Tuesday/January 10 roundup

35% of child sex abuse caused by minors — Time Health picked up this fascinating article by Associated Press reporter David Crary, who did a good job at describing the tragic complexity surrounding the minors that commit child sex abuse.

For many of the therapists and attorneys who deal with them, these juvenile offenders pose a profoundly complicated challenge for the child-protection and criminal justice systems. It’s a diverse group that defies stereotypes, encompassing a minority of youths who represent a threat of long-term danger to others and a majority who are responsive to treatment and unlikely to reoffend. “There’s a long continuum, from kids who will never do it again to a kid who probably will be an adult rapist/pedophile,” said Steve Bengis, executive director of the New England Adolescent Research Institute in Holyoke, Mass. “It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ yet we end out with public policy that’s geared toward the worst 5 percent.”

New Jersey legislature changes definition of “unfounded” in child abuse reporting cases. According to a report in NJ.com, “unfounded” used to mean “no evidence of wrongdoing, or that there was some evidence but not enough to prove the parent or caregiver mistreated a child.” But several deaths of children occurred after reports to child services were designated “unfounded”, so the new definition means that there’s no evidence a child is at risk. A third description — ” not substantiated” — means that there is “some indication the child is at risk but not enough to prove abuse,” according to the report.

Massachusetts senate gives initial OK to bill allowing work leave for domestic violence victims. The Boston Globe reported that employers with more than 50 employees would have to provide up to 15 days of leave in any 12-month period to a domestic violence victim. “Victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault would be eligible for leave, intended to allow them to appear in court, receive medical attention or counseling, victim services, housing or legal assistance, or handle other issues directly related to the abuse. Employees would first be required to exhaust their vacation, sick days or personal leave, but employers can waive this requirement.” The full Senate is scheduled to debate the bill on Thursday.

Q-and-A with Dan Stier about study showing 41 percent of young adults arrested at least once. The study, which appeared in Pediatrics, noted thatearly risk factors that can lead to arrests include poor academic performance, abuse at home, hyperactive behavior and poor concentration or language development.”  An interview with Stier, director of the Network for Public Health Law, appeared on Robert Wood Johnson’s NewPublicHealth blog. “When you are quick to steer a young person into the criminal justice system and have them incarcerated,” Stier said, “you’re looking for a lot of problems in terms of lessons they learn while incarcerated. With new public health approaches in the courts, if you can apply a treatment method to that younger person instead of incarceration, you’ll hopefully get them turned around on a proper track.”

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