Monday, June 29, 2015

5 things to teach your kid about water safety:

With the Fourth of July holiday coming up, it will be a busy time for kids to be swimming. While water activities can be fun, they can also pose danger for children unfamiliar with water safety.

Swimming lessons are a good start for parents wanting to give their kids a background in water safety, according to the U.S. Swim School Association, which offers safety tips.

Based on national statistics, the USSSA said 3,533 people die as a result of drowning each year, and about half of those are children under the age of 4 who drown in backyard pool accidents.

Here are five tips the USSSA recommends that parents share with and teach to their children to make sure they are safe around the water:

1. Flip and float: Parents should make sure the first thing a child should do if he or she falls into the water is to flip onto their back and float until they can be rescued.

2. Find the side: A child should always know where the side of the pool is and how to pull themselves towards it to get out.

3. Do a clothes test: A true test to determine if a child is comfortable in the water and can save themselves in an accident is to have them, supervised of course, jump into a pool fully clothed and make sure they can safely make it out.

4. Throw, don't go: Children should understand that the best way to rescue a friend or sibling who has fallen into a pool is to throw something in that they can grab onto to help pull them to safety, not by jumping in after them.

5. Take a lap: Make sure at the end of the summer your child can swim a full lap of the pool so they can safely make it to any exit around the pool.

Even if your child has mastered and understands these skills, the USSSA still recommends swim lessons and for parents to test their children at the end of the summer season to make sure they are comfortable in their abilities.

The YMCA of Easton, Phillipsburg and Vicinity offers outdoor swim lessons for children ages 3-5 years and 6-12 years throughout the months of June and July. They also offer year-round lessons at their indoor facilities for children and adults.

Young swimmers are broken up into swimming skill level groups to specifically focus on their area of need.

Children can focus on stroke development, floating and breathing while in the water.

Aquatics director at the Easton YMCA, Colleen Laberteaux, emphasizes the importance of organized swim lessons for kids.

"Children learn confidence in the water and are able to be supported in a structured environment by fellow swimmers as well as their instructors," Laberteaux says.

To learn more about USSSA visit and to register your child for swimming lessons, visit

Rebecca Bullis may be reached at or 610-553-3382.


Trinity Mount Ministries Website

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The need for better tracking of unaccompanied migrant children in the EU:

On the 24th of June, Missing Children Europe participated at the hearing “Putting migrant children’s rights at the heart of EU migration policies”, organised by MEP Caterina Chinnici and MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, co-chairs of the European Parliament Intergroup on children rights. The aim of the event was to discuss current challenges related to the situation of migrant children within and outside the European Union together with MEP Roberta Metsola and MEP Cecile Kyenge, the co-rapporteurs on the issue in the Mediterranean.

Missing Children Europe was given the opportunity to present the issue of missing unaccompanied migrant children who disappear after reaching the EU, together with UNICEF, Save the Children and PICUM. Federica Toscano, focal point on missing unaccompanied migrant children for Missing Children Europe, gave a speech presenting data and recommendations in relation to the issue of the disappearance of unaccompanied migrant children. Find her contribution below:


Every year, thousands of children arrive unaccompanied in the EU through the Mediterranean and other routes. Some are intentionally separated from their families by traffickers or smugglers that will later try to profit from their high level of vulnerability. In 2014, the number of unaccompanied children who applied for asylum almost doubled compared to the previous year, reaching 23,000. 2,240 of them were aged less than 14 years old, which has also doubled since last year. However, not all unaccompanied children are asylum seekers, and inconsistent data management prevents us from knowing the full extent of the presence of unaccompanied children in the EU.

What we do know, is that estimates suggest that up to 50% of unaccompanied migrant children vanish yearly from reception centers in Belgium, France, Spain and Switzerland. We know that in Italy 3.707 registered unaccompanied migrant children went missing in 2014, and many more before registration. We also know that the situation is not better in the so-called “destination countries”: In the UK, 60% of the unaccompanied children accommodated in social care centers  in 2010 were estimated to have gone missing and were not found again according to the British Asylum Screening Unit. In Sweden, 374 children disappeared last year and only 59 have been tracked down.

Notwithstanding these very worrying numbers, the Commission study Missing children in the European Union[1] tells us that in 2013 only about 5000 cases were actually reported, which demonstrates a huge problem of underreporting.  The same study reveals that in some countries missing unaccompanied migrant children receive a lower priority than other missing children cases and that there is a fixed ‘no action’ period before the start of local police investigations. Only four EU countries appear to have legal or procedural regulations on missing migrant children. This is against the basic principle that Member States should uphold the rights of every child irrespectively of the migration status, especially because of the additional levels of vulnerability of these children.

Although the high numbers of missing unaccompanied migrant children has been a worrying issue for many years, until today no efficient operational strategy has been developed to tackle the problem. This is why we believe it is important to include this issue in your report. The added value that a coordinated activity of European institutions can bring to respond efficiently to these disappearances is undeniable.

Missing Children Europe and its partners are currently analysing the preliminary results of the SUMMIT project, an EU co-funded project that looks into interagency cooperation in the prevention and response to the disappearance of unaccompanied migrant children. The disappearance of a child is always the result of a failed system of protection, and any effective response must therefore take this broader context as well as the multiplicity of actors into account Preliminary results inform us that too little efforts are made by authorities to trace unaccompanied children on the move, to ensure their safety and the continuity of their protection. The lack of a common approach and methodology to the identification of the child is also an obstacle to efficient cooperation. There is a clear need to enhance coordination at European level in operational terms but also in relation to information storage and sharing, from the moment when children arrive in Europe. This is where EU Institutions can play an important role.

Better tracking of unaccompanied children on the move is important for two more reasons. First, to better allocate resources invested in reception, namely to avoid duplication of medical examinations, age assessments, vulnerability assessments, personal interviews etc., which are often also traumatic experiences for children.

Secondly, to achieve better results in the fight against trafficking and smuggling networks within the European Union. Improved coordination will reveal how and where organised crime cells work in different countries, contributing to weakening and hopefully dismantling these networks.

It is important to acknowledge that in the Agenda on Migration, the Commission announced the very important decision to develop “a comprehensive strategy to follow up on the Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors to cover missing and unaccompanied children”. It is very important that all EU institutions work together to make sure that this strategy is developed without delay to protect the rights of these and other categories of migrant children. In our opinion, this strategy should prioritise operational developments to improve the assessment of the needs of unaccompanied migrant children at risk of going missing, as well as cross border cooperation in cases of disappearances. 

We remain available for further discussion and cooperation on this matter.


Trinity Mount Ministries Website

Friday, June 26, 2015

Debate erupts on social media over death for traffickers:

A great number of posts on the popular social networking site, Wechat, blame the current law for being too lenient on child traffickers.

The viral call for the death sentence for all child traffickers on Chinese social media has led to legal professors' widespread defense of the existing punishments, although they also admit that greater punishment for buyers may be part of the solution.
Certain public pages on Wechat, a popular social networking site, showing pictures and miserable stories of trafficked children and their families were forwarded widely on Thursday.
In the end, such posts usually blamed the current law for being too lenient on child traffickers, and called to raise the current minimum imprisonment of five years.
"Prescribing death for every trafficker may lead to more extreme cases of child trafficking."
As of Thursday night, more than 540,000 people have expressed agreement with a proposal that demands death for all child traffickers, by forwarding it on Wechat.
There were no official statistics about human trafficking in China. The frequent media reports on police raids on child trafficking gangs, and the universal notices for missing children on lamp posts and on the Internet imply that it is prevalent. The rapid spread of the post on social media reflects the fact that it echoes people's long-held concerns.
Facing public pressure, Chinese law professors are voicing their opinions on all online platforms and media they can access, with some suggesting web users not to be taken in by some public pages that are just attracting hits.
Zhang Hui, a lawyer from Guangzhou, said among fundamental principles of law, one is, a violator's punishment should be suited to the crime he or she committed, and another is the presumption of innocence. The uniform punishment certainly violates these rules. They would also deprive the criminal of his right to defend himself.
Hopeful: a father holds a placard looking for his missing son in Shantou

Qi Xiaoling, a law professor, said prescribing death for every trafficker may lead to more extreme cases. If the trafficker would face a death sentence no matter whether he abducted one child or 100 children, he might go for the latter, which is more lucrative. Besides, the capital punishment will increase the possibility that the trafficker turns to extreme approaches once exposed – such as killing the kidnapped child, to prevent police from finding the evidence of his crime.
Li Xuesong, judge of Qujing Intermediate People's Court, admitted that the current law imposes light punishment on buyers of abducted children. According to the Criminal Law of China: "Whoever buys a child but does not maltreat the child nor obstruct his or her rescue may be exempted from being investigated for criminal responsibility." Li suggested a change to this article that imposes a heavier penalty on buyers of an abducted child.
According to China's criminal law, whoever abducts and traffics a child shall be sentenced to at least five years in prison. Under eight aggravating circumstances, including trafficking more than three persons, sexual abuse, and use of violent means, the trafficker shall be sentenced to more than 10 years, up to life imprisonment. If the circumstances are especially serious, he/she shall be sentenced to death and also to confiscation of property.
"Whoever abducts and traffics a child shall be sentenced to at least five years in prison."
In fact, China has kept a heavy punishment for children trafficking. Official figures show that courts across the country handled over 7,700 such cases between 2010 and 2014. Some 13,000 people were punished and over 7,000 of them were given sentences greater than five years in prison.
And the death sentence, which netizens have called for, has never been ruled out.
Lan Shushan, who abducted 34 children aged from 3 to 10 and sold them for over 500,000 yuan (about $81,334) from 1998 to 2008, was sentenced to death earlier this year.
In another case, Ma Shouqing and his accomplices abducted and sold 37 children from 2006 to 2008, with one female infant dying during transportation. He got the same punishment as Lan and was executed.
How do other countries fight against child abduction?
In the US, an 'Amber Alert' rapid response system has been established to tackle such crimes with profiles of a missing child publicized through various channels: TV, radio, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, website pop ups and banners and large screens in public places. Besides, America has established a National Center of Missing and Exploited Children, for parents of those children to report their missing children and issue a standard notice. Parents can also request the center to send a specialized search party to look for the child.
Japan has less than 100 cases of child kidnapping each year. This can be attributed to the equivalent punishment between kidnapping and illegal adoption. Under Japan's criminal law, both of them would receive similar terms of imprisonment- less than ten years for kidnapping and seven years for illegal adoption.
On Dec 29, 2010, the European Council and European Parliament agreed to make a new law on combating kidnapping to fight against such behavior more strictly. The new law gives a broader definition to kidnapping, including
forced begging and kidnapping with the aim of illegal adoption. The new law imposes imprisonment from five years to ten years on criminals in kidnap cases, focusing on enslaving children, organized crime, threatening victims' lives and severe violence. Suspected individuals and corporations may face criminal punishment and temporary or permanent closure.
Kidnapping is prevalent in Thailand. Most of the children kidnapped are forced to beg or sold to factories as cheap labor. To fight against it, the Thai government combines legislation and prevention. It established a strict labor policy, stating that foreigners need work permits in order to work in Thailand, or both the employer and employee will receive criminal punishment. Besides, numerous civil organizations participate in the cause, promoting education for women and children and protecting their rights.
Infographic: abducted child rescued after 42 hours of fear
Why is child trafficking rampant in China?
It is believed the tradition of preferring boys over girls and legal loopholes has led to a strong demand from "buyers".
China has advocated a one-child policy since the 1970s, aiming to deter people persistently having children in an attempt to get a male offspring to continue the family line.
In some regions, especially the rural southwest, people are willing to go far to get a boy so that their family lines will "survive".
Another contributing factor has been the mild legal consequences of purchasing abducted children. According to Chinese law, "buyers" shall be exempt from criminal liability if they have not ill-treated or impeded the rescue of trafficked children.
Chen Shiqu, director of the anti-trafficking office, Ministry of Public Security, believes it "is hard to stop buyers".
"We are stepping up efforts to get punishment of buyers into law. We also want to change the way rescued children are treated. When they are taken from a buyer they will be sent to social welfare institutes," the People's Daily quoted Chen as saying.
Accused: 24 defendants suspected of trafficking babies hear trials at a court
Adoption also has a role to play.
According to Xu Jianzhong, a senior official at the Ministry of Civil Affairs, about 30,000 children are currently living with foster families across the country and latest figures from the ministry show the number of registered orphans to be about 600,000.
Qin Xiyan, a lawyer from Central China's Hunan province, submitted a proposal to amend the adoption law a few years ago.
The proposal pointed out some parts of the law, implemented in 1992, were outdated, with high qualifications set for foster family applicants, deficient adoption procedures and lack of supervision. Legal loopholes encourage underground adoption and child-trafficking.
In an encouraging sign, a new regulation on foster families was issued on Sept 26. It is expected to help state-certified families adopt orphans and homeless children, Xinhua News Agency quoted Xu as saying.
Internet and DNA technology help bring abducted children home
China introduced a DNA information system solely for child-trafficking cases in 2009. It has been used to identify parent-child relationships by comparing samples collected from families of missing children. "(As of October), it has helped find more than 3,500 kidnapped children," Chen Shiqu said.
More efforts have been introduced to save abducted children. On Nov 3, an online platform was launched in Beijing to construct a database for parents, children, the police and the public at large to share related information.
Wu Yan, Liu Jing, Ma Chi and He Shuang contributed to this report.


Bhopal - Making special efforts to trace missing children:

BHOPAL : Director General of Police Surendra Sing, speaking at a workshop on ‘Legal Rights of Children and Child Trafficking’ at PTRI here on Thursday, emphasised on showing special sensitivity towards children. He said police have launched a campaign to trace out missing children. He said policemen should show sensitivity towards children.
Sing said some children, stressed due to examination and results, leave their homes. There is a need to make parents and teachers understand the emotional state of children and make them aware of the ways to free them from stress.

Additional Director General of Police (Crime against women) Aruna Mohan Rao said children are the most vulnerable and sensitive citizens of the country. FIRs are being filed in cases of missing children. The number of girls recovered is lesser and that was a matter of concern. She said in cases of missing children, action under IPC, along with Juvenile Justice Act and POSCO Act should also be taken.


SafeAssured™ ID offers unique volunteer opportunities:

SafeAssured ID, a proactive safety program designed to provide emergency response and peace of mind to loved ones, is looking for volunteers.
If a child or senior goes missing, SafeAssured ID provides families with immediate, ready-to-broadcast information to the media and law enforcement that is unique to the missing person.
All information is privacy protected, secured for the family or guardian on an encrypted mini-CD. The CDs contain up to 10 digital fingerprints, a digital photograph, streaming video, an audio file for voice recognition and a specific personal description. Only law enforcement can access the private information.
Families receive a full-color photo ID card and a guidebook written in conjunction with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They are able to print missing posters in English, French and Spanish from the CD.
SafeAssured ID is a project of the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) at the Volunteer Center of Racine County Inc. Volunteers who are 55 and older may become RSVP members eligible for mileage reimbursement and complimentary supplemental accident and liability insurance while volunteering. SafeAssured ID is a service of SafeAssured Solutions LLC in Wausau.
A SafeAssured ID kit was used several years ago when a 60-year-old man from Caledonia wandered away from home. Local law enforcement was able to broadcast the information on their proprietary network and worked with the family to print missing posters from the kit. The posters were ready for search crews as they arrived. The man was found unharmed within a few hours.
SafeAssured ID is made possible by the generosity of local businesses and foundations: Racine County Triad, Runzheimer Corp., Racine Community Foundation, Helen Bader Foundation, Marjorie L. Christiansen Foundation, and the Kiwanis Club of Greater Racine. Some grants are specific to young people or seniors while other funds are unrestricted.
So far in 2015, the SafeAssured ID project has completed 193 kits at 11 events at senior fairs, assisted living centers and schools. In 2014, 759 kits were produced at 39 locations, including the Racine County Fair.
SafeAssured ID is administered by RSVP Outreach Coordinator David Voss, a retired lieutenant with more than 30 years of service with the Racine Police Department. Voss is looking for volunteers to work at the various venues where SafeAssured ID is offered. There are openings for data entry, videographers and fingerprinting.
Contact David Voss for more information on SafeAssured ID training dates and upcoming events: 262-886-9612; Visit the Volunteer Center’s


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Safety City event will help children learn to handle dangerous situations:

Safety City, 1160 Red Mile Place, is inviting families to its first Summer Safety Fair on Saturday.
The event, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., is all about giving children information that could help ssave their lives in dangerous situations. It will also feature fun activities, giveaways, and free food to the first 100 visitors.
At a press conference Wednesday, Lisa Conley, director of Safety City, said that as part of the reopening of Safety City she wanted to create something sustainable that would bring community partners together.
Safety City works primarily with elementary schoolchildren to teach the importance of using seat belts, and pedestrian and bicycle safety. The program was closed a few years ago because of a lack of funding but reopened last year in partnership with the Eastern Kentucky University College of Justice and Safety and Lexington police.
All of Lexington's public safety agencies will be involved in Saturday's event. Caresource sponsored and will assist children with KidPrint ID — a tool used to help locate missing youngsters. YMCA will provide water-safety instruction, and there will also be a bicycle rodeo.
 Trinity Mount Ministries Website
Read more here:

Chinese who buy children to be prosecuted:

BEIJING: Buyers of abducted children in China will face criminal punishment under proposed laws that would remove an exemption from prosecution, reports said Thursday, as authorities clamp down on the flourishing child trafficking industry.
More than 13,000 children were rescued by police in China last year, the China Daily said, with demand for stolen youngsters fuelled by a traditional preference for sons and a one-child limit for some couples.
Current law imposes harsh sentences for child trafficking, including the death penalty in certain cases.
Buyers of kidnapped children can be sentenced to up to three years in jail, but are exempt from criminal proceedings if they have not abused the children or obstructed efforts to rescue them.
The revised criminal law will eliminate the exception and "increase penalties for those who buy children", the state-run newspaper said, without specifying potential sentences.
"Buyers would receive a less severe penalty if they did not abuse the child or attempt to hinder rescue efforts," it added.
The revised law was welcomed by Feng Jianlin, a father from Shanxiprovince in northern China whose daughter was kidnapped in 2008 when she was nine.
"I think those who buy children should be punished, and the proposed law will promote China's anti-baby trafficking campaign," said Feng, who has set up an information-sharing website which has seen 14 children reunited with their biological parents.
"Currently people do not break the law if they buy children, so the trafficking business is rampant in China," he told AFP.
Parents of missing children commonly use the Internet to search for their offspring, and thousands have posted photos of babies and toddlers on website Baby Come Home, as well as sharing information on Feng's website.
Child trafficking has grown into a huge problem in China, where this year alone police have broken up criminal gangs found keeping babies in disused mortuaries and confining pregnant women to factories before selling their newborns.
Earlier this year, a Chinese mother in the central province of Henan was charged with human trafficking for allegedly conspiring with a doctor to sell her baby boy for almost $7,000.
In 2013 several families in Shaanxi province accused a doctor of persuading them to give up their children shortly after birth, allegations that led to a number of local officials being sacked.
Almost 13,000 people involved in human trafficking were punished between 2010 and last year, the China Daily said, citing the Supreme People's Court.
More than half of those convicted received sentences ranging from five years in prison to death.
The new criminal law was submitted Wednesday to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's rubber-stamp parliament.
Other revisions include harsher punishments for those involved in "cults or superstitious activities", and widening the list of activities which can be defined as "terrorism", state news agency Xinhuasaid.
China has previously cracked down harshly on groups it labels "cults", most notably the Falungong spiritual movement, which was banned in the late 1990s.
More recently the outlawed "Quannengshen" - which can be translated as the Church of Almighty God - has been targeted.
A father and daughter who belonged to Quannengshen were executed in February, having been convicted of beating a woman to death at a McDonald's restaurant, reportedly after she rebuffed their attempts to recruit her.
China has also rolled out tough measures to confront what it labels "terrorism" in the largely Muslim region of Xinjiang, sentencing to death scores of people while hundreds have been jailed or detained.