Monday, March 31, 2008

Truth is Stranger than Fiction in Child Abuse

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
Blue is the color of child abuse...
Black is for mourning...

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

Today seems to be one of those kind of days when I just know I'm going to wake up any minute, shake my head and laugh with relief that I've just had the weirdest dream ever... or maybe it should be considered the most frightening nightmare?

Or somebody forgot its leap year so April Fools Day isn't until tomorrow? No such luck...

First there is this story about the man who several times a day goes outside on his deck naked, turns a round picnic table on its side and has sex with the umbrella full view of a nearby school.

Then there's this story about a training seminar on child abuse, where the Keynote speaker was Dr. Walter Lambert, medical director of the University of Miami's Child Protective Team. According to the the article the doctor's comment that "some cultural concepts change over time," refers "to how parents and schools used to hit children as a disciplinary measure."

Used to hit?
What world is he living on...not here on Earth for sure, where in the US every state still allows Corporal punishment by primary caregivers and most states still allow it in schools, and the US remains the only country that hasn't ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that calls for no spanking.

Another article in my e-mail points out that these were reported in the last few weeks, in just one county: " 3- and 7-year-old children suffered severe ongoing beatings with a belt…a 3-month-old boy who suffered numerous earlier injuries died of blunt-force trauma to the head….a 2-year-old girl was punished by her mother with blasts from a pressure washer…a 2-year-old boy was beaten with a T-ball bat…an 8-year-old boy was tied to a coffee table and beaten for three hours by a relative who was babysitting him….a 13-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy endured horrible physical and sexual abuse for more than six years."

In another state, an article mentions, "...babies suffocated in their sleep, on plastic bags, balloons or laundry carelessly left too close. Seven died after being hit, thrown, dropped or kicked. Two infants were shot; two others, starved..." but "no agency is responsible for a comprehensive assessment of child abuse and neglect here...the state Office of Children's Services, for instance, is responsible for situations within a family, but OCS usually has no authority if a baby sitter hits a toddler, or a health aide fails to recognize a critically ill infant, or a teacher has sex with a student."

And in yet another state in 2006, "15,798 confirmed cases of denial of critical care [neglect]....2,037 cases of physical injury were reported...839 cases of sexual abuse were founded in the state — the lowest number founded in more than 20 years."

And in another, it's reported that "over 60,000 children are confirmed child abuse victims each year in Texas."

Unfortunately I could go on...and on...and on.... but I won't. Not today, anyway. Statistics simply don't say all that much to most people.
But that precious baby at the top of this page? Remember her? She was a victim of child abuse.
On a stormy spring night she entered the world six weeks early as an innocent, 5 lb. 1 oz, and barely 17 inches long. She couldn't go home until she was ten days old.

When she was three weeks old, her mother hit her so hard on her bare bottom that the red mark lasted for hours. No doubt the psychic pain lasted far longer.
At three months her twenty month old sister dumped Ivory snow over her head. She turned blue, but was revived and survived after a few days in the hospital.

For the next ten years of her young life she was slapped, kicked, pushed, pulled, jerked around, bit, her hair pulled, hit with a belt, wooden spoon, metal edged ruler, sticks, locked in her room as punishment, and that's only part of the abuses she experienced from her mother, father, older sibling, and stepfather.
She survived all that, too.

What would you do to have spared her that beginning to her life?

What will you do to spare another child who suffers now as she suffered then?

Millions of children are reported abused each year in the US. Child abuse occurs at all socio-economic levels. Today a neighbor can be so overwhelmed by stress that she does the unthinkable. Tonight a friend can be so overwhelmed that he does the unimaginable. Research indicates tomorrow the same thing can happen to you. Don't be careless...anyone can become a child abuser given a terrible set of circumstances. Learn more about child abuse so you can make a positive difference for all children. The child you save could be one you know and love.

Here are links to just a few of the articles in my e-mail box today. Tomorrow there will be many more. And every day after... for how long????
A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

Friday, March 28, 2008

Newt on Child Abuse, War, Immigration? Not?

There is a good deal else
That would not exist
Without "poisonous pedagogy."
It would be inconceivable, for example,
For politicians mouthing empty cliches
To attain the highest positions of
Power by democratic means.
Alice Miller

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

Did John hear the bells toll yesterday? Barack and Hillary grab their helmets and flack jackets, begin to run faster and harder? If not, then they missed Newt's speech at AEI.

Whatever one thinks of Newt, and this isn't the place for that, the man is brilliant…almost beyond belief. Some months ago in an interview when asked if he'd run, he said no reason to do that as Republican's had a full field of good men running.

