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Posts Tagged ‘neglect’

Wow!  Can I just tell you what a joy it was to read, Man Shoes-The Journey To Becoming A Better Man, Husband & Father?  It is my privilege to review this book; I believe that the author, Tom Watson, has some real valuable wisdom to offer his readers.   Tom  was born to parents ill prepared to raise a child in a healthy & life affirming way.  He was placed into 13 different foster homes…some of which were little more than a systemic form of a physical & psychological torture chamber. 

Tom was placed into foster care because his Aunt Donna & Uncle Roy found the courage to report the erratic parental care that infant Tom was experiencing.  His parents would drop him off here and there and neglect to pick him up at the times that they agreed to.  At one year of age, he became a foster child because his aunt and uncle found the strength of character to endure family censure by reporting the situation to the proper authorities.  Tom expresses his gratefulness to them for doing so…even though he suffered greatly in multiple foster homes until he came to the place where his body and soul were nurtured.  His life story actually proceeds with joy and gratefulness.  To read the rest of this review go to:  Book In Review

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Have you ever met an individual that is so rare and special that you could compare them to a valuable gem?  Let me tell you about such a person, Jessica Angelique, who has a passionate mission in life to shine a light on life changing non for profit organizations.  Jessica has had an interesting life full of ups and downs and because of that she has dedicated her life to making the world a better place.  Her heart has been drawn to organizations that help build people up and educate them; which allows them to positively impact the world for the better.  She is in need of help to continue to expand her ability to impact the world by educating them through a wonderful opportunity called the Pepsi Refresh Project.

Pepsi is offering up an opportunity to win a $250,000 grant to those who win the most votes in their category.  Jessica Angelique is the creator and executive director of Definitive Voices.   She is also an author who has written of her life’s journey; navigating through the challenging foster care system into a positive, purpose filled adulthood.   She uses her voice to empower people and organizations to be aware and proactive in their communities to build up those in need.

Through Definitive Voices Jessica uses social media to shine a light on individuals and organizations that are doing their best to help people improve the world through education, awareness, and hands on action that is changing the lives of those they encounter.  Jessica needs your help by getting you to go to this link and vote for her Definitive Voices so that she can expand her ability to positively impact the lives of others.  It only takes a couple of seconds once you register and sign in using an active email and a Pepsi password.  Here is the link to cast your vote daily until the 28th of February: http://www.refresheverything.com/definitivevoices(more…)

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Well, this past week has been a lesson on nurturing my blog.  This past week was a week out of the ordinary and I was not able to nurture my blog in the way that I normally do.  I began to think on that thought.  A blog is a bit like a baby…it needs to be nurtured to grow and prosper.

How do you nurture a blog, you ask?  First things first, if you have a blog already you need to evaluate it’s well-being.  If you do not have a blog…begin one.  You need to think about what your blog is intended to accomplish.  Mine was initially set up to develop some discipline, commitment, and to help improve my writing.  As it evolved, I learned more…and therefore; I have discovered what I want and need.  Some of those things have changed with time; and now, I know that  my blog needs some adjustments.   That is ok, it is called growing pains; things that don’t grow become stagnant…they wither and die.  If your goals change for your blog, then you must make changes.  That knowledge requires some re-evaluation.  (more…)

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       I don’t know about you but hearing about the elderly being abused makes me mad.  Yesterday on my home television station there was a terrible story about a elderly woman who was allegedly abused by her own son. 

       She was left on her couch allegedly for approximately three weeks without medical help.  She was so weak from lack of food and fluids that she could not even get up off of her couch.  Her home was so filthy with her own waste that the emergency workers and police who checked on her, became violently ill in the front yard of the home.  It sounds as if the woman’s social security checks were being cashed regularily though.  The news reports say that the woman allegedly did not have a shower/bath for up to one year! 

       The poor woman has had to have surgery…her home was in such disrepair that it was condemned by the authorities.  Where in the world has respect for life gone?  This is a failure of our culture to fail to make sure that all of our older friends and relatives are nurtured, cherished and protected.  Sometimes, the elderly deal with memory issues or mental illness; this is an especially important circumstance to get social workers and medical personel involved with, especially if they don’t have a close supportive family system in place.   It would be bad enough if this was an isolated case in our country; but, it is not. 

         Everyday the elderly are abused and neglected in their homes, in medical facilities, in nursing homes and on the streets.  It is an outrage.  Yes, the elderly require time and attention.  Yes, it can be difficult for the caregiver; as they are loosing their independence and ability to do many of life’s chores on their own and often they resent that fact; however, it is important to take loving care of our elders.  Time is short and spending time with your loved ones is special.   You can never get that time back with them once they are gone.  The difficult and challenging times will pass.   The elders in your community have many memories and experiences to share; take advantage of that time with them to store up knowledge and memories.

         Just showing some caring and concern for the elders can make a difference in the quality of life for them.  Offer to do a kindness for them such as pick up their mail for them; or walk their dog…take them to medical appointments, or grocery shopping.  Some tasks are too difficult for an elderly person who is unsteady or has medical issues; like, going up and down stairs to do laundry or shoveling their walkways or raking leaves.  

