The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence


child abuse

The V Word – Technology and Child Abuse

On todays’ show, we discuss predation on children through technology – using chat rooms and the internet. We discuss some surprising findings that make addressing child abuse and adults who prey on children more concerning.

The V Word: Technology and Sexual Assault

Welcome to today’s edition of The V Word. 

Listen to the show here

August is the month we ease out of vacation and prepare kids to go back to school. And with school comes technology. Technology and the internet is used for everything and kids have access everywhere. I watch my friends and inlaws with children try to put in place controls and blocks, but children can still access cell phones and the internet anywhere. And predators online are clever. If you have kids, is this something you worry about? If so, listen,
this week we are going to talk about predation via technology.

Surveys done by the US Department of Justice found that predators seek youths vulnerable to seduction, including those with histories of sexual or physical abuse, those who post sexually provocative photos/videos, and those who talk about sex with unknown people online.

  • 1 in 25 youths received an online sexual solicitation in which the solicitor tried to make offline contact.
  • In more than one-quarter (27%) of incidents, solicitors asked youths for sexual photographs of themselves.
  • 15% of cell-owning teens (12–17) say they have received sexually suggestive nude/seminude images of someone they know via text.
  • 4% of cell-owning teens (12–17) say that they have sent sexually suggestive nude/seminude messages to others via text message.

The US Department of Justice completed another survey to describe characteristics of interactions between Internet predators and their juvenile victims. The survey found that:

  • The majority of victims had met the predator willingly.
  • Of the 129 victims identified, ages 17 and younger, the face-to-face meetings had occurred in 74% of the cases, and 93% of those encounters had included sexual contact.
  • 75% of the victims were girls.
  • The majority of victims (67%) were children between the ages of 12 and 15.
  • The most common first encounter of a predator with a victim took place in an online chat room (76%).
  • In 47% of the cases, the predator offered gifts or money during the relationship-building phase.

And here is what is surprising:

  • Predators used less deception to befriend their online victims than experts had thought. Only 5% of the predators told their victims that they were in the same age-group as the victims. Most offenders told the victims that they were older males seeking sexual relations.
  • The victims who responded to this survey had willingly met and had sexual encounters with the predators. The authors concluded that vulnerable youth need further education regarding the negative effects of such relationships.

What can you do?

In Virginia there are many laws to protect children. You can find them at the Department of Criminal Justice Services website:

To list one =
Statute § 18.2-374.3. Use of communications systems to facilitate certain offenses involving children. Under this statute there is a list of offences describing abuse of children and use of technology.

Any person who violates this subsection is guilty of a Class 5 felony.

How can you help?

  • You can add your voice to the community’s discussion to eliminate stigma, violence, and it’s impact against the youth of our community. There are many things you can do.
  • Get involved with your local child advocacy center or rape crisis center to learn more about educating your children or the children in your life.
  • Talk with your schools to request a education program to be provided at all grades.

For help or information? Here are some options…

If you have been assaulted or your child has been assaulted, call 911. Local rape crisis centers and child advocacy centers have advocates they can send to help support you and provide information.

For information on how to report an assault in the Richmond, Virginia, USA are, you can call the non-emergency line at 804-646-5100 or go by a local police station office. The main Richmond office is located at 200 West Grace Street.

To get a forensic exam to collect evidence and receive medical care, the local hospitals in the Richmond area with Forensic Nurse Examiners are at Medical College of Virginia and St. Mary’s Hospital.

For help with counseling and advocacy, local rape crisis centers, child advocacy centers and domestic violence shelters can provide services. To find a center closest to you… you can call the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238. That is the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238.

Want to share a story or ask a question? Email me at or tweet me at my twitter account: @preventviolence. You can read the transcript for this show and past shows on my blog at

The V Word is recorded in the studios of WRIR-LP 97.3 and streamed at, read and produced by me, Carol Olson. Music is provided by The Etching Tin

US Department of Justice – Dru Sjodn National Sex Offender Public Website

Legislate for: Enhanced Penalties for Family Violence in the Presence of Minors

The Risks and Unintended Consequences


Society often looks for ways to offer greater protection for children who witness family violence.  One remedy that is frequently proposed is enhanced penalties for assault and battery against a family or household member when a child is present.  While on the surface this would seem to be an appropriate solution, the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance has concerns that such an enhancement puts children at greater risk of physical and emotional harm and has other unintended consequences.

Enhanced Penalties put Children at Greater Risk

  • To prove h/she present, the child may be required to testify against a parent or other adult in the home, putting the child in the middle of an already volatile situation.
  • If a child testifies against the offender, the offender and in some instances the non-offending parent may retaliate against the child, putting the child’s safety at risk.
  • If the child is afraid of the offender, and/or does not want to testify against a parent or loved one, s/he may feel that it is necessary to perjure him/herself in order to protect the family.
  • The offender, non-offending parent or others may blame the child for the enhanced penalty (jail time or fine) and therefore the child may blame him/herself for the violence and effect of the penalty on the family.


Actions Requested by VSDVAA

Below are three alternatives to enhancing penalties or creating a misdemeanor for when a minor is present during an assault and battery of a family or household member:

  • Support increased funding and availability of services for children and teens who witness and/or are impacted by family abuse.  This could include services in domestic violence programs, child advocacy centers and supervised visitation centers.
  • When preparing the pre-sentencing report, include information about the presence of a minor during the incident and the impact of the violence on the child or teen.
  • During the sentencing phase, consider the impact of the violence on the minor.


For more information, contact Stacy Ruble at Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance (VSDVAA) at:  804-377-0335 or

reposted from the Action Alliance website:

Action Needed – Support Services for Victims of Violence

Earlier I posted a press release by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance detailing the proposed budgets released by the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.  There are significant differences between the House and Senate proposals and we need everyone’s help to bridge the gap and protect funding for domestic violence services.
The House Appropriations Committee is recommending a budget that includes significant cuts for domestic violence services (31%).
The Senate Finance Committee is recommending a budget that minimizes cuts for domestic violence services (7.5% ) and also includes an increase in the marriage license fee to $45 to provide funding for services to children and youth.
The Action Alliance is calling on its membership and supporting community members to ask our state Senators and Delegates to support an increase in the marriage license fee to preserve the opportunity to provide services to children and youth exposed to sexual and domestic violence without sacrificing services to adults victims of domestic violence services.

Each body will be voting on their respective budgets on Thursday, and then a conference committee will be appointed to try to resolve the differences and come up with one budget.
They need to hear from you that there is a revenue source in the Senate Budget to protect funding for domestic violence services.

Following are some steps that you can take:
1. Contact your state Senator:
  • Call your state Senator, express gratitude for the Senate Finance Committee’s support of domestic violence programs, and ask him/her to support the recommended budget of the Senate Finance Committee who worked hard to protect domestic violence program funding and supported the budget amendment for children’s services.
  • Send a personal letter (it can be brief) to your Senator immediately after your call to follow-up and reiterate in writing the need for them to support the Senate Finance Committee’s proposed budget and increase in the marriage license fee.
2. Contact your state Delegate
3. Contact anyone you know who is concerned about the safety of domestic violence survivors and their children, and ask them to also contact their Senators and their Delegates.

4. Contact your local domestic violence program and ask how you can support their action steps in your community.

5. After taking action, please let us know and share with us how it went by sending an email to or making a post to the 1,000 Grandmothers Campaign on facebook at:
If you have any questions or concerns about this information, please free to contact the Action Alliance Co-Directors, Jeanine Beiber or Kristi VanAudenhove at or 804-377-0335.
Thank you for your support!
Carol Olson, Governing Body Member and Executive Director of the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault

Help Protect Crime Victims, Promote Community-Based Policing, and Ensure a Safer Virginia for All!

Join advocates from around Virginia on Tuesday, January 12, 2010, from 12:00pm-1:00pm, for a state-wide conference call to mobilize support for reintroduction and passage of the Victim Witness Bill (last session’s SB 1436), in the Virginia General Assembly. This critical legislation would keep police from asking victims and witnesses of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and other crimes about their immigration status – bolstering trust between police and immigrant communities, and reassuring victims and witnesses that they can come forward without fear. The call, hosted by the Tahirih Justice Center, Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance (Action Alliance), and CG2 Consulting, will provide an overview of the Victim Witness Bill and discuss the many ways that advocates can get involved in this year’s campaign.

Many of you are members of the Virginia Alliance for Sensible Community Police (VA-SCOPE), and know how close our hard work came to getting the bill passed last year.

This year WE NEED YOUR HELP to spread the message and rally support! Please RSVP for the call to by Monday, January 11, 2010.

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