Insights

We’re guided by a thirst for information and knowledge. In addition to the projects we take on with our clients, we also set aside time for research into subjects we consider timely and important. In writing these reports and white papers, we’re able to think about new potential research questions and avenues for research. Check out some of our work below.

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Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church

To date, steps taken to protect and provide support to CSA victims have been inadequate not only within the US Church, but also at the US federal, state, and local levels, from law enforcement to social services. Moreover, civil society and the media bear a continued responsibility to not only raise awareness but also to catalyze action. Although government agencies, service providers, academia, and activists have made efforts to encourage reforms, right wrongs, and assist victims in healing, more action is required. What follows is further background with regard to patterns of abuse within US Church networks and institutions, as well as a series of recommendations as to how to better address and rectify CSA and its effects in the US. These recommendations argue that not only is improved reporting, knowledge and advocacy essential, but also that best practices must include a practical and uniform measure by which to tackle the issue, all the while bearing in mind the complexities that surround CSA and its victims.

 
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Veteran and First Responder Suicides

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that nearly one in five U.S. adults suffers from a mental illness. In 2016, this totaled 45 million American adults struggling with mental illness. Although the causes of mental illness are complex and multi-faceted, scientists, researchers, and mental health practitioners typically agree that the conditions leading to mental illness are a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. In this paper, we examine a subset of these factors and their effects on the well-being of particularly vulnerable groups such as active-duty military and Veterans, first responders (e.g., firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMTs)), and law enforcement officers, including correctional officers (COs). These individuals are exposed to inordinate workplace stress and often receive few resources to cope with the demands of their jobs.

 
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Human Trafficking in the U.S. Foster Care System

The 437,465 children and youth in the U.S. foster care system are a unique population whose needs require special attention, especially given their precarious situations that first necessitated out-of-home care. Minors in the foster care system are more likely than their peers outside of the system to experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; neglect; parental substance abuse; or ineffective parenting. With heightened exposure to various obstacles and vulnerabilities, they face distinct physical, emotional, financial, psychological, and social changes and challenges in comparison to peers with traditional support networks. Even as early as kindergarten, foster children start to fall behind in school, display emotional immaturity, and struggle socially At least a quarter (25%) of former foster care children end up homeless within 2-4 years after aging out of the foster system. In addition to these difficulties, youth in the U.S. foster care system are also disproportionately affected by sex trafficking—either while they are in the system, or prior to out-of-home placement. To compound the problem, given the limited awareness of the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) until recently, there is insufficient data available to fully describe the breadth of the problem, and inadequate services and assistance afforded to victims. CSEC affects American children across multiple demographics, but studies indicate that as many as 50-90% of trafficking victims are also connected to the U.S. child welfare. This white paper will provide recommendations on how to better address the information and resource gap, as well as offer adequate care and support to victims.

 
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Extreme Risk Protection Orders and the Effects on Firearm Suicides

A 2010 report released by the CDC highlighted a disturbing trend of firearm violence: the majority of firearm deaths – 61 percent – are a result of suicide rather than homicide. Only Connecticut and Indiana had recognized this trend prior to the release of this report and, in 1999 and 2004 respectfully, attempted to address it by enacting policies that paved the way for contemporary Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws. An ERPO law gives an invested party (e.g., family or household members) the opportunity to legally prevent an individual in crisis from harming themselves or others by temporarily separating them from their guns and preventing them from purchasing another firearm.

Opponents of ERPO laws cite issues relating to second amendment protections, due process, and the potential for aggravating an already volatile person. Despite documented resistance, ERPO laws have amassed great momentum across the country. Also called “red flag laws,” they vary in scope and definition across the 15 states that have implemented them.

This white paper explores a unique feature of Maryland’s relatively new ERPO law: the inclusion of medical practitioners as potential ERPO petitioners. In an effort to better understand the impact of ERPOs on firearm-related suicide, this paper explores how medical and legal communities are teaming up to address issues arising from the interplay of mental health and gun ownership. We begin with an introduction to the state of gun violence research, followed by an introduction to ERPOs, and a discussion of the scope of ERPOs in the United States. We then highlight Maryland’s new ERPO policy, and discuss how it differs from other State policies. We conclude with a discussion of the research needed to build knowledge of ERPOs, and a call to action.

 
 

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