Leading the Way

Shining the spotlight on CAC leadership

Behind many successful nonprofits is a volunteer board – a team of individuals who bring a diversity of skills and a passion for the mission. This month, the CAC is shining the spotlight on four individuals who serve as officers of its 14 member board: Jayne Mohr, Pat Warner, Vernon LaLone and Regina Jaeger.

They all share a critical goal of sustaining the financial health of the organization, as well as strengthening it in order to expand services and meet increasing demand. But read on to learn how and why they got involved with the CAC and what they wish everyone knew about its work covering the six-county area and the Sovereign Nation of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

JAYNE MOHR, CHAIR

As a retired educator, Jayne Mohr understands the long-lasting trauma a child suffers from an abuse situation.

“It deeply impairs their ability to learn, thrive and grow,” says Mohr, who retired from the Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) in 2012 after 20 years as associate superintendent and capping a 38-year career in education. “Our CAC offers hope and healing!”

She first became involved with the CAC during its development more than a decade ago through her role with TCAPS. Now on the board for almost seven years, she is beginning the second year of her second term as chair.

“One in ten children will experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday, and in our region, 99.6% of the perpetrators are someone the child knows and trusts,” says Mohr.

One thing she wishes everyone knew? “That our CAC is child-focused and family-friendly, offering free intervention programs and services that give hope and healing to those in need.”

Mohr and her husband, Cal Karr, have lived in Traverse City for 25 years and have a son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren in Traverse City and another son who lives in Marquette.

PAT WARNER, VICE CHAIR

With a career committed to public health, Pat Warner sees her involvement on the CAC’s board as helping a population that can’t speak for themselves.

“It’s a silent public health issue that we need to make public,” says Warner, who joined the board three years ago and serves as its vice chair.

For Warner, the one in ten statistic about abuse says it all. “To me, that constitutes a public health crisis,” she says.

After growing up in Traverse City, Warner went on to spend her career in public health in Ann Arbor. She was with the University of Michigan health system for 35 years, the last 20 as executive director of the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital.

She first connected with the CAC after moving back north and had a friend who was on the board. She also chairs the CAC’s prevention council.

“I’m passionate about helping communities to own the issue of childhood sexual abuse,” she says. “We are talking about social change here.”

Warner touts the CAC’s forensic interviewers as a critical piece of its care model. With that expertise, it means that a child is interviewed once about an alleged incident instead of multiple times by multiple agencies.

“The level of expertise of the CAC staff and leadership is amazing,” she says. “Our care model is a model for the state.”

VERNON LALONE, TREASURER

As a retired CPA, Vernon LaLone is well suited for his role as treasurer on the board. He joined the organization after learning the CAC was looking for someone with his background to serve.

He immediately set up a financial reporting system for the organization that was simple and accountable. “That’s what I love to do,” says LaLone who with his wife raised a family in Elk Rapids and was an accountant for 35 years. “It was a nice, natural fit for me.”

While he wasn’t familiar with the organization previously, LaLone says he’s learned the incredible importance it has for families dealing with abuse.

“This organization specifically coordinates everything so well,” he said, of the services and support offered, “with the least amount of impact on the families as possible.”

Though he describes the pervasiveness of the issue as “mind-boggling,” he is hopeful the increasing publicity about the organization’s work and presence in the region may be a deterrent for would-be offenders.

When LaLone isn’t working with numbers, he and his wife are preparing for their new project in retirement: a bed & breakfast operation north of Elk Rapids.

REGINA JAEGER, SECRETARY

“The CAC has done a great job of raising awareness of child abuse in our region so since their beginning, I have followed the organization,” says Regina Jaeger, who joined the board two years ago and has served as secretary this past year.

Jaeger is vice president / senior trust relationship officer for Greenleaf Trust in Traverse City.  She became directly involved with the CAC after attending its annual fundraiser, Circle of Friends.

“I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for any issue that impacts children,” she says. “The CAC provides help, hope, and healing with an avenue to overcome hardship, pain, and stress from toxic experiences of sexual abuse, physical abuse and violence.”

Jaeger also served on the board for Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan for nine years so becoming involved with the CAC was a natural transition, she says.

She would like to continue to educate the community on issues of child abuse “so that the root of the problem is addressed and we’re not just focusing on symptoms of the root cause.”

She adds, “Of course, our ultimate goal is a community (and world) without abuse. If we achieved that goal, the CAC wouldn’t be needed and that would be an amazing thing.”

Jaeger lives with her husband Kevin in Traverse City and has a son who lives in Detroit.

BOARD WORK IS TEAMWORK

The CAC executive committee is charged with tending to tasks in between board meetings, but it takes a team of dedicated individuals to build the kind of momentum that the CAC has experienced during the last decade.

The full board includes Karen Browne, James Bussell, Betsy Evans, Matthew Feil, Holly Hack, Ginger Kadlec, Annelle Kaspor, Michael Long, Noelle Moeggenberg, and executive director Sue Bolde. All members serve on committees and contribute financially to the CAC on an annual basis.


SafeTeam

“Give me an S, give me an A … Go SafeTeam!”

With August comes prep for back to school (gulp!) and the start of practice for fall sports. The CAC is also ramping up for the season, with its SafeTeam sexual abuse prevention training for coaches and athletes.

Who’s eligible? Any school within the six-county area (Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Kalkaska, and Wexford) as well as the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians

How long does it take? Approximately one hour

How much does it cost? It’s free! Better yet, coaches and athletes who complete the training receive money either for their athletic department or a specific sports team to spend on equipment, uniforms or other needs.

The CAC-developed training is designed to “educate coaches and athletes on the affect sexual abuse can have and how to prevent it in an athletic setting,” said Jourdan Dean, CAC prevention coordinator.

The CAC piloted the training with about 40 coaches at Traverse City Central High School in February, after community member Jen Dutmers first brought the idea to the CAC. They decided to start with adults who spend considerable time outside school hours with children – coaches.

