“Parents rights” advocates have scored a victory now that Idaho has passed House Bill 113. But what does it mean for Idaho’s children?

“Parents rights” advocates have scored a victory now that Idaho has passed House Bill 113. But what does it mean for Idaho’s children?

shadow familyOn April 2, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed into law House Bill 113 known as the “parents rights” bill. It will become law on July 1 of this year.

The bill was one of many similar pieces of legislation being lobbied around the country by the Home School Legal Defense Association, whose mission is to “preserve and advance the fundamental, God-given, constitutional right of parents and others legally responsible for their children to direct their education.”

According to the HSLDA, the law doesn’t give parents more rights, it just codifies them, a necessary step say proponents who are convinced that the courts are beginning to strip them away. In announcing its victory, HSLDA stated on its website: “You don’t have any more rights now than you did before. But the rights you already have by virtue of being a parent are now far safer.”

The lobbying group is particularly worried that government is interfering with parents’ ability to make decisions about their children’s education. According to HSLDA’s website parentalrights.org, “It is no accident, no coincidence. And it’s not just your imagination. There really is a steady trend by the government and the courts to remove the influence of parents from the public schools.”

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We’re off to a great start in 2015!

We’re off to a great start in 2015!

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The Child-Friendly Faith Project is excited about the new year!

Looking back, we accomplished a lot in 2014. We completed development of our Charter Member designation program, a curriculum designed exclusively for faith communities. We held our first raffle giveaway. And our conference presented more than twice as many speakers as last year. But there’s a lot more to come! Read More »

Faith Communities Meet the Needs of Abused Children and Adult Survivors

Faith Communities Meet the Needs of Abused Children and Adult Survivors

Meet Peter Singer and David Pittman, two advocates who are serving the needs of child victims of maltreatment and survivors of sexual abuse. The Child-Friendly Faith Project is honored to have each give an important presentation at this year’s conference on Dec. 4th and 5th in Austin, Texas.

Peter will talk about how to engage faith communities in providing needed services to children and families impacted by maltreatment. David will explain how faith communities can help provide mental health services to survivors of child sexual abuse.

Through their nonprofit organizations, both men have found ways to guide faith communities so they can improve the lives of those who have been harmed by child abuse and neglect. Read More »

Do culture and religion matter in the Adrian Peterson case?

Do culture and religion matter in the Adrian Peterson case?
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Photo by guardianlv.com

While the media seems largely focused on the fact that the Minnesota Vikings finally decided to bench its star running back, a more important—and politically incorrect—question needs to be asked:

Did Adrian Peterson’s religious beliefs and cultural background as an African American contribute to him beating and injuring his son?

Many details about the case have been well publicized and have not been denied by Peterson: Last spring, he “disciplined” his four-year-old son at his Houston home by stuffing leaves in his mouth and hitting him repeatedly with the branch of a tree or “switch.” The boy was also reportedly beaten with a belt. The “whoopings,” as Peterson called them, resulted in the boy sustaining lacerations, bruises, and welts on his legs, arms, buttocks, and genitals. Upon questioning, the child told his mother that Peterson “likes belts and switches and has a whooping room.”

After intense public pressure, the cancellation of a major NFL sponsor, apparent threats by other companies to cancel sponsorship, and the news that Peterson had been accused of abusing another son in 2013 (Peterson was not charged in that case), the Vikings dramatically changed course. Initially, after Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges, the Vikings had him sit out one game and then allowed him to rejoin the team. After the public outcry, officials barred him from all team activities. Some predict he will never again wear a Vikings jersey.

Now, statistics on the use of corporal punishment in conservative Christian households and those in the African American community are raising questions as to whether Peterson’s religious beliefs and cultural background fueled his ideology about the need to control his son’s behavior in this way and, ultimately, to injure him.

I’m not aware of any studies that show that children in one faith or racial group are more at risk for abuse than others, but there is reason to believe that children who are physically punished are more at risk for being physically abused than children who are not physically punished. Studies show that a vast majority of child abuse is delivered in the midst of adults using corporal punishment. Furthermore, children are more likely to be injured when parents use corporal punishment frequently or use implements to spank children.[1]

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Great things are happening at the CFFP!

