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In The News

Jul 1, 2009

MILITARY – Three in five military parents say their children experienced greater fear and anxiety after a parent was sent to war, according to a survey of some 13,000 military spouses of active-duty servicemembers. One in four parents in the survey report that their child coped poorly or very poorly, and one-third say their child’s grades and behavior in school have suffered. The Pentagon Office of Family Policy/Children and Youth tabulated the results earlier this year and released them last week to USA Today. The Pentagon estimates that 234,000 children currently have a mother or father at war.

NATIONAL – Nearly one in five teens has bullied someone via social media, email or text message, and one in ten has been cyber-bullied, according to a survey commissioned by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Cox Communication and conducted by Harris Interactive. It finds that one in five teens has engaged in ‘sexting’ – sending, receiving or forwarding suggestive text messaging with nude or nearly-nude photos. School administrators and teachers are also grappling with these issues. Education Week says that school officials have been “encouraged to provide information to students, teachers, and parents about the dangers of sexting, including the permanent digital record it creates.” Many school districts have no formal disciplinary process for teachers and administrators to follow when confronted with sexting. As a result, some are incorporating texting policies into student handbooks and holding workshops for students and parents on internet safety, with an emphasis on sexting.

NATIONAL – Seventy-six percent of Americans believe the poor economy has made it more difficult for victims of domestic violence and 44 percent say the most difficult barrier to leaving an abusive relationship is financial security. These are the highlights of a new poll from the Allstate Foundation, conducted in May by Murphy Marketing Research. To see the full survey, visit www.ClickToEmpower.org.

NATIONAL – Actress Farrah Fawcett died June 25th after a long battle with cancer. Though she is most often remembered for her role in “Charlie’s Angels,” Fawcett also took on ambitious roles in the 1980s depicting battered and battering women. In 1984, Fawcett played Francine Hughes, a battered Michigan housewife who, after years of abuse, set her husband on fire in “The Burning Bed.” She was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy award for her work in that film, and also received accolades for the non-glamorous stage and film role of a woman targeted by a would-be rapist who turned the tables on him in “Extremities.”

IL – Police officer Anthony Abbate was sentenced to just two years probation for a vicious attack on a bartender in 2007, the Chicago Tribune reports. Karolina Obrycka, a bartender at Jesse’s Short Stop Inn, pushed Abbate after he came behind her bar and refused to leave. Abbate responded by throwing Obrycka to the ground and repeatedly punching and kicking her. The assault was caught on videotape and played repeatedly on the news, shocking many viewers. Circuit Judge John Fleming said that he did not sentence Abbate to jail because Obrycka did not suffer serious physical injuries and Abbate had no criminal history. The Chicago Police Department is seeking to have Abbate fired; his case will be considered by the Police Board on July 7.

NY – A multiyear analysis of homicides by the New York Times finds a “summer spike in killings” in New York City. It finds that women are less likely than men to be either victims or killers but, of the at least 73 women murdered in 2008, nearly all were killed by someone they knew – boyfriends, husbands or relatives. From 2003 to 2008 the number of women killed each year by strangers was in the single digits, excluding cases in which the police do not know if the killer knew the victim. The New York Times compiled the data mainly from open-records requests within the New York Police Department and a searchable database of details on homicides during 2003 to 2008. Click here to get more details.

TX – Former major league baseball player Mel Hall was sentenced to 45 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl who he had coached in the late 1990s. Four more women testified during the punishment phase of the trial that Hall had victimized them too, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

SOUTH AFRICA – More than one in four male South Africans (nearly 28 percent) admit to forcing a woman or girl to have sexual intercourse against her will, a new survey from the government-funded Medical Research Council finds. Chief researcher Rachel Jewkes told the Associated Press, “Rape is far too common, and its origins too deeply embedded in ideas about South African manhood” for it to be regarded merely as a criminal problem which can be solved by prosecuting the rapists. Nine percent of the men surveyed said they had taken part in gang rape and 42 percent said they had been physically violent to an intimate partner, including 14 percent who admitted doing so in the past year. Researchers interviewed men from more than 1,700 households from a cross-section of the population.