Saturday, November 24, 2007

♫ Martina Mcbride-Concrete Angel *With Lyrics!*♫

Friday, November 23, 2007

How much do I love you? T.h..i...s M.....u......c.......h!

Examples of neglect include a parent
not showing enough affection to the child due
to preoccupation with his/her own problems,
not taking a child to the doctor when...needed
...leaving a child at home without the proper supervision.
Higher Risk Of Obesity For Children Neglected By Parents

Another form of neglect might best be described as loving your child too much. Not a healthy love that actually knows what's best for the child, and finds enough strength in that knowing to say NO!, when that is in the child's best interests.

The kind of love that leads to childhood obesity doesn't look like neglect, or anything at all like abuse. This parent wants to please the child, not upset the child by saying no, causing those great big fat tears to well up and overflow down those precious little cheeks. This parent doesn't want to stress the child with demands that might be most appropriate to the health of the little one. And, perhaps the most dangerous of all, this parent wants so much to be liked by the child that even knowing he or she is making dangerous choices doesn't provide enough strength to be firm and make the right choices for the child.

But closer examination makes it clear just how neglectful of a child's health, and abusive of his development, a parent can be, without intending to be. Baby fussing and spitting out the pacifier? No problem. A little dip in the jar of honey will change his mind. Baby's gums hurting from teething? Here's a sugary ice pop instead of a frozen teether to soothe them. Thirsty? Here's a bottle filled with iced tea or soda, instead of yucky water. Hungry? How about cookies instead of a piece of apple to carry him until your lunch is ready. Can't have her brother's school book to tear to pieces? No problem, here's a lollipop to keep her happy. Tired and cranky from shopping too long? Easy fix with a promise of ice cream. Child wants everything in the store? Here baby, have a box of candy, a bag of chips, a package of gum, a roll of life savors!

And so it goes. The problems get bigger, the solutions get bigger and baby gets bigger while everyone denies obesity and says how cute chubby babies are. Grandmom says don't worry, it's only baby fat. Wait 'til he gets moving around, running around, doing sports... oh oh... and then the child can't go to soccer without a stop for burger, fries and soda. Lost the game? Here, this sundae will cheer her up.

The unlucky children get fatter, and parents feel so sorry for them they give the children even more fattening things. Or the parent, with the best of intentions, begins to shame and humiliate the child about being overweight as a means to fix the problem...or feels guilty over causing the weight problem to begin with..or lies to the child about those mean kids calling her fat when anyone can see she's just pleasingly plump like Aunt Mary.
Or he's just big boned like Uncle Joe, who suddenly sprouted and needed all that weight just to keep some meat on his bones.

As time goes by the obesity-neglect situation becomes more obviously like the ones mentioned in the study. Parents leave the kid unsupervised and the kid eats them out of house and home. Child is ashamed to go to the doctor because of the weight and parent lets him get away with more empty promises about getting more exercise and not eating junk food from the machines at school.
A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

SMILE! You could be the one to stop child abuse...

The sight of human affairs
deserves admiration and pity.
And he is not insensible who pays them
the undemonstrative tribute of
a sigh which is not a sob,
and of a smile which is not a grin.
Joseph Conrad
A Personal Record, Preface

Can't help wondering...
what you're wondering about?

I'm wondering, as I always do, what we can do...
each and every one of us...
no matter where, when or to whom, that might make a difference in protecting a child from abuse.

Asking a lot? I guess.

But today I came across one possible answer!
The funny thing for me about this is that I use this tip in my own life, but just never thought about sharing it.


When I lived in Okinawa, Japan I was impressed by how friendly the people always were. I was told Okinawa was actually called "The Isle of Smiles."

A small island nation with its share of enemies, the Okinawans had decided early on to live by a simple philosophy as a means to increase their safety. Based on the premise that people might see you without a smile, assume that meant you were angry at them and might then attack you before you might attack them, they reasoned that the best defense then would be a good offense. SMILE! That way there wouldn't be any room for misunderstanding, they decided, and so they did.

