Category Archives: Smiles in the Media

Media posts and etc from miles for smiles foundation

Letter: Education key to preventing, stopping child abuse

See this letter on the click here

I am saddened to read the news of the system, and society, failing yet another child, and consequently enabling the abuse to continue.

The specifics may be different, but not the story. I hear this regularly through the ASCA (Adult Survivors of Child Abuse) peer support group in St John’s. History has and continues to repeat itself, over and over.

The decision-makers need to look at the recommendations coming from the Child and Youth Care Advocate’s Office, during past investigations.

Trained professionals could have better diagnosed this situation and if these frontline professionals are not trained, we have to ask why.

The fact that a 12-year-old child was pregnant was a huge red flag. Many questions should have been asked, while bearing in mind that a scared child will say whatever they are told to say. A trained professional would recognize the signs and would know the questions to be asked, as well as how to ask these questions. They would also recognize the significance in talking to the child without the adult being present.

Families and communities need to share in the responsibility of protecting all children. These are the people that spend the most time with the victims and with the most potential to discover red flags. Sadly, we still often hear of people coming forward, after the damage has been done. If an adult suspects a child is being abused, they have a moral responsibility to speak up for the child; better to have been wrong than to allow the potential abuse to continue. The consequences have a far greater rippling effect on the community when there has been no intervention.

Equally important, children need be trained. With many parents and caregivers not comfortable talking about sex, it only makes sense for this training to be implemented in schools where no child can be left out. Children should know what constitutes sexual abuse; they should know that it is wrong and inappropriate. They should know the protocol and that there’s a safe system of support people wanting to help them.

Education is essential on every level — starting with the children and going all the way to the decision-makers — if we are ever to prevent child sexual abuse.


Bev Moore Davis
Miles For Smiles Foundation

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.

Free legal advice to survivors of sexual assault through N.L. pilot program

A new sexual assault response pilot program was announced in St. John’s Tuesday. Among those on hand were, from left, Newfoundland and Labrador Justice Minister Andrew Parsons, Bev Moore-Davis of the Miles for Smiles Foundation, and federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Victims of sexual violence will soon be able to avail of free and independent legal advice in Newfoundland and Labrador following the announcement Tuesday in St. John’s of a sexual assault response pilot program.

The federal government is funding the three-year program with an annual grant of $250,000.

Details are still being finalized, but Justice and Public Safety Minister Andrew Parsons said he hopes the service will be available by the end of this year. “By offering free legal advice, the sexual assault response pilot program will help ensure survivors of sexual crime have access to justice,” Parsons said during a joint announcement alongside federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.

“I’m convinced that the better we understand and meet the needs of victims of crime, the more just and more fair our criminal justice system will become,” Raybould-Wilson added.

The program will be in addition to supports currently provided by the province’s victim services program, and will likely be modelled on a similar pilot project underway in Ontario.

There, complainants can receive up to four hours of legal advice, either over the phone or in person. The service does not extend into the courtroom but is intended to give a better understanding of how the criminal justice system works and to answer specific questions about a case.
“We’ve got situations where victims come out feeling alone. feeling isolated,” said Parsons. “This is an opportunity for them to get truly independent legal advice, to give them an idea of what to expect and how to go about this.”

Parsons said a pilot project co-ordinator will be hired, and training will be provided to Crown attorneys, victim services staff, private lawyers and police to ensure they fully understand how to deal with gender-based violence and trauma.

In Ontario, the pilot is available in a limited number of locations, but Parsons is hoping the Newfoundland and Labrador program will cover the entire province.

“Four hours doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s a lot of time for a person who’s never had this opportunity before,” he said. “They’ve done nothing wrong. And now they’re going to get the opportunity to speak to a lawyer, have advice provided to them, so I think this is a huge step.”
Those who advocate in support of victims welcomed the announcement.

“I think it’s going to bring people forward … it’s hard when you don’t have the financial ability to be able to pay for these services so I think it’s going to help a lot of people,” said Bev Moore-Davis, a sexual violence survivor and founder of the Miles for Smiles Foundation.

“This is a huge investment into the work of supporting survivors,” added Nicole Kieley of the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre.

“A fair justice system is reflected in the supports that we provide to victims of crime,” Wilson-Raybound stated.
By Terry Roberts, CBC News

April 2016 Proclaimed Child Abuse Prevention Month in Newfoundland & Labrador

Local Child Abuse Prevention Advocates and members of the Miles For Smiles Foundation met with Government Representatives for the signing of the first Provincial Proclamation recognizing April as Child Abuse Prevention Month for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Paul Lane – MHA
Connie Pike – Miles For Smiles Foundation
Michele Lear – Miles For Smiles Foundation
Kerry Lynn Callahan – Miles For Smiles Foundation
Andrew Parsons – Minister of Justice and Public Safety
Bev Moore Davis – Founder, Miles For Smiles Foundation
Dale Kirby -Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development

Local Businesswoman Changes Focus To Support Survivors Of Child Sexual Abuse

A St. John’s businesswoman is closing her business to pursue her passion for an organization she founded in support of adult survivors of child sexual abuse.

Bev Moore-Davis is closing August & Lotta Stockholm at the end of the season to devote her time to Miles for Smiles.

She says while it’s a difficult decision, it’s right for her.

She says while she enjoys running the boutique, after years of burning the candle at both ends, she decided to focus her energies on making a difference.

Let’s talk about child sexual abuse – Steve Bartlett (The Telegram)

Survivor encourages others to speak out, seek help

Bev Moore-Davis has lived what some might call a model adulthood. She’s raised a family, runs a high-end fashion shop on Water Street and has modelled, even winning a catwalk award during a competition in Florida a few years back. Her childhood, on the other hand, was a model for no one.

Moore-Davis describes it as “horrific.”

As a young girl, she was a victim of sexual, emotional and physical abuse. Her abusers have never been brought to justice. Three years ago, she had a chance encounter with someone from her childhood who was also victimized as a youth. Seeing how the childhood abuse was affecting him as an adult pressed Moore-Davis into action.

“I just decided right there and then that this is so wrong.”

She became an advocate.

“I feel like I’m one of the luckier ones; I survived and I’m living a decent life,” says the owner of the fashion boutique August and Lotta Stockholm.

“For all those people that are not, I’m driven to kind of help them.”

Moore-Davis established the province’s first chapter of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA) and formed the Miles For Smiles Foundation. The latter is focused on making a difference — supporting adults who were abused as children, raising public awareness and, ultimately, preventing child abuse. There have been some successes. An Adult Survivors of Child Abuse peer-support group meets regularly in St. John’s.

Most major towns across the province now recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. There have been two successful Miles For Smiles walks in St. John’s, and it appears the event will spread to other cities. And, last Friday, Moore-Davis and some peers were part of a group discussion with others with a  shared interest about a prevention plan.

“I’m really pleased with how it went,” she says.

She’s not naïve enough to think child abuse will disappear, but she firmly believes that’s something worth striving for.

“We need to have something, ideally, implemented in our schools. … Something that gives children more education, more on knowing this is wrong. A lot of times, things happen and little children will keep secrets of abuse forever, for their whole lives or until they learn the difference.”

Moore-Davis knows all about keeping secrets. She became a victim at age five and didn’t tell anyone until she was a grown-up.

“I often think about the Kids’ Help Line (ad) that’s on the milk carton, and even if that was on my kitchen table, I wouldn’t have done anything. So I often think, what would it have taken to make me tell somebody?”

Moore-Davis shared what happened with a handful of people as the decades passed. She didn’t realize that keeping her secret helped no one, including herself, until she ran into that person from her childhood. Now she’s determined to make a difference, to help those who have suffered, or are suffering, child abuse. What she’s trying to do is a model to which everyone should aspire. We need more people like her.

View the original article here