Miles For Smiles Survivor’s Walk

The Miles For Smiles Survivor’s walk is a 4 km walk for child abuse survivors.  The walk represents life after abuse as we realize we are stronger together, we are never alone and we ARE survivors – in every sense of the word.

We invite survivors along with friends, parents, siblings, children, colleges or anyone that has been affected by child abuse to join us as we walk to show there is life after abuse.

Bev Moore Davis is a local child abuse prevention advocate and founder of the Miles For Smiles Foundation. The walk will take place in Georgetown and Marysvale – approximately 45 minutes west of St John’s – and will bring us back to the community where Bev ran away from home at 17 years of age.


Walk Details:

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

1pm – Registration at the Marysvale Ballfield (Or Marysvale Community Centre if weather is unfavorable)

Live Entertainment and Face Painting

2pm – Opening Ceremonies

2:30 pm – Ribbon Cutting and 4 km Survivors Walk around Long Pond

3:30-5:30pm – Live Entertainment


Entertainment for the kids including Zorb Balls, Bouncy Castles provided by Frontline Action

Blue Balloon Chain in support of local survivors

*Unfavorable weather does not stop child abuse, and on July 9th it will not stop us.


How childhood trauma can have a life-long impact on health

A history of childhood trauma can affect the mental health of adults.

But what is less well-recognized, even by doctors, is the link to physical health.

Childhood trauma raises the risk of everything from diabetes to lung cancer to heart disease. Those who endured a high level of trauma in their youth have an average life expectancy 20 years lower than those who didn’t.

The risk factors are leading some doctors to suggest that, along with standard questions about medical history, health-care practitioners should routinely ask patients about what they may have lived through as children.

Surveys have shown that nearly a third of Canadians suffered abuse or neglect in their youth.

Dr. Robert Maunder, a psychiatrist at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital as well as the co-author of Love, Fear, and Health: How our Attachments to Others Shape Health and Health Care, says that just scratches the surface.

“It actually goes beyond abuse and neglect to other kinds of adversity that kids experience,” Dr. Maunder tells The Current‘s Anna Maria Tremonti.

“[It can be] having a parent with a mental illness, having a parent with addiction, witnessing violence in the family.”

Dr. Maunder describes a “double whammy” in terms of the ongoing effects of trauma on health.

“On the one hand it puts you at risk of becoming ill, but once you’re ill and once you’re in the hospital, it complicates health care,” he says.

Dr. Maunder gives an example of a woman with Crohn’s disease who refuses a colonoscopy needed to develop her treatment plan. A doctor who knows her history of childhood sexual abuse would know that this type of test would be a trigger for her — and be able to suggest alternative tests. A doctor who hasn’t asked about any childhood trauma might just see her as a difficult patient.

“And then the relationship becomes poisoned with mistrust,” says Dr. Maunder.

Dr. Maunder has worked with Mount Sinai hospital in Toronto to incorporate this strategy into how their emergency room treats “difficult patients” — patients who are in the ER frequently and whose problems are difficult to solve.

Dr. Howard Ovens is the chief medical strategy officer for the Sinai Health System, and until April of this year, he was the chief of emergency medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital.

“People who have chaotic lives have trouble following through in maintaining relationships, keeping appointments,” he explains.

“And the emergency department is open 24 hours a day every day.”

Now, these patients are seen in the ER by members of the psychiatric team linked to the childhood trauma project, who then work on building a relationship with them — and building an individual comprehensive care plan for all health-care staff to use.

The new care model helps not only the patients, but the health-care practitioners at the hospital as well.

Dr. Ovens says it supports the staff who find many of these people “very upsetting, challenging.”

“It’s a source of burnout for a lot of our staff. But if they feel that they are supported, that we’ve given them some direction and will stand behind them in employing a particular approach, it really makes them feel like they’re part of a team,” he says.

“It has been a very important morale booster for the staff.”

This segment was produced by The Current’s Sujata Berry and Willow Smit


No need for Zachary Turner to die: death review

The social services system in Newfoundland and Labrador failed a 13-month-old boy, who drowned along with his mother in a 2003 murder-suicide, a review has found.

Zachary Turner died when Shirley Turner, 42, clutched him to her body and jumped into Conception Bay, several kilometres outside of St. John’s.

“Nowhere did I find any ongoing assessment of the safety needs of the children,” coroner Peter Markesteyn, referring both to Zachary and Turner’s daughter from another relationship, wrote in a three-volume report released Wednesday.

Turner, a general practitioner,fled to Newfoundland after her estranged lover Andrew Bagby, 28, was shot to death in a Pennsylvania parking lot on Nov. 5, 2001.