Great things are happening at the CFFP!

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And we can’t wait to tell you about them! Starting with…

OUR FIRST GRANT! We are excited to report that the generous members of Foundation Beyond Belief have donated a combined total of $10,265 to the CFFP. We were one of five beneficiary organization chosen for the “Challenge the Gap” category, which includes groups that work with faith communities. All funds will go directly to developing and implementing our educational programs. We are so grateful for this gift!

GET READY FOR CFFP CONFERENCE 2014! This year’s conference will again present some of the country’s most informed and prestigious speakers who can help us better understand how to protect children from maltreatment in faith communities. Our two keynote speakers are Boz Tchividjian, JD, and Lisa Fontes, PhDBoz is the founder of the investigative organization, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE). He is also the grandson of Dr. Billy Graham and a professor at Liberty University School of Law. Lisa has dedicated two decades to making the mental health, social service, and criminal justice systems more responsive to culturally diverse communities and is the author of Child Abuse and Culture: Working with Diverse Families. Read More »

Couple convicted of child abuse

This article was originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal.

A couple who spanked their young children on their bare bottoms with wooden dowels in keeping with the teachings of the church they belonged to were convicted Friday night of child abuse, the last of eight people connected to the church charged with abuse.

Matthew Caminiti, 29, was convicted of four of the five counts of child abuse he faced, while his wife, Alina Caminiti, 27, of Black Earth, was convicted of all three counts she faced after a weeklong jury trial in Dane County Circuit Court. Read more

 

Proving Richard Dawkins Wrong

This blog post was originally published via Religious Child Maltreatment

I am a fan of Richard Dawkins. I admire him as a biologist, as a straight-talking atheist, and as an advocate for victims of religious child maltreatment. On June 1 of this year, I had the honor to be introduced by him at the American Humanist Association conference in San Diego where I spoke on a panel that he moderated on the subject of religious fundamentalism and child abuse. Dr. Dawkins praised my book, Breaking Their Will, and stressed how important it is that we recognize that religious belief can be a risk factor in cases of abuse and neglectI applaud Dr. Dawkins for personally donating £10,000 toward a fund to build a legal case to prosecute Pope Benedict XVI for his part in the Catholic church covering up cases of child sexual abuse committed by priests.

But I have to call him on a comment he made about child abuse. Actually, it was a comment he made about how we should view the actions of abusers who perpetrated their actions a few generations ago. In making his comment, Dr. Dawkins was not simply incorrect, he was terribly wrong, as in irresponsible. That is, I feel his statement could have a deleterious affect on victims of religious child maltreatment now and for years to come. Read more

CFFP Conference 2013: A first of its kind event!

CFFP Conference 2013: A first of its kind event!

wideshot of conferenceOur November 8th conference was an amazing opportunity. We were joined by an audience that consisted of people who work in various fields from religious education to social work to law enforcement. We came together to hear about religious and cultural child maltreatment and what can be done to better protect children from abuse and neglect enabled by ideology and ignorance. The speakers represented a who’s-who of experts who have devoted their lives to these important issues. We heard some late-breaking news about a problematic community in Idaho, and the whole event was watched remotely by an audience who tuned in to a live feed.

Want to watch videos from the conference? Click here.

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More than she could bear

More than she could bear

This blog post was originally published via Religious Child Maltreatment

By now you’ve probably heard about the case of Nina Koistinen. She’s the 36-year-old mother from Phoenix who has been charged with first-degree murder, after she confessed to suffocating her newborn baby, Maya. Koistinen reportedly told authorities that she killed Maya six days after giving birth to her, because she “had too many kids already” and was jealous of the attention her husband was giving the baby.

It was her husband, Bradley Koistinen, who found the lifeless infant and alerted authorities. At his wife’s initial court appearance, he explained that his wife was suffering from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression. “We have tried for years and years to manage it,” he said. He also noted that his wife of fifteen years “has been the greatest mother” who “has never hurt any of our kids.” Read more