Additional training sessions were held this past spring and now close to 200 area coaches and athletes have completed the training, said Dean, with a goal of reaching hundreds more in the coming months.

Mitch Miggenburg, athletic director for Kingsley Area Schools, participated in the training with about a dozen of the district’s spring sports coaches and volunteers before the season kicked off.

“I got a lot of positive feedback,” Miggenburg said. “It was invaluable for them to hear that info.”

He said sexual abuse cases such as those involving athletes at Michigan State University and USA Swimming drive home the importance of doing something like this at the small, local level.

In addition to knowing how to recognize the signs of abuse and understand the proper protocol to follow if abuse is suspected, the coaches learned about situations to try to avoid. For example, limiting one-on-one time between athletes and coaches, such as offering a student a ride home or waiting with him or her after practice until a ride shows up, and how to handle these situations differently.

Miggenburg plans to continue the training with the fall and winter sports.

“I highly recommend it to local area schools,” he said.

While the training is tailored to the audience, the objectives are the same – how to protect the athletic community from the risk of abuse, how to recognize the signs of abuse, and how to respond responsibly.

“The goal is that all who attend become vigilant advocates for those on their team,” said Dean.

Being able to give money to typically cash-strapped athletic programs is another positive outcome of the prevention program, she added.

Anne Morrison Perry, a former CAC board member and former teacher and coach at Traverse City Area Public Schools, donated the initial $5,000 to get the training program off the ground. The CAC also recently received $5,000 from Cherryland Cares, a charitable fund of Cherryland Electric, and $5,000 from the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation to continue to fund the financial incentive for area schools.

Any school interested in learning more or scheduling training can contact Jourdan Dean.


REWIND

Sasha Joseph Neulinger’s portrait of healing explores how abuse affects children and reframes their world.

Old home movies can be funny, sweet, and sometimes even a little cringe-worthy. But imagine if they showed a heartbreaking and devastating past?

It’s in those home movies that filmmaker Sasha Joseph Neulinger saw a typical, happy-go-lucky child turn into an angry and withdrawn little boy. That four-year-old boy was him.

Rewind, Neulinger’s autobiographical documentary about surviving multi-generational child sexual abuse, is coming to the Traverse City Film Festival after its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. Neulinger will also be in attendance.

Neulinger was 23 when he started work on the documentary – his first feature-length film and directorial debut.

“Six years ago I was at a crossroads,” said Neulinger, 29. Though he was doing well, he said – having finished college and working at National Geographic – “things from my past, that I didn’t understand, were affecting my present day life. I had unanswered questions about my childhood and what had happened to me. Questions I felt could be answered through the home videos.”

So he asked his father to send him the recordings – some 200 hours worth.

“Basically, from the time I was born, cameras were in my life,” said Neulinger, whose father, also a filmmaker, spent countless hours recording his family’s daily life and helped inspire his son’s interest in film.

Neulinger digitized the home videos and “re-watched his childhood,” he said. He watched his abusers interacting with him at family events. But he also watched some good moments.

“It was an incredible experience,” he said of the process – allowing him to understand his past and create a new context, but also to reclaim beautiful memories.

When Neulinger was four years old he was sexually abused for the first time by his uncle. The abuse continued for several more years and included other family members. He disclosed the abuse when he was eight.

He said for every question he got answered by the watching the videos, more would surface – and through interviews with his mother, father and therapist got the answers he needed.

“There’s a difference between surviving something and understanding something so you can overcome it,” Neulinger said. “My personal philosophy is if a memory is too painful to touch with your mind or your heart, it’s asking to be explored. This film became that exploration.”

He hopes the film helps to “transcend the gap between the mainstream audience and people affected by childhood sexual abuse.”

Neulinger works and lives in Montana, but has family connections to Michigan and is thrilled to be able to bring his film here.

Read more about him and his work in support of other survivors of childhood sexual abuse here.


Shine On!

By SUE BOLDE, Executive Director

A strong, vibrant, and sustainable Child Advocacy Center elevates the quality of safety in a community. It’s very presence serves as a beacon, signaling to all potential perpetrators that, “Abuse is taken seriously here.” To all victims it rings out, “Refuge can be found here.” When a CAC is thriving, growing, and deepening its response to the most vulnerable members of society, previously dismissed potential is awakened. Unimaginable outcomes become reachable. Advancing a world within which all children are safe and thriving is attainable.

The Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center is proud to serve as a regional beacon in the communities of Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, and Wexford Counties and the Sovereign Nation of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. We also provide courtesy services for children who live within our area but may have been harmed elsewhere, as well as for counties that do not have access to a CAC. Since 2010, we have continued to stretch our thinking, our partnerships, and our resources to serve children and families in our region and beyond.

A record-breaking response

More and more children are referred to the TBCAC each year. In 2018, a record-breaking 359 children walked through our doors. In fact, for the past five years, the number of children referred to the Traverse Bay CAC has steadily increased. This may be unsettling and seem indicative of abuse getting worse in our region. Yet, it is more likely a reflection of children being believed and adults knowing how to report suspected abuse to the appropriate agencies. That’s good news!

Children come to us from all over. In 2018, most cases were from Grand Traverse County (26%) reflecting its larger population. Kalkaska and Wexford Counties each referred 14% of cases. Eleven percent of cases were courtesy interviews for children who do not have access to a CAC in other parts of the state. Nine and 10% of cases came from Benzie and Antrim Counties, respectively. Eight percent of all cases were children who live in our service area but may have been harmed elsewhere. Leelanau County, the Grand Traverse Band, and the FBI comprised the remaining 8%.

The pursuit of justice

The multidisciplinary team (MDT) response is a core part of our work. When police or child protective services suspect a child is being abused, the child is brought to the CAC—a safe, child-focused environment—by a caregiver or other “safe” adult. At the CAC, the child tells their story once to a trained interviewer who knows the right questions to ask in a way that does not not retraumatize the child. Then, a team that includes medical professionals, law enforcement, mental health, prosecution, child protective services, victim advocacy, and other professionals make decisions together about how to help the child based on the interview.