The speech he gave yesterday is either being thrown into the ring…or about to become the ring around all future Republican talking points. Newt managed to wrap himself in everything Barack, added a few touches of Hillary, coated himself with pure Repubican brass and came out looking like a gold ring looking for a finger…or a nose.

But this isn't about Newt, John, Hillary or Barack…what their positions on issues look like, how they compare or contrast. This is about something they all have in common with each other and the vast majority of politicians.

They talk about the 3 million in prisons, not about the 3 million reports of child abuse each year. They talk about the 4,000 soldiers killed in this 5 year war, but not about the
7,000 children killed by child abuse during that same time. They talk about the thousands of wounded soldiers who will suffer and struggle the rest of their lives, but not the hundreds of thousands of child equally as wounded each year by child abuse. They talk about people losing homes, but not about children who are homeless. They talk about poverty but don't mention the 12 million children who go to bed hungry every night. They talk about the sad state of illegal immigrants hiding in the shadows, but not about the child abuse of having children grow up without education, medical care, or much else besides a venomous rage that encircle their young hearts, then wells and swells until it can no longer be contained and brings them finally to uncoil and strike at anyone for any reason. They talk about human rights for all but the United States hasn't ratified the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Children. (Somalia is the only other one!)

In this speech, Newt in his cleverness managed to avoid alienating the black voters by throwing a few glittering pieces of mica in their direction as he shifted the focus of compassion away from other minorities to the Native Americans. He managed to make everything Barack and Hillary offer to champion education, poverty, race relations, look like paupers offering to share crumbs. When he offered free college to students who finish high school in two years rather than four, while coating them in tax cuts and the talking points always popular with the Republicans, I almost had to stand and applaud the man for his creativity.

Say what you will about Newt. He knows his stuff, and how to use it for best advantage. He proved that 30 years ago. In this one speech he gives the deserting Republicans a path on which to run back to the fold, the wavering independents a means to get out from the stress of indecision, and the disgruntled Democrats not happy with the idea of voting for a black or a woman, a time-tested old white guy saying what they want to hear.

But what about John, the war, immigration, and child abuse? Dogs that don't bark?

HMMMM...I had a dog once... a German Shepherd... she didn't bark, but she was the best watch dog in the world...anyone coming over the fence never knew she was there before she pounced.

Here are some links:

AEI Address by Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich

Obama Campaign Speech on Race

An Open Letter to all Responsible Politicians from Alice Miller

Spanking is Counterproductive and Dangerous

Alice Miller: The Childhood Trauma

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Child Friendly Language

Convention on the Rights of the Child

UN Convention on the Rights of Children

What Are You Going to Do About Child Abuse?

The Limits of Politics I: The Roots of the Politics of Power

The Politics of Lies: Suffer the Child

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Scribbling Siblings? Well...

Did you know that
Sibling abuse is
One of the most common forms
Of family violence?

Can't help wondering... what you're wondering about?
I wonder if the net isn't providing a great way for some to talk about abuse and gain some healing in the process.

As with so many other things related to child abuse, the veil of secrecy enshrouds that of sibling abuse. It simply isn't a subject that comes up easily, even or especially within families.

My children were all grown before they began to tell me horrible stories of their experiences with each other when young. They told finally with the sense of safety that comes with time and distance… and the support of one another… and with a deliberate use of humor to lessen re-experiencing the degree of pain and actual cruelty of the experiences.

Had my mother lived past 42, would my brothers and I have eventually regaled her with similarly humorous stories about the ways we abused one another as children? We certainly never brought the subject up with Dad who lived ten years longr than Mom… but then it seems with Dad we never acknowledged the elephant of violence and abuse in any of its many guises.

From discussions with others my guess is that even as adults the subject of sibling abuse may not surface in many families…ever. I suspect the openness that developed in our family came as a result of me owning my part in it all with them, keeping the subject of abuse open, and subsequent discussions both personal and abstract as I strived to learn and share more about child abuse in general.

Not surprisingly, given that she received the most of the worst from me, the oldest was more often named as offender for perpetrating violence against her brother and sister during their childhoods. After listening to how she deliberately slammed doors on hands, held knives to their throats, and other clearly abusive actions, I asked, "But where was I?"

As a stay at home mom, aware that she was acting out her own pain and anger, and openly mean to her sibs in so many ways, I thought I did everything possible to protect them from her angry outbursts. "Oh, you were always there, Mom, but we didn't dare make a sound or tell. We knew she would make us very sorry if we did."

