Lauren's Kids

To prevent sexual abuse through awareness, education, and to help survivors heal with guidance and support

"You will be inspired by the powerful and courageous voice that has emerged from this young woman."

- Lisa Ling, Journalist From the forward of "It's Ok to Tell."

News

Lauren’s efforts have been featured in various news outlets across the country including Our America with Lisa Ling on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, the Associated Press, Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell on CNN’s HLN, and Maria Shriver’s blog.

Fla. court: Crime victim recordings not evidence

By  on December 11, 2014, published by the SaintPetersBlog

AP — Incriminating statements secretly recorded by a crime victim cannot be used as evidence against the alleged perpetrator even in a child sex abuse case, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The justices unanimously decided that the Legislature would have to change Florida law for such evidence to be admissible in a trial. The law generally prohibits conversations to be recorded or otherwise intercepted without the consent of both parties.

There is no exception for recordings made by crime victims, Justice Charles Canady wrote in an 18-page decision.

“It may well be that a compelling case can be made for an exception … for recordings that provide evidence of criminal activity – or at least certain types of criminal activities. But the adoption of such an exception is a matter for the Legislature,” Canady wrote.

The ruling came in the case of a Lee County man serving a life prison sentence for sexually assaulting his teenage stepdaughter over a number of years. The girl recorded two conversations about sex with Richard McDade, 68, using an MP3 player hidden under her shirt. She then took the recordings to police, who arrested McDade.

The trial judge allowed the recordings to be used to convict McDade, who the girl said had abused her sexually for about six years beginning when she was only 10. The 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled last year that the recordings were proper evidence because McDade had no “reasonable expectation of privacy” despite being in his own home.

The appeals judges added that whatever privacy expectation “McDade may have had is not one which society is prepared to accept as reasonable.”

The Supreme Court overturned that decision, throwing out McDade’s convictions and ordering a new trial without the girl’s recorded incriminating statements. The high court said there is no legal basis for the appeals court’s reference to what society might consider reasonable.

“Privacy expectations do not hinge on the nature of a defendant’s activities – innocent or criminal,” Canady wrote, quoting a 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Lauren Book, founder of the sexual abuse advocacy group Lauren’s Kids, calls the decision “tragic,” since abused children have now lost a powerful way to document abuse.

“Children who are stuck in an abusive situation have so few tools to protect themselves and find a way to escape,” Book said in a statement. “Too often, children are not believed when they disclose abuse.

“New technology allows people to document their lives in ways unimaginable just a few years ago. To deny children the ability to prove that what they’re saying is true, and even to document the abuse, is tragic and not in keeping with the changes in our culture.

“I vow that Lauren’s Kids will work with the Florida Legislature to ensure that an exemption is created to the private recording laws so that we may bring these sexually deviant-behaving individuals who offend against our children to justice.”

Original article: http://www.saintpetersblog.com/archives/170455

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Barbados Advocate: Goal is to change mindsets about predators

The United States based non-profit organisation Lauren Kids, which works to prevent and raise awareness about the sexual abuse of children, is on a mission to change the perceptions of people across the world about who could be predators.

In a recent interview with The Barbados Advocate, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Lauren’s Kids, Lauren Book, herself a survivor of child sexual abuse, indicated that too often children and adults both feel that a sexual predator is a stranger, but she explained that in almost all cases the predator is known by the victim.

We ask the kids to close their eyes and picture what a stranger looks like, and we ask if it is a man or a woman and in almost all cases it is a man with messy hair, a big pointy nose, angry eyes, a mad face, with a gun, a knife or a sword and they say I’m going to hurt you, I’m going to kill you, I’m going to hurt your family, and this is who children think are going to hurt them.

But the sad reality is 90 per cent of the time children are abused by someone they know, love and trust and so they need to look for behaviours that make them feel unsafe and uncomfortable. You cannot tell if someone is good or bad by how they look on the outside. You have to go by how you feel about a situation, decide if it is safe or unsafe and how to act,” she explained.

It is for this reason Book said, that she formed Lauren Kids and told her story of abuse that lasted for six years at the hand of her female nanny. With that in mind, Book said her case is proof that both men and women can be perpetrators of sexual abuse and believes that parents must be observant of who they allow around their children.

“When I was growing up I believed it was the guy behind the building who was drinking a bunch of alcohol that you would avoid, but it could be the cricket coach for example, and while we don’t want to put everyone out there on a witch hunt, you need to be aware.

Whenever I am able to share my story with a group of kids, quite frankly when I share my story anywhere, not an opportunity goes by that somebody does not come up after and say’ I’ve never told anybody but I was sexually abused by my father, I was sexually abused by my uncle; it happened to me when I was five, it happened to me when I was ten’,” she added.

Equally important, she said, is that there is adequate counselling and support made available for the survivors of sexual abuse to better help them cope with the aftermath of the abuse.

Her comments came as she noted that in the United States one in three girls, and one in five boys before the age of 18, will be sexually abused and statistics have shown that in the Caribbean 47 per cent of girls and 31 per cent of boys reported that their first sexual encounter was forced by a family member.

“That is why we advocate having a trusted triangle – three or more adults that you can talk to about anything, whether it is a fight with a friend, a bad dream or a touch that makes them feel not quite right and we teach them to use their “I mean business voice”. We are giving them concrete, black and white steps they can take to prevent it, if I had had that information I wouldn’t have been abused for six years, I would have screamed stop that’s not safe in my mean business voice, and I would’ve gone to someone in my trusted triangle before it got out of hand,” she added.

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Lauren Book in The Hague, Netherlands: Shining Light in Dark Places

On Wednesday, May 28, Lauren Book delivered the keynote address at the Dutch National Rapporteur’s Symposium on Sexual Violence Against Children in The Hague, Netherlands, in conjunction with the release of the Netherlands’ first-ever national study on child sexual abuse. Watch her keynote address here.

The study revealed that 1 in 3 Dutch children are victims of sexual violence, that most do not ever disclose their abuse and those that do are discouraged from pressing charges, and that adults who offend against children receive punishments that range from community service to light prison sentences.

As the opening keynote speaker at last week’s symposium, Lauren addressed more than 500 government officials, advocates, experts, survivors and community members to urge them to use the knowledge gained from the national study to better prevent abuse, serve survivors and track offenders.

“Now is the time to act, to shine light where there was once darkness,” Lauren said to the crowd. “To protect those most innocent among us.”

The Dutch National Rapporteur, Judge Corinne Dettmeijer, first became acquainted with Lauren upon seeing her speak at the Crime Stoppers International Conference in Barbados last year and asked Lauren to bring her story of abuse, recovery and advocacy to The Hague to influence policy change in Holland.

 

 

 

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NEWS: Child advocate, Yankees Foundation bring school-based sexual abuse prevention curriculum to Bronx

NEW YORK CITY — Child sexual abuse survivor and internationally recognized prevention advocate Lauren Book this week taught lessons from her foundation’s sexual abuse prevention and personal safety curriculum, Safer, Smarter Kids, to Pre-K and Kindergarten students at P.S. 55 in the Bronx thanks to a grant from the Yankees Foundation.

The curriculum, which has been delivered to more than 16,000 public kindergarten and voluntary Pre-K classroom in Florida at the direction of the state’s legislature, helps children learn how to sidestep the traps predators set, without being in any way explicit or scary. Safer, Smarter Kids meets national education standards and is being used in classrooms across the country.

“Ninety-five percent of child sexual abuse is preventable through education and awareness,” says Book. “It’s so important that we teach our children how to stay safe and how to access help when they’re in unsafe situations. Safer, Smarter Kids really empowers children to be the first line of defense against their own abuse and we are so grateful to the Yankees Foundation for affording us the opportunity to bring the curriculum to P.S. 55 students.”

Based on the results of an effectiveness study conducted by the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, the curriculum has been shown to promote a 77% increase in children’s knowledge of critical personal safety information. An efficacy study will also be done analyzing data from P.S. 55 students’ learning gains as a result of this week’s curriculum lessons.

“In one short week, Lauren and her Safer, Smarter Kids curriculum have had a big impact on our P.S. 55 community,” says Principal Luis Torres. “Our teachers and staff are embracing new language and innovative, age-appropriate ways to teach our kids safety lessons – it’s been the beginning of a real culture shift in our school. This curriculum should be in all schools and we look forward to partnering with Lauren’s Kids to expand these efforts at P.S. 55 and beyond.”

Following this week’s pilot test, Book will travel to The Hague in the Netherlands to keynote at a national symposium on sexual violence towards children at the invitation of the Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children. She will bring ‘Safer, Smarter Kids’ to classrooms in Barbados next month in conjunction with Crime Stoppers Barbados.

Book, who was named the 2013 L’Oreal Paris ‘Woman of Worth,’ is the founder and CEO of Lauren’s Kids, a nonprofit foundation that works to prevent sexual abuse and heal survivors. She recently completed her fifth annual 1,500-mile ‘Walk in My Shoes’ walk across the state of Florida to raise awareness about child sexual abuse, empower survivors and advocate for changes in Florida law to prevent abuse and support survivors.

There are 42 million survivors of child sexual abuse living in the United States today.

 

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Florida Lawmakers Pass Bills to Create “Sexual Predator” Designation on Driver’s Licenses, Strengthen Child Protection Measures Following String of Child Deaths

Members of the Florida Legislature today passed bills containing measures to strengthen child protection in the Sunshine Sate, including provisions that require the words “Sexual Predator” to appear on the driver’s licenses of sexually violent predators and terminate parental rights for those convicted and required to register with a designation as a sexual predator; these measures were introduced at the urging of child protection advocate and sexual abuse survivor Lauren Book.

Under current Florida law, a statutory reference — 775.21, F.S. — appears on the driver’s licenses of sexual predators. Under SB 7005, a Department of Highway and Motor Vehicles package, the statutory reference will be replaced with the words “Sexual Predator.”

“This designation is a tool that we as community members – from law enforcement officers to TSA agents to teachers, daycare workers, doctors, nurses and everyone in between – can use to further protect the children and families of Florida,” says Book. “I believe a statutory reference is too benign. This is a scarlet letter that clearly states ‘WARNING! Keep this individual away from children!’ They are a clear and imminent danger, and parents and families have a right to know.”

House and Senate members also worked together to pass SB 1666, a bill enacts sweeping reforms after the legislature and the Governor learned of the untimely, tragic and often violent deaths of 477 innocent children since 2008, as chronicled by the Miami Herald in its investigative series “Innocents Lost.” SB 1666 also includes provisions to increase accountability for child protective workers and community-based care programs, create rapid-response teams to conduct immediate investigations into child deaths and measures to strengthen the state’s ability to remove a child from an unsafe home after parents have demonstrated patterns of abuse or neglect. As part of this bill, Lauren Book strongly encouraged bill sponsors Senator Sobel and Rep. Harrell to add a measure mandating termination of parental rights for sexual predators.

“Having walked more than 6,000 miles across the state of Florida over the past five years,” says Book, in reference to her annual “Walk in My Shoes” walk across Florida, “I have heard countless stories from victims and their families about predators who are convicted of molesting children, and go to jail and serve time only to come home to prey on those most vulnerable: their own children. In the few short hours since the bill has passed, we have had affected families reach out to thank us for our efforts. I know this is going to make a real difference for them.”

The passage of these bills comes just weeks after Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a comprehensive, bipartisan legislative package into law as part of “Protecting Florida’s Vulnerable” initiative on the first day of April, which is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. These newly signed Florida laws close loopholes in the justice system, mandate community supervision of sex offenders, and increase mandatory minimum sentences for sexually violent predators and those who offend against people with developmental disabilities.

In addition, the laws contain provisions that eliminate the statute of limitations for certain sexual crimes committed against a child younger than 16; require college campuses to notify students and staff about sexual offenders who live nearby; and expand the identifying information sex offenders are required to provide to law enforcement to include such things as email addresses, screen names and information on the vehicles they drive.

Advocate Lauren Book, founder and CEO of Lauren’s Kids, recently completed her fifth annual 1,500-mile “Walk in My Shoes” walk across Florida over 42 days during March and April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month and National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, in honor of the 42 million survivors of child sexual abuse in the U.S. Each year, Book walks to bring hope, healing and recovery to survivors of abuse and their family members. Through Book’s legislative advocacy, more than a dozen Florida laws have been changed to prevent abuse and provide support for survivors. Her organization’s abuse prevention curriculum, Safer, Smarter Kids, is taught in more than 16,000 classrooms across Florida. She is the 2013 L’Oreal Paris Woman of Worth.

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Lauren's Kids is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, tax I.D. number 26-1252588. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

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