For the first time in the history of the Traverse Bay CAC, we conducted two forensic interviews simultaneously on five different occasions. Each instance involved a family with siblings that required multiple forensic interviews to ensure that all children in the home environment were safe. We got creative with our facility, our technology, and our staff. We housed two multidisciplinary teams to observe and respond to the children’s disclosures and to formulate action plans. The results were amazing! We reduced the families’ time at the Center by half and their stress levels were more manageable as well. The implications for the future are tremendous in terms of increasing our capacity to serve the region. Plans to brainstorm ways to accommodate more simultaneous interviews in the future are underway.

Helping kids thrive

TBCAC helps kids thrive and communities shine by providing access to evidence-based mental health treatments that reduce the debilitating effects of trauma from abuse. Child abuse can cause lifelong damage to children, families, and communities. But we can prevent these outcomes, especially when children receive effective mental health services and support early on. Our on-site counseling services at the TBCAC help kids go back to being kids.

We are fortunate to have a clinical psychologist and registered play therapist on staff who are trained to administer an array of evidence-based treatments. Additionally, we supervise 3-4 master’s level clinical interns each year who see clients as part of their practicum placement. We offer individual, family, and group therapy, utilizing methods of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, Attachment, Regulation and Competency (ARC) Framework and others. In 2018, our practitioners worked with 233 clients and provided 1,339 sessions—close to a 30% increase over the previous year!

Emerging data is showing a clear advantage to providing in-house services to children. Compared with populations referred to outside therapists, children served onsite at CACs are 7 times more likely to attend the first session. Additionally, more than 75% of onsite clients are likely to remain engaged for 90+ days or 10+ sessions. When mental health services are delivered elsewhere, clients stop treatment, on average, after three or four sessions. Onsite services help kids start and finish treatment.

However, in rural areas the distance to travel for counseling services is a serious limitation. Most clients are able to come to the TBCAC for the forensic interview process, however, residents from outlying counties have a difficult time committing to mental health services even when they are highly desirous of treatment. Most of our current counseling clients reside in Grand Traverse County (59%). We are exploring options for establishing satellite TBCAC counseling services in counties farther from the epicenter of Traverse City as well as strengthening linkage agreements with mental health providers on other counties.

 Where we’re going together

 Our supporters stood up for children this year. With the help of 545 new and returning donors, we were successful in raising $105K at our annual Circle of Friends Luncheon and we are on the verge of meeting our stretch goal of $45,000 for our annual appeal to support programs that pursue justice and help kids heal. In 2019 we’ll continue to ensure access to CAC services around the region, develop more resources for our field, and improve outcomes for children and their families. There’s always time to contribute to the important work we are doing together. A gift from you today could be the one that makes the difference.


About Sue ♥

Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Sue Bolde has a BA in psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MA in art therapy from the University of Illinois. Her professional career includes clinical work with children and teens at the University of Chicago, graduate-level instruction with students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and certification as a Montessori teacher and yoga instructor. She is currently a teacher in training with Google’s Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute as well as a Michigan ACE Initiative trainer.

About Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center ♥

The nationally accredited Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center brings help, hope, and healing to child victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and violence. Our mission is to protect children by supporting multidisciplinary investigations into alleged cases of child abuse by conducting child forensic interviews in an environment that is child-sensitive, supportive and safe. We help heal child victims and their families through our in-house therapeutic services and offer prevention education throughout the region via our Team Zero program. As the Grand Traverse regional response center for the investigation of child abuse, we collaborate with multidisciplinary teams in six counties – Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, and Wexford – in addition to the Sovereign Nation of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. Over 1,800 children have been referred to the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center since our founding in 2010.


Doc Talk: Unsafe Behaviors

Dr. Amelia shares insight with parents and care givers about how to have the often difficult conversations with kids about what unsafe behaviors are and what to do if someone tries to get a child or teen to make unsafe choices.

This video accompanies the “Believe Jeeves!” video for kids called, “What does someone who makes unsafe choices LOOK like?”

 

For more, visit the companion video lesson for kids:

Believe Jeeves: What does someone who makes unsafe choices LOOK like?”

Talking Points and Facts About Helping Your Child Understand Who Makes Unsafe Choices… and what they LOOK like


About Dr. Amelia ♥

Amelia Siders, Ph.D., LP, serves as the Clinical Director for TBCAC and has been working in the mental health field since 1994. She received a BA in psychology from the University of Michigan and completed her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego. A licensed psychologist, Dr. Amelia specializes in assessment, treatment, and advocacy for children, adolescents, and adults with emotional, behavioral, trauma, and substance use disorders. She has been trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and EDMR, as well as several other trauma-informed interventions including Trauma Incident Reduction. In addition to overseeing counseling and therapeutic services at TBCAC, Dr. Amelia serves as an expert in child abuse prevention and intervention and provides testimony in court cases related to areas such as child abuse disclosure rates, false allegations, statistics, trauma symptoms and even grooming and offender behaviors. Additionally, she offers consultation for prosecutorial teams on psychological assessments conducted on both clients and alleged offenders that may be used in court. She and her team of onsite therapists also help prepare both families and children for the trial process by offering support and education about ways to feel more confident and less anxious when providing testimony. Dr. Amelia became passionate about working with children and families who have been affected by abuse when completing her internship at the Center for Child Protection in San Diego, California. Dr. Amelia lives in Traverse City with her canine companion and beloved TBCAC volunteer, Jeeves.

About Jeeves ♥

Jeeves serves as a loyal volunteer sidekick to Dr. Amelia, providing sweet, loving wags to hundreds of child victims and their caregivers for the past several years. A Havanese, Jeeves has hair instead of fur which helps people visiting the Center who may have allergies. As the TBCAC mascot, Jeeves welcomes any and all opportunities to receive belly rubs and hugs!


