Protect Our Kids Act

I have always felt patriotic about the USA. I love singing the National Anthem and “America, the Beautiful” sends chills up my spine. As I grew older, however, and followed the works of various presidents, I have become disillusioned about our country. I don’t like the way the government has “secret” organizations that spy on us, and I don’t like the IRS, whose power seems to be omnipotent. Most of all, I do not appreciate the way the Democrats and the Republicans have been at a near standstill for the last few years.

However, in 2012 and 2013 President Obama and Congress have passed the PROTECT OUR KIDS ACT, which creates a national committee to study ways to prevent fatal child mal-treatment. This means they are trying to prevent the deaths of children who are abused.

This particular issue is very close to my heart, since I was abused myself by a live-in babysitter when I was four years old. I know the feeling of helplessness, desperation and terror that a child experiences when they are overpowered and tortured by an adult. It is heart rending to think of a helpless child being killed by their parent or caregiver.

So I am pleased at last with the government of the United States, which is now going to help with this gigantic problem. Here are some statistics about child abuse from Dreamcatchers for Abused Children, an internet watchdog site which is very informative on child abuse.

  • Every 13 seconds a child is abused in the US.
  • Since 1980, physical abuse has increased by 84%.
  • Sexual abuse has increased by 350%.
  • Emotional abuse has increased by 333%.
  • Child neglect has increased by 320%.

The Children’s Advocacy Center released information they collected over the first half of 2013. The Centers, which are in various cities around the country and help citizens stop child abuse, dealt with 150,000 cases of child abuse, and over 100,000 cases were reports of sexual abuse.

THAT MEANS ADULTS ARE HAVING SEX WITH CHILDREN EVERY SINGLE DAY.

These statistics are unbelievable. They demonstrate the moral decline that our nation is experiencing. Immorality has increased and it is having a devastating effect on our children. Do you agree?

I am hoping the PROTECT OUR CHILDREN ACT will root out child abusers and enact tougher penalties on them.

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Science Packs a Wallop

Since school has started almost all over the country, I am reminded of an incident from my school days in the fifties. As young girls, my sister, Gretchen, and I lived in Pittsburgh and went to Winchester Thurston School in Oakland. I was a year ahead at school, but our birthdays were only 22 months apart, so we were close.

Father drove us to school every morning, but we took the streetcar in the afternoon. We took the #75 streetcar from Ellsworth Avenue, through East Liberty and east on Penn Avenue to our street, Homewood Avenue near Frick Park.

Our route took us past a bread factory, where the aroma of fresh baked bread tempted us every afternoon. Mother warned us not to get off the streetcar and try to buy bread at the factory, and she always had a snack ready when we got home. We usually had a choice between potato chips and Coke(my favorite) or milk and cookies.

One day, when our streetcar got to the corner of Penn and Fifth Avenues, the conductor announced that because of road construction, the streetcar was not going the rest of the way up Penn Avenue.

“We’re going to turn left here and go down to blah blah and turn onto blah and blah, blah, blah.” I suppose the adults on the streetcar understood these directions, but it was gibberish to us. We had no idea where our faithful #75 was going. We were panicked. How were we going to get home?

“We should get off here,” I said, thinking we could walk the rest of the way home.

“No, we should stay on the streetcar,” Gretchen said. “We don’t know the way home.”

“I’m pretty sure we just stay on Penn Avenue until we get to Homewood Avenue,” I said.

That day I made my sister get off the streetcar. We were standing by ourselves at one of the busiest intersections in Pittsburgh and Gretchen was mad. She was almost in tears when she said,

“What are we going to do now? We don’t even know where we are.”

With that BANG! She hit me on the head with her science book!

“Ow!” I groaned, surprised by her sudden turn to violence. “Why did you do that?”

“Because now we don’t know how to get home,” she yelled at me.

“I know how to go,” I said, trying to sound self-assured despite my recent injury to the head.

We stood there quite awhile trying to figure out how to cross the intersection. It was four lanes in one direction and three in the other. Using the lights to tell us when to go, I led Gretchen across both streets and we started walking up Penn Avenue. I didn’t know how many blocks it was to Homewood Avenue, but I knew it crossed Penn and we would eventually get to it. However, we were getting tired and I still couldn’t see Homewood Avenue ahead, so I suggested we turn into a drug store on one of the corners. Gretchen agreed. We did what our mother and father had taught us. I asked the salesgirl if we could call home because we were lost. She looked at me very strangely and let me use the phone.

When Mother came and picked us up, she only had to drive two blocks to get to our house. We felt kind of stupid, but she was glad we called her and said we did the right thing to get off the streetcar.

I felt justified, but I had a sore bump on my head for several days. I had learned that science packs a wallop.

Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed

I don’t think there’s anything that demonstrates love better than bringing Mom breakfast in bed.

I remember a lot of breakfasts in bed for Mother’s day. I have two daughters, both of whom did not inherit my innate dislike of the kitchen and proved to be good cooks. I remember the first breakfast that my oldest daughter fixed for me. I think she was four. She actually was able to fix a reasonable facsimile of breakfast. I was so excited when she came rattling in with a tray filled with coffee, and scrambled eggs and toast. The coffee was lukewarm, the eggs were runny and toast was cold, but my heart was warmed to the point of tears. She went on to study cooking, which is still one of her strong points.

My younger daughter fixed me breakfast in bed also. When she was about five she brought me orange juice, coffee and pancakes. So much love was brought to me that morning. She climbed in bed with me and we cuddled as she helped me eat the food. What a sweet memory.

However, there’s something about the trip from the kitchen to the bedroom that seems to take a long, long time, because the well-meaning breakfast is often lukewarm by the time I taste it. Maybe it just takes me a long time to wake up and prepare to eat, or perhaps there is a mathematical formula:

Complexity of menu x age of child + amount of love needed ÷ distance to bedroom = warmth of breakfast. Do you think Martha Stewart knows the answer?

Both my daughters are grown now and live at the other end of the United States, so I’m pretty sure they won’t be bringing me breakfast in bed. But I know they are thinking of me and by Mother’s Day I’ll have a card, a call or a gift from both of them. I can’t imagine greater love than they have given me.

Have your children given you a special breakfast on Mother’s Day?

Honoring Victims of Child Abuse

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A ceremony held in Parkersburg, West Virginia, on Friday, April 26, honored14 children who died in 2012 in Wood County from child abuse. Spokesperson Laurea Ellis said each county in West Virginia has a flag raising and a balloon release for the children who died from abuse and neglect during the past year. The flag was designed by a child and depicts a row of children in blue, with an empty place in the row to symbolize the children who have died by acts of violence, preventable accidents, and child abuse and neglect.

Physically abusing a child is society’s first concern because the children are not big enough to fight back, but leaders in the field of domestic violence say that children are hurt emotionally by seeing adults being abused. Spousal abuse can damage children and cause them to become abusers when they grow up.

“Sometimes there might not be physical abuse of the children, but they are still exposed to that violence. They hear and see the abuse between the adults in the home, so they are witnessing it and that does have an effect on them,” said Emily Larkins, executive director of the Family Crisis and Intervention Center of Region V. Ms. Larkins also stated that the children may be injured when they try to intervene to protect the adult victim. 29 individuals died in West Virginia as the result of domestic violence in 2012.

Providing help for grown men and women who are beaten or otherwise abused by their spouse is the first priority of the Family Crisis and Intervention Center. The 24-hour hotline for the Parkersburg Center is 800-794-2335.

A New Government Commission Protecting Children

Child Fatalities Commission Bill Heads to President’s Desk

Reprinted from National Children’s Alliance Website

Washington, D.C.

With unanimous bipartisan support, the Senate passed the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012 (H.R. 6655) on January 2, 2013. Supported by the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths (The Coalition), the Protect Our Kids Act creates a bipartisan, two-year Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, consisting of 12 members who will be appointed by the President and congressional leaders. The commission will study data on child fatalities from abuse and neglect, review current prevention methods and best practices, and evaluate the adequacy of current programs in order to recommend a comprehensive national strategy to reduce fatalities from child abuse and neglect.

Upon passage of H.R 6655, Teresa HuizarExecutive Director of National Children’s Alliance, stated, “As a member of The Coalition, National Children’s Alliance is very pleased with all of the support in Congress for the Protect Our Kids Act and see the bill’s passage as a milestone in our collective goal of ending child abuse and neglect related deaths. We look forward to working with the commission to develop programs and strategies for combatting this national problem.”

Experts estimate that upwards of 2,000 children die from abuse and neglect each year, and nearly 82 percent of the victims are under the age of four. These preventable deaths are significantly underreported in the U.S., as there is no national standard for reporting this data.

At a recent House Ways & Means Committee hearing regarding the proposed passage of the Act, Teresa Huizar explained that “the overall rate of abuse has declined and the overall substantiated physical abuse appears to have declined, but what has not declined is the rate of child abuse fatalities or near fatalities that warranted emergency department treatment. The horrifying persistence of fatal child abuse despite the implementation of effective prevention and intervention measures for most other forms of abuse calls for a deeper examination of its causes and scope.”

The Coalition and its five member organizations believe that fatal and near-fatal child abuse and neglect is a preventable public health problem. With allies such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children’s Advocacy Institute, and the American Psychological Association, the passage of the Protect our Kids Act is a bipartisan effort to prevent fatal child maltreatment. Supporters and cosponsors of the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012 include 17 Representatives and 7 Senators.

To Spank or not to Spank

That is the question. Our society is coming out of an era when children were spanked and disciplined for doing things that are wrong and not doing things that are right. Spanking a child with your hand or an implement was the norm. Years ago, school teachers and principals were famous for “paddling” the children. The motto was “spare the rod and spoil the child.” Spanking was society’s effort to control bad behavior in children, and I’d say it worked for the most part.

Many of these efforts to discipline children were based in the scriptures. Proverbs 22:15 says “folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him,” and  “discipline your son, and he will give you peace: he will bring delight to you soul,” 29:17.

I raised my daughters with discipline, using the rod on them when they willfully disobeyed, and I espouse the biblical view on discipline. However, I was taught to spank them in love, which I interrupted to mean don’t yell and scream at them, but explain their wrongdoing in a loving voice. I also believe the spanking should not be too hard, just enough to get the point across.

Psychology books are for and against spanking, depending on the author and subject, but I do not believe spanking is child abuse. I believe it is correction, but it should be used after all other efforts to control the child have been explored.

Each young mother must make her own decision about whether to spank her child or not. Many mothers don’t spank their children, and I believe in general, children have not benefited from this standard. There are some very patient women who can handle screaming tantrums, and the hysterical behavior of undisciplined children, but I never could maintain my calm during such “fits.” I basically had to spank my girls, because I had no idea what else to do.

Please believe me I am not championing violence towards children, but I know from experience that out-of-control children can destroy property and offend people when left to their own devices. They can become tyrants, demanding everything their parents can give them and then some.

If someone doesn’t teach children not to run amok, throw things and take things that belong to other people, how will they learn? Unfortunately, women are now afraid to discipline their children when they are in public and the children know it. The children know they can do anything they want and their moms and dads can’t touch them if they’re in public. This has resulted in many unfortunate temper tantrums in malls and stores.

Author Laurie Ann Smith of Canada, who was abused as a child and is now a speaker on child abuse, believes the same thing I do, that spanking is not abuse. It is a wake-up call to get the child’s attention. Beating is abuse.

Child abuse is wrong, but correcting a child who is willfully disobeying is “training him up in the way he should go”(Proverbs 22:6). How many of us have been to a home where there are children who have not been disciplined? Usually we can’t wait to leave, because the children have taken over the home. They run, scream and play, often tormenting adults and other children.

Sending children to their room used to be a valid form of discipline and is not abusive. However, today children have so much electronic equipment in their rooms (televisions and computers) that they can happily entertain themselves for hours, so there is often no hardship involved in being sent to their rooms, and the child doesn’t learn anything about his behavior.

I think modern women of the 21st century honestly believe their children are good at heart and would never willfully hurt someone else, but this isn’t scriptural either and is not borne out by experience. Most children are extremely selfish and want their way all the time. If we do not curb this unfortunate behavior, when they become teenagers they do whatever they want. This method of no discipline can lead to some very nasty teenagers who do whatever they want.

So my point of view on this matter is that it’s better to spank a child than let him or her become a tyrant. What do you think? Do you think it’s abusive to spank a child?

Why do we always need to be right?

In our culture we are educated in a system that values being right and abhors being wrong.

We are taught from a very young age that answering a question with the right answer is good and the wrong answer is bad. We are graded for twelve years in school with a system that validates the “right” answer every day and devalues the “wrong” answer. No wonder we all grow up needing to be right all the time.

Our society also rewards people with money when they are right. A school student studys and gets good grades because he/she gets correct answers on tests. These answers help him get into a good college, where he graduates at the top of his class because he gets the right answers on all his tests. (This guy is definitely a goody-two-shoes and I practically hate him already). Finally this superb fellow gets a really high paying job because he has a history of being right.

So a second thing we have to do in order to be happy being wrong, is to be happy being poor middle class and not having every single material item that our neighbor has. The Bible supports this truth with “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors goods,” and I am adding “even his 48″ flat screen TV!”

The need to be right causes us to get into many arguments, often offending those around us. When was the last time you insisted someone else was wrong about something? When we get into that situation, where we are in a face-off  about a particular point, do any of us have the grace to give-in?

It so happened that the day I was considering writing about this, I had a disagreement with my husband. I don’t even remember what it was about, but as I thought about it, I REALIZED HE WAS RIGHT. That was a painful realization for me. My insides begrudged his correctness. I felt a big lump in my chest, knowing that I had been wrong. Somehow I feared dire consequences for being wrong.

Then I started to analyze myself. I pictured Mrs. Houston, my grade school principal, glaring at me from her desk because I didn’t know my geography. I pictured Miss Zigler sneering at me because I couldn’t remember the words to my part in the play. I thought about these incidents for several days. I even thought about confessing to Bob that he had been right, but I couldn’t do it. Then I started to realize that ever since I had been in First Grade I had been told that there was only one answer to a question and that was the RIGHT answer.

I started to feel  better. I realized it didn’t matter who was right about the point of conflict my husband and I had argued about. I realized there was no need to confront him about it and cause another disagreement worse than the first one. I could forgive him for being right and accept being wrong. I felt good about myself. I felt like it was “big of me” to admit being wrong, even if it was just to myself.

Perhaps we all would be happier if we gave up being right as often as we can. It’s possible we would receive more love and admiration from our spouse,  our children, and our co-workers. We might be more relaxed and have a more peaceful life. It sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

Would you rather be right or be happy?

CHILD ABUSE HOTLINES

The website that lists many child abuse hotlines is:

http://reportchildabusenow.com/#a

Just click on the state you live in and you can get a phone number.

Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

The Joyful Heart Foundation was started by Mariska Hargitay, the star of Law and Order, Special Victims Unit.  On their website they list the 10 most common signs of child abuse so people can recognize an abused child and report it to officials. Learning these signs and discussing them with those close to you is the first step in breaking the pattern of violence that hurts us all.

1. Unexplained injuries – Visible signs of physical abuse may include unexplained burns or bruises in the shape of objects. You may also hear unconvincing explanations of a child’s injuries.

2. Changes in behavior – Abuse can lead to  many changes in a child’s behavior. Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or more aggressive.

3. Returning to earlier behaviors -Abused children may display behaviors shown at earlier ages, such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, fear of the dark or strangers. For some children, even loss of acquired language or memory problems may be an issue.

4. Fear of going home – Abused children may express apprehensions or anxiety about leaving school or going places with the person who is abusing them.

5. Changes in eating – The stress, fear and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child’s eating behaviors, which may result in weight gain or loss.

6. Changes in sleeping – Abused children may have frequent nightmares or have difficulty falling asleep, and as a result may appear tired or fatigued.

7. Changes in school performance and attendance – Abused children may have difficulty concentrating in school or have excessive absences, sometimes due to adults trying to hide the children’s injuries from authorities.

8. Lack or personal care or hygiene – Abused and neglected children may appears uncared for. They may present as consistently dirty and have severe body odor, or they may lack sufficient clothing for the weather.

9. Risk-taking behaviors – Young people who are being abused may engage in high-risk activities, such as using drugs or alcohol or carrying a weapon.

10. Inappropriate sexual behaviors – Children who have been sexually abused may exhibit overly sexualized behavior or use explicit sexual language.

If you notice a child with some of the above behaviors it is probably best not to immediately confront the parents or caretakers of the child. If they are the abusers, you will only cause them to go further undercover and they will deny any abuse is going on. The child will probably deny it too, because they are deathly afraid of their abuser.

If you notice a child with some of the above behaviors contact an abuse hotline or the school or the police. I will give you the website  with the phone numbers of the abuse hotlines in my next post. Reporting child abuse can put you at risk for abusive behavior yourself so please be tactful and discreet.

Do you suspect child abuse?

I’ve been in that situation before. You see a mother or father abusing their child and you can’t do anything about it. I was a sales clerk for Belk’s Department Store in Florida. The store was in “close-out” mode so all the merchandise and clerks were in the front of the store and there was only one check out counter. So when I saw a mother abusing her child there wasn’t even a phone available. She brought the boy into the store at night to find out if we had pants that would fit him. It was fairly cold out and the boy had no shoes. The two had a bad energy. The mother was pulling the boy and the boy was trying to get away from her.

“Mommy, my feet hurt,” the boy was whining.

“We came in to buy pants,” was her answer. When I told her there were no children’s clothes left she jerked her little boy’s arm very hard and he winced.

“You’re hurting him,” I said, trying to somehow help the boy. I could see the car outside in front of the store and there was a man sitting in the car waiting.

“I didn’t come in here to get advice on raising my kid. Do you have any pants or not?” She was very nasty.

“No, we don’t.”

I wanted to follow them out of the store and get a license number, but what about my job? What if someone stole merchandise while I was outside? And what would the mother do if I followed her? I’m sure she was capable of beating me up if I crossed her. There wasn’t even a phone in my area so I could call the police, and cell phones weren’t invented yet. At that point I wished there was someone to help me so I could get a license number.

Here’s another link about Multiple Personality

 

http://www.humanillnesses.com/original/Men-Os/Multiple-Personality-Disorder-Dissociative-Identity-Disorder.html

My Native Language

I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and when I finally moved away to California, the people I met laughed at me.

“You sound like you’re from Pennsyltucky,” they chided.

If you have ever known someone from Pittsburgh you may have noticed that they have an odd accent and some strange sayings. When we grew up we were told to “scrub” our teeth and “red” up our rooms. “Red up” means to pick up all the things that are out of place and put them back where they belong. We “worsched” our clothes instead of washing them like people in other cities! When we picked up the telephone we were answering the “party line,” and we knew the operator by name, and she knew us and all the people on her switchboard.

Although we started in public school, when I was in third grade my sister, Gretchen and I went to Falk School, a private experimental school that encouraged one-on-one contact with the teacher so students could learn at their own pace.

We were driven to school in a taxicab that picked up all the kids from East Pittsburgh who attended the school. There were six of us. The cab driver’s name was George and he was nice but he had a thick Pittsburgh accent. He had trouble saying “Gretchen” and he called her “Garsher.” She didn’t like it, but no matter how hard we tried, no one could teach him to say her name correctly. Soon my sister became, “Garscher, warscher washing machine!” This provided gales of laughter every morning and she didn’t seem to care. She took it well.

One reason she probably didn’t mind was because she had found romance in second grade. There was a boy named Peter in her class who liked her and he invited her to his house a few times. His father was a doctor and a scientist, and when she was there he showed her his laboratory. When she got home she told us all about it at dinner. It turned out that Peter’s father was Jonas Salk, who discovered the cure for polio in 1952. My sister was hobnobbing in second grade!

My life was much less glamorous! One day I dropped my new yoyo in the toilet at school. I was so horrified. I couldn’t believe it was really in there, and stared at it for a long time. I knew I had to take it out, or call one of the teachers and have everyone find out about it. Finally I made myself stick my hand in and grab the yoyo. Oh Yuk! Then I had to throw it away, but the only place to throw it was in the open waste basket. If I threw it there, the girls would recognize it as the wonderful purple yoyo I had shown off so proudly that morning! In the end, I dried it off and wrapped it in paper towels and threw it in the waste basket. Oh, the throes of elementary school!

Do other people have such lurid memories of grade school? What’s your most embarrassing moment? Or were you hobnobbing with the rich and famous?

The Secret Passageway

In fifth grade I started at Winchester-Thurston Preparatory School for Girls in Pittsburgh, PA. It is a prestigious school and at the time was housed in a very impressive building with huge columns and a tall brick fence on Fifth Avenue in Oakland.  Our parents explained to my sister, Gretchen, and I, what a good school it was and how we should be very studious, because if we did well, we would have a very good chance of getting into college. They explained that they had to pay to send us there and we needed to appreciate that, and that it was good that there would be no boys at the school to distract us from our studies. I’m not sure I completely believed this, even at the age of nine.

Things went well for the first few years. I made many good friends, including Chrissie, Molly and Susan W. and I did well in my studies. It took a while to get used to the strict and sometimes pompous teachers, who expected nothing short of perfection, but eventually I learned acceptable behavior. For instance, we had to thank each teacher when we left the classroom and curtsy and shake the headmistress’ hand when we went home for the night.

Chrissie is the best friend I have from my years at WT and we had many sleepovers. Her parents bought a gigantic home in Fox Chapel and she invited me to spend the night. We were sitting around in the den watching TV, when she started telling me a secret.

“My father says there is a secret passage way from the den(library) leading to somewhere else in the house.”

“What?” I exclaimed, my eyes as wide as saucers. I had been reading Nancy Drew Books as though they had nutritional value, and the idea of a mystery was very exciting.

“Where is it?” I asked.

“We don’t know,” answered Chrissie. “Want to look for it?”

Before she was finished asking, I was up knocking curiously on the beautiful wood paneling. Chris and I spent hours that day trying to slide pieces of wood to the left or the right, and moving our hands over the walls trying to discover a secret button or latch. We knocked, we pushed, we put our ears to the wall, and we searched diligently for some kind of opening.

Over the length of our friendship, we must have spent at least a month trying to find the secret passageway, but never did. Chrissie told me just a few years ago that the passageway was never found, and she wondered if her parents had made it up to keep us busy. That was fine with me, because I had so much fun looking for it, how could I be mad?

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Other Multiples

If you know someone with multiple personalities, please tell them about my blog. I would like to connect with them