Turner had obtained bail from the Newfoundland Supreme Court, and gave birth to Zachary,Bagby’s son, while fighting extradition to the United States to stand trial for the murder of Bagby. About two months before the murder-suicide,a judge cleared the way for Turner’s extradition.

Responding to Markesteyn’s child death review, Community Services Minister Tom Osborne said the provincial government accepted the report and would examine the 29 recommendations to see which ones could be acted on immediately.

He added that the province had already addressed some of the issues raised by Zachary’s death.

Serious flaws pinpointed

Markesteyn, based in Winnipeg, found fundamental flaws through child protection system that dealt with the Turner case in the months leading up to the murder-suicide.

In finding that Zachary’s death could have been prevented, he determined poor communication between officials contributed to the sequence of events that triggered the tragedy.

Darlene Neville, Newfoundland and Labrador’s child and youth advocate,called immediately for an external review of the child, youth and family services program.

Neville, who said she is concerned that other children in the province are in similar circumstances, described the results of the investigation as shocking.

“The fact that a whole organization could be so out of touch with the reality everyone else was wondering about is baffling,” she told reporters.

Neville said two things were evident from reading the report. “One: Zachary Turner’s death was preventable. And two: Zachary was in his mother’s care when he should not have been.”

Markesteyn found that officials, who were working on the presumption of Turner’s innocence,were more concerned about the welfare of the woman than for her infant.

Turner frequently asked for, and received,help from social workers, with dozens of visits made on her behalf.

Neville said she found it difficult that no one was putting Zachary’s interests first.

“Given the amount of resources that were put in to meeting Dr. Shirley Turner’s needs and demands, and what she identified as necessary, if those same resources had been taken and put in to assessing what Zachary’s needs were and how could his rights would be best protected, I would suggest there would be a strong likelihood we would have had a different outcome,” Neville said.

Markesteyn, who was asked to review the case in 2005,could not delve into an issue pressed by the Bagby family: how Turner was able to obtain bail from the Newfoundland Supreme Court.

Courts beyond mandate

David Bagby, Zachary’s grandfather, said the report is an important step but he is disappointed the issue of the bail process could not have been addressed thoroughly in the review.

“My focus is bail,” he said adding that a suspect in a brutal crime shouldn’t be “walking around free so they could do it again. I’ve said it a hundred times.”Bagby travelled from California for the release of the report.

Markesteyn nonetheless raised question after question about how bail was granted to Turner, particularly about the actions of federal government counsel.

As well, here commended that a separate review of the justice system’s handling of the case be launched.

With the social services system, Markesteyn sharply criticised a lack of critical analysis and sound judgement among officials who dealt with Turner while she was on bail.

Markesteyn found that social workers worked co-cooperatively with the review and that “the impression they conveyed was they believed they had done everything they could, given their legislative and policy mandate, to assist the children’s mother, Dr. Turner, in caring for her children.”

‘An obvious difference of opinion’

He also noted”an obvious difference of opinion” between case workers and their managers, who recognized a possible need for long-term intervention. Their concerns, he wrote, were not communicated to frontline staff.

Turner’s daughter, who stayed with her mother for periods of time during which she was on bail, also suffered in terms of her educational development, as well as from guilt over her mother’s and half-brother’s deaths, Markesteyn said. The girl is in the care of other family members.

As well, he found a lack of accountability within the social services system.

“Yes, individuals were upset and sad when Zachary was murdered, but what was really confusing was the limited sense of accountability in terms of the hierarchy and lines of authority,” he wrote.

Markesteyn also critiqued the office of the child and youth advocate for its handling of Turner’s case while she was still alive. He suggested an intervention should have been made.

“To me, it is most relevant that there had been considerable media exposure and resulting knowledge of the Pennsylvania criminal charges which Dr. Turner was facing,” he wrote.

Met at medical school

Turner had been married twice before meeting Bagby while both were medical students at Memorial University in the 1990’s.

Markesteyn’s research,which involved interviews and reading scores of documents about Turner,found numerous cases indicating that she had personality and emotional problems, including during her medical training at Memorial.

A supervisor there described her as “putting on a show” for superiors, and found she was confrontational, manipulative and unwilling to address negative evaluations. Markesteyn noted that the Turner experience led to changes in how residents are evaluated.

Among other things, the report found Turner had ingested drugs in either an attempted suicide or what Markesteyn said could have been a “suicide gesture.” In a 1999 letter sent to a would-be paramour before she ingested prescription drugs, she described herself: “I am not evil, just sick.”

Markesteyn also found that Turner had been under the care of at least four psychiatrists during her lifetime.

Parents who kill their children: Why would someone do the unthinkable?

The troubling allegation against Trent Spencer Butt is gut-wrenching, and brings with it a host of sobering and painful questions.

Most notably, why would a parent kill his or her own child? Their own flesh and blood?

That’s a question being asked by many throughout Newfoundland and Labrador following an unfathomable tragedy in Carbonear on Sunday.

Police believe 37-year-old Trent Butt killed his five-year-old daughter Quinn and then set fire to his modern home on a quiet street in the Conception Bay North town.

He faces charges of first-degree murder and arson, but neither charge has been proven in court.

Dads a greater threat

Experts have long tried to understand why fathers and mothers commit filicide, the term used when a parent kills their own child.

The answer is difficult to come by, but it’s clear that dads are more likely to kill children than moms.

That’s the case about 60 per cent of the time, says Peter Jaffe, a professor in the faculty of education at Western University in Ontario.

Research also shows that when dads kill their children, they typically do it out of revenge after a partner has left the relationship, and there is usually a history of domestic violence, said Jaffe.

“The way for the father to get back at the mother for getting out of the relationship is to kill the thing that is most precious to her, which is her child or children,” Jaffe told the St. John’s Morning Show on Thursday.

Moms typically kill infants

Jaffe said mothers who commit filicide tend to do so following a mental health breakdown, such as postpartum depression, and their victims tend to be younger, usually an infant.

He said fathers typically kill offspring that are older.

“You’re dealing with extreme circumstances,” noted Jaffe, but he said these cases are rarely out of the blue.

A host of tell-tale signs — prior history of domestic violence, actual or pending separation, depression, stalking and threats — are usually noticed by family, friends and frontline professionals such as social workers and police.

“In Ontario when we find a child killed by a parent, on average there’s nine different professionals that have been involved in some way … in the prior years leading up to the homicide,” he said.

Because filicide is something most people can’t even comprehend, Jaffe said many don’t know what to do when they see the warning signs.

He said research shows that greater public awareness is needed, and those close to a situation should encourage a troubled parent to seek help.

“It’s essential that the community gets involved. You’ve often heard that it takes a village to raise a child, well it also take a village to protect a child.”

A strained relationship

Firefighters rescued Trent Butt from certain death. He’s now in serious condition, but is expected to live. Desperate efforts to save Quinn were unsuccessful.

The tragedy followed the marriage breakup of Quinn’s parents, and a custody sharing arrangement that sources say was strained.

Court documents also show the relationship between Butt and his estranged wife was volatile, with Butt charged with three separate counts of assault against the mother dating back to 2013 and 2014. All three charges were dismissed.

The tragedy has rekindled dark memories of the death of Zachary Turner 13 years ago.

The 13-month-old and his mother, Shirley Turner, both died after the mother committed murder-suicide by walking into Conception Bay in August 2003.

Turner was facing extradition to the United States on a charge that she killed her former lover two years prior.​

Carbonear man accused of killing five-year-old daughter and setting the home on fire

Trent Butt of Carbonear, the man accused of killing his young daughter and then setting his home ablaze last year, will stand trial on first-degree murder and arson charges, a preliminary inquiry at provincial court in Harbour Grace has ruled.

Judge Bruce Short handed down his ruling Monday.

It means Butt’s case will now be moved to Supreme Court, though it could be as much as a year before a trial gets underway.

The inquiry, meanwhile, began on Jan. 12 and included 11 hours of proceedings, the details of which cannot be reported.

Trent Spencer Butt, 38, has been in custody for nine months.

He is accused of killing his five-year-old daughter Quinn during the early hours of April 24, 2016 and then setting his Hayden Heights home on fire.

The case has been followed closely by those who advocate against domestic violence, and there’s been an outpouring of support for Quinn’s mother and her family.

A large crowd gathered inside and outside the courtroom in Harbour Grace Monday as Butt made his latest appearance, with many sporting purple — one of Quinn’s favourite colours — in her memory.

Mother guilty of 20 child abuse charges in Conception Bay

A woman in Conception Bay North was found guilty of 20 charges related to child abuse in a Harbour Grace courtroom Wednesday afternoon.

The mother, who can’t be identified under a publication ban to protect the identities of the children, was facing more than 40 counts when the trial began.

Judge James Walsh found the mother, 32, guilty of charges including assault, forcible confinement, negligence and child corruption.

Some charges of assault were dismissed.

Walsh said one of the children was “systematically tortured by her mother.”

The court heard the children were routinely slapped, punched and kicked by the woman over a period of years.

During the trial, some of the children testified their mother would become angry and frustrated when she couldn’t have sex, and took it out on the children.

Some of the children also said their parents would force them to watch from the floor as the couple had sex on their bed.

The woman is expected back in court in July, when the defence and Crown will present their sentencing recommendations.