         We all will be elderly one day if we are blessed to live long enough.  Please, check up on your elderly neighbors, your parents, your friends; visit with them and help to relieve their loneliness.  If you see someone abusing or neglecting an older person (or any person for that matter) get involved…call the authorities!  You never know…you could be saving a life.   If you suspect elder abuse report it:  http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/ncearoot/Main_Site/index.aspx

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        There is something to be said for being a part of the middle class…without any of  the demands expected of the rich and famous.  Have you ever stopped to think about what your life would be like if you were one of those celebrity names in the tabloids?  Every family has issues in their family tree with some relative or another. 

        Think about it…what if cousin Ralph committed a crime and was photographed for a magazine, making sure to give an interview which made a connection between his name and your’s in the article; or, your sister decided to become a singer (and she howled like your neighbor’s hunting dog) but still, she badgered your professional contacts to try to get an audition; or say, your Grandma decided to go on a talk show and talk about her sex life before she married Grandpa?  Maybe your father wants to write a best seller that very closely resembles your life pre-celeb days? Or a relative goes on a large shopping spree that they can’t possibly afford to pay for on their own?   How would you handle it?

         In today’s world, with everyone having access to so much digital information…if you are a celebrity, and the media decides to do a little digging…they are sure to find some family member, friend from the past, or ex-boyfriend/girlfriend who is more than ready, willing and able to spill the beans for a little $$$.  What’s more…you don’t even have to wait for the media to find those who are willing to spill the beans for a fee…your relatives can go viral just by publishing a blog.

          You don’t have to look far to see examples of what I am talking about.  After all, there are painful family issues that allegedly haven’t been able to be resolved in private, such as families like the Lohans who make the news regularily, with custody battles, blog posts, or writting letters to media outlets criticizing one another; rehashing the past and the present family problems.  These issues are deeply personal and have the ability to cause life long discord with in a family unit.  

           Then you have the media’s flavor of the month, the Spears family.  Either they focus on the latest exploits of Brit, Jamie Lynn, her mother, father or ex-husbands and boyfriends or they hint at some kind of rumor that vaguely resembles a sliver of truth and wait to see the fireworks.  You can understand the potential added damage done to an individual when there is intensive media scrutiny focussed on them. There is enough family drama in most families, without having to create an intense watch and see environment.

           What about family members who stay in the background until they have shopped around the possibility of writing a tell all book…like Oprah’s father, allegedly considered doing?  Or a little less reclusive personality, such as…Madonna’s brother, Christopher Ciccone who actually did write a book recently, detailing his complicated relationship with his sister.  Remember many years ago, the explosive book called Mommy Dearest, written by Joan Crawford’s daughter about her very famous mother?

           We’ve all seen that the tabloids will exploit a family member’s run- in with the law.  Or, maybe a business owner or individual who slaps a lawsuit on a family member of a celeb, knowing that it will get settled because of the negative PR.   A recent example of a legal situation was when Hulk Hogan’s son was sent to jail for allegedly being the driver in an accident that seriously injured one of his friends.  All the while, his family was going through a seperation/divorce and the media attention only added to their personal difficulties.  This fed the flames of many articles and celebrity gossip shows for many weeks.

            There is never a lack of divorce related stories or custody issues either.  We have come to know more about certain star crossed couples, and their problems, than we need to know; think of Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards, or Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin, Pamela Anderson and any of her exes.  In these cases, many times the courts are often at fault for allowing legal records to become released to the public through the media; that is why you occasionally hear of circumstances where divorcing couples use a private mediator to settle their marriage issues.  Sometimes it is through individuals or their family members that we learn what is often harmful to the well-being of the couples or their children.  I am sure in the long run they come to regret the fact that so much private information has become public knowledge. 

            What about those situations where family members are estranged from one another and they use the media to communicate with each other about family issues.  I think about in that case, Angelina Jolie and her father.  Or, maybe Kellie Pickler who had a difficult relationship with her estranged birth mother.   Or Jennifer Anniston and her mother who allegedly became estranged, from one another, over too much personal information being given out. 

           Some celebrities don’t publically acknowledge their family problems…others confront them head on.  Which way is most effective for them, sort of depends on why the violations take place in the first place.  Some celebs feel that they must go public and defend themselves and others…keep a quiet counsel and deal with things privately.  It is not easy either way.  The power of criticism is strong…and you can’t please everyone, no matter what action a celebrity chooses to employ to deal with the fallout. 

           Regardless of celebrity status…it is helpful to remember that those people are human beings with feelings too.  They have relationships that can be damaged, and, they are often afforded little privacy as it is.  You would think that their family members would have a little bit of loyalty and a desire to keep some issues private; and, not turn their private relationships into some sort of pay- per- view.  But often, these situations aren’t JUST about money.  Sometimes, the interviews and books are written out of more complex issues; such as, unresolved issues involving trust, envy, control, anger, betrayal, neglect, abandonment or favoritism.  So when you see one of these interviews or books; remember that it might be more about getting even, than it is about getting rich!

