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Homer Alaska – Opinion
By Jessica Lawmaster
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and I can’t think of a better time to address our community. Haven House has been providing crisis intervention, shelter, advocacy and outreach for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence for over thirty years. For the last four years, we have also been serving victims of child sexual abuse through our Children’s Advocacy Center. Our greatest wish is to be put out of business but, unfortunately, our numbers continue to rise.
Domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse are rampant in Alaska, including in our little hamlet by the sea. It often takes a unique or particularly jarring case to mobilize our community — a “wake up call,” if you will. Those of us who work with victims and survivors of violence can attest to the fact that these cases are most definitely not isolated occurrences. On a weekly basis, we serve women who have been so brutally beaten they can barely make it to our door, helpless children whose innocence has been stolen from them by those they trust the most, teens who have been violated and humiliated and feel they have nowhere to turn. Read More at Homer Alaska – Opinion
Homer Alaska – News
By Michael Armstrong
Photo by Michael Armstrong
A veteran South Peninsula Haven House employee, Jessica Lawmaster, has been selected as the new Haven House executive director, the board of directors announced this week.
Jessica Lawmaster, left, speaks last March at the Homer Choose Respect rally against domestic violence and sexual assault
Lawmaster, who served as interim director after former director Peg Coleman left to take a job in Utah, had previously worked as the program manager for Haven House’s Child Advocacy Centers in Homer, Kenai and Seward. Read More at Homer Alaska – News
Behind every piece of crime legislation, especially when it relates to children, are many young faces and tiny bodies that have experienced severe trauma at the hands of a caregiver. In 2010 the Children’s Justice Act Task Force (CJA) Legislative Sub-Committee began reviewing issues statewide that indicated potential need for changes in statutes. Critical to this was the input received from Alaskan Child Advocacy Centers (CAC) and their Multidisciplinary Teams (MDT).
After research into existing Alaska Statutes and statutes in other states, the work of creating suggested changes began in earnest mid-2011. Key participants were Jan Rutherdale, Assistant AG, Child Protection Section; Cathy Baldwin Johnson, Medical Director of Alaska CARES &The Children’s Place; Gayle Garrigues, Fairbanks Assistant DA & Stevie’s Place CAC MDT member; Lt. Craig Allen, Alaska Bureau of Investigation; John Bioff, General Council, Norton Sound Health Corporation; Thom Janidlo, Anchorage attorney; Pam Karalunas, Alaska Children’s Alliance Chapter Coordinator; Doug Wooliver, Deputy Administrative Director, Alaska Court System and Rob Wood, DJJ Divisions Operations Manager.
The resulting legislation, championed by Senator Lesil McGuire, with the assistance of aide Amy Salzman, increases the age threshold for which offenders can be charged with assault in the third degree for causing physical harm to a child, or an adult who causes physical injury to the child on more than one occasion. The bill also creates a task force on crimes of human and sex trafficking to be headed by the attorney general.
Dr. Baldwin-Johnson, directly behind Governor Sean Parnell, was able to witness first-hand the results of her committee’s hard work and diligence as Governor Sean Parnell signed the legislation into law on June 19, 2012.
Alaska Dispatch News
Cory A. Bryant
I listened with sadness to the recent news reports about children allegedly being abused over many years by Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
It struck me that this is not really a story about football, leadership or celebrity, but is instead a story about the human desire to close our eyes and wait for someone else to do what is right. No doubt it takes courage to confront criminal behavior, but it must begin with a conscious decision to be watchful, to embrace our individual responsibility to protect children in our community and to boldly challenge situations that put children at risk.
All adults have a responsibility to learn the signs and symptoms of child abuse and to be vigilant to protect our children. There are many resources in Alaska and outside that can help in this fight. Some are: www.providence.org/childrenshospital; www.D2L.org; www.onewithcourage.org. Read More at Alaska Dispatch News