Sibling abuse is not often recognized as resulting in serious trauma yet. Too many well-educated people, immersed in the field of child maltreatment in one discipline or another, persist in minimizing the degree of frequency and further minimize any as "just kids stuff"… nothing more than sibling rivalry.

Recently, there is more interest in sibling abuse as a valid subject for solid research. But for now, those who endured it need to speak out in order to heal themselves…and to open the conversation so others may feel safe in doing so, too. There are places on line where people are sharing their stories on this abuse as they share about other abuses. Comments on a recent post on "Well," a health-related blog, show the depth of pain about sibling abuse and how some are dealing with it.

In it's simplest terms sibling abuse includes all the types of abuse...physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect. And it traumatizes children deeply in ways similar to that of other domestic violences. Trust is destroyed both by the perpetrator and by those who fail to protect the children…and this may be worse in many ways… by those who deny the sibling abuse when told of it.

I also think that eventually research will determine that sibling abuse has two victims…the obvious child-victim of the abuse, and the child abusing his or her siblings who is sustaining developmental damage that changes him or her, too. Abused children need our protection and help. Abusive children also need help and protection, not condemnation, and extra effort to stop them...for the sake of all.

Looking for more information:

Siblings Behaving Badly

Brothers and Sisters of Abuse Victims Often Help Cover Up or Even Commit Abuse
Beyond rivalry, a Hidden World of Sibling Violence

Sibling Abuse

Sibling Conflicts: Roughhousing vs. Abuse

Sibling Rivalry? Think Again...

What makes kids care? Teaching gentleness in a violent world

Selected Resources on Sibling Abuse: An Annotated Bibliography for Researchers, Educators and Consumers

Sibling Abuse Forums

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pre-emptive Strike Against Our Children

The American people live in a country

Where they can have

Almost anything they want.

And my regret is that it seems that

They don’t want much of anything at all.

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

I'm wondering just what do Americans want?

Apparently Walmart knows better than anyone else exactly what Americans want...

Americans it seems want junk they can buy in place of wanting those things in life that truly have meaning and lasting value. Instead of parenting with love

Supreme Court, inc.

Supreme Court of the United States (Official Page)

U. S. Supreme Court Information: Basic Facts and History

Supreme Court Decisions Relating to Children

The Broken Branch: How Congress is America and How to Get it Back on Track (The Book)

The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How to Get it Back on Track (Article)

Is the Broken Branch on the Mend? An Early Report on the 110th Congress

Radio Interview: Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein: "The Broken Branch" (Oxford)

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Filling Squares, Training [NOT] and Child Abuse

You can swim all day
In the Sea of Knowledge
And still come out completely dry.
Most people do.

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

I wonder what happends to the ones supposed to benefit, when people drinking from the Sea of Knowledge, seeming afraid to even wet their lips, take no more than a quick sip, then claim that as the source for anything they spout forever afterwards.

That leads me to discuss an issue of great importance to me in any discussion of child abuse. Today I'm wondering about, education at all levels, in all fields, among all people…in relation to child abuse, of course.

I come here to post after first responding to a comment left by Geoff Brown on Scare Crow Child, "Child Abuse and Neglect: A Weak Spot in Teacher Ed..." about a "new online role-playing course titled, "How [Not] to Talk To a Possible Child Abuse Victim," that lets teachers rehearse an interactive conversation with a possible child abuse victim, getting feedback after each choice...if request is clicked on...and, for a price, recieve certification for the training.

I believe when Bryan Short said "Evil is the incapacity that is forced on one by his lack of training," that he was speaking a truth with a capital T. No doubt others may have said as much, or even used the same words, but I heard them from him in a lecture/class at NAU in 1997. I was so struck by the words, and the discussion that followed, that I kept them as something of a basic philosophy.

Those words clarify for me much that seems senseless on the surface. Most of us agree, (even if we disagree about whom to attribute the words in a quote) that there is a truth in saying those who do nothing in the presence of evil, are in themselves contributing to evil. And yet, while claiming something must be done, too often we do nothing. Then like the early Christian, Paul, while we berate ourselves for failing to do what we would, or not do what we would not, we seek an excuse for our behavior.

The Devil, Twinkies, Mom, Dad, Child Abuse, (or you fill in the blank)… made me do it, defense continues to thrive.
So one might expect me to think education about child abuse provided anywhere, in any way, for any reason must be a good thing. Not so. Avoiding any discussion of pros and cons on online education, I have trouble recommending this, or any other course like it, based on the following three reasons.

