Chairman RANGEL. We now have a panel, Kee MacFarlane, di-
rector of the Children's Sexual Abuse Diagnostic Center of the
Children's Institute International, from Los Angeles; Dr. Bettye
Caldwell, College of Education, University of Arkansas, Little
Rock, AR, which Congressman Beryl Anthony had introduced and
lauded for the great work they are doing in that part of the coun-
try; Anne Cohn, National Committee for the Prevention of Child
Abuse, Chicago, IL.
The Chair welcomes your testimony.
We will start off with Ms. MacFarlane.
STATEMENT OF KEE MacFARLANE, DIRECTOR, CHILD SEXUAL
ADUSE DIAGNOSTIC CENTER, CHILDREN'S INSTITUTE INTER-
NATIONAL, LOS ANGELES, CA
Ms. MACFARLANE. Thank you, Congressman. I am pleased to be
here today. My background is not in child care or preschool issues,
but I have spent about 13 1/2 years studying and working in the
field of child sexual abuse, 5 1/2 of those years here in Washington
at the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. It is an odd
sensation to be back in this capacity.
I feel like I spent my whole 5 1/2 years while I was in Washington
screaming about this issue and trying to get Congress and the ad-
ministration to listen, and people kept advising me to be more low
key, and it is just incredible to have to go 3,000 miles away and be
asked to come back and hear Members of Congress saying all those
same things that we used to talk about, trying to get people to
Despite the circumstances, upsetting circumstances that have
generated some of these hearings, it is very gratifying to realize
that at least the issue is now in the forefront.
When I was in the Federal Government, I heard very little about
sexual abuse of preschoolers at all. We kind of thought it was
mostly a problem of teenagers, several years ago, and I heard virtu-
ally nothing about sexual abuse in pre-schools. For the last 2 1/2
years, I have been running a diagnostic center for alleged sexual
abuse in children and it has ended up almost by default specializ-
ing in diagnosis of alleged preschool-aged children, and I have been
spending most of the last year and a half or 2 years talking to pre-
schoolers about this subject. I probably talk more to preschoolers
about this subject than I do to adults.
As a result of some of the cases that my center has been in, we
are now finding ourselves in this focal place not only in our local
area in California, but people are calling me all the time from
other States, saying, "Help me, I think we have something going
on in a preschool here," and so I have ended up in a position were
I think I am hearing and getting a perspective far broader than
simply Los Angeles, CA.
In the past 10 months, my little center has done medical exami-
nations and psychosocial evaluations of over 400 preschoolers in six
schools and I have consulted on cases involving alleged child sexual
abuse in preschools in seven other instances in other States.
In the cases with which I am personally involved at my agency, l
think it is important for people to realize that the majority of those
children have convincingly and consistently alleged a very wide
range of sexual activity and contact with adults, No. 1.
No. 2, the majority of those preschoolers have positive medical
findings of rape and sodomy.
No. 3, the majority of those 400 children have alleged that there
are multiple victims and multiple perpetrators in those situations,
which include nonstaff members of the school, and people the chil-
dren call strangers, other adults to whom they were handed over
ln the past year we have undergone what I would describe as an
avalanche of unanticipated proportions. We have been caught total-
ly unprepared, and we are left staggered by it. I don't think anyone
can claim to be an expert on the subject of sexual abuse in pre-
schools. I come to you simply as somebody who has been in the eye
of that storm.
I don't think anyone knows the incidence of this problem in
young children, despite the millions of dollars the Federal Govern-
ment has spent on incidence studies, primarily because sexual
abuse is not like physical abuse. There aren't bruises, broken
bones. It is hidden. You don't find out about it usually, unless chil-
dren tell you about it, or unless in some way you figure it out
enough to ask them or to see some of the scars that we have seen
on these children. It is most characterized by secrecy, that is what
makes it so hard to count, not that we have tried I think too hard
to do that.
