senator Webb that these combat boots I’ve worn in service to our country look just like his sons and everyone else’s combat boots serving in the United States Armed Forces,” said Cpl. Evelyn Thomas, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. “In the line of duty, there are not differences because we are all Americans and we are all putting our lives on the line in service to our country. Senator Webb, your service to this country is appreciated and honored. Next week, you have an opportunity to show me and my brothers and sisters that our service is equally appreciated and honored by you.”

“Jim Webb is Senator Jim Webb because of the gay and lesbian support he received during his 2006 campaign,” said Jimmy Gruender, co-chair of H.E.R.O. “Because of our community’s work to put him into office and the calls and stories we here every day about how this law has affected gay and lesbian servicmembers, many from Senator Webb’s own home state of Virginia, prompted us to do this action today. Senator Webb, the LGBT community stood by you when you needed us. Now, we expect you to stand by us when we need you!”

A November 17th, 2006 article in the Advocate stated, “The effort to defeat Virginia’s proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage apparently pulled thousands of progressive voters out to the polls, sending Democrat James Webb to the U.S. Senate by the thinnest of margins and handing the upper chamber to the Democrats for the next two years.”

Those servicemembers and advocates taking part in today’s action are:

Veteran Cpl. Evelyn Thomas, United States Marine Corps

Veteran Capt. James Pietrangelo II, United States Army

Veteran Sn. Jose A. Rodriguez, United States Navy

Veteran Lt. Dan Choi, United States Army

Linda Sanders, Sanctuary Project Veterans

Michael Dixon, GetEQUAL

Heather Cronk, GetEQUAL

Melissa Halverson, H.E.R.O.

Paul Roark, H.E.R.O.

Erica Keppler, H.E.R.O.

Marilee Cornelius, H.E.R.O.

Jonathan Harris, H.E.R.O.

Mandee Rowley, H.E.R.O.

Meg Sneed, H.E.R.O.

James Gruender, H.E.R.O.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

DADT Action: GetEQUAL Delivers Signed Combat Boots To Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)

AmericaBlog reports:

Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) voted against the compromise DADT amendment in the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 27th. He’s getting a visit from GetEQUAL today, which you can follow on GetEQUAL’s Facebook page and via Twitter.the 2006 campaign, Webb wore the combat boots of his son who was serving in Iraq. Servicemembers will be leaving their combat boots for Webb, which is a powerful symbol. During the 2006 campaign, Webb wore the combat boots of his son who was serving in Iraq.

Joe Sudbay notes that the following Senators are uncommitted to breaking a possible GOP filibuster:

–Susan Collins (R-ME)
–Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
–Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)
–Richard Lugar (R-IN)
–Judd Gregg (R-NH)
–Jim Webb (D-VA)
–George Voinovich (R-OH)

Have you called your Senators today? The vote is scheduled for Tuesday at 2:30pm.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright