Data Analytics and Child Protection in Los Angeles | The Chronicle of Social Change

On Wednesday, July 22, Los Angeles County’s recently formed Office of Child Protection will hold a community forum to discuss the simultaneously disquieting and promising prospect of using “big data” to help determine which children are the most likely to be abused.

The question of whether child welfare agencies should apply a statistical discipline called “predictive analytics,” which uses data to infer what may happen in the future, has sparked a now global debate weighing civil liberties, racial profiling and the alluring potential of accurately directing limited public funds to better protect children. Despite the understandable fears that come with applying an algorithm to the very human question of family dysfunction versus family strength, evidence from its use in other child welfare administrations shows promise.

via Data Analytics and Child Protection in Los Angeles | The Chronicle of Social Change.

How We Heal: By Joining a Community and Connecting with Others Who Have Been Similarly Wounded

One of the recommendations I make in “Know Thyself” for expressing and healing your Wounded Child is to volunteer for an organization that helps others. One of the ways that I help children heal from trauma is also by inviting them to join the community of my office by contributing something to the Rainbow Wall, a wall of arts and crafts creations made by children in the process of therapy. This wall helps children to know they are not alone, and that even in their suffering, they have something to give to others, which is a representation of progress and hope.

Self Defense for Children

So, about a century after the rest of the cyberworld I got on Twitter, perfect for the short attention span. If the net is monkey-mind, Twitter is gerbil-mind.

I’m tweet-buddy with about 500 sites and get some really cool links from across the spectrum.

Modern Family Life posts an excellent short review of effective self-defense techniques that can be used by children to deter and defuse potential dangers.


Ask your kids to discontinue the journey if they feel something not right even if it’s their usual route on a bright sunny day. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Stay In Numbers

Who cares if you hop into a crowd that gives you the dumbfounded stares? That’s exactly what your kids need to deter advances from any potential attackers.

Be A Whistle Blower

Assure your child that they have every reason to alert the crowd or someone who are able to assist them if they’re pretty sure of just having escaped an attack. Shouting on top of their voice such as “HELP!” or “THIEF!” are good attention-grabbers.

These techniques work for adults as well.

One new factor in daily life is the cell phone, and while we should not over-estimate the potential of the cell phone for getting help in a bad situation, it does keep us connected and cuts down on the chances of being isolated without anyone knowing where you are.

Standing With the Victim

Rei at Daily Kos says something that really needs to be said– A person can do lots of good things and still do something horrible. Julian Assange has won the admiration of many on the left for taking a stand against government secrecy with Wikileaks. At the same time, he is evading charges of rape.

It’s painful and disillusioning when someone we admire has another side. Or when someone who helped us wrongs someone else.

But not recognizing this aspect of human nature– the capability of doing both good and evil, allows the Jerry Sandusky’s to go undetected, and the Roman Polanskis to claim they are victims of conniving children.

A long article last year in the New York Times paints Assange as a complicated man with mixed motives. That article also links to other sources. How accurate the NYT is in the portrayal is under debate.

This is not to declare Assange innocent or guilty. He is doing his best to evade his day in court– which is where these charges belong. It’s not to weight whether his evasion is justified, given the political stakes.

It’s just a few words in support of Rei’s brave post, and in support of all those who are not believed because the perpetrator was above suspicion.

A Nice Old Guy

We like our evildoers to be purely evil, and our victims to be purely good. Victim’s advocates deal with the reality that bad things happen to people who are not perfect, and that people who seem real nice can do bad things. The craving for a pure narrative of good vs bad gets in the way of stopping and fighting crime and injustice.

It’s was in the 90’s that I went to an art show sponsored by Day One, formerly the Rape Crisis Center. This is the kind of organization that is disparaged as ‘feminazis’ by hate radio and as victimology by pundits like Camille Paglia and Katie Roiphe. It was at the old School One gallery that paintings and other art were on display and survivors spoke of the effect sexual abuse had on their lives. One of the artists was Frank Fitzpatrick, who had composed a piece of music that incorporated a secretly taped phone call with James Porter, the man who as a priest had molested him decades ago. I still remember the recording of Porter laughing as he admitted what he had done. Frank Fitzpatrick pursued justice for a crime that church and state wanted to bury, and by his courage saved other children from a man who was dangerous for as long as he was at large.

Part of the reason Porter got away with his crimes for so long was the complicity of the Catholic Church leadership, who helped Porter move from parish to parish when the truth threatened to come out. Part of the reason is that law enforcement is politically entangled, and no one wants to provoke powerful institutions. Part of the reason criminals like Porter can hide in plain sight is that to adults they are nice old guys, and they choose their victims well. If the child has some trouble, or is afraid of getting into trouble, they can be intimidated into silence. It’s easy to make a child think they are to blame, and if the message they are getting is that some victims are ‘asking for it’, then society is complicit as well.

There’s the kind of wild-eyed maniacs who jump out of alleys, and they are scary. But more common is the criminal who acts pretty normal most of the time and is only dangerous to some people some times. As long as we expect bad guys to wear horns and victims to wear halos, these abusers will continue to find it easy to hide in plain sight.

The Attleboro Sun-Chronicle recently interviewed one of the former victims who came forward to speak truth to power, 2010 Republican candidate for governor, John Robitaille–

Father Porter: Remembering the evil

Mr.Robitaille is a survivor of James Porter’s predations on children. His testimony may help other adult survivors and stand as a warning against the complacency and willful blindness that allowed these crimes to go unpunished for so long.

New Leadership, Rules at Harrington Hall

The Projo reports that a new agency will be running Harrington House and sex offenders will no longer have reserved beds there. From the Projo:

CRANSTON — The state has hired a new agency to run the Harrington Hall homeless shelter, ending a controversial arrangement in which beds were being reserved for convicted sex offenders.

Starting July 1, the Urban League of Rhode Island will be out, and the House of Hope Community Development Corporation will be in.

The switch does not mean sex offenders will be turned away if they show up needing a place to stay, but it does mean the shelter, about a quarter-mile from a playground and about a half-mile from the nearest school, will no longer reserve space for them.