Florida Child Protection News for January 2017

Florida Child Protection News is gathered for KARA by Dr. Denise R. Womer, Ph.D., a former law enforcement officer for 17 years and former DCF Investigator for the State of Florida. Dr. Womer has taught in higher education for 14 years and currently is a Professor for Kaplan University teaching in the School of Social and Behavior Sciences.

In Florida, fourteen news articles reviewed revealed infants and children suffered either abuse, neglect, or death from parents and or their caretakers. These parents or caretakers were discovered in some cases to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, engaged in some form of domestic violence, left an infant or children unsupervised or intentionally physically assaulted the victim. This is only part of the story in Florida.

A Florida Law Professor at the University of Florida of Florida Levin College of Law who helps run the school’s Center for Children and Families was arrested Tuesday and charged with child abuse. Joseph Steven Jackson, 59, of Gainesville, tried to punch the child, a girl in her early teens, in the face during an argument, but the girl backed away as he swung, the arrest report says. The strike was a glancing blow, and the victim was not injured.

Also, results of a federal study examined the Florida Department of Children and Families foster care cases services released findings of foster care services. The agency found between April to September 2016 more than half of the children removed in 80 cases were placed in foster homes were without services and without following all safety plans. Florida in 2005, contracted out services to 17 different private service providers. The agency has 90 days to correct the deficiencies. The agency has already called all service providers around the table to find ways to rectify the issues in the federal review.

Next, the Florida Department Children and Families (DCF) also receives calls of human trafficking of children. A 54% increase from the previous year showed a total of 1,892 reports. The increase per DCF was due to increased training and screening tools developed between DCF, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and the Attorney General. DCF tracks human trafficking by three primary categories: sexual exploitation by a non-caregiver, such as an adult entertainment club or escort service; sexual exploitation by a parent, guardian, or caregiver; and labor trafficking per the Associated Press.

The Florida Department of Children and Families state website reports all child fatalities within the state. Causes of deaths are still under investigation. What was not found in the news throughout the state indicated 23 children have died due to abuse and neglect.



Online Dating: Avoiding Becoming a Victim

Are you safe dating online? There are risks you should know about and how to prevent becoming an online dating victim. Many times, the online encounter may lead to meeting in person. Be aware of the risks to minimize becoming a victim.

Here are some suggestions to protect yourself.

First, as you are registering for an online dating on their website consider protecting your identity.

1. Username: Do not use any portion of your name as the username.
2. Personal Information: Do not post personal information (Name, Address, Email Addresses, Phone numbers, or photographs identifying your location (Some photographs have GPS location embedded).

Next, what should you do if you meet someone online? How do you know if they are actually the person they tell you they are? Here are some ways you can check the information.

Second, if you meet someone of interest, do your homework on the person. Online dating websites do not conduct backgrounds on its members. Here are some suggestions to be your own advocate.

Social Media: Do you they have Facebook, twitter, or other social media websites you can review.

Photographs: If they have a picture save it to your computer and go to google images and load it there.

Email Addresses: Obtain their actual email address you can go to http://www.ip-adress.com and research the location of where the email was sent and is it valid.

Phone numbers: There are numerous phone search websites you can use to help identify a person, reverse number research and some are free.

Clerk of Courts: If they do provide you with a real name and location you can search the clerk of courts website and find out criminal, civil and a whole host of other information.

National Sex Offender Registry: Every state has a Sexual Offender Website (https://www.nsopw.gov/?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1).

Google Searches: Search their name and any information you know about the person.

Meeting In Person

Always, be careful engaging in online virtual sexual encounters, these can be used to blackmail you and your family or published on websites. These behaviors may imply the online meeting for the first time is not what you intended. It is important that you play it safe and make sure you have a safety plan.

Meet in Public: You are on a blind date. Have your transportation, stay in public places and let someone know where you are going. Would you go to a motel and meet a total stranger in a room?

Phone Tracking: Have a friend virtually track you by phone the whole time.
Take a Friend: Consider taking a friend who is there observing the whole time from a distance or right next to you.

Follow Your Instincts: If anything does not feel right, cut it short and leave.
Going to your Vehicle: If you are alone, find someone in the establishment to walk you to your vehicle.

Driving Home: Be careful driving home, if you are being followed do not go to your house. Call the police and drive directly to the police station (Get Safe Online, n.d.).

Last, for more information review the resources.


Hansen, C. (2015). CWD Investigation: Exploring the dark side of online dating sites and Apps. Crime Watch Daily. Retrieved from https://crimewatchdaily.com/2015/09/21/cwd-investigation-exploring-the-dark-side-of-online-dating-sites-and-apps/

The United States Department of Justice. (n.d). Raising awareness of sexual abuse facts and statistics. Retrieved from https://www.nsopw.gov/en-US/Education/FactsStatistics

Get Safe Online Org. (n.d.). Online dating. Retrieved from https://www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-yourself/online-dating/