Doc Talk: Talking About Sexual Health with Kids… and Other Parents

Sometimes talking about sexual health with kids can seem complicated and even scary for parents… but it doesn’t have to be. Dr. Amelia shares some quick tips for parents about how to start these conversations with kids at an early age… tips that also include collaborating with other parents.

 


About Dr. Amelia ♥

Amelia Siders, Ph.D., LP, serves as the Clinical Director for TBCAC and has been working in the mental health field since 1994. She received a BA in psychology from the University of Michigan and completed her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego. A licensed psychologist, Dr. Amelia specializes in assessment, treatment, and advocacy for children, adolescents, and adults with emotional, behavioral, trauma, and substance use disorders. She has been trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and EDMR, as well as several other trauma-informed interventions including Trauma Incident Reduction. In addition to overseeing counseling and therapeutic services at TBCAC, Dr. Amelia serves as an expert in child abuse prevention and intervention and provides testimony in court cases related to areas such as child abuse disclosure rates, false allegations, statistics, trauma symptoms and even grooming and offender behaviors. Additionally, she offers consultation for prosecutorial teams on psychological assessments conducted on both clients and alleged offenders that may be used in court. She and her team of onsite therapists also help prepare both families and children for the trial process by offering support and education about ways to feel more confident and less anxious when providing testimony. Dr. Amelia became passionate about working with children and families who have been affected by abuse when completing her internship at the Center for Child Protection in San Diego, California. Dr. Amelia lives in Traverse City with her canine companion and beloved TBCAC volunteer, Jeeves.

About Jeeves ♥

Jeeves serves as a loyal volunteer sidekick to Dr. Amelia, providing sweet, loving wags to hundreds of child victims and their caregivers for the past several years. A Havanese, Jeeves has hair instead of fur which helps people visiting the Center who may have allergies. As the TBCAC mascot, Jeeves welcomes any and all opportunities to receive belly rubs and hugs!

 


Four Easy Ways to Teach Body Safety to Kids

By SUE BOLDE, Executive Director

A preschool teacher was helping one of her students button her winter coat. As the teacher threaded the buttons through small button holes, the little girl looked up at the teacher and whispered, “My daddy touches my buttons.”

“Oh, that’s nice of him,” the teacher replied as she secured the last button. “I’m glad that he helps you.”

A few months later, it was discovered that the little girl was being sexually abused by her father.  As it turns out, the girl was actually attempting to disclose the abuse to her teacher as she was buttoning her coat. Instead of knowing the proper names of her body parts, the little girl was taught to call her breasts “buttons”. So, when she shared with her teacher that “daddy touches my buttons,” the teacher had no idea the little girl was talking about being molested by her father.

Is this an isolated case? Sadly, no. Far too often parents, in an honest desire to protect their children, are hesitant to teach kids the proper names of their body parts and instead use euphemisms like “naughty”, “no-no”, “Popsicle”, “bumps” or “buttons”… and the list goes on. In fact, there was one case where a little boy was taught to call his penis an “esophagus”.

So, when children use words like these, it’s easy to see how attempted disclosures can be misunderstood. To help protect children from sexual predators, “Body Safety 101” is to teach kids the proper names of their body parts. Doing so actually empowers children to understand and appreciate their bodies… after all, each of us has these body parts and every body part has an important purpose. Teaching kids proper body part names also helps remove the shame or stigma sometimes attached to them.

There are four (4) very easy ways to begin body safety conversations with children that are simple, child-friendly and not scary at all… for you or your child.

1) Get comfortable using proper body part names yourself.

Hey, we come by it honestly… many of us were not taught proper body part names when we were young and were instead told NOT to use those words because they were “dirty” or “wrong”. Let’s dispel that myth right here and now. Practice saying these terms until you are comfortable and can share them with your child — if you treat these words as something silly or embarrassing, so will your child. So get used to saying:

  • Penis
  • Anus
  • Breasts
  • Vagina
  • Vulva

These are all proper terms and body parts each of us has… nothing to be ashamed of or embarassed about.

2) Start early!

Begin using proper body part names with your child from the time they are born! You can start as you change their diapers. There has been plenty of research demonstrating that talking to babies boosts their brain power. Babies as young as six-months begin to understand the words that are being spoken to them. So, start talking right away.

As children grow, other opportunities to use proper body part names happen on a daily basis! Take advantage of bath time or getting dressed to use proper body part names and talk about parts of their bodies that are “private” and “just for them”.

Toddlers are naturally curious and will want to know things like, “Do you have a penis, mom?” or “Does our cat have breasts?” Embrace these questions as opportunities to talk about body parts and their proper names (and functions). These don’t have to be long conversations, but rather address your child’s questions directly in short sound bites.

3) Take advantage of every-day opportunities.

Believe it or not, this is SO easy to do! You can reinforce basic body safety principles in ways that your child won’t even suspect you are teaching them protective behaviors. Here are some simple, every-day things you can do with your child:

Use a washcloth or bath mitt when bathing. Sexual predators will look for opportunities to be alone with children and seek skin-on-skin contact. By teaching kids to use a washcloth or bath mitt when bathing reinforces that these tools are used to help get clean. So, someone using their hands to help a child bathe isn’t the way to do it. If someone else helps your child bathe, you can simply ask your child afterwards, “Hey, what color was the washcloth grandpa used to help you with your bath? If your child shares that no washcloth was used, that’s a sign that you need to follow-up with grandpa to find out why.

Use toilet paper or wipes after going to the bathroom. For the same reasons as above, be sure your kids know it’s important to use something to clean themselves after going potty. It’s also a good time to reinforce that going to the bathroom is a private activity and they should respect other’s privacy when they are doing so. AND, your child should let you know if they see or are asked to watch someone else going to the bathroom. Case in point… one grooming technique used by sexual predators is to walk in on a child using the bathroom or leave a bathroom door open so a child can see the perpetrator as s/he is urinating, defecating or even masterbating. This is done in an effort to desensitize children and groom them for future sexual contact.

Keep lines of communication open. Children who have been sexually abused will often ‘test the waters’ before they disclose abuse. Many are afraid of not being believed or have been made to feel the abuse is all their fault. It is estimated that 70% of sexually abused children DO NOT disclose their abuse for at least one (1) year; another 45% won’t tell anyone about their abuse for five (5) years; and still others never tell. By encouraging and maintaining open communication with kids, you establish an environment in which disclosure would be easier should it ever be necessary. Talk with your kids. Time spent driving kids to and from school, sports or clubs provides an awesome opportunity to find out about their day (…the added bonus is that neither of you have to establish eye contact, which sometimes makes it easier for kids to share). At dinner, go around the table and have everyone share the best and worst things about their day. Bottom line: find opportunities to chat.

4) Model your own behavior.

Children really do live what they learn and will follow your lead. It’s important for you to model healthy behavior in touch, attitude and treatment of your spouse, partner or friend. Ask for permission before giving a touch so that toddlers can learn that permission must be received before touching someone or being touched by someone. And never force a child to hug or kiss someone… instead, offer options such as high-fives or hand shakes and support your child’s decision not to give kisses or hugs.

For additional tips on talking with kids about body safety and sexual abuse prevention, visit our Team Zero website.

Experiences cited in this and other articles on this website have been modified to protect the child victims.


About Sue ♥

Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Sue Bolde has a BA in psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MA in art therapy from the University of Illinois. Her professional career includes clinical work with children and teens at the University of Chicago, graduate-level instruction with students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and certification as a Montessori teacher and yoga instructor. She is currently a teacher in training with Google’s Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute as well as a Michigan ACE Initiative trainer.

About Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center ♥

The nationally accredited Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center brings help, hope, and healing to child victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and violence. Our mission is to protect children by supporting multidisciplinary investigations into alleged cases of child abuse by conducting child forensic interviews in an environment that is child-sensitive, supportive and safe. We help heal child victims and their families through our in-house therapeutic services and offer prevention education throughout the region via our Team Zero program. As the Grand Traverse regional response center for the investigation of child abuse, we collaborate with multidisciplinary teams in six counties – Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, and Wexford – in addition to the Sovereign Nation of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. More than 1,400 children have been referred to the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center since our founding in 2010.


3 Reasons Santa’s Lap May NOT Be A Good Place For Kids

By SUE BOLDE, Executive Director 

For many, the image of Santa Claus conjures up warm, happy thoughts of a jolly man in red, loaded down with gifts in a magical sleigh pulled by a talented team of reindeer, catching some serious air in the night sky. This beloved holiday figure embodies everything we adore about this time of year… a belief in good things for all.

However, there are a few aspects of the Santa holiday tradition that fly in the face of teaching body safety and proper boundaries to our kids… and the holidays offer adults a wonderful opportunity to reinforce basic rules that can help protect children from sexual abuse.

1) Let’s face it… not all kids like Santa’s lap.

Have you ever witnessed a child crying while sitting on Santa’s lap? It can happen for a variety of reasons, often stemming from a child’s fear of losing control of his or her own body for reasons that are difficult for a young mind to comprehend or accept. While photos with Santa can make for fun memories later in life, the act of forcing a child to sit on a stranger’s lap runs counter to important body safety rules that we must teach our kids.

Respecting a child’s wish to NOT make physical contact with someone — anyone — is a practice that our community must agree to follow if we are truly committed to keeping children safe. Cajoling children to pose or have physical contact with someone without their consent reinforces a social expectation that children should do as they are told, even if it violates their bodily integrity. Internalizing this expectation puts children at risk of being manipulated by predators. Keep in mind, sexual predators often take pictures or videos of their victims.

 2) Sexual predators frequently use gifts as a way to groom children.

Gift giving is a wonderful part of the holiday season. Socially, we are taught that gifts are selfless, thoughtful and virtuous expressions of love, friendship or respect. During the holidays, children receive gifts from people they know as well as from those they don’t, like Santa or distant relatives. This time of year offers a great opportunity to teach children to show all gifts that they receive to their caregivers.

Why is this so important? Sexual predators often lure children into trusting them by giving gifts that can range from candy to toys to even bigger things! Showering children with gifts and special attention is a grooming tactic to elicit comfort and investment in the predatory relationship.

Sadly, over 90% of children who are sexually abused know, love or trust their molesters. In other words, people who harm children are most often in a child’s circle of family or friends. Talking with children about gifts or special favors keeps adults mindful of what’s happening in a child’s sphere of relationships and empowers adults with the knowledge to determine if cautionary action is required. Writing thank you cards together is a perfect platform for tallying all gestures of affection.

3) Forced hugging or kissing of relatives is a bad idea.

Do you have a relative who means well but always insists on kissing or hugging your child? Are you one of those relatives yourself? It cannot be overstated that forcing children to kiss grandma or hug Uncle Buck flies in the face of body safety rules that, if followed, help keep kids safe.

Tragically, 30% of child sexual abuse incidents are committed by family members. Parents and step-parents. Uncles and aunts. Grandparents and cousins.

Instead of making your child hug or kiss a family member, step in and say, “We are teaching Emma about body safety and personal boundaries, so we respect her when she does not want to be touched by others, no matter how innocent… but I’ll take that hug!” (Then give your relative a big hug.) Another option would be to encourage kids to give high-fives instead of hugs.

Kids can even high-five Santa if they feel comfortable doing so. ♥

The best way to help others understand safety expectations is to model the behavior you hope to see. Ask every child, including your own, for permission before giving a hug or high five. Ask your spouse or partner permission before showing them affection, especially when in front of children.

Holiday Tips for Caregivers

In addition to supporting your child in his or her decision to respect body boundaries, here are a few more tips for caregivers to help keep kids safe during the holidays:

  1. Take a moment to remind your child about body safety rules. This can be done in a very child-friendly, non-scary and simple way. For tips on how to have these talks with your child, learn more at Team Zero.
  2. When going to parties at places unfamiliar to your child, walk around with your child and identify the rooms that are okay to go in, as well as other areas they should avoid.
  3. Make an agreement with your child that s/he will check-in periodically with you during the party or holiday event you are attending.
  4. If cocktails are served at the event, please keep yourself in check. If your senses are obstructed, that can present an open door to a sexual predator to gain ready access to your child… again, sexual predators are indeed among us. The sad fact is, they hide in plain sight and are often people most of us think “would never do that to a child.”

The greatest gift we can give ourselves and our children is a commitment to keeping them safe. When we agree to protect our children above all else — even when it means opting out of long-held customs and traditions — then we will be creating a world within which all children may flourish.


About Sue ♥

Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Sue Bolde has a BA in psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MA in art therapy from the University of Illinois. Her professional career includes clinical work with children and teens at the University of Chicago, graduate-level instruction with students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and certification as a Montessori teacher and yoga instructor. She is currently a teacher in training with Google’s Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute as well as a Michigan ACE Initiative trainer.

About Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center ♥

The nationally accredited Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center brings help, hope, and healing to child victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and violence. Our mission is to protect children by supporting multidisciplinary investigations into alleged cases of child abuse by conducting child forensic interviews in an environment that is child-sensitive, supportive and safe. We help heal child victims and their families through our in-house therapeutic services and offer prevention education throughout the region via our Team Zero program. As the Grand Traverse regional response center for the investigation of child abuse, we collaborate with multidisciplinary teams in six counties – Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, and Wexford – in addition to the Sovereign Nation of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. More than 1,400 children have been referred to the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center since our founding in 2010.


Doc Talk: Talking About Sexual Health with Kids… and Other Parents

Sometimes talking about sexual health with kids can seem complicated and even scary for parents… but it doesn’t have to be. Dr. Amelia shares some quick tips for parents about how to start these conversations with kids at an early age… tips that also include collaborating with other parents.

 


About Dr. Amelia ♥

Amelia Siders, Ph.D., LP, serves as the Clinical Director for TBCAC and has been working in the mental health field since 1994. She received a BA in psychology from the University of Michigan and completed her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego. A licensed psychologist, Dr. Siders specializes in assessment, treatment, and advocacy for children, adolescents, and adults with emotional, behavioral, trauma, and substance use disorders. She has been trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Trauma Incident Reduction, as well as several other trauma-informed interventions including EDMR. Dr. Siders became passionate about working with children and families who have been affected by abuse when completing her internship at the Center for Child Protection in San Diego, California. Amelia lives in Traverse City with her canine companion and beloved TBCAC volunteer, Jeeves.

About Jeeves ♥

Jeeves serves as a loyal volunteer sidekick to Dr. Amelia, providing sweet, loving wags to hundreds of child victims and their caregivers for the past several years. A Havanese, Jeeves has hair instead of fur which helps people visiting the Center who may have allergies. As the TBCAC mascot, Jeeves welcomes any and all opportunities to receive belly rubs and hugs!

 


Shedding Light on Sex Trafficking

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 10.39.14 AMShedding Light on Sex Trafficking

A new publication has been released from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs’ Luskin Center for Innovation entitled “Shedding Light on Sex Trafficking: Research, Data and Technologies with the Greatest Impact.”

The value of the report lies not in the novelty of its content but rather in the way it can be used to help communities organize their efforts to combat human trafficking, with resources for technology to assist in those efforts.

According to the report, childhood sexual abuse is the most commonly identified antecedent to commercial sexual exploitation and sexual victimization. Between 70 percent and 90 percent of child sexual exploitation cases have a history of child sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, and/or trauma. Furthermore, in their lifetime these children are 28 times more likely to be detained on “prostitution charges” than their non-sexually abused counterparts.

Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) have an important role to play as we interview children to assess for high-risk and/or current commercial sexual exploitation. CACs are also a critical part of the healing and recovery process for these victims, as with any other victims of child abuse. The report specifically points to the CAC model as the best practice for provision of services.

“Currently, there is no standard of care for human trafficked survivors. Children’s Advocacy Centers (CAC) serve as a model of how service providers can mitigate re-traumatization for child abuse victims. Developed in the 1980s, CACs have positively transformed services for and treatment of child victims of suspected maltreatment (e.g. sexual abuse) through a centralized and comprehensive approach.”

Click here for a complete version of the report.


TBCAC Local Council: Request for Safe Sleep Proposals

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 5.05.24 AM

As a recipient of grant dollars from the Michigan Children’s Trust Fund, the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center and its local council must commit to raising awareness and providing support around the issue of safe sleep in Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau counties. In accordance with this requirement, the Local Council for this region is requesting proposals from nonprofit organizations that wish to purchase and distribute safe sleep materials in their area as well as educate community members about safe sleep practices.

The purpose of this project is to grant safe sleep funds to nonprofit organizations with the capacity to carry out safe sleep education and distribution of resources to infant caregivers within Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau counties. Successful proposals should include plans for purchasing materials (i.e. safe sleep sacks, pack and plays, etc), as well as delivering face to face education to those receiving materials.

Nonprofit organizations serving Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, or Leelanau counties that provide safe sleep programming to infant caregivers may apply for these funds. Proof of 501(c)(3) status must be included with proposals. Proposals are to be submitted by Friday, March 11th at 5pm. Please review the full 2016 Safe Sleep RFP for more details. For questions regarding the process, or to submit a proposal, contact Hannah Rodriguez at hrodriguez@traversebaycac.org or at (231) 929-4250. Thank you for your support in spreading Safe Sleep awareness throughout our region and please feel free to share within your networks!

2016 Safe Sleep RFP


You’re pretty special. Just saying.

Andy Schmitt 2

There’s no TECHY on staff at TBCAC.

We are a flock of empathic, sensitive, diligent individuals committed to protecting children and promoting their wellbeing. We are strategic-thinkers and do-gooders who aim to change the world.

We don’t know much about building databases. We don’t know much about hooking up audio visual stuff. We understand that WiFi exists, but we have no idea how.

 

 

And yet, we utilize sophisticated technology every day in the investigation of child abuse cases.

We just turn on a switch. Thanks to Andy Schmitt.

Andy is a well-respected IT Guru in the Grand Traverse Region. He is also a TBCAC volunteer who donates his time and talent to hear our concerns, ask thoughtful questions, and create brilliant solutions so that our technology runs efficiently and effectively. For the benefit of the children.

You’re pretty special, Andy.  Just saying.

 

 


Be More Awesome.

New Year's Resolution

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year again. Time to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re headed. Time to give voice to inspired intentions. Time to take action to transform our dreams into reality.

During the past 12 months, the TBCAC grew from serving two counties to five. We facilitated twice as many prevention programs and experienced record-breaking numbers of interviews. More than 860 children have walked through our doors since launching our Center merely five years ago.

And yet, we want to be more awesome than last year.

In 2016, we intend to strengthen our framework as a trauma-informed organization. Every staff member, from the person who answers the phone to the executive director, will seek to better understand the impact of trauma — an important step towards living in compassionate and supportive community.

We plan to intensify our efforts to build cross-sector collaboration. We commit to cultivating a positive climate for our teams to recognize, appreciate and capitalize on diverse perspectives that enhance shared decision-making — a place where questions and opinions are valued and respected, a place where solutions are discovered and lives are changed forever.

We resolve to persist in educating the region about child abuse prevention. Momentum is building as citizens acquire the knowledge and skills to keep our children safe. As we expand our outreach within the Grand Traverse Region and beyond, we pledge to be a strong leader and partner in creating vibrant and healthy communities.

The best is yet to come for the TBCAC.

Join us. Be more awesome.

 


When Things Go Right

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Carly Bentley & Gwen Taylor

 

 

“I felt it was important to let you know…

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 16, 2015

Mrs. Bolde,

I recently made use of your facility to assist me in a complaint our department was investigating. This was the first time I have used a Child Advocacy Center, and I wanted to let you know how impressed I was with your staff. Family Advocate Gwen Taylor initially assisted in the in-processing. As you know, successful investigation of possible child abuse cases frequently hinge on the small details involved in the case. Having someone who can do this preliminary work with the family so professionally, as Gwen did, was a great help to me.

I was one of the first group of law enforcement officers to undergo the Child Forensic Interview training. Even though I have been doing these types of interviews for a long time, there are certain elements, such as the sex and age of the child, that can affect the successful outcome of the interview. If the child is not comfortable with the interviewer from the beginning, the likelihood of a favorable outcome is reduced. It was a real learning experience watching Carly Bentley do such a professional job. I have observed other interviewers in the past, but none who’s skill and rapport were as good as hers. In the future, I will incorporate many of the techniques I learned watching her into my own interview process.

Having been in law enforcement for 23 years, I am well aware that management always hears when things go wrong, and rarely hears when things go right. Having seen your staff first hand, I felt it was important to let you know how impressed I was with their dedication and professionalism. It’s rare when a resource is available that actually makes law enforcement’s job easier, and this was definitely one of them.

I have already told members of other local law enforcement agency about my experience with TBCAC, and highly recommend they make use of an excellent available resource. Thank you for your time. I look forward to working with TBCAC in the future.

Officer Mark Torrence
Cheboygan City Police Department

 


Budget Pact Raids Victims Funds

Congress Seal 2WALL STREET JOURNAL BY DEVLIN BARRETT | November 1, 2015 WASHINGTON— 

The government’s just-approved budget deal takes $1.5 billion from a fund for crime victims and uses it instead to help pay for federal spending, drawing on a growing reserve collected from settlements with banks and major corporations. The unprecedented transfer, part of closed-door negotiations between the Obama administration and congressional leaders, has raised the ire of advocates. They say it violates the integrity of a decades-old program that funds safe havens for domestic violence victims, counseling for abused children and financial aid for murder victims’ families, among other programs.

The administration and Republican congressional leaders averted a partial government shutdown by striking a two-year budget deal approved by Congress last week. As part of the pact the Crime Victims Fund will lose $1.5 billion to the general treasury, Obama administration officials said. The $1.5 billion shift is just one step negotiators took to fund about $80 billion in spending above budget limits called the sequestration. Others include $5.1 billion to be raised by selling 58 million barrels of oil of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and $4.4 billion by auctioning off airwave spectrum. Since the fund’s creation in 1984 by the Victims of Crime Act, it has gathered money from fines imposed on criminals and set it aside to pay for services for crime victims. But during the Obama administration, as major banks and corporations paid large sums to settle Justice Department investigations, the fund ballooned from about $3 billion to nearly $12 billion at the end of the 2014 budget year, according to the department.

Then, in 2015 alone, the Justice Department struck deals that will result in payments to the fund totaling over $5 billion, according to figures compiled by an association of state officials who run victim-assistance programs. That included a $1.1 billion payment by Credit Suisse AG for helping Americans hide assets from the Internal Revenue Service; $140 million from BNP Paribas bank for violating U.S. sanctions; and $925 million from Citicorp to settle a probe into the bank’s role in rigging foreign currency exchange rates.

Some of that money has not actually arrived in the fund yet, but has been promised in legal settlements. The fund’s growing size has presented policy makers with a dilemma. When the fund began, the government paid out almost every dollar it received. But in 2000, Congress began capping the amount paid each year to ensure a steady stream of money for victims’ services. From 2000 to 2008, the fund grew from $1 billion to $3 billion. As its balance kept rising, White House accountants were able to use the cash in an accounting move to offset government spending. Now, Congress and the White House have struck a deal to go further, by agreeing to withdraw some 10% of the money to directly fund the government.

Victims’ advocates say the move could set a dangerous precedent and encourage lawmakers to keep dipping into a pot of money intended to help crime victims, not to pay government bills. “It’s a threat to the integrity of the fund,’’ said Steve Derene, executive director of the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators, a group of state and local officials who oversee crime victim programs. Mr. Derene said he was concerned about the long-term implications of using crime victim money for general government spending. Two years ago, the fund distributed about $745 million for victims services. That jumped last year to almost $2.4 billion, most in grants to state and local groups that provide counseling, aid or other services. The proposed White House budget for fiscal 2016, which started Oct. 1, would give $1 billion to victim-services groups. Budget officials said it was a coincidence that the proposed reduction from last year’s $2.4 billion is about the same as the amount to be transferred out of the fund to general spending.

An administration official declined to explain what is behind the proposed cut, but said that Congress could increase the amount paid above the administration’s proposal. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) referred questions about the fund to the White House. In Phoenix, the Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development, which helps homeless, runaway and at-risk youth, recently received its first grant from the fund, said spokesman Ken Lynch.

“Thank goodness for rogue corporations,’’ said Mr. Lynch. “I can’t think of a better use of money coming in as a penalty than to use it to help the most vulnerable and most abused people in our society.’’ Mr. Lynch called the $600,000 grant “a godsend’’ that will be used to provide shelter and counseling for young victims of sex trafficking. “It’s very disheartening to hear that money for victims would be utilized for purposes other than the original intent.”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/budget-pact-raids-victims-fund-1446424611