Rethinking the Holidays

By SUE BOLDE, Executive Director

The holidays can be a time of great anticipation as many of us look forward to seasonal traditions and gathering with relatives and friends. It is also a time when children learn social norms regarding consent, physical affection, body integrity, and gender roles – all of which impact their safety and wellbeing.

Hugs and Kisses

Have you ever heard an adult insist, “Uncle just got here, go give him a big hug!” or “Auntie gave you that nice toy, go give her a kiss.” If yes, you might want to reconsider how you address this behavior in the future. Telling children that they owe someone a hug just because they haven’t seen a person in a while or because they received a gift can set the stage for risky situations later in life.

Do we want our children to grow into adults who believe that they owe someone physical affection if that someone buys them dinner or does something nice?

The lessons children learn about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected lasts a lifetime. Modeling protective behavior about consent early on can help children to understand their rights when lines are being crossed and that it’s safe to turn to adults for help. This involves giving children the space to decide when and how to show affection, such as “How would you like to say hello to Uncle?” or “You may thank Auntie with a hug, handshake, or smile.”

The Holiday Meal

Have you ever encountered someone who “polices the plates” at a seasonal feast? From grandma commenting on a child going back for seconds to other guests telling a child to eat up so that he or she can look good for the prom, the way families talk about bodies can leave its mark in serious ways.

Do we want our children to grow into adults who believe that their bodies are open source for public comment?

At big holiday dinners, unhealthy focus is sometimes put on how much (or how little) people at the table are eating. If you hear someone critiquing what a child chooses to eat, try saying something that promotes personal privacy in a positive way. “The food is delicious, and we’re in wonderful company. Let’s focus on that and let everyone enjoy the meal in their own way.”

Just Joking

From “Have you heard the one about the girl who…” to “That’s a job for a man!” chatter that was commonplace in years past has no place in a protective society. But when it’s your host or a beloved grandparent making the comment, the healthy response can be less than clear. Even if they mean no harm, it’s important to note that the youngest members of a family are looking to their elders as role models and listening to every single word.

Do we want our children to grow into adults who believe that they must quietly tolerate insensitive or demoralizing comments from those in authority?

If what is said degrades or generalizes someone in a negative manner, use it as an opportunity to model constructive ways of speaking up with confidence. Try something like, “You probably didn’t mean it this way, but that type of [joke/statement/comment] is hurtful. While I’ve got your ear, I heard you got a new job! Tell us about it!”

After-Dinner Chores

Boys and men are equally as capable as girls and women at clearing the table, putting away leftovers, and doing the dishes. Yet in many homes, these more domestic chores are still relegated to female family members while the guys are invited to kick back and relax in front of the TV. Social norms that reinforce inequality in childhood invite injustice later in life.

Do we want our children to grow into adults who believe that someone has the right to overpower them because of their gender?

If you know there’s traditionally been a gender imbalance when it comes to after-dinner cleanup and other chores, consider having a conversation with your immediate family leading up to the get-together. Tell your family that, because you don’t follow gender-based roles at home, you’re going to suggest that everyone—boys and girls, men and women—pitch in this year.

One way to make newly shared responsibilities go a bit more smoothly is to write the names of all guests on slips of paper and put them in a “chore jar.” Then the host can draw names out for specific jobs one-by-one at random. Fair and square.

Creating Culture

If you find yourself saying, “I never thought about that before,” consider yourself in good company. Most of us do not question the social norms that we uphold. They are woven neatly into our day-to-day activities and passed down through the ages. Becoming aware of what motivates our behavior, however, sets us apart as a species and empowers us to actively design culture that supports our highest values. Doing so makes creating a world without abuse possible.

Wishing you a warm and wonderful holiday season!


About Sue ♥

Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Sue Bolde has a BA in psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MA in art therapy from the University of Illinois. Her professional career includes clinical work with children and teens at the University of Chicago, graduate-level instruction with students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and certification as a Montessori teacher and yoga instructor. She is currently a teacher in training with Google’s Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute as well as a Michigan ACE Initiative trainer.

About Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center ♥

The nationally accredited Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center brings help, hope, and healing to child victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and violence. Our mission is to protect children by supporting multidisciplinary investigations into alleged cases of child abuse by conducting child forensic interviews in an environment that is child-sensitive, supportive and safe. We help heal child victims and their families through our in-house therapeutic services and offer prevention education throughout the region via our Team Zero program. As the Grand Traverse regional response center for the investigation of child abuse, we collaborate with multidisciplinary teams in six counties – Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, and Wexford – in addition to the Sovereign Nation of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. Nearly 1,800 children have been referred to the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center since our founding in 2010.


“Anna, Age Eight” — The Societal Pandemic of Child Abuse

By SUE BOLDE, Executive Director

The sad truth?

No one wants to talk about child sexual abuse. After all, why would we? It’s an awful, almost incomprehensible topic that we simply can’t imagine a child we love would ever have to endure.

Unfortunately, our society, in general, has virtually become numb to addressing this issue on any substantive scale that would actually move the needle. Over 700,000 children suffer some form of physical or sexual abuse or neglect each year. Additionally, it is estimated that 10% of all children will become victims of sexual abuse before they reach the age of 18.

These staggering statistics here in the US clearly indicate a societal issue of pandemic proportion.

Underscoring these alarming stats is new research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about the lifetime costs of child abuse and maltreatment here in the US. In its abstract released in September (full report to be released in December 2018), the CDC cites significant increases in societal costs resulting from child maltreatment. The methodology used in this research conducted between 2010 and 2015, now includes ancillary, indirect cost estimates, as well as the direct costs of services provided in both the investigation of alleged child abuse cases, as well as the intervention, prosecution and victim support services (including healthcare). Here’s what they found…

• The estimated lifetime cost per-victim of child maltreatment (non-fatal) increased from $210,012 (2010 USD) to $830,928 (2015 USD)… 296% increase!

