In Memoriam

Katharine D. Kane

In deep gratitude for her over 30 years of dedicated
service on the MassKids Board of Directors.

Kathy's Obituary in the Boston Globe can be read here.

Kathy's service was held Wednesday, October 16, 2013
at The Church of St. John the Evangelist.
The service program is available here.

If you would like to make a donation to support our work in Kathy's honor please go here for more information; her family will be notified of all such donations.

News from the Coalition to Reform Sex Abuse Laws (CORSAL):

Your Action on SOL Reform Needed Today!

In a strategic effort to move civil Statute of Limitations (SOL) reform forward, Senator Brownsberger yesterday personally reached out to his Senate colleagues to urge them to add their names to a letter that he and Rep. Lawn have drafted. The letter urges Senate President Murray and House Speaker DeLeo to shepherd SOL bills S. 63 and H.1455 out of Committee and on to the Senate and House floors for a vote. Within hours, 30 of 40 Senators had already signed the letter. Rep. Lawn is reaching out to his House colleagues and expects strong support as well.

Your voice needs to be heard today. Call your legislators and urge them to add their names to the letter. If they have already done so, thank them and encourage them to ask their colleagues to do the same. (Because Sen. Brownsberger and Rep. Lawn are reaching out personally to their colleagues, legislative aides may not yet be aware of this effort. You should know this, in case aides tell you they have not seen such a letter.) The letter will be sent to Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Murray on July 31 just before the August recess. It may be publicly released to the media at that time. Make sure your legislators’ names are on it.

Tell them that survivors and advocates intend to take the issue of SOL reform to the mat. We expect them to take it to the Floor and vote to abolish or retroactively extend the civil SOL. Survivors deserve justice and our children deserve action now. Thanks and check CORSAL's website or Facebook page for regular updates!

Thank you,
CORSAL

 

MassKids Chronicle / Spring 2013

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month at MassKids. Here are some highlights of what's happening to build the movement to prevent child sexual abuse and to reduce infant deaths and disabilites from Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma.

  • "GateKeepers for Kids" - Protecting Children in Youth Serving Organizations
  • Upcoming Summit to be held on Sexual Abuse Prevention in Schools and Youth-Serving Organizations
  • MassKids and Massachusetts Medical Society Collaborate to Make New Resources Available
  • Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma Prevention
  • Pinwheels for Prevention in the Month of April
  • Presentation on Protecting Your Children from Child Sexual Abuse for Waltham Area Parents
  • Training Medical Professionals About Sexual Abuse
  • Update to Statute of Limitations Legislation

Read More About the Above Here

"Sex-wise Parents Can Raise Sexually Safer and Healthier Kids!"

An article by Dr. Janet Rosenzweig

Reposted from the Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM,) Blog, original post found here: Sex-Wise Parents can raise sexually safer and healthier kids! | National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) This week the Talk Early, Talk Often series continues on the SAAM Blog with a guest post from author and expert Dr. Janet Rosenzweig.

Parents are the strongest influence on their children's decisions about sex and sexuality, yet most parents underestimate their own power. A major national survey reported in 2010 that 46 percent of teens continue to say that parents most influence their decisions about sex, while just 20 percent say friends most influence their decisions. At the same time, parents overestimate the influence media and friends have on their children's decisions about sex and underestimate their own.

The same study tells us that 88 percent of parents agree with the statement that "parents believe they should talk to their kids about sex but often don’t know what to say, how to say it, or when to start." (Albert 2010)

It's easy to see why: They were raised in the era I've dubbed "The Neutered Nineties". That's when we traded rational discussion about sexuality for Megan's Laws and sex offender registries, in the name of 'prevention.' It's when cash-strapped school districts had to teach abstinence-only topics or lose federal funding. And when answering a question about masturbation at an AIDS conference got the U.S. surgeon general fired. Too many adults stopped talking to kids about sex. Qualified professionals went quiet and left a vacuum too easily filled by people who sexually offend.

Accurate and age-appropriate information about sex disappeared from most professional work in child sexual abuse, and it's time to put it back.

Where to start? With two critical messages for our children:

  • They need to know accurate names for all their body parts; and
  • They need to understand that physical sexual arousal is an autonomic response -- like getting goosebumps when tickled.

One now-grown female victim of child sexual abuse I interviewed for The Sex-Wise Parent told me that good touch-bad touch programs can actually be dangerous to a victim because sometimes the touch actually feels good! Further, men who were victims of sexual abuse report that the confusion resulting from a climax is one of the most difficult issues to resolve.

People who sexually offend exploit children's guilt and their lack of knowledge related to sexuality often try to convince them  that they must have actually enjoyed the abuse because of a physical response over which they have no control. Understanding sexual response is important for boys and girls -- people who prey on teen-aged girls exploit the fact that very few girls understand that their physical response to a sexual thought, feeling or touch has absolutely nothing to do with love.

Language and knowledge that parents equip children with are a defense against abuse. Raising a child who knows the parts of his or her body, and knows that it's safe to tell parents or a trusted adult if they have been touched, can prevent their victimization and probably other children's, too. And, if abuse occurs, harm may be mitigated if the child understands their body's response.