Children are tricked, threatened and cajoled, and threatened with
harm of the most unimaginable type. Many of the children that I
talk to truly believe they will die if they tell me about what hap-
pened to them. There are also lots of other ways to scare preschool-
ers. They are really perfect victims. You can threaten them with
punishment. You can tell them that they will go to jail, that no one
will believe them, and you can tell them that no one will love
them, if anybody ever finds out this happened to them. That is
probably one of the most convincing things, and if you can't threat-
en them into silence, usually their own guilt and shame and feel-
ings of ambivalence about their abusers will do the rest to silence
There is no population that I know of on this earth more vulner-
able to this problem than preschool children. They are trusting,
naive about sex, compliant to the authority of adults, and they
come at a developmentally perfect time of magical thinking, when
you can convince them of almost anything, if you are an adult in
an authority position.
The final thing that makes them perfect victims is they live in a
society that has no system equipped to deal with a crime against
victims this young, not investigatory, not treatment, and not legal
How many cases are there involving preschoolers? We don't
know that. One problem is that the statistics that we have been
counting since 1976 come primarily from child protection agencies,
and child protection agencies are primarily mandated to count
child abuse in interfamily situations by caretakers and legal guard-
The second problem, even with that count, is that those are
counts of substantiated cases. That means somebody went out far
enough to determine whether or not a report had validity to it.
Child sexual abuse, as people in this field know, is the hardest kind
of abuse to validate, so many, many cases which don't get counted
as substantiated may have been reported, but were impossible to
Finally, the agencies which do see reports of this kind of crime to
preschoolers that may occur outside the home, which are the police
and law enforcement, police and law enforcement and Federal
crime statistics generally do not differentiate among ages of vic-
tims of sexual assault, so a raped 35-year-old, a victim of rape on
the street_ goes into the same category as a child assaulted in a pre-
school oftentimes, when it comes to statistics. So who knows?
We do know more than we did a decade ago. We know that this
is not primarily a stranger danger phenomenon. This is somebody
the children know and trust. We don't know what the proportions
of sexual abuse are as they compare between inside the family and
outside the family of people in trusted positions of authority. In my
experience they may be equal. They may be more of persons in au-
We know the child sexual abuse substantiated reports have been
doubling annually since 1976. In Los Angeles they have gone up
300 percent in the past few years. We know there is no racial, eco-
nomic or geographic boundaries. We know that boys are as vulner-
able as girls, and perhaps more vulnerable to the fact that they
don't report it. And we have learned in my tenure in this field that
the ages go down steadily every year. We used to say that the aver-
age age of victims was 13 or 14. Most people in the field now be-
lieve that the onset of abuse occurs at least before the age of 10,
and possibly much younger than that.
There are two other points of knowledge I would say I have from
the past year. One is that we also know the vast majority of child
sexual abuse doesn't go on in preschools, that preschools are gener-
ally healthy appropriate places for children.
My first job in life, after college, was as a child care worker. I
remember in 1970 they made me get fingerprinted in Tucscon AZ,
to work as a child care worker, and I was outraged. I had just come
out of the sixties, you know, marching, protesting, the Vietnam
War era, and getting your fingerprints taken was tantamount to
giving the Government the goods on you. But when I think back on
it, I think it was fairly progressive for its time.
My agency that I work in not only investigates allegations of
child sexual abuse, we run a preschool, a preschool therapeutic
nursery for abused and neglected children. I have seen those chil-
dren, I have seen the care they get, and I know they are far, far
better off than the homes they came from, so it is important to be
careful not to tar the dedicated professionals in this field with the
same brush that has painted the picture of the ugly underside of
what can happen to children.
Having said that, I think it is really important to describe at
least minimally what can happen to children in preschools. What l
am going to describe are allegations. Most of them have not gone
through the court system yet, allegations alleged to have occurred
in seemingly respectable State-regulated preschools run by respect-
ed staff entrusted with the confidence of caring and involved par-
What I am describing represents a composite of the cases that I
mentioned, but it comes from the detailed descriptions of literally
hundreds of children between the ages of 2 1/2 to 16. It is not repre-
sentative, certainly, of most allegations, but it is representative of
what over 30 professionals I know personally are listening to on a
daily basis. It includes the following: Children between the ages of
2 and 5 forced to have every imaginable and some unimaginable
kinds of sexual contact with adults, and children of both sexes.