And so I do when I encounter angry situations among adults and children. I also try to say something light and friendly to the child or children, just for good measure. usually it works for the moment to defuse the situation. That's a start...maybe one step closer to protecting the child at least for the time being.

So, Smile!
Now for the origin of today's musings. I've mentioned the site "Imaginif... Child Protection Became Serious Business" several times before. It's one of my favorite sites dealing with child abuse issues. It has posted a great piece by Megan Bayliss, Child Safety, entitled
"Who is Responsible for Child Protection. Smile, in case it is you!"
If that isn't a bumper sticker it should be! And even better as a bumper sticker is part of the closing lines in the article:
"Spread a random smile for child protection upon your dial today. Be careful and responsible though, its contagious and may cause great relief to a troubled person."
So, whether bumper sticker, or philosophy for living in a safer world,
"Smile!" is good advice.

On the other hand, in order to give you a full picture, and remind you that there are no simple answers, I'll tell you the rest of the story about Okinawa's smiles. The story is that some people from other lands talking about the Isle of Smiles decided that the smiles must be the result of some great secret. Perhaps a secret stash of gold? No the island wasn't big enough or wealthy enough to consider that as a reason for the gold. They decided the only logical explanation had to be that the Okinawans had discovered the Fountain of Youth! That lead to attempts to discover from the hapless Okinawans where the fountain could be found. With no answers, and only bigger smiles from the Okinawans, the foreigners frequently flew into rages and beheaded the Okinawans. So, as with all things...moderation is recommended!
And while I'm reminding you about Imaginif...'s site, let me recommend another recent post with a story that's sure to bring you a smile... see how we really can make a difference for the kids! Safe Kids: It's a Community Responsibility.
A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

Monday, November 19, 2007

World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse

...children have the right
to participate in decision-making processes
that may be relevant in their lives
and to influence decisions taken in their regard—
within the family, the school or the community.

Can't help wondering...
what you're wondering about?

I'm wondering how it is that today is
World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse (19 November)
and I didn't know anything about it?

I mean it isn't like I don't spend part of every day researching, reading, writing, and thinking about child abuse. It isn't like I don't have several tracking services to locate information on child abuse for me. It isn't like I do anything to avoid learning more about child abuse.

So how is it that this day came as a surprise to me?

One answer may be related to the fact that I live in the United States, one of the two countries that haven't ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The United States signed the convention, which signals an intention to ratify...eventually. The other country that didn't sign is, Somalia whcih cannot sign as it has "no recognized government."

But of course the United States has its reasons for not yet ratifying the convention:
As in many other nations, the United States undertakes an extensive examination and scrutiny of treaties before proceeding to ratify. This examination, which includes an evaluation of the degree of compliance with existing law and practice in the country at state and federal levels, can take several years—or even longer if the treaty is portrayed as being controversial or if the process is politicized. Moreover, the US Government typically will consider only one human rights treaty at a time. Currently, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women is cited as the nation's top priority among human rights treaties.

A summary of the rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child is available for those lacking time enough to read the entire convention. Among other things, the convention "affirms that children are full-fledged persons who have the right to express their views in all matters affecting them and requires that those views be heard and given due weight in accordance with the child's age and maturity."

You can also learn "What Individuals Can Do" if you think now is the time to take a stand on this issue. As for me, I'll call 1-800-965-4701 and tell my congressman and senators that I think it's past time for ratifying this convention and joining the rest of the world in the efforts to prevent child abuse.

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

Monday, November 12, 2007

Why don't we say NO! to child abuse?

They take a paper and they read the headlines
So they've heard of unemployment
And they've heard of breadlines
And they philanthropically cure them all
By getting up a costume charity ball.
Ogden Nash

Can't help wondering...

if you ever wonder,

as I do,

if it will really has to take

12o years to end child abuse?

Even when a county reports a 500% increase in child abuse and neglect, budget demands may still call for cuts in funding child welfare programs. Why don't they say NO!?

Or perhaps, given the thousands of years of known child abuse,
and the low number of people saying NO!
to child abuse throughout that same time,
a plan to actually end child abuse
in three generations
might be more than we dare even hope for?

And the 40 million children suffering from child abuse now?

What's being done for them? Charity Balls and Golf Tournaments in the Cayman Islands?

Over 50% of American's admit to
witnessing child abuse but do nothing.

Why don't they say NO!?

Because, they say:
Not their business (67%).
Not sure how to respond (50%).
Don't want to have others think they're
overreacting (23%).
Concern about personal safety (19%).
Maybe the actions might be justified (17%).

Seems like all those reasons say more about the witnesses concern for themselves than any concern for the children being abused.
Why don't they say NO!?

And the parents who committ the abuse...those who are the overwhelming majority of all child abusers? The 37 percent of American parents who insult or swear at their children? The 50 percent who neglect their child’s emotional needs, the majority nearly daily? The 6 percent who hit, or try to their children with a hand or anything handy? The 1 percent who kick, bite or punch their children? The 4-5 every day who kill the children they caretake? Why don't they say NO!?

Doctors contribute to child abuse by not reporting obvious cases. They ignore evidence of neglect. They contribute to increased risk of superbugs by failing to say no when asked to prescribe unnecessary antibiotics.

Why don't they say NO!?

Teachers contribute to child abuse by failures to report and by abusing children, themselves.

Why don't they say NO!?

Some Child Welfare workers are advised to not cooperate in ways that might save some children from child abuse, because it's inconvenient...ineffective... response is insufficient...not cost effective and so forth, to deal with other agencies.

Why don't they say NO!?

Many child welfare agencies refuse to even explore alternative assessments of at risk families. They say yes to the opinions of those who claim "non-adversarial, nonthreatening" ways now available won't work.

Why don't they say NO!?

Other child welfare workers act as though removing children from dangerous homes is in the best interests of the child. They accept without questioning the belief that the child will be safer, healthier, happier, and "grow up more successfully" than if kept in the home.

Why don't they say NO!?

Those are only some of the designated mandated reporters...those who supposedly don't have a choice about reporting child abuse...those whom the law says must why don't they report?

Why don't they say NO!?

And what about tougher laws? Why do so many say no to that, but not to child abuse?

Why don't they say NO!?

And courts so under trained about child development, child psychology, and overburdened by impossible workloads they can't make the best decisions? Why don't they say NO!?

National media report high profile cases of child abuse, but not others and seem to follow a policy to avoid coverage of federal government's role in the prevention of child abuse?

Why don't they say NO!?

Kids don't vote, so children's issues don't have much importance with politicians choices for attention, so the emphasis is on everything except children's needs.

Why don't they say NO!?

No to child abuse. No to child neglect. No to all forms of child maltreatment. No to easy-off for convicted child neglecters, convicted child abusers, convicted child killers. No to lax standards about reporting. No to any exceptions for mandated reporting. No to laws left to languish in committees. No to re-electing politicians who do nothing for children. No to politicians who do anything to add to the harm of children. No to corporations who knowingly market dangerous products for children. No to corporations who knowingly market dangerous products to children. No to agencies who won't even consider alternative methods for dealing with child abuse reports. No to underfunding of programs working with at-risk parents known to reduce child abuse and its aftereffects to society and save $4 for every $1 invested. No to reduced funding of effective pre-schools when that's known to reduce child abuse, increase school success and reduce crime. No to doctors who prescribe unnessessary antibiotics to children thereby leading to the development of super-bugs, like MRSA, that now kill those children.

See how easy? All we have to do to stop child abuse is just say NO!? Believe that? Right. Well then why don't we?

My guess is too many of us simply can't seem to say no to anything...including child abuse when we see it. I wonder if that's related to the fact that so many of us were abused as children and now lack the spirit or the will to stand up for anything, or anyone, no matter how important, or how much we want to?

It could become law today that everyone must report child abuse or face the consequences, but I wonder if there would be any reduction in the 40 million cases of child abuse? Sadly, I think not, as long as half of us can witness child abuse and do nothing.

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

Thursday, November 8, 2007

On poems, cartoons and telling a Truth about Child Abuse

With pained surprise
Men learn that poetry's not just the skill
Of words long dead, but actual You's and I's—
And if you have not learned that yet, you will.
…Christopher Morley
Memoranda for a Sonnet Sequence

Can't help wondering...

what you're wondering about

as you read the excerpt above...

then read the following poem?

I came across the poem in the Library of Congress and it spoke to me with such Truth that I felt the need to gain permission to share it here. That done, I hope it speaks to you as well. Enjoy...

Cartoon Physics, part 1
Nick Flynn

Children under, say, ten, shouldn't know

that the universe is ever-expanding,
inexorably pushing into the vacuum, galaxies
swallowed by galaxies, whole

solar systems collapsing, all of it
acted out in silence. At ten we are still learning

the rules of cartoon animation,

that if a man draws a door on a rock
only he can pass through it.

Anyone else who tries

will crash into the rock. Ten-year-olds
should stick with burning houses, car wrecks,
ships going down -- earthbound, tangible
disasters, arenas

where they can be heroes. You can run

back into a burning house, sinking ships
have lifeboats, the trucks will come

with their ladders, if you jump

you will be saved. A child
places her hand on the roof of a schoolbus,

& drives across a city of sand. She knows

the exact spot it will skid, at which point
the bridge will give, who will swim to safety
& who will be pulled under by sharks. She
will learn

that if a man runs off the edge of a cliff
he will not fall

until he notices his mistake.

Copyright 2000 Nick Flynn.
Reprinted from SOME ETHER,
with permission from Graywolf Press.
A special thanks and best wishes to Nick!
And now, an after word about this small world of ours...
When my daughter learned that I found this poem so memorable and who the poet was, she exclaimed, "Mom, that's the poet the girls and I went to see in Johnstown. We thought he was terrific!" Maybe it's something in the gene's? Or maybe the poet is on to something special?

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Let them eat cake! I'll just eat mine and have it, too, thank you!

The child poverty rate is
the most widely used indicator of child well-being
because poverty is closely linked to
undesirable outcomes in areas such as
health, education, emotional welfare, and delinquency.
I'm so happy that some children have a lot to celebrate! And loving people who help them celebrate!
But I can't help wondering about the millions of children throughout the world with nothing to celebrate and no chance to celebrate even if they did. In the US alone, 12 million children go to bed hungry every night.
I think about Marie Antoinette when she was told "the people are hungry...they have no bread" and she replied, "Let them eat cake!"
At first glance that seems so callous, as though she doesn't care about the people or their hunger. But on second thought it's obvious that she didn't know how other people lived.
No doubt thinking of the overabundance of foods of all kinds available to her, and not aware of how little others had, she simply assumed that if there was no bread, they could eat cake instead, so what's the big deal?
When I hear politicians saying children don't need help, when they vote to cut funds to programs that may provide the only real meal a child has in a day, when they suggest health care is available to all, and so forth, my anger knows no bounds. But what if like old
they simply don't know any better?
What if in their insulated worlds they can't even imagine hungy children, children dying for lack of health care, abused and neglected children dumped into systems unable to really help them for lack of funds, and so forth...
What if all we need to do to change the world into a better place for all children is to tell those with the power and the money to make a difference, that children are suffering and they can do something about it?
But what if we told them, and then by their choices we knew for sure that Marie probably knew all along how much the people were suffering but didn't give a damn as long as her life was filled to overflowing...
What would we do if we knew they knew and chose to do nothing to help children or anyone else in need...

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee