child abuse

  • Monk arrested for child abuse

    A monk has been arrested and defrocked for alleged sexual violations against boys and posting pornographic content online.

    “He has confessed that he has committed the crimes for more than 10 years already. Whenever his behaviour was exposed at a temple, he would simply move to another,” said Pol Lt General Surachate Hakparn, deputy chief of Thailand’s Action Taskforce for Information Technology Crime Suppression.

    Surachate identified the suspect, now defrocked, as 40-year-old Sikarin Klaisuwan.

    “He opted for temples that had often organised mass ordinations for novice monks because there were plenty of boys for him to approach,” Surachate said.

    He said Sikarin was being charged for abusing under-15s. The charges carry a jail term of between four and 20 years and a fine of between Bt80,000 and Bt400,000.

    Surachate said police found Sikarin had kept many clips of sexual assaults against boys at his quarters in Kanchanaburi province.

    In another case, police found a 30-year-old monk in Khon Kaen province was releasing pornographic content on Line and Facebook.

    After defrocking, the suspect was identified as Danainat Saengphan.

    “He apparently lured girls to talk to him and send their nude photos to him without them knowing that he was a monk,” Surachate said.

    He added that his agency also arrested an 82-year-old German for possessing child pornography.

    “He is liable to a jail term of up to five years and a fine of Bt100,000, if convicted,” Surachate said.

  • Child abuse leaves ‘molecular scars’ on victims: study

    Children subjected to abuse may carry the physical hallmark of that trauma in their cells, scientists said Tuesday, in research that could help criminal investigations probing historic mistreatment.

     

    The imprints may also shed light on whether or not trauma can be passed on between generations as has long been hypothesised.

    A team of researchers at the University of British Columbia examined the sperm cells of 34 adult men, some of whom had been victims of child abuse years earlier.

    They found that the effects of the trauma were indelibly printed in 12 regions of the DNA of those men who had experienced varying levels of emotional, physical or sexual abuse.

    Scientists believe these alterations, known as methylation, could one day be used by investigators or courts to weigh allegations of child abuse.

    “If you think of genes as being like lightbulbs, DNA methylation is like a dimmer switch that controls how strong each light is — which in turn can influence how cells function,” Nicole Gladish, a PhD candidate in the university’s Department of Medical Genetics, told AFP.

    “This information can potentially provide additional information about how childhood abuse affects long-term physical and mental health.”

    The experiment is one of a growing number of trials looking into what turns genes “on and off” at different periods of human development, a field of study known as epigenetics.

    Once thought as entirely pre-programmed from conception, some genes are now known to be activated or deactivated by environmental factors or an individual’s life experience.

    ‘Small piece of the puzzle’

    Scientists involved in the study, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, said they still did not know how methylation affects a person’s long-term health.

    In addition, due to the difficulty in extracting egg cells, the team don’t plan to replicate the experiment on women — statistically far likelier to have been victims of child abuse than men.

    Scientists said the degree of “dimming” in the DNA regions were surprising — one part of the genome of the men who were abused as children was 29 percent different to those who were not.

    And, because the degree of methylation changes over time, they were able to tell by looking at the men’s cells roughly when the abuse occurred.

    “This might help the development of tests that could be used by healthcare workers or potentially even as forensic evidence,” Gladish said.

    Although researchers still have little idea whether or not the imprints of abuse contained within sperm cells would survive fertilisation intact, lead author Andrea Roberts said the study “brings us at least one step closer” towards working out if trauma can be transmitted across generations.

    “We can look at our study as one small piece in the huge overall puzzle of how intergenerational trauma works,” said Gladish.

    She pointed out there are several other teams working on the conundrum, including experiments on mice and other animals.

    “It is certainly possible that epigenetic changes in sperm cells play a role in the physical and mental health of the next generation, but we don’t know for sure.”

  • Australian Catholics vow to end child abuse ‘cover-ups’

    Australian Catholic leaders vowed Friday that the church’s “shameful” history of child abuse and cover-ups will never be repeated, but rejected a national inquiry’s call to report such assaults disclosed in confession.

     

    The church was formally responding to a five-year royal commission into institutional child abuse, ordered by the government after a decade of pressure to investigate widespread allegations across the country.

    “Many bishops failed to listen, failed to believe, and failed to act,” said Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge, vowing there would be no more “cover-ups”.

    “Those failures allowed some abusers to offend again and again, with tragic and sometimes fatal consequences. The bishops and leaders of religious orders pledge today: Never again.”

    Among the inquiry’s recommendations was that priests break the traditional confidentiality of confession if they are told of abuse, but the church said such a requirement impinged on religions liberties.

    “The only recommendation we can’t accept relates to removing the seal of confession,” said Coleridge.

    “This isn’t because we regard ourselves as being above the law or because we don’t think the safety of children is supremely important — we do.

    “But we don’t accept that safeguarding and the seal as mutually exclusive. Nor do we believe that abolishing the seal will make children any safer.”

    The national inquiry, which heard horrific stories during often confronting and emotionally exhausting public and private hearings, delivered its final report in December.

    It found that Australian institutions “seriously failed” children in their care with tens of thousands sexually assaulted

    Sister Monica Cavanagh, president of Catholic Religious Australia, said the church accepted 98 percent of the recommendations, calling the inquiry “an important and necessary period for the Australian community”.

    “The process is already under way to reform the church’s practices to ensure that safeguarding is integral in all that we do as part of our ministry and outreach in the community,” she said.

    “Making the Church a safer place for our children and vulnerable persons is at the heart of our commitment to mission.”

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