• The estimated lifetime cost per-victim of child maltreatment (fatal) increased from $1.3 to $16.6 million… 1,100%+ increase!

• The estimated US population economic burden of child maltreatment based on 2015 substantiated incident cases is $428 billion, representing lifetime costs incurred annually.

• The estimated US population economic burden of child maltreatment based on 2015 investigated incident cases is $2 trillion, representing lifetime costs incurred annually… that equates to nearly 10% of our current national debt! 

Touted as, “the nation’s blueprint for ending the epidemic of childhood trauma, a book called,Anna, Age Eight: The Data-Driven Prevention of Child Trauma and Maltreatment, address ways in which we as a society can actually put the brakes on this rampant pandemic. The authors Katherine Ortega Courtney, PhD, and Dominic Cappello, believe so strongly in making this information available that they offer their guide as a free downloadable pdf.

The book shares several stories of child abuse and trauma, including Anna’s story…

“…It was not so for Anna. In her eight years, she had racked up just as many episodes in the custody of her state’s child welfare system. Returned again to her very troubled mother, Cassandra, she celebrated a birthday with a few small toys and, we can only hope, some quantity of good cheer. If she did so, it would have been about the last high point she would ever know. A few days later, Cassandra and her boyfriend beat Anna to death in a drug-fueled, mental illness-influenced rage.”

Anna’s death was completely avoidable had simple technology been utilized to help child protection professionals collaborate and recognize the countless red flags in Anna’s short life. This book promotes the importance of utilizing technology to facilitate information sharing among those who can help step-in and protect vulnerable children.

The essential need to protect children and help ensure emotionally and physically healthy childhoods can no longer be dismissed or “left to someone else.” Need data? The CDC is offering it up to us in the form of a HUGE societal economic burden. But it just makes good sense… raising children in healthy, secure environments teaches them to live healthy, safe lives… and in turn, pass those traits on to their own children and families. The book eloquently and succinctly captures this concept…

“Emotionally healthy people who are treated well throughout life tend to treat others well, in an emotionally healthy way, but the opposite is also true. Whatever happened to those kids that we try not to think about – whenever it happened – it will brush off with every human interaction, and then some little piece of it will have happened to you, and to all of us.”

We have the power to stop this pandemic… let’s get to work.


About Sue ♥

Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Sue Bolde has a BA in psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MA in art therapy from the University of Illinois. Her professional career includes clinical work with children and teens at the University of Chicago, graduate-level instruction with students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and certification as a Montessori teacher and yoga instructor. She is currently a teacher in training with Google’s Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute as well as a Michigan ACE Initiative trainer.

About Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center ♥

The nationally accredited Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center brings help, hope, and healing to child victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and violence. Our mission is to protect children by supporting multidisciplinary investigations into alleged cases of child abuse by conducting child forensic interviews in an environment that is child-sensitive, supportive and safe. We help heal child victims and their families through our in-house therapeutic services and offer prevention education throughout the region via our Team Zero program. As the Grand Traverse regional response center for the investigation of child abuse, we collaborate with multidisciplinary teams in six counties – Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, and Wexford – in addition to the Sovereign Nation of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. More than 1,700 children have been referred to the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center since our founding in 2010.


Hiding in Plain Site: Warning Signs of Child Sexual Abuse

By SUE BOLDE, Executive Director

Hiding in plain sight…

• Amanda (14 yrs.) always wears long sleeves to cover the numerous self-inflicted cuts and burns on her arms.

• Cari (8 yrs.) suddenly begins wetting her bed at night.

• Joshua (5 yrs.) is discovered having oral sex with his 3 year-old sister in the hall bathroom.

As adults, we may think that children who are sexually molested would naturally alert someone about their abuse. Not so! In fact, an alarming 73% of child victims don’t tell anyone about their abuse for at least a year. Another 45% of victims keep it to themselves for at least 5 years, while still others NEVER disclose their abuse. (Smith et al., 2000; Broman-Fulks et al., 2007)

Children who have been molested may… or often MAY NOT… display behavior that is indicative of sexual abuse. For children who are acting outside their norms, be alert to these potential warning signs:

  • Knows more than normal about sex for their age
  • Masturbates excessively
  • Has a sudden fear of touch or is frightened of a certain person(s)
  • Starts wetting the bed or has nightmares
  • Changes eating habits
  • Can’t sleep
  • Exhibits low self-esteem
  • Seeks excessive attention
  • Seems depressed
  • Begins self-mutilation (e.g., cutting, burning, hitting, etc.)
  • Shares suicidal thoughts or actually attempts suicide
  • Uses drugs or alcohol
  • Has problems at school or is frequently absent
  • Sexually abuses others
  • Tells stories about a “friend” being abused

It’s important to keep in mind that if a child displays any of the above behaviors, that does NOT automatically mean that the child is a victim of sexual abuse. It does, however, indicate that something may not be “right” in that child’s life, so it’s important to further explore potential root causes of the behavior. If you are concerned that child in your life MAY be a victim of abuse, please refer to our 7-Step Response to Child Abuse Disclosure outline for a step-by-step tutorial of how to have the conversation and what to do if a child discloses abuse.

The number of child-on-child (or youth perpetrated) sexual abuse cases is on the rise in our country and as kids head back to school, it’s important to be attentive to changes in a child’s behavior, habits, and moods. To help, we invite you to download our free infographic called, “Child Clues,” which offers an at-a-glance list of the 9 primary warning signs that may indicate a child is in trouble and needs help.

Get CHILD CLUES!

I encourage all of us to be better informed about these potential warning signs so we can protect ALL the children in our lives! ♥

*Please note: Any names, ages and specific examples of child abuse have been altered to protect the identity and privacy of child victims and their families.


About Sue ♥

Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Sue Bolde has a BA in psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MA in art therapy from the University of Illinois. Her professional career includes clinical work with children and teens at the University of Chicago, graduate-level instruction with students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and certification as a Montessori teacher and yoga instructor. She is currently a teacher in training with Google’s Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute as well as a Michigan ACE Initiative trainer.

About Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center ♥

The nationally accredited Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center brings help, hope, and healing to child victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and violence. Our mission is to protect children by supporting multidisciplinary investigations into alleged cases of child abuse by conducting child forensic interviews in an environment that is child-sensitive, supportive and safe. We help heal child victims and their families through our in-house therapeutic services and offer prevention education throughout the region via our Team Zero program. As the Grand Traverse regional response center for the investigation of child abuse, we collaborate with multidisciplinary teams in six counties – Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, and Wexford – in addition to the Sovereign Nation of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. More than 1,400 children have been referred to the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center since our founding in 2010.


10 Campus Safety Tips Every College Student Should Know

By SUE BOLDE, Executive Director

As summer winds to close, many kids are preparing to head off to college, be it near home or far away. This leaves many parents pondering, “Will my child be safe on campus?”

This question is especially salient for parents of incoming freshmen who will be away from home for the first time. For these young adults, going to college may be their first opportunity to experience a significant degree of independence. With that independence comes a high level of responsibility, including making daily safety choices. So, how can you as a parent help prepare your freshman (or returning student) for life on campus?

Straight Talk

Mom and Dad, it’s important to be totally straight-up and honest with your teen about what campus life will be like. Take the time to sit down and discuss this… it doesn’t have to be a scary conversation, but it does need to be real. In fact, it’s a good idea to begin prepping your teen for safety while they are in high school (many of the same rules apply).

Expect your teen to seem frustrated or bored by the conversation and try not to let it bother you. Believe it or not, they will be listening and, with a little savvy and luck, may even engage in the conversation with you. One of the reasons this conversation is SO IMPORTANT is because students, especially new students, are at higher risk to become victims of sexual violence. In fact, the majority of sexual assault cases happen to new students in the first two (2) semesters on campus.

Here are 10 campus safety tips to review with your kids as they head off to college.

1. Trust your gut, but err on the side of caution.

Your young adult will be making all sorts of new friends and acquaintances as s/he begins life on campus. Before sharing too many personal details or trusting someone implicitly, be sure s/he understands the importance of really knowing that person. If s/he has even an inkling that something isn’t straight-up — you know, that funny, uncomfortable feeling you get in the pit of your stomach — the time isn’t right to throw his/her trust in the ring. Encourage your teen to be careful and have faith in his/her inner-self.

2. Prep and use your cell phone.

Before arriving on campus, program emergency numbers into your teen’s phone so help is readily available at the press of a button or a quick Siri request. Mom and Dad, you should already be programmed in — other numbers to include would be:

  • Campus police
  • Residential housing office
  • Campus health clinic
  • ICE (“In Case of Emergency”) Contact — this may be Mom, Dad or someone else you know that lives close to campus. Program “ICE” at the beginning of the contact information; emergency responders are trained to search for ICE on cell phones. There is also “an app for that”.
  • Taxi service: this is helpful for times when your teen needs to get back to a dorm or house late at night and is by himself. Have him be sure to ask the taxi driver to wait until he physically enters his housing unit before leaving.

Your new college student should keep the cell phone charged and with him at all times! Remind him to be careful of using geotracking software or “check-in” features found on many social media apps such as Four Square , Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook to identify a current location. That can open up all kinds ‘o trouble.

3. The Buddy System works!

Whether it’s a roommate, a fraternity brother or sorority sister, or a friend down the hall, stress the importance of always letting someone know your college student’s plans and location. Have your teen share her class schedule with a friend or two and do casual check-ins when she returns. If heading to the gym, cafeteria or library, again just touch base and let a friend know her plans. Encourage her to ALWAYS bring a friend along to any party, agreeing to have one another’s backs. It’s good to have an “out” contingency plan if one or both of them are uncomfortable — they should identify a code word or signal to help gracefully (and safely) exit the situation. It’s amazing how often that comes in handy!

4. Be aware of your surroundings.

Whether it’s walking to class, studying at a quiet table at the back of the library, taking a shower in the dorm or parking the car, it is vitally important to be vigilant of surroundings. Encourage your teen to ask…

  • Are there people around me?
  • Is this a well-lit area?
  • Have I told someone where I was going to be and at what time to expect my return?
  • Do I really know the person from whom I’m accepting this ride to class?
  • Are my doors locked?

If your teen ever thinks s/he is being followed while walking, instruct your teen to try crossing the street to see if the person continues the pursuit. If that person does and your teen is at all uncomfortable, tell him/her to immediately pull out the cell phone and dial 911 or the pre-programmed number for campus police. If followed while driving, have your teen try taking a few turns —if the vehicle of concern continues to follow, immediately dial 911.

5. Lock your doors.

This seemingly simple concept is often overlooked. This includes dorm rooms, apartments, classrooms and labs (if your college student is alone) and car doors. S/he should make a habit of having his/her keys ready when arriving at the door to avoid fumbling around for them. Before getting in a car, s/he should be sure to check the back seats. Also, DO NOT attach any personal identification on any keys.

6. Drink responsibly.

Let’s face it… alcohol is accessible on most college campuses. Parents, it is imperative that you talk with your teens about responsible drinking, a conversation that should include abstinence. The legal drinking age in the United States is 21 and there are very real and severe legal, and life, consequences for underage drinking. It may feel like a tough conversation to have, but it’s one where you need to share your personal parenting perspective with your child, as well as possible legal ramifications for your teens should they choose to break the law and consume alcohol before they reach the legal drinking age. It also means if your teen chooses to drink, s/he needs to know to NEVER get behind the wheel of a car… or ride in a vehicle driven by someone else who has been drinking… or let a friend drive drunk. Also, be sure to share with him/her the dangers of leaving drinks (both non- and alcoholic) unattended. If a drink is left alone, it should be dumped. Finally, reinforce the importance of the Buddy System.

7. If you are ever a victim of sexual assault… DO NOT keep it a secret!

Sadly, rape and sexual assault happen far too often on college campuses. Various studies have found that 20% to 25% of college students have been victims of attempted or completed rape nearly half of those victims didn’t tell anyone about their assault —and only an estimated 10% report it to authorities. Why, you may ask? There are a variety of reasons including shame, feeling responsible, guilt, or even fear of getting in trouble for drinking or taking drugs. According to Campus Safety Magazine, “College freshmen and sophomore women appear to be at greater risk of being victims of sexual assault than are upperclassmen.” In fact, 84% of the college women who reported incidents said the assaults occurred within their first four semesters on campus. Remind your teen that it could never, ever be her fault if something like that happened to her. Reinforce the importance of the Buddy System and making good, safe decisions about the people with whom she is socializing.

A flagship online system now exists, called Callisto Campus, which gives students who are victims of sexual assault (or attempted sexual assault) disclosure and reporting options that make them feel safe. I strongly recommend that you visit the Callisto Campus website and actively advocate for your son or daughter’s school to participate in this new and critical resource.

8. Guard your social media footprint.

In today’s digital world, nearly every action you take has the potential to be publicly shared. Things your teen may think are okay or cool today, could very well come back to haunt him/her. Reinforce the importance of NOT sharing photos that include images with the potential to taint your teen’s reputation with the college or university, scholarship programs or potential future employers. A good litmus test: “If you can’t show the post to Grandma, DO NOT post it!”

9. Have your fellow students’ backs.

Students really need to look out for one another. Have your teen keep a watchful eye out for friends and fellow students while out-and-about on campus… and seek help as needed. If s/he sees someone being victimized, immediately call 911 or contact the campus police. Students on campus are in it together and looking out for one another does nothing but improve the college experience for all.

10. “Remember who you are.”

These four simple words pack quite a punch and offer a positive reminder to kids that you trust them to make good decisions while they are away from you. I highly recommend this simple, empowering validation– it works!

Want more information?

In addition to reviewing the campus student safety information for your young adult’s campus, I encourage to check out these websites that offer additional super safety information for all students on campus:


About Sue ♥

Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Sue Bolde has a BA in psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MA in art therapy from the University of Illinois. Her professional career includes clinical work with children and teens at the University of Chicago, graduate-level instruction with students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and certification as a Montessori teacher and yoga instructor. She is currently a teacher in training with Google’s Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute as well as a Michigan ACE Initiative trainer.

About Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center ♥

The nationally accredited Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center brings help, hope, and healing to child victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and violence. Our mission is to protect children by supporting multidisciplinary investigations into alleged cases of child abuse by conducting child forensic interviews in an environment that is child-sensitive, supportive and safe. We help heal child victims and their families through our in-house therapeutic services and offer prevention education throughout the region via our Team Zero program. As the Grand Traverse regional response center for the investigation of child abuse, we collaborate with multidisciplinary teams in six counties – Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, and Wexford – in addition to the Sovereign Nation of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. More than 1,400 children have been referred to the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center since our founding in 2010.


10 Reasons Children DO NOT Disclose Sexual Abuse

Get "10 Reasons Children DO NOT Disclose Sexual Abuse" FREE Infographic >>

 

By SUE BOLDE, Executive Director

It’s an awful thing to think about… the possibility that a child you know is being sexually abused.

While most adults think they would KNOW if a child was being victimized, the truth is, they don’t.

How can a child be sexually abused without mom, dad or another caring adult knowing about it? Under the shroud of the “Three A’s” that are generally present for child sexual abuse to occur — Access, Alone Time and Authority — it is estimated that between 1 in 4 children to 1 in 10 children will become a victim of sexual abuse before turning 18 years old.

For many, it may be difficult to comprehend that a child would NOT immediately run to tell someone — mom, dad, a teacher, sibling, grandparent — after experiencing sexual abuse. Unfortunately, silence or delayed disclosure is actually the norm, rather than the exception.

One estimate cites that 73% of children don’t disclose sexual abuse for at least one year, 45% don’t tell anyone for five years, and others never disclose their abuse at all (Smith et al., 2000; Broman-Fulks et al., 2007).

So, why don’t children disclose sexual abuse? Well, there are 10 primary reasons why children endure abuse in silence:

1) “Keep it a secret!”

Sexual predators are master manipulators and will often instruct children to keep the abuse a “secret,” that it’s something special that just the two of them are doing. This tactic is used frequently, especially with younger children.

Safety Lesson for Kids: Teach children the difference between “secrets” and “surprises,” which are good, fun things like birthday gifts or family celebrations. Inform them to NEVER keep a secret about someone seeing or doing something to a private part of their bodies.

2) Fear and Threats.

Another common tactic used by sexual perpetrators is to instill fear in child victims and/or threaten them. Threats can take a variety of forms including physical harm to the child, the child’s parents, siblings, friends or even a child’s pets. Threats can also include withholding items or privileges that are special to a child or even the basic necessities of life such as food and water. Sometimes, kids are just plain scared of or intimidated by their abusers. A child might also be fearful of how the person they want to disclosure to will react, or of negative repercussions, both explicit and implied, for telling.

Safety Lesson for Kids: Establish an environment where children can openly talk with you about times they are scared or worried. Clearly let them know they should come to you or another Safe Adult if someone ever threatens them or someone else in their lives.

3) “I don’t know how or who to tell.”

Imagine how you would feel describing to someone the details of your last sexual encounter… Would you feel uncomfortable? Would you know what to say? Would you be selective about the person to whom you recounted your experience?

Now imagine a young child or even a teenager trying to find the words to describe their experience of sexual abuse. For younger children, this is can often be difficult if they do not know the proper names of their body parts or understand basic body safety principles. For older kids, even if they can describe the abuse, it’s often embarrassing for them to talk about even with someone they trust. In fact, most children who disclose sexual abuse DO NOT tell their parents — rather, they seek out someone else in their circle of trust, if they choose to disclose at all.