First, I agree with Plato via Socrates on writing and believe it is as true for on-line courses:

"this will provide forgetfulness in the souls of those who have learned it ... . You have found a drug not for memory but for reminding. You are supplying the opinion of wisdom to students, not truth. For you'll see that, having become hearers of much without teaching, they will seem to be sensible judges in much, while being for the most part senseless, and hard to be with, since they've become wise in their own opinions instead of wise"
Plato as Distance Educator Pioneer

Second, again per Plato:

"For writing certainly has this terrible power, Phaedrus, as if truly like the painting of living animals. For the offspring of that stand forth like living animals, but if someone were to question them, they maintain a solemn silence.
(Plato, 275d) Plato. Phaedrus.

And third, in my experience, almost all forms of "training" taken to fill a square, to satisfy some requirement to indicate training happened, rather than with the intended purpose of learning, accomplish nothing positive. Examples include:

1. Real Estate Ethics Training I attended in CA where instructor arrived one hour late, asked if we wanted to get out early, quickly went over answers to test, then left us alone in room to pracitce our own ethics...or get back to making money in a hurry.

2. Military on-line training where cheat sheets circulate for those who don't know how to take the test without actually doing the "training."

3. On C-SPAN Congressional Hearing last week, an owner of meat packing plant waved signed sheets as "proof" that employees had received training, so employees who said otherwise must be lying...

4. Beginning employment at a Day Care Center, I was pointed towards three manuals on child safety, welfare, etc. that had to be read...asked to sign a paper that I had done so and rushed into work.

5. Going to the drugstore for meds now, asked to sign a statement that declares I have been counseled by the druggist...

You get the picture from just a few pieces? And I have no doubt that you can add more of your own! Anectdotal "evidence" doesn't count? Depends on the circumstances, doesn't it?

However, as you know, "Child Person From the South" is filled with links, quotes, stuff involving the written word on-line and off, so am I saying don't use any of them? No. Not at all! In fact I hope you use any sources of information on child abuse that you find here or elsewhere, that seem so "good" to you that you will put forth the effort to learn, process, make the knowledge behind them yours, and use the wisdom gained in some attempt to protect a child from abuse.

Should the day arrive when there are Answers with a capital A, as in Truth with a Capital T, that is the day when I will erase all other attempts at finding answers and provide that Answer to you. Until then, I continue to provide a variety of sources such that you may find something that you may find useful in your search for Wisdom. But while you do, please remember as Heather L. Reid says:

"It is the admission of ignorance in ourselves, and the recognition of ignorance in others that gives us the courage, freedom, and duty to inquire after truth."

And, I hope, in doing so bring us closer to that day when Bryan Short's words, "Evil is the incapacity that is forced on one by his lack of training," become a Truth that means Evil no longer finds an opening through the abuse of children.

So, in the meantime, a few more links for you:

How [Not] To Talk To A Possible Child Abuse Victim (On-line Course)

Unto the Third Generation: A Call to End Child Abuse in the United States within 120 Years (More in depth perspective and reasons for real training)

Interviewing Child Witnesses: Questioning Techniques and the Role of Training

ICAN Child Abuse and Neglect Protocol (Includes Video)

Inter -agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN) Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect

Putting Kid First: Court Approved Online Parenting Course ($60)

Family Matters: Court Approved Online Parenting Classes (Various Fees)

Free Online Parenting Class ($20 Optional Certification)

The Educational Value of Plato's Early Socratic Dialogues

Teaching and Learning: Making the Written Word "Speak": Reflections on the Teaching of Correspondence Courses

Links to Plato's Works on the Web

Plato and His Dialogues

Plato as Distance Educator Pioneer

Rom. 7:15-16: "...for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I...." Rom. 7:19-20, "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me."

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spitzer Prostitution Story Not Only About Men and Sex: Working Mothers, Children, Drugs and Other Baggage in the Complaint

...the girls who have children
tend to have
a little more baggage going on...

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

I haven't a clue about Spitzer's part in this story. Time will tell all, I'm sure.

My concern is, as always, about children and child abuse. No, as far as we know, this story doesn't include anything about child prostitutes, but there is plenty of other harm being done to innocent children who will struggle to carry the baggage from this one.

This is about the more subtle abuses of the children related to the women mentioned in this complaint, the ones whose mothers have to leave "work" early to pick them up from school, the ones whose mothers turn to drugs in order to continue with their "work," the ones whose mothers are creating the risk of endangering their children's health, well-being and even safety by their choice of employment and the performances it entails.