Children tricked into sexual activity in the guise of games with re-
wards of treats and candy, and under the apparent influence of
drugs administered to them by their teachers, in the guise of fruit
punch and candy.
Children who are pornographically photographed with such fre-
quency that they viewed that as a part of their daily preschool rou-
tines and describe it as one of the daily activities.
Children taken to locations outside of the school too numerous to
number, and handed over to strangers for sexual and pornographic
purposes in rooms where they describe so many people that all of
the noise of their talking gave them a headache.
Children exposed to bizarre rituals involving violence to animals,
scatological behavior and what they perceived as magic and chil-
dren threatened into silence with the use of weapons, threats of
harm and death to family members, and observing the slaughter of
If these things seem unimaginable to you, you are not alone.
They have been unimaginable to us as well.
ls it a frequent anomaly that it is not worth Federal attention or
policy? Possibly, but I think you need to realize that these kinds of
descriptions represent more than a dozen cases that have fallen in
front of my attention in the last year, partially because I simply
have been identified as somebody involved in these kinds of cases.
It is the numbers of children and the consistencies of their disclo-
sures that are compelling or should be compelling. These allega-
tions have given me, and I think many, a glimpse of a form of child
sexual abuse that is totally foreign to those of us who have spent
our entire professional careers in this field.
The common threads are that there are multiple victims, that
the abuse occurs over a long period of time and that it takes place
in institutional settings.
Most cases probably involve the presence of one individual in a
preschool, who takes advantage of his or her position for their own
sexual gratification. It is difficult enough to uncover those kinds of
cases, but it is even more difficult to convey the magnitude of the
task when there are multiple perpetrators suspected, and in every
single case that I am familiar with where there are multiple al-
leged perpetrators, it has all started with the focus on one individ-
The first 15 or 20 children that I interviewed in the first case l
got involved in, I didn't even ask them about other perpetrators. I
asked them about the one male person that the police had told me
about and they went on to tell me about the others. Children don't
tell you unless they think you know oftentimes.
What we are dealing with, and I have no idea how widespread it
is, I have no idea of how much Federal attention it merits, but I
think you need to know that I believe we are dealing with no less
than conspiracies in these cases, organized operations of child pred-
ators, whose operation is designed to prevent detection, and is well
insulated against legal intervention.
Preschools in this country in some instances I think we must re-
alize have become a ruse for larger unthinkable networks of crimes
If pornography and prostitution are involved, which is sometimes
the case, those networks may have greater financial, legal, and
community resources than any of the agencies trying to uncover
The proposition of these things is formidable, but many of the
cases I am aware of under investigation, and most of the alleged
abuse that I described could only have existed under such conspira-
I think my main contribution to these hearings, given how many
experts there are on issues like licensing and management of day
care is to talk a little bit about the response system.
The initial demands are overwhelming. There are demands for
interviews, medical evaluations are potentially huge in numbers.
ln the Manhattan Beach case, I was initially asked to interview
five children by the district attorney's office at a time when I was
trying not to interview children, but to write grant proposals to
keep my center funded, so I reluctantly agreed to see five children.
That was about 360 children ago.
In 3 months we had a waiting list of 300 hysterical families.
Whether or not children describe this kind of abuse as pervasive,
as when you say, was anybody else with you and they say yes, all
my friends, whether or not they do that if we have a reason to sus-
pect one child molested by a staff member or someone a staff
member made available to a child, then we have an obligation and
a demand to interview and look into all the rest of those children
because they are at risk.
And, if we have reason to believe that the situation goes back in
time, as in the case of a school where I am interviewing children
and I have recently talked to a 25-year-old who describes being
abused in that school when she was 3, then the interview and serv-
ice factor multiplies by hundreds within weeks.
