Tag Archives: Dangerous Environment

KS Steps Up For Children In Hot Vehicles

.jpg photo of director of kidsandcars.org shows how to break glass and save child from hot vehicle
Amber Rollins, director of KidsAndCars.org, demonstrates how to safely break a window using a device, the Resqme emergency window breaker and seat belt cutter.

Kansas removes lawsuit fear for rescuers of
children, pets trapped in hot cars

Beginning Sunday, good Samaritans in Kansas won’t have to think about getting sued for busting out the window of a hot car to save a child or pet trapped inside.

A new state law underscores that lives are more important than property when it comes to hot cars.  Kansas joins 18 states — including Missouri — in giving rescuers legal immunity when they believe a person or a pet is in imminent danger.  Two additional states have laws protecting pets only.

Amber Rollins, director of the non-profit Kids and Cars, on Monday demonstrated how a simple device can in seconds shatter the window of a locked vehicle, making rescue possible.  Rollins used a disabled SUV at the 129 Auto Parts salvage lot in Spring Hill, Kansas.

A hand-held, spring-loaded device called “resqme” was the only tool she needed.  It must be used on a side window because windshields and rear windows are made to not shatter.  The device, which shoots a metal pin at the glass, should be applied to a corner of a side window.  Applying it to the center of the window will not work.

The tool “resqme” can be ordered from kidsandcars.org for $7.50.

Regular nail punches available at hardware stores can also be used.  In fact, Johnson County MedAct units each carry nail punches. A crowbar or stone or any other implement also can be used.

Some things to consider when busting out a window:

  • First check to see if the vehicle is locked. Obviously, if it is not the window does not need to be broken.
  • Call 9-1-1.
  • Use appropriate force against a side window furthest away from the child or animal inside as the glass can fly.
  • Get the victim to a cool place, remove clothing and apply water.
  • Stay until emergency responders arrive.

In addition to Kids and Cars, the Kansas law was championed by Safe Kids Kansas and the Humane Society Legislative Fund of Kansas.

Although Kids and Cars is not aware of any case in which a rescuer was later sued for causing property damage to a vehicle, Rollins pointed to a New Mexico hot-car death in which two witnesses told police they saw the victim in distress but did not act.

Rollins keeps two resqmes handy.  One is attached to the driver’s seat belt of her car so it will be immediately available to use in escaping if the vehicle becomes submerged in water.  The resqme also has a blade to cut the seat belt if necessary.

Rollins keeps her other resqme on her key ring in case she notices a vulnerable child or pet in a hot car.

“A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult,” said Cherie Sage, state coordinator for Safe Kids Kansas.  “Their developing bodies are not as efficient at regulating their temperature.  When a child’s internal temperature reaches 104 degrees major organs begin to shut down.  And when that child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees that child can die.”

During Monday’s demonstration, the outside temperature was in the low 80s but the temperature inside the SUV was over 100 degrees.  The air inside a vehicle can jump that much in a matter of minutes, even if the windows are partially open, because the windshield has a greenhouse effect.

There have been 18 child deaths in hot cars in the United States so far this year, about par with the average of 37 a year.  But there are three other suspected cases this year awaiting autopsy results.

In most cases the parent did not know or simply forgot that their child was in the back seat.

Kids and Cars suggests that parents make a habit of putting their smart phones in the back seat so they will have to go there to retrieve them.  Another idea is to keep a stuffed animal in the car seat and move it to the front seat when a child is strapped in to serve as a visible reminder for the parent.

LESS VIABLE OPTIONS FOR TRAFFICKED CHILDREN

.jpg photo of U.S. Department of Justice Building
United States Department of Justice Building

Trouble Ahead for Wrongly Criminalized
Trafficking Victims

In a major blow to survivors of human trafficking, the US Department of Justice has announced that it will no longer allow funding to be used to help survivors get legal representation to clear their criminal records that resulted from their victimization. The decision by the Office for Victims of Crime will affect $77 million of human trafficking grants this year.

The abrupt policy reversal was initiated by the Trump administration and goes against the consensus of survivors, advocates, and law enforcement.  The new funding restrictions are expected to go into effect in just a couple of weeks.

In an opinion piece in The Hill, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney, and Kate Mogulescu, an Assistant Professor of Clinical Law at Brooklyn Law School, write:

It is widely acknowledged that victims are frequently arrested when they are trafficked.  A 2016 National Survivor Network survey found that over 91 percent of respondents reported having been arrested, over 40 percent reported being arrested 9 times or more.

No one questions the detrimental impact this has on survivors’ ability to move forward.  Criminal records act as concrete barriers for survivors, and lead to denial of employment, housing, and other services.  Furthermore, the message to survivors living with criminal records because of their trafficking is clear — you did something wrong, you deserve this, this will live with you forever.

That’s why Manhattan prosecutors screen every prostitution arrest for evidence of trafficking and dismiss prostitution cases after individuals receive counseling sessions and other services.

But the most effective legal response to correct the injustice of past convictions is vacatur or expungement, laws that provide survivors a way to clear their record of charges they were convicted of that were a result of trafficking.  New York was the first state to pass such a law in 2009, and almost every state in the country has taken some steps toward relieving survivors of the burden of a criminal record since then.

In one example, Vance and Mogulescu point to the case of a young woman who was sex trafficked for five years in New York, starting when she was just 16.  During that time, she was arrested for prostitution six times.

Yet, because of collaboration between the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the Brooklyn Law School, her convictions were vacated, ensuring that she would she would not be haunted by them for the rest of her life.

Prosecutors have come to rely on partner organizations to help identify trafficking victims and bring vacatur motions or expungement petitions.  Under the new funding rules, victims who can’t access legal representation will be forced to file petitions on their own — a significant burden to those seeking justice.

As Vance and Mogulescu conclude, this policy will have tremendous impact on the ability for trafficking survivors to simply live their lives:

“Funding for this work is critical — for the survivor trafficked into prostitution over two decades ago, who has focused on her education, earned a Masters degree in counseling, but is prohibited from taking a state licensure exam because of her criminal record;  for the survivor parent of a nine-year-old child who faces humiliation at being fingerprinted to chaperone a school trip;  for the survivor who secures an entry level service sector job but has the offer rescinded when a background check reveals her criminal record.”

Severe Abuse Suspected In Indiana Case

.jpg photo of man arrested for severely abusing children
Shannon Breaux, 33

Couple arrested in Child Abuse case out of West Lafayette

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN  –  A man and woman are facing charges after two children were abused in West Lafayette, according to the Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office.

.jpg photo of woman arrested for severely abusing children
Ashley Stigers, 32

Deputies were called to investigate the case in the 6100 block of Warrior Dr. Tuesday evening.

The investigation was eventually turned over to detectives, who later arrested 33-year-old Shannon Breaux and 32-year-old Ashley Stigers.

Breaux is facing charges of neglect of a dependent, battery by strangulation, and confinement, all level 6 felonies.  Stigers has been charged with neglect of a dependent.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Stigers had posted bond and Shannon remained in custody at the Tippecanoe County Jail.

Authorities did not provide details regarding the suspects’ relation to the victims.

Single Moms Beware

.jpg photo of Child Abuse graphic
Who is babysitting your Children while you are at school or work?

Capital murder child abuse case highlights
who’s most vulnerable

SAN ANTONIO, TX  –  After sobering up at the hospital, the suspect police say was found intoxicated on a bed next to a four-year-old boy who had been beaten to death is now charged with capital murder.

Michael Arroyo, 32, is accused of murdering his girlfriend’s son, four-year-old Cash Briones.  The little boy had blunt force trauma to the head.

Arroyo is also charged with injuring his girlfriend’s two other children, ages one and three.

All three kids were left in his care February 16 at a Days Inn hotel on the city’s east side.

Arroyo is now being held on bonds worth more than a million dollars.

Child abuse cases rose sharply in Bexar County last year.  Counselors say single moms especially need to be aware of the dangers.

“The child is oftentimes left alone because the individual needs to work or needs to go to school or they’re trying to better themselves or just supply for their family,” says Randy McGibeny from ChildSafe.

He says that leaves room for someone who wants to do harm to gain a mother’s trust.

“If they’re capable of doing that, then oftentimes we’re going to open our doors to those individuals,” McGibeny says.

He says it’s incredibly common for a mother’s boyfriend to become the perpetrator.

“If there’s a situation where an individual that you’re dating or an individual that you’ve brought into your home is violent toward you – verbally or physically – know that the situation can progress,” McGibeny says.  “And oftentimes, if they’re violent toward you – they’re eventually going to be violent toward your children.”

Be The Difference In Human Trafficking

.jpg photo of Child Abuse graphic
Prevent, Recognize and Report human trafficking.

TX AG Paxton Unveils New Training Video
to Mobilize Texans in the Fight Against
Human Trafficking

AUSTIN, TX  –  Attorney General Ken Paxton today introduced a new comprehensive training video to educate and mobilize all Texans in the fight against human trafficking.  The nearly hour-long video was developed over the last year by the attorney general’s Human Trafficking/Transnational Organized Crime (HTTOC) section and debuted during a public screening at the Austin ISD Performing Arts Center.

“This remarkable training video represents my deep conviction to inform, educate and empower Texans to prevent, recognize and report human trafficking,” Attorney General Paxton said.  “‘Be the One in the Fight Against Human Trafficking’ was created to enlist citizens from every walk of life to help Texas in its nationwide leadership role to combat and ultimately eliminate this horrific and dehumanizing crime.”

Texas is responsible for the nation’s second highest number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and recent research indicates that at any given time there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking in the state.

At the screening, Attorney General Paxton announced that his office is providing the human trafficking training video to all Texas state agencies, with the potential of reaching 315,000 state employees.  The video is mandatory viewing for the 4,000 employees of the attorney general’s office.  “I am challenging my fellow state agency heads to follow suit,” he said.

Attorney General Paxton applauded the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for being the first state agency to use the video in the training of all 8,000 of its front-line caseworkers.

Be the One in the Fight Against Human Trafficking” shares the compelling and often deeply emotional stories of human trafficking from the perspective of survivors, experts, law enforcement, and good Samaritans, including a Texan who helped authorities shut down a major human trafficking operation in his own neighborhood of The Woodlands.  The training video is available for anyone to watch at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/human-trafficking.

Launched in January 2016, Attorney General Paxton’s HTTOC section has assisted or consulted on dozens of cases, such as the arrest of the CEO of Backpage.com, whose online “adult” ads were linked to sex trafficking of women and children.

It also partners with Truckers Against Trafficking and the Texas Trucking Association on an innovative public-private-program to put more eyes and ears on the road to catch human trafficking.  Since its inception, HTTOC has provided human trafficking awareness training to more than 15,000 people across the state of Texas.