For parents who need support as they heed the advice to 'talk early-talk often,' I suggest practicing with friends and getting used to using sexual terms without discomfort. Take turns role-playing, asking each other the kinds of questions you fear getting from your children. Watch this video for ideas and encouragement. This may not be easy at first, but the reward can be lifelong -- a sexually safe and healthy child!

Find more ideas at my website and feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. me your questions!

 

Dr. Janet Rosenzweig worked for the first sexual abuse helpline in the U.S., in Knox County, Tennessee; that project developed into a 5-county treatment program and a national multi-disciplinary training center. She has also managed child sexual abuse programs in Texas and New Jersey, and is the author of The Sex-Wise Parent: The Parent's Guide Protecting Your Child, Strengthening Your Family, and Talking to Kids about Sex, Abuse, and Bullying, (Skyhorse Publishing, 2012). She is currently the national consultant for child sexual abuse prevention programs for Prevent Child Abuse - America, a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and a speaker offering keynotes and training nationally.

MCC_logo_color

December 13, 2012 - 12 AM EST
MassKids, 14 Beacon Street, Suite 706, Boston
Contact: Jetta Bernier, Executive Director
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
617-742-8555 x2
617-827-5218 (cell)

 

 

PRESS RELEASE
Infant/toddler Sex Abuse Case Prompts Advocates to Press for Statute of Limitations (SOL) Reform Before Year-End Deadline
---
Push for Expansion of Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Campaign

 

December 13, 2012, BOSTON, MA – Child advocates today urged legislators to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of a bill that would reform the state’s current Statute of Limitations in cases of child sexual abuse. “The public’s response to the sexual abuse of 13 infants and toddlers by Level 1 sex offender John Burbine has been very strong” said Jetta Bernier, director of MassKids, a statewide non-profit child abuse prevention group. “People are upset and want solutions to prevent these heinous crimes from happening. One way the public can channel this outrage is to insist that the legislature move the SOL reform bill through to passage before year’s end,” she said. “Failure to do so would maintain the loophole for those sexual abusers who have never been brought to justice. Currently, these individuals are free to abuse with impunity since under the current Statues of Limitations, they are beyond the law’s reach.”

Advocates support an SOL bill that would extend the time a victim could file civil charges against their alleged abuser from the victim’s 21st birthday to age 43. Importantly, it would create a “window” - a one or two year period of time - during which victims who under current law are barred from filing charges would be able to do so and expose the facts of their cases in court.

Because final negotiations on the bill were not resolved before the July 31st end of the formal legislative session, a Conference Committee was appointed on October 22nd to finalize the language with the goal of passing a final bill in the “informal” session. Advocates have been told that the Committee is “making progress”, however, the closed-door discussions have not yielded visible results and there are only a few short weeks left for passage during this legislative session. Failure to pass the bill before then would mean refilling the bill and starting all over – something that supporters of reform are intent on avoiding.

Rosanne Sliney, a former Waltham teacher and survivor of child sexual abuse from age 5 to 14 by her godfather summed it up: “A strong case for holding abusers accountable and preventing the sexual abuse of more children has been made again and again during the two-year legislative session that will soon end. The public and an overwhelming majority of legislators support SOL reform. Concerns about constitutional issues have been fully addressed by the nation’s leading legal experts. Countdown to the New Year begins today with 19 days remaining. We urge the Conference Committee to complete its work and get the bill approved now before survivors have to face the run-down of yet another time clock,” she said.

Advocates urge parents to channel their outrage by getting educated about specific strategies to prevent child sexual abuse from happening in the first place. The Enough Abuse Campaign, a nationally recognized Massachusetts-based prevention initiative, has been working to do that and more since its formation just after the clergy sex abuse scandal was uncovered in 2002. Several communities have joined the Campaign and formed local coalitions of organizations committed to ending the problem. Campaign sites include: the 8-town North Quabbin region, Hampshire and Franklin Counties, North Shore, Greater Lowell, Greater Springfield, Newton/Waltham, South Worcester County, and Cape Cod and Islands. Thousands of parents, youth and a range of professionals across the state have been educated about sexual abuse prevention through community workshops provided free by local volunteers trained by the Campaign. Free booklets for parents about how to prevent child sexual abuse are also available by contacting the Campaign at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A 2007 UMass Poll found that nearly two-thirds of citizens say they would participate in local trainings to learn about sexual abuse and how to prevent it – an increase from 47% in a similar poll conducted four years earlier. When asked where the state should spend its resources to solve this problem, 37% said that educating adults should be the top priority. That was followed by 35% wanting better police and child protective services investigations. Only 20% believed that promoting the Sex Offender Registry was a priority, and significantly fewer (7%) believed that funds should be spent on treating adult sexual abusers.

“The lesson we all need to take away from the clergy sex abuse scandal, the Penn State cover-up, the Boy Scouts’ “perversion files” case, and the stream of sexual abuse disclosures that have become so routine, is that adults and communities must take prime responsibility for preventing sexual abuse from ever happening,” said Bernier. “That means learning and talking about it. That’s where the Enough Abuse Campaign comes in.” The Campaign’s goal is that by 2015, every Massachusetts city and town will be actively engaged in preventing child sexual abuse in their homes and communities. “Every day we are working to reach that goal,” said Bernier whose organization staffs the effort. “We urge citizens who want to help launch a prevention effort in their community to contact the Campaign and become part of the solution.”