No agency, public or private, is adequately prepared to deal with
I run a center that does a lot of different things, but I have spent
95 percent of my time and my staff's time on one case since last
November. Because of our initial pledge not to financially charge
individual parents who came for our services, the involvement, our
involvement in these cases in the last 10 months has cost us
$l30,000 of unreimbursable funds.
Our need to protect our video tapes, the incredibly confidential
nature of them, things in our files, and our own liability, has al-
ready cost us $60,000 in legal fees to my center, and we expect it to
double next year.
Even public agencies with financial resources far better than
ours are not prepared for what you come up against in these cases.
ln the first week following the publicity of the Manhattan Beach
case, we were getting an average of 300 phone calls a day. We have
engaged three law firms to protect us, a public relations agency to
keep the press away from us, and away from our agency; we have
had to hire security guards to protect our tapes, our files, and our
staff because of threats.
We have had an army of volunteers and three additional secre-
taries, and we are no match for even the paperwork overload
We don't have enough files for the mountain of paper that we
have. I have 32 anatomically correct dolls and they are not enough
to keep up with our demand for interviewing children.
I have a special calendar just to keep track of the subpoenas for
my appearance in court, which are competing with each other at
Multiple victim cases in child care settings represent nothing
less than community disasters in my opinion, and we have no pre-
pared necessary programs. We have in most communities plans for
dealing with fires, floods. California has earthquake descriptions in
all their phone books; the Federal Government is even developing
plans for emergency response to nuclear war in this country, and
we have nothing comparable to that when it comes to this kind of a
situation in a community, and we have no previous experience to
help us deal with this scale of attack on children.
People who once have been in the front line in the way that we
kind of have been in the last year don't want to do it again and we
don't know how we ever could.
The Manhattan Beach case is expected to be 2 to 3 or more years
in litigation. I am currently turning down virtually every referral
that comes to my center that mentions that a possible perpetrator
in a case could be a staffer in a preschool. I have nowhere else to
send these people.
The referrals come from parents, the police, and the schools
themselves. I can't send them elsewhere, but I tell them I cannot
afford to interview even one child because one child may tell me
that it has happened to the rest of the children and I can once
again be facing medical and social evaluation and legal investiga-
tory needs of hundreds of children.
We need a community disaster model to combat this kind of
thing. We need it not only because of the children at risk. I think
we need it to protect the rights of preschools and providers from
hysteria and false allegations. If you have a system that is trained
and specialized to deal with this, you may be, as we have been, able
to get in there early, do competent and thorough evaluations before
formal arrests are made, before the media ruin the careers and the
reputations of people in schools.
I don't think there are any quick fix solutions to this problem.
My overall recommendation, as I have said, is a coordinated com-
munity response system. That involves the training, education, and
cooperation of virtually every community, every agency in commu-
nities that deal with these cases.
What I am concerned about, individual little solutions, is that
they will lull people into thinking we have solved this problem. I
have seen it happen so many times over the years where there is a
quick rush to do something and something is done and everyone
can then turn their heads back away from this problem, which no
one ever wanted to look at in the first place.
In terms of some of the things recommended, I think fingerprint-
ing is great. I think it should be done. I think it should be a very
basic thing, but I will tell you, most of the individuals, all of the
individuals in the schools I have been involved with have no prior
records, formal prior records, but I have been involved in numbers
of cases where there have been lots of prior arrests.
I was involved with a 6-year-old girl whose alleged abuser had
five prior arrests for child molesting. When you realize that this
crime rarely gets to conviction, and we are talking about only
doing record checks on convictions, we are talking about somebody
who is going to be overlooked most of the time.
The other thing I would say to you with some of my experience
with pedophiles is once they are convicted of child molesting, they
generally don't go to organized places like preschools where they
think they are going to get checked.
They go to volunteer agencies and volunteer their time, the
Scouts, churches, places where everybody is so grateful in having a
seemingly caring and involved adult they don't do the kind of
checks that even schools do.
I think that licensing and monitoring and spot checks and all of
that is important, but I think that it is useless, not useless, but it is
minimally adequate if they don't have the staff to even go out and
monitor the things that the licensing agencies required.