Regardless of Spitzer's role in the story, how difficult is this for his teenage daughters to endure? What suffering will they experience now and after effects in the future? How much damage to their trust, their beliefs, their values because this story suggests their father participated in this so much more than may ever even turn out even to be true. How much are they suffering because of whatever their mother may be suffering?

How many of the three named as defendants in this case, or mentioned as "models" are mothers? For that matter are sisters, aunts, even grandmothers of children who stand to fall under the burden of dealing with the baggage coming with extended aspects of the story. What about those whose fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers may yet be pulled into the story? How many of the people involved...the clients, the employees, the business managers...are themselves child abuse survivors?

When does a parent's personal choices become child maltreatment by virtue (OMG - no pun intended) of them being a form of neglect, a failure to protect their children from harm.

In spite of my concern for the children, I find the details in the complaint the funniest reading I've done in a long time. I admit I can imagine the humour in a movie playing it all out on a big screen. Imagine the guy waiting who gets the call that she is running late because it's pouring rain and she can't find her "little pocketbook with all my slips." The one who hears, "UH, excuse me a minute while I take this call about my next assignment." Or finds his business intentionally cut short , like maybe with a hasty, "Oops...sorry...I know it's a 40 minute hour... but I gotta pick the kids up from school, now!"

Viagra could make quite a commercial about the men exercising their "buy-out clauses"... I that called E-Z Access? And excuse me... who decided to use QAT Consulting as a name for the money-laundering business expense set up? Can you keep a straight face imagining the guy worrying about "getting busted,"...although maybe that was an intended pun?

Or doesn't your heart break for the pitiful guy who complained that " it was getting harder and harder to do business with 'them,'" because the company instituted a new demand of a 55% deposit, so he had to ask "whether direct deposit meant going to the bank himself" to take care of it. How does the guy feel who finds out his credit is so poor he has to pay full cash up front, and the company recommends he put up an extra $2000 to make it easier to access services the next time?

Or how about the client who "has enough credit that they can take their time this evening and tomorrow morning. She . . . doesn't necessarily have to raceout @ 9am." Must be a real ego booster, huh? What about the poor slob who jumps through all the hoops only to be told the person of his choice "would not be available for the appointment." Must be ego-crushing, huh?

What about the potential hire who talked to a friend who "done [sic] her first job for you" and was confused and shocked...shocked, I tell you!...that the friend had to do it "twice in one hour" for only $500 and didn't even get dinner out of the deal. And pity the poor business managers... so much trouble doing business with a girl doing drugs, and that not even a sometimes thing because, "a lot of these girls deteriorate to this point."

And no farce worth the watching would be complete without the multiple phone and e-mail exchanges needed just to make an appointment...or keep it, negotiations over price, complaints over quality...or lack of..., late mail deliveries, phones not working, missed transportation connections...unavailable flights, clandestine arrangements for room access, hidden keys, doors ajar, on an on, ad nauseum.

With all this easy material who needs comedy writers for SNL, sitcoms, or any of the other late-nite shows?

But this isn't far as we know at this time...and I suspect for those involved none of this is humorous. What's worst as far as I'm concerned is knowing there are too many real children hurting over this. And probably very few if any adults being aware, or taking care of them. For me that's not funny at all.

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Constitutional Rights: Home Schooling? Abuse? Neglect? None of the Above?

..."allowing every person to make his own
standards on matters of conduct
in which society as a whole
has important interests”
is precluded by
“the very concept of ordered liberty ...

Can't help wondering...

what you're wondering about today?

I'm wondering about parents, children and constitutional rights a lot lately... usually with an emphasis on child abuse of course. But today the news from California focuses on another aspect of that concept... home schooling. will I. parents have a constitutional right to homeschool their children?

So...did they ever?

Nowhere in the Croskey Court document is the proposition presented as anything new, let alone supported by cherry-picked words quoted by this blogger called KipEsquire, that "California courts have held that ... parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children,"...

But by cleverly taking a few words out of context, KipEsquire, and others doing the same thing today, create a firestorm that sucks even the CA Governor into the smoky maelstrom. The choice of words easily leads the careless reader to believe this ruling drastically changes something…forcibly rips away someone's inalienable and constitutional rights...deprives parents of some previously assumed authority over their children's education. No doubt it threw welcome fuel on the fire that smolders among the more radical home schoolers.

KipEsquire is clever. He throws out the lit match with this:

"California courts have held that ... parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children," Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28.

No doubt knowing full well the sparks will fly on that one, KipEsquire then fans the flames with this:

"Parents have a legal duty to see to their children's schooling under the provisions of these laws."

And knowing, no doubt, that with eyes burning no one will notice, KipEsquire splashes more fuel on their blazing emotions with this:

"Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply, Croskey said."

Sound like if you home school, you have no right to do so and face prosecution if you do?

However, that isn't what The Croskey Court finds at all. Here are the words KipEsquire chooses to use placed back in their original context:

The trial court’s reason for declining to order public or private schooling for the children was its belief that parents have a constitutional right to school their children in their own home. However, California courts have held that under provisions in the Education Code, parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.

That doesn't say you can't home school your children, or are in danger of prosecution if you do. The Croskey Court opinion does say the trial court declined "to order public or private schooling" because of a belief the parents have a constitutional right to home school their children.

However, the issue of a parent's constitutional right to home school was settled prior to this case in the California Courts:

Thus, while the petition for extraordinary writ asserts that the trial court’s refusal to order attendance in a public or private school was an abuse of discretion, we find the refusal was actually an error of law.

Abuse of discretion or error of law? The Croskey Court confirms that parents do have a right to home school in CA, when they do so in accordance with existing law:

It is clear to us that enrollment and attendance in a public full-time day school is required by California law for minor children unless (1) the child is enrolled in a private full-time day school and actually attends that private school, (2) the child is tutored by a person holding a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught, or (3) one of the other few statutory exemptions to compulsory public school attendance (Ed. Code, § 48220 et seq.) applies to the child.

Finally, the Croskey Court notes:

Because the parents in this case have not demonstrated that any of these exemptions apply to their children, we will grant the petition for extraordinary writ.

Amazing to me that KipEsquire, who claims to be a lawyer, albeit a NY not CA lawyer, also says:

"…It is a fine line (or a massive chasm, depending on your point of view) between insisting, as I do, that there is no right to badly homeschool your child and this court's ruling that there is no right to homeschool whatsoever…" (KipEsquire's emphasis; my hi-lite).

And, KipEsquire continues:

"…To adopt a bright-line rule that any homeschooling is "bad" homeschooling is arbitrary, irrational -- and likely an unconstitutional violation of due process. Even in the knowledge that some homeschooling will be bad homeschooling, the state should be required to demonstrate that a particular parent is failing to properly homeschool a particular child, just as it should be required to demonstrate that a particular parent is neglecting or abusing a particular child." (KipEsquire's emphases; my hi-lite)

KipEsquire's rant becomes of particular interest to me with those last words! But this post is so long that I will continue my thoughts next time….so long, so long!

For you:
California Court: No Right to Homeschool In re RACHEL L. et al., Persons Coming,8599,1720697,00.html?imw=YCriminalizing Home Schoolers Schooling

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Ripping the Nest Apart for Abused Children

Children and their parents
are nested in a broader family group:
those people to whom they are connected
through kinship and other relationships
American Humane: FGDM

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

I'm thinking about families, remembering aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, siblings. Most are gone now, but the sense of belonging, of being a part of something remains as comforting as ever.

Imagine ripping these children from their great-grandmother in order to protect them from an abusive or neglectful parent. Her loss would be devestating. Their loss incalculable. With her would go extended family members, family history, culture, mentors of skills and talents, safe harbors for all kinds of life storms.

I wonder what I would be without the grandmother who adored me and made no secret of it, the extended family members who gave me the joys and experiences of books and learning, scouting, who introduced me to the comfort of religion, the pride in "our" pew in the church, taught me of the local landmarks that created connections of my family to place through generations that came before me, gave me a sense of a history that included me and would pass on through me to next generations.

What of those who taught me manners not learned at home, values and pride in craftsmanship, who provided regular escapes from a horrific home life? What if my brothers, my reasons for hanging on were ripped from my life? What of the pets, friends, neighborhood places, schools and teachers that served as lifelines during rough times? Sure, I might have suffered less neglect and abuse by being removed from my mom and dad...maybe...but there is no doubt that I would have suffered greatly from the loss of all the other positives that come from having a connection to time and place and people.

For some reason when good people set out to do good things and don't consider all the consequences that may occur as a result of their decisions, they can cause more damage than had they done nothing. The road to hell... and we all know the rest of that! The decision to hasten the time from removing children from their homes until parental rights are terminated in order to stop the horrors of children lost in systems and place the children in permanent situations sooner sounds like one of those good intentions!

My grandson was "lucky" when the state took him from my daughter, for she was a Heroin addict, with all that includes for a young female, and his life was in jeopardy. But was he so lucky when the foster parents, eager to adopt him, and case-worker believing it best, pushed hard for that closure as soon as they could legally do so? I have no answer of course. Once the adoption took place, my daughter wasn't the only one locked out of his life when the records were "closed."

So when as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate for Abused and Neglected Children) I participated in a Family Group Decision Making program I was thrilled to see the children included, along with extended family members and even close friends, in an attempt to create the best possible solutions for the children and their single Mom. How different from other meetings of professionals making decisions based on their biases, values, mood of the moment, mixed with incomplete information about the people whose lives they would change forever! The stake holders at Family Group Decision Making meetings have a lot more at stake, to say the least.

If you are interested in knowing more here is a bit....

Family Group Decision Making in Child Welfare: Purpose, Values and Processes
The values associated with FGDM include:
• Children have a right to maintain their kinship and cultural connections throughout their lives;
• Children and their parents belong to a wider family system that both nurtures them and is responsible for them;
• The family group, rather than the agency, is the context for child welfare and child protection resolutions;
• All families are entitled to the respect of the state, and the state needs to make an extra effort to convey respect
to those who are poor, socially excluded, marginalized, or lacking power or access to resources and services;
• The state has a responsibility to recognize, support and build the family group’s capacity to protect and care for
their young relatives;
• Family groups know their own histories, and they use that information to construct thorough plans;
• Active family group participation and leadership is essential for good outcomes for children, but power
imbalances between family groups and child protection agency personnel must first be addressed; and
• The state has a responsibility to defend family groups from unnecessary intrusion and to promote their growth
and strength.

And here are some related links:

How To Solve A Family Problem the Democratic Way

Family Group Decision Making

Families Gaining Their Seat at the Table

Engaging Families in Child Welfare Practice

Family Group Decision Making in Child Welfare Purpose, Values and Processes

Seen but Not Heard? Children and Young People’s Participation
in Family Group Decision Making:Concepts and Practice Issues

Tools for Permanency: Tool #2: Family Group Decision Making

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

Monday, March 3, 2008

What's wrong with this picture? One child abandoned? Or two?

There is no agony
like bearing an untold story inside you.
Zora Neale Hurston

Can't help wondering... what you're wondering about? I'm wondering about pictures that don't tell the whole story. Pictures with missing pieces. Pictures that create more confusion than clarity. Pictures that seem really out of focus. Pictures that need far more than a thousand words to make any sense of them.

The Picture as known at this time: 44 year old man turns 6 month old baby girl over to firehouse; claims baby abandoned in his cab by unknown man. Man and his 21 year-old girlfriend, who is actually the baby's aunt, are charged with criminal falsification; each can face year in jail. Man who "abandoned" baby in cab is allegedly the baby's 27 year old father. Baby girl, now called Baby Lourdes was placed in foster home. A 23 year old bail bondsman, another friend of the family, brought the 14 year old mother to the police because she was "depressed, scared, crying…loved her daughter…wanted to be with her."

The mother is a child herself, probably pregnant at 13 by a 26-year-old man. Statutory rape, at least, isn't it? What's wrong with that picture? Child Abuse and neglect by how many? Will any of them be charged?

The Baby-mommy gave birth to Baby Lourdes. She didn't have an abortion. She didn't let the Baby Lourdes drown in a toilette somewhere. She didn't smother Baby Lourdes and hide the evidence. Who knew of the pregnancy and birth? Parents? Doctor? Nurse? Hospital? Or did she have it home, alone? Who knew of Baby Lourdes existence the last six months and did nothing? Where was the help for that child and her child? What's wrong with that picture? Child abuse and neglect by how many? Will any of them be charged?

A concerned society offers a "Safe Haven" in this state for parents who can't care for a child to leave the child at specified places "without risk of prosecution," but only until the baby is 5 days old. Police haven't decided yet whether to charge this Baby-mommy… with what? Did that same concerned society fund effective life-education in schools, before puberty, including information about birth control, Safe Haven laws, other options for unintended mental and physical consequences of unprotected sex for children, services available for Baby-mommy and Baby Lourdes? How much public education like readily obvious and available ads, brochures, workshops, etc. exist, and not just as a good idea for some organization that lacks funds to pay for or workers to distribute stacks of materials gathering dust on back room shelves. What's wrong with that picture? Child abuse and neglect by how many? Will any of them be charged?

Whatever your feelings about all the aspects of this story, known and yet to be known, whether or not you agree with the plan and actions these people came up with, no matter your beliefs that most of them were old enough to know better, regardless of your beliefs about how things should have been/could have been/would have been if you were involved, what alternatives would you prefer these people with all their human limitations had chosen in this moment of time for Baby Lourdes? Abandon the baby, dead or alive, wrapped in plastic and stuffed somewhere? Far too often that is the option chosen by desperate people. Obviously those involved were not willing to see that as a solution to what they apparently perceived as a problem they had to solve. For whatever reasons, they chose to give Baby Lourdes a chance at life, apparently the best chance they could imagine for her. What's wrong with that picture? Child abuse and neglect by how many? Will any of them be charged?

Where is the sense in charging those who gave Baby Lourdes that chance? Why send them to jail? So others won't do what these people did? And then what? Desperate people make desperate choices…and none of those choices bode well for any babies and children involved. Why not assign a period of public service working in place like Ronald McDonald's house as a volunteer, rocking dying babies in local hospitals, doing anything that makes life better for the millions of children suffering today. What's wrong with that picture? Child abuse and neglect by how many? Will any of them be charged? Child abuse and neglect by how many? Will any of them be charged?

Judgment is so easy folks, and so useless. Don't kid yourself that however you see this picture, you aren't missing something still seriously wrong with it. The same might be true of many child abuse/neglect stories...

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Spanking: Necessary Correction or Child Abuse?

This is why I always recommend
Creative, swift and terrible action
So that children
Take their parents seriously
And learn "the lesson" permanently.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger

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

If this little one suddenly pulls away and runs off in this dangerous location, should he spank her, hit her in such a "swift and terrible" way that she takes him seriously, and never forgets?

Or maybe he should catch her, take her some place private and spank her one or two times when he is calm and collected?

Or perhaps spanking isn't an answer at all?

Yesterday 84% of listeners that called in on WJAC TV's poll said they approve of spanking children. Spanking was not defined. Not the procedure, timing or purpose.

Well, I don't approve of spanking or any other form of Corporal Punishment at any time for any reason. I no longer believe in deliberately inflicting pain on those who can't fight back or do anything to protect themselves. Cowards, bullies, torturers and sadists do that. Ignorant, undereducated, untrained people do that to little children, even infants, in the name of discipline because they don't know any better, because they haven't learned any better, because they lack alternatives.

I believe there are more humane, effective and practical ways to teach, train and discipline a child. I believe those who take care of children have an obligation to learn how. Civilized adults don't hit other adults. Why should so many believe they should hit little children?

The idea that only some 16% disapprove of spanking sent me searching for whether the divide is actually so lopsided. Unfortunately, it is. One study finds that 94% of U.S. parents spank their kids by the time the youngsters are 4 years old. As I always do, I researched all sides of the issue from parenting, legal, religious, medical, physiological, psychological, scientific, philosophical and so forth. I read both sides in comments on blogs, forums, and in response to newspaper articles. I remain consciously biased in favor of no corporal punishment.

I accept that if you believe otherwise then it makes sense to you that big people hitting little people teaches them something constructive, and does no harm. Among other things you also believe that a distinction can " be made between abusive hitting and nonabusive spanking." And you further believe that spanking is a " planned action, not a reaction," that it is a "deliberate procedure," a "forewarned consequence for designated problem behaviors," is "administered in private to avoid public humiliation or embarassment," consists of only "one or two spanks administered to the buttocks," and "should leave only transient redness of the skin" and "never cause a physical injury." You further believe the spanking should be "followed by embracing the child and calmly reviewing the offense and the desired behavior in an effort to reestablish a warm relationship."

I believe you believe these or similar reasons for your stance on spanking. What I don't believe is that you believe you or those you know apply "spanking" in this calm, methodical, premeditated manner. I question the redness and the amount of pain inflicted to cause hard must you hit on bare skin by your bare hand? How much harder must you hit through clothing?

Are you spanking with objects? 25% admit to using an object when disciplining children. Do you wait until you are calm, then pick up your object of choice and cold-bloodedly hit a defenseless child? Some times advice is given to make the child bring the object to you to increase the effectiveness. Do you use a hair brush? A belt? A spoon? A Switch?

Or do you buy one of the products recommended and sold for the purpose? Carefully sized and sold for "spanking" infants, toddlers, older children. I wonder if they come with satisfaction guaranteed?

For other information: (Warning: Searching "spanking" may bring unanticipated results.)

Spare the Rod?
Spare the Rod? New Research Challenges Spanking Critics (pro spanking)
Spare the Rod
Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child Explained
Snopes: Comments on Spare the Rod
Answers: Punishment

Spanking Can Bring Problems Later

Wikipedia: Spanking

Smacking? Right or Wrong (children answers pro and con)

Children's Views

Listen Up! Children Talk: About Smacking

Spanking (Pro-spanking)

State by State Spanking Laws

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee