April 11, 2010 -- Linda Johnson of Prevent Child Abuse Vermont joins Kristin Carlson and Darren Perron to discuss the recent increase in child abuse in Vermont and child abuse prevention month.
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>> Good morning everyone.
I'm Darren Perron.
>> I'm Kristin Carlson.
There has been an alarming spike in child abuse and infant homicide.
Our news maker Linda Johnson is here to talk about that.
She is the prevention child abuse Vermont.
>> We will have your neighbors in the news.
A top award for a talented teen artist.
School kids in Swanton learn from a giant globe that fills their gym.
History unearthed near the Champlain bridge.
Plus, old barns get a new lease on life and signs of spring leaping lambs.
>> Let's get to our news maker Linda Johnson, the head of prevent child abuse Vermont.
You may not know this but this month is prevent child abuse month.
And that's the focus of our conversation today.
Thanks so much for being here, Linda.
>> Good to see you, Kristin.
>> Now let's start with the fact that I think that every year in Vermont there are at least 700 or so substantiated cases of abuse that is happening to children.
That number, though, has come down over the past few years.
What do you think is working?
>> I think the strong early childhood community that we have in place has been a critical piece.
I think that the work of the parent‑child centers, Vermont children's aid society, so many different partners across the state.
I mean, Vermont does front‑load for children.
And certainly the work of prevent child abuse Vermont has a very meaningful role to play in educating people about child sexual abuse prevention, and how to care and nurture, how to care for and nurture our children.
>> We have had some really difficult cases recently in the news.
That I guess since October 2007, 20 infants have been abused.
6 of those have died and of the 14 who are still alive, only two are expected to make a full recovery.
It is really a recent spike that has caused concern.
I know in your community for sure.
Any idea of why this may be happening?
>> Well, we think the economy has a big role to play in this.
When we see the economy go down, we always see child abuse go up.
And we are seeing it not just in Vermont, but across the nation.
In fact, what I can share with you nags statistics are now telling us that 75% of all child fatalities due to child abuse and neglect are with children under the age of 4.
And 42.2% are children under the age of 1.
So the very young, the very vulnerable, the very fragile are the ‑‑ are the most victimized.
>> Well this, week at the statehouse, a lot of folks gathered.
You con be there because you in were Washington, D.C. at a conference related to what you do but I want you to listen in to what the commissioner of the department of children and family said at the statehouse at the proclamation signing which declared that this month is child abuse month.
>> Let's not assume that it is overstepping our bounds to give advice or support or a suggestion.
I don't ‑‑ I grew up in your family business was your family business and we shouldn't take it upon ourselves to offer someone else parenting advice.
But frankly, there are obviously ways to do that that's very helpful.
And we all need to be committed to that.
>> So how do you do that?
because I remember on a story we worked on a year or two ago, pretty much we ‑‑ I discovered that every case of child sex abuse, when you looked back, there was some adult around the situation who thought something was wrong.
That didn't say anything.
So how, if you think you see something that is wrong, how do you say something?
what do you do?
>> Well, it depends on your relationship with the person you were concerned about and what it is you are seeing that concerns you.
If you are worried that a friend or a relative is not being protective enough of a child with another child, an older adolescent perhaps or another adult, it is really important to take your friend or your family member aside and say, I really worried.
This is what I see.
And I think you need to be, you know, more protective of your child.
let's think of some ways together that you can do some greater supervision or set some boundaries here.
Perhaps you shouldn't have this person baby sit.
They are very stressed.
Maybe they are not in a strong‑enough place to be looking after a child.
Maybe they don't have good boundaries.
Maybe there is even a history of poor boundaries or previous sexual abuse on the part of the person you are concerned about.
These are things that friends tell friends.
It is ‑‑ you know if you saw a friend about to fall off a cliff you would reach out and grab that person.
This is much the same kind of experience for a family and for a child to go through.
It is devastating.
It is absolutely devastating.
So, we do need to care and to share and to not be afraid to speak up and do it supportively.
I'm saying this because I care about you and your child.
Because I love you and if harm came to this child or to you, your family, I would be so hurt.
Just because of how much I love you.
So please listen to what I'm saying and consider it.
I think one thing that we see, Kristin, that is so difficult for everyone to understand, just about, who hasn't been part of an experience like this, is that there are many, many parents, mothers, fathers, who may see the warning signs and turn a blind eye to them, and it just may seem so obvious to others that there was trouble brewing or that it had brewed.
And that there needed to be intervention.
And it is so difficult to understand why someone didn't step up and step in.
When you have had this experience yourself, and have had no treatment for it, posttraumatic stress is often the diagnosis that is given.
And it really prevents someone from seeing processing, understanding in the way someone else would in the immediate moment.
And prevents them from taking protective action.
Because they are not really understanding and seeing what is right in front of them.
>> Well, I want to pick up on that because there was a very interesting case that you may have been following while you in were Washington D.C. where a judge actually sent a family member to jail who had witnessed a female victim being sexually assaulted and had said nothing and this had gone on and on and this woman received about 2 to 10 years in jail.
It was really precedent‑setting case.
I want to get your thoughts on that.
>> It is a very upsetting and difficult dilemma.
We don't like seeing that.
At the same time, you know, it just flies in the face of reason for most people.
And from folks on the bench.
And in the judiciary to say that this person is not culpable as well as the offender.
But the truth is, that we need to take a very deep look at assessing those individuals.
Intent is very important.
And we know that.
when it comes to law.
What was ‑‑
>> Does this outcome surprise you, the fact that she was sent to jail for not reporting what she had seen?
>> Well, as you said, it is precedent‑setting.
And it is concerning.
Without a deep assessment of this woman's mental health, you know, I really couldn't say what was right or wrong in that situation.
She was saying she had posttraumatic stress disorder.
You know, I I don't know if there was an assessment, you know, with credible mental health professionals involved and this was the outcome.
Or whether that was not the case.
So, I think we need to take a deeper look at a very complex issue.
This is not black and white.
This is not ‑‑ you know one plus one equals two.
We have to be sure of what the intent and capacity of the witness was.
>> Do you think this sends a message that if you see something wrong you had better report it?
>> I think so.
And I'm all for people intervening, reporting when appropriate, any suspicion of child abuse and neglect.
You know, there are many professionals in the state of Vermont who are mandated reporters who re‑‑ who are required by law to report the suspicion of child abuse and neglect.
But morally, we all have a responsibility.
We are all, in my view, mandated reporters.
All of us need to care for our children.
None of under the circumstances should put, you know, a child in harm's way or walk away from a child who is in harm's way.
All of us need to intervene and maybe, you know, there are different levels of that intervention.
A frustrated parent in the supermarket may just need a kind word and a supportive smile and a compliment to her child or something that kind of changes her mood and brightens her day and puts things into perspective.
Parenting is very hard work.
But if we are afraid that a child is being sexually abused, we really all need to report that.
>> Now, we talked about abuse as a spectrum.
Shaken baby syndrome which can have devastating effects on a child and that seems to be something that happens in the moment.
And then there could be sexual abuse which could be systemic and more ongoing.
How do you support or how do you notice, recognize that sort of more ongoing abuse?
>> What do you look for, what should you ‑‑ if you are an aunt, uncle, grandparent, friend, neighbor, how do you ‑‑ what signs are you looking for to spot trouble?
>> Are you talking about child sexual abuse?
>> Child sexual abuse.
It seems like the other kind of abuse is harder because it is more instantaneous typically.
>> Well, we can talk more about that but with child sexual abuse, some of the signs and symptoms are regression in the child, a fearfulness in the child, and acting out.
Sometimes you know taking off clothing, sometimes difficulty swallowing, venereal disease, constant irritation in the genital area, just all kinds of things changing.
Eating patterns, sleeping patterns, a change.
And so having a strong relationship with a child is a protective factor.
Knowing what's happening in that child's life day to day is an important protective factor.
>> And also I know you have said you know if there is an adult in the life of the child who wants to spent too much attention, too much time, too much with the present just giving beyond a look?
>>> The other case when you talk about physical abuse, like the shaken baby syndrome and a parent gets frustrated sometimes and injures a child, what should that other friend be looking for?
there are signs there?
A high stress level in the parent.
Unfamiliarity with taking care of small infants and young children.
And it is really ridiculous to suddenly be left alone with an infant when you've never had any prior experience taking care of a baby.
All babies will cry, that cry is meant to get you on your feet, and responding to that baby with care and attention.
But not all babies are going to be comforted every time you rise to your feet and walk with the baby.
And you do all the things that you think you are supposed to do and the baby may continue crying even for hours.
And I think most parents have had that experience.
But when you have mental health issues, substance abuse issues, impulse control, a low tolerance for frustration and, again, couple some of that with inexperience, with a baby, when you ‑‑ then you have a potential disaster.
And sadly, very sadly, and an important piece to note, that for the babies who died, this was not the first time they were shaken.
There were prior injuries, broken bones, that were in the process of healing and there was a recent study out of the University of North Carolina at chapel hill that demonstrated that for every baby in the headlines, not just who died, but every baby who is in the headline for being shaken, oh, there is 152 others that are unreported that were also shaken.
So, neurological damage, visual problems, hearing problems, all kinds of things.
Bones that are never diagnosed, you know, fractures of the ribs that go untreated.
>> You have been working on this now for a very long time.
You are known as a strong advocate in the state.
Your presence is definitely missed by several of other folks at the statehouse proclaiming this, prevent child abuse prevention month.
Are you disappointed with the recent slide that we have seen because it seemed like the state was making progress and we sort of had a rough few years here.
>> In think the state has made tremendous progress and I think we need to stay on point.
And if anything, need to continue to get smarter and better at what we do to prevent child abuse.
And that does involve every Vermont ever.
What I think we are experiencing is what the rest of the country is experiencing.
And that is an increase in family stress.
And that will bring about an increase in child abuse.
We have to understand that dough most ik violence child abuse, family dysfunction and the economy are all interrelated and they need to be approached together.
>> Are there any common trends of who is more likely to fall into this drop?
is it more men, more women, young, old?
>> It appears as though, and it has for all the years I've been involved, that men are more at risk for doing gross damage.
So for ‑‑ they are more often the people who end up killing or seriously harping a child.
However, when it comes to ‑‑ I want to say lighter ‑‑ but less devastating abuse, it is more often women because they spend more time with children.
>> Well, the state has set up a new website with a lot of resources on it.
We have a link to it on our website and Linda Johnson, thank you so much for your time and for talking about this topic.
>> You are welcome, Kristin.
Thanks for having me.
>> Now here is Darren with our neighbors in the news.
>> Kristin, thank you.
coming up, keeping Vermont's history alive by saving its barns.
That and more after the break.
>>> A Burlington teen has something in common with Andy Warhol and Robert redford.
Like those famous fellas, would be a big prize in the world of art.
Jack Thurston reports.
>> Xavier Donnelley is warming up for track practice at Burlington high school.
But the sea horse senior is also an artist.
Creating these intricate fantasy city scapes on paper.
>> And that's just what I love doing, so I do that for fun.
>> That fun has paid off for the 17 year old.
He won a top prize in the scholastic art and writing awards competition.
It is an 87 year old honor created by the founder of the scholastic book publishing company.
>> I was pretty pleased about it.
I really wane expecting it all.
>> His gold level award comes with a $10,000 college scholarship.
Past high school honorees include pop art icon Andy Warhol and film actor and director, Robert redford.
>> Being in the company of Andy Warhol is quite a compliment.
It is pretty great.
>> Donnelley's cities seem impossibly complex.
He says he doesn't plan this is drawings out beforehand.
They just come to him free form.
>> When you are look at all those lines your just baffled at how somebody can organize all that on a 2 D space to create that.
it is pretty impressive.
>> I want to go to school to be an architect so this is kind of just my way of relaxing and getting out all my ideas.
>> Donnelley actually has some options for spending that scholarship money.
been accepted to the Rhode Island school of design and the Pratt institute in Brooklyn.
>> Not quite sure which one I will go to yet.
>> Xavier Donnelley calls himself just a normal seen but his exemplary talent has earned him national praise and a sprinting start on hi education as an architect.
Will collect his prize in June at Carnegie hall in New York City.
Jack Thurston, channel 3 news.
>> Another Vermonter won a scholastic art and writing award, 7th grader Emily Collins from Putney was honored for an essay she wrote.
That award doesn't come with a cash prize but educators say it is still very prestigious.
>>> Students in Swanton journeyed to the center of the earth.
With help from a giant globe that filled the gym.
Keaghan harsha explains.
>> There are many things you would expect to see inside an elementary school gym.
This, isn't one of them.
>> Lots of jaw dropping and excitement as they go inside.
>> A 20‑foot‑tall inflatable globe
>> One inch is 30 miles.
>> On its way to almost 200 schools across the country.
>> You can see all the different colors of the earth and different environments so everything is to scale.
Really good way to look at the earth.
>> His father designed this interaction classroom as a way to bring geography to life.
>> That is the driest place on the entire earth.
>> The first earth balloon took more than 500 hours to build.
Painted entirely by hand and constructed inside the Minnesota family's basement.
>> So we have the Amazon river.
>> 15 years and several done balloons later the product has evolved.
Each constructed by piecing together 3000 tiny satellite images.
>> You can seat dep of the ocean.
The topography of the ocean floor, the trenches, underwater mountains and ridges.
What it does best is gives kids a sense of perspective on just how large our world is when standing next to the tip of Africa, one looks pretty small in comparison with the rest of the continent and the vast oceans that surround it.
>> The highlight perhaps is the chance to step inside the earth's core.
>> Here we go.
>> Welcome to the inside of the earth.
What do you think, kind were cool?
we can look all the way around and see pretty much everything at the same time.
Every piece of land, we can see all the oceans just by looking around.
>> While the interactive classroom might not be out of world, still pretty darned cool.
>> Robots and stuff to explore the Titanic Q
>> Geography brought to life.
>> Tallest mount on on the earth.
>> On/grand scale that's bound to leave your staring.
>> This is bigger than America.
>> Keaghan harsha, channel 3 news in Swanton.
>> It is pretty darned cool.
The effort to demolish the old Champlain bridge had to be done carefully, so not to destroy historic artifacts buried beneath it.
Archaeologists spent nearly a month digging test sites.
Kate Duffy has more on what they found.
>> Historians say the section of the west aidson known as chimney point, was the hub.
transportation and trade long before the old Champlain bridge was built.
>> Where the archaeologists have made their discoveries, is actually right under the bridge approach.
>> Elsa from the Vermont division for historic preservation, says maps from 1731 suggest a French colonial Fort.
Artifacts dug up before the bridge was demolished provide the best physical evidence yet.
>> Every shovel they put n they found something and they always knew that the history here was pretty amazing.
>> Historians knew the old Fort was here but archaeologists didn't want to disturb any artifacts.
With the old bridge being torn down the perfect opportunity to uncover what was underneath.
>> And we found a stone foundation that may have been supporting some of the log structures.
But that's an open question.
>> UVM archaeology led a team of researchers digging one square foot test sites near the bridge last fall.
>> This French scene, which is clearly the most diagnostic French artifact type that we have found.
>> Small fragments may be big signs of a long lost civilization.
>> I think we found a lot more than we expected.
I mean, it just remarkable how well preserved this area is if you look at size of this bridge and the effort that went into it to its construction, what is still preserved there is fascinating.
>> Says researchers also uncovered native American artifacts from 9000 years ago as well as evidence of one of Vermont's first manufacturers, potter Moses Bradley.
>> There are a number of different things that in and of themselves are significant about this site but all together makes chimney point one of the more exciting places a yo logically in Vermont.
>> Layers of history surfacing after centuries underground.
Kate Duffy channel 3 news.
>> Vermont has many historic barns and a lot of them are in disrepair.
But a state grant program is trying to save old barns by giving them a new lease on life.
Anson Tebbits reports.
>> The dodge farm has seen its animals over the years.
Built around 1870, this barn has weathered the ups and downs of farming.
It stopped being an active dairy more than two decades ago.
>> Just had a baby.
>> Today begins a new dream for Loren and Kristin.
>> Our big dreams that may or may not come true, include having a canning kitchen and community canning kitchen, community root cellar.
>> The animals are already here.
Laying whens ‑‑ hens, cows and kids.
These goats were just a couple hours old when the governor arrived to hand out a check.
It was a $10,000 grant so this historic barn could be repaired.
>> The barns.
our state are part of the natural and built environment that the make Vermont so attractive and keeping them safe and clean and functional, well into the future.
>> Future for these young farmers starts with a new roof.
>> Once you have a roof you feel comfortable putting energy and money and other resources into the rest of the building.
So the roof is the linchpin basically of the whole project.
>> A business plan that includes selling vegetables from the farm.
Capitalizing on a busy road near the airport in Berlin.
>> We are counting on people coming from the hospital and commuters being close to the interstate.
There's a lost people that ‑‑ that come in already just curious.
>> And keeping these small businesses in business is the goal behind the grants and Vermont's image as well.
>> When folks think of Vermont, it is often pictures like this that they ‑‑ that they think of.
>> Big red barn that is still in business after all these years.
Anson Tebbits, channel 3 news, Berlin.
>> In all, 25 families were awarded barn grants.
Totaling more than 200 thousand dollars.
For a full listing, read this story on‑line on our website.
>>> Well, here is a sure sign that spring has sprung.
Photographer Andy goodrich takes us to Shelburn farms.
Rooster crowing, lambs "Baaaing ": .
>> That was awesome.
>> Pretty cute.
>> What does it say about me that I like the black sheep
>> I don't know what that seems
>> The black sheep of the familiar i I don't know.
>> They are all adorable though.
We have a lot coming up this week on the channel 3 news at 6:00.
>> Yes we do.
social media like face book and twitter is helping Vermont businesses stay competitive.
Our senior business reporter say the Duffy will look into that and your on at which time tear?
>> I am.
Check it out.
I have a few followers at the this point.
>> I'm on twitter too.
I think I have more followers.
>> I think you do too.
Also this week, after a lot of feedback we continue our special report.
We have focused on renters so far but now we will take a look at the problems landlords face.
Until then, take care everybody.
I'm Darren Perron.
>> And I'm Kristin Carlson.
Have a great day!
>> So long everybody!