I have been involved in two or three preschool cases in the past
few months where, if the allegations are true, you could have
walked into those schools and found them empty or half-empty of
children and last Friday afternoon I sat with the mother of a child
from one of those schools who told me she went to that school
where she wasn't supposed to go unannounced and they had all of
these rules, but one day she had to go early to pick up her daugh-
ter for a medical appointment and there wasn't a child in that
school and there was only one teacher left, but the teacher was so
convincing as to where everybody had gone she went back home
and I have talked to numbers of parents like that who have gone to
these preschools and their kids weren't there and they signed ao
authorization for field trips, so some of the violations are so fla-
grant and gross they can possibly at least be addressed through
Mostly though I think that such licensing things need specialized
divisions. I don't think you can just take somebody whose job is in
a licensing agency and send them out to a preschool and expect
them to have the slightest idea of how te recognize the possible ex-
istence of child sexual abuse.
It is a hard, hard job for me and I have done it all my life.
I think we need units within these agencies whose purpose is to
look at institutional child care sexual abuse or physical sexual
abuse allegations. They need to be specialized.
Additionally, I think we need parent advisory councils and par-
ents who get a lot more information, something that the State says
I don't care if your school's rule is that you are not allowed to be
there from 12 to 3, you are allowed to be there and we, the State or
whatever, give you that access.
I think we need to be responsible to allegations and the potential
temporary closure of schools. I would never have thought of this
until the last year when I was involved in a case where a single
perpetrator was arrested in September, released on bail. The State
licensing agency put him on probation and told the rest of the
school personnel who were his family mostly, that they could stay
open as long as they didn't allow him on the premises, and they
left it up to the voluntary compliance. The school remained open
until January despite the fact that there was a massive criminal
investigation going on.
I am sad to tell you that in my agency, where we have very so-
phisticated medical evaluations, we have found at least a dozen of
the 3-year-olds who started in that school in September with rape
scars, between the time the investigation started and the time the
school voluntarily closed because the State said, "Please be careful
and don't let this one individual on the premises."
I don't think we can be too careful even if sometimes it is at the
expense of taking extra precautions when they may not be needed.
I think we have to be less quick to jump into some of these cases.
incredible amounts of evidence are destroyed before search war-
rants ever get written because the information of the investigation
is already out and with cases involving children under 5 you have
to have harder evidence than the word of a child.
One photograph of a child posed in a pornographic picture, one
photograph in some ways is more important than the testimony or
potential testimony of hundreds of children, most of whom will
never be qualified in a court of law because they are too young.
My last thought has to do with my involvement in talking with
I am a strong supporter of prevention programs for children in
schools and I have testified in California for bills which would
mandate such programs, but I want to be quick to warn people
against ideas of panacea, that if we teach children to say no, and
run away, that we will be doing some major thing to prevent child
sexual abuse, at least that type in preschool settings.
I have 300 or 400 small friends under the age of 5 who said no,
who screamed no, who begged no, who fought back, who tried to
get away. There was no way that that kind of a message would
have helped them. The message that would have helped them l
think would have been that sometimes adults lie, and sometimes
they trick you, and sometimes if they tell you these kinds of things
you need to know that they are not true.
Parents are scared to tell children what other adults may threat-
en them with. That probably is the single most strong reason that
these children did not talk. Some of them literally for 15 or 20
I think that we cannot foist onto chilaren and parents our total
expectations that they can stop this problem by becoming educated.
It is really important to educate them, but if we can't also educate
professionals, and if we in turn are in no way prepared for the re-
sponse that we are going to have to give to the uncovering of these
cases, then we set up a paper premise of help for them.
I think that most of it falls on agencies and bodies which can
help to better regulate and monitor and watch these kinds of sys-
tems, and we need to enlist the help of parents and teachers to do
that, to help these the most vulnerable, the most voiceless mem-
bers of our society.
Chairman RANGEL. Thank you.
[The prepared statement follows:]