Safety Lesson for Kids: When talking with kids about sexual abuse prevention, teach the proper names of body parts at a very young age! It’s NEVER TOO EARLY to start teaching children important body safety concepts, starting with identifying the names and locations of their private body parts. Additionally, working with children to identify Safe Adults in their lives is key!

4) The Blame Game.

Again, sexual predators are master manipulators and will often lead a child to believe that the sexual abuse is ALL THE CHILD’S FAULT! A child is told that s/he is the reason behind the abuse and that the child “made” the perpetrator do it — the perpetrator places all the blame for the abuse on the child.

Safety Lesson for Kids: When teaching body safety principles to children, reinforce that it would NEVER be a child’s fault if someone asked to see or did something to their private body parts for no good reason or just to play a game.

5) Grooming.

Another sexual predatory behavior is grooming, which is the process of earning a child victim’s trust and compliance. Predators groom victims for two reasons:

  1. “Test the waters” to see how a child victim will react or respond to advances.
  2. Train the child victim for continued inappropriate and more advanced sexual contact.

Grooming enables predators to earn a victim’s trust and can also reduce the likelihood that a victim will disclose the abuse. Grooming can take place in a very short period of time, or through numerous interactions with a child over a longer period of time. Predators also groom parents, caregivers, and other adults in a child’s life in order to establish an environment where the “Three A’s” can occur.

Safety Lesson for Kids: Let children know that if someone treats them differently (often in a “good” way) by giving them special gifts or favors not offered to other kids, that the child should let you or another Safe Adult know what’s happening.

6) “No one will believe you!”

By diminishing a child’s self-esteem and convincing a child that no one will believe them, predators often manipulate children into silence. This tactic is commonly used by people in positions of power or authority. If a child thinks his/her story of abuse will not be believed, then why bother telling anyone?

Safety Lesson for Kids: Reinforce the notion that NO ONE has the right to see or do something to a private body part for no good reason or just to play a game — and that includes all adults like parents, teachers, coaches, doctors and more! Emphasize that it is the job of adults to keep children safe. If the first Safe Adult on their list is too busy to listen or does not believe them, then they should go to the next Safe Adult on the list… and keep talking until someone listens and responds to keep them out of harm’s way!

7) Dissociation.

Dissociation is defined as disruptions in aspects of consciousness, identity, memory, physical actions and/or the environment. This state of being can often help children live through abuse by psychologically separating the child from the trauma as the abusive event is occurring. Sometimes, children who dissociate from abusive events do not recall the abuse until sometime in the future.

Safety Lesson for Kids: Talk to kids about the fact that it is never too late to tell a Safe Adult if someone has abused them. Even if the child “forgets” to say something right away, be clear that it is always better to talk with a Safe Adult as soon as they remember.

8) Punishment.

Many times, children are led to believe they will get in trouble for disclosing. Punishment can take on many forms including physical abuse, harm to other family members including beloved pets, or elimination of items that are special to a child (toys, special privileges, etc.). Kids are sometimes told they will be taken away from a parent or home they love if they tell anyone about the abuse.

Safety Lesson for Kids: As with #4 above, reinforce that it is NEVER a child’s fault if someone asked to see or did something to their private body parts for no good reason or just to play a game

9) Shame.

Sexual assault victims of any age can experience shame, embarrassment or humiliation. Those feelings can be so strong that they override the choice to tell anyone about the abuse.

Safety Lesson for Kids: Reinforcing the above teaching moments can help to reduce feelings of shame. Be sure to establish and maintain a safe environment for children to talk about difficult topics. Start with less serious topics like disagreements with siblings or friends, how to handle being mad or sad, and so on. When a child feels comfortable approaching you with everyday challenges, it increases the likelihood of them coming to you should a more serious event like sexual abuse ever occur.

10) Love.

Love is a powerful motivator to stay silent about abuse. Remember: 90% of all sexually abused children know, LOVE, or trust their abusers. So, it’s pretty common for children to have strong feelings for those perpetrating crimes against them. Because of those strong feelings, children often keep sexual abuse a secret. Love can take on many forms in child sexual abuse cases; some examples include:

  • The child loves a parent or another family member who is abusing him/her
  • The child wants to protect mom, dad, grandma, etc. if that person’s partner is sexually molesting him/her
  • A Romeo-Juliet scenario exists where the child thinks s/he is in love with an older perpetrator

Safety Lesson for Kids: Teaching body boundaries and healthy sexual development — including what relationships typically look like at various life stages — will help children make good choices and turn to you or another Safe Adult when needed. Additionally, including yourself as someone who is not allowed to touch a child for no good reason reinforces the concept that even those you love and who love you must play by the same rules of body safety.

To help educate kids about sexual abuse prevention in a way that is child-friendly, I invite you to check out our “Believe Jeeves!” online video library for kids! ♥ Also, I invite you to watch videos designed for parents and caregivers to help you talk with your child about sexual abuse prevention and body safety, as well as better understand other elements of child protection — just click on the images below.

 

 


About Sue ♥

Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Sue Bolde has a BA in psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MA in art therapy from the University of Illinois. Her professional career includes clinical work with children and teens at the University of Chicago, graduate-level instruction with students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and certification as a Montessori teacher and yoga instructor. She is currently a teacher in training with Google’s Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute as well as a Michigan ACE Initiative trainer.

About Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center ♥

The nationally accredited Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center brings help, hope, and healing to child victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and violence. Our mission is to protect children by supporting multidisciplinary investigations into alleged cases of child abuse by conducting child forensic interviews in an environment that is child-sensitive, supportive and safe. We help heal child victims and their families through our in-house therapeutic services and offer prevention education throughout the region via our Team Zero program. As the Grand Traverse regional response center for the investigation of child abuse, we collaborate with multidisciplinary teams in six counties – Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, and Wexford – in addition to the Sovereign Nation of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. More than 1,400 children have been referred to the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center since our founding in 2010.