           Certainly, the people who publish the reports, interviews, books, and celeb gossip programs aren’t going to keep potentially scandulous information to themselves; not when it is their bread and butter.  So think about that, the next time you purchase one of the tabloids, weekly celeb mags, tune in to the gossip programs, or purchase the latest personal memoir about someone famous; you are enabling them to sell out their own family members.  What if your friends or relatives did that to you?  What kind of tales could they tell about you to allow them to make money off from you or your past?

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        Another family has made the news by dropping off their children, 9 of them from ages 1 to 17 at a hospital in Nebraska.  It is in my mind, in cases of abandonment, almost as if the children are treated like a litter of unwanted puppies.  In mid July, Nebraska made its own news headlines by instituting a “safe haven law”. 

         Most states in the US have some sort of a safe haven law which is designed to protect children who are either unwanted; or, in unsafe environments regarding living conditions, or in situations of neglect or abuse.  The safe haven laws are meant to allow a safe place for children to be left such as a hospital or a fire station.  What is unique about the new law in Nebraska is that it doesn’t clarify who has the authority to drop off said children…it could be a baby sitter, grandparent, parent, neighbor or what have you.  Another important point, most of the states that implement safe haven laws usually are set up to protect infants.  Nebraska made headlines by not limiting the reach of the safe haven laws to infant only drop offs…it basically says “minors”…leaving the new law open to interpetation.

         The courts will have to clarify the definition of the safe haven law so that the protection of the children and the people who abandon them is more clear.  At the moment, anyone under the age of 19 is allowed to be dropped off in a safe haven.  There will be no legal repercussions as long as abuse or neglect is not involved.  In some ways, this may help those situations where we read about newborn infants born to teen mothers who are dumped in a garbage can or left outside alone.  Maybe in those cases, some children will be saved…but, this new law opens up a whole new set of issues regarding children and their families.

         I know that the law was set up in good faith…to protect the children.  However, you have to wonder about the psychological damage to those same children who are old enough to understand that they have been abandoned by the people most trusted in their lives.  An infant does not comprehend the abandonment until they are older and the information is presented to them…an older child certainly does understand the idea of abandoment and there certainly will ensue emotional and psychological damage.  However, i will say an infant may not understand the full scope of abandonment; but, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t affected by it; when they are affected, it is often called an attachment disorder…where the baby has trouble bonding with their caregivers, either giving or receiving love…sometimes, it is even turned into a failure to thrive.  All human beings deserve to be loved and wanted.

         Studies have been done on babies or infants who have been abandoned in other countries and left in orphanages…if they do not get enough human interaction that shows love or caring…those children can actually die from the lack of human, loving touch.  Don’t think that when an infant is dropped off, even at a safe haven…that they won’t know the difference between being wanted and unwanted.

         People who find themselves in desperate circumstances may be tempted to go the route of the safe haven in a moment of extreme duress.  However, the long term consequences make me wonder whether this is a viable option.  People who abuse or neglect their children willingly or freely are not going to be so very concerned about making sure that the place they abandon their child is considered a safe place.  It would be better to put into place programs that facilitate helping families who are in danger of imploding. 

         Not to mention, those parents or caregivers who are feeling desperate…say…in a financial crisis…they can’t afford to feed or house their children…may think that this safe haven is an option for them.  The consequences of such an action could be considered permanent…even if their circumstances change in time.  Their custody could be forever impacted by that one moment of temptation to abandon the children in a safe place. 

         I wonder if other options are being given as much media & legal attention, such as making a short term placement with social services; for short term foster care in cases where, say a housing or financial need is threatening the ability to keep a family together? 

          Children aren’t like litters of animals…not that animals should be abandoned either!  Being a pet owner or a parent is a huge responsiblity…the demands are serious.  People should not enter into the role of a pet owner or parenting without alot of thought!  Parents need to take their commitment to parenting seriously. 

          If a parent is considering abandoning their children…wouldn’t it be better to work with an agency and make a permanency plan such as adoption?  Definately, if that were the case, doing it in infancy is better than waiting until a child is old enough to be scarred by an emotional and physical abandonment by their parents or caregivers.  At least by making sure that the child/children were placed in a safe and loving home…a child would have a chance to grow up and to be nutured in a loving environment. 

          No one should ever be made to feel unwanted, unloved or unprotected.  Abandonment leaves permanent scares that impact their young lives and often, other generations of lives as well.  What are your feelings on the safe haven laws?

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       Have you ever known someone who is in a totally disfunctional relationship and just seems destined to repeat patterns of negative and destructive behaviors?  I was thinking on this last night with a young teenaged couple that i know.  They spend all of their time together…fighting…hurting…crying…begging…breaking up…for-giving….manipulating…emotional arm wrestling…isolating…and starting all over again.  They are on the phone…or in person…tuning everyone else out..until they self-destruct.  Then, the explosion, they want everyone to feel their pain.  When counseled…all they can think about is “fixing it” and getting back together.  They get back together all right…but nothing ever gets fixed.  It is an emotional war that definately takes prisoners.

        Then today, someone else that i care about deeply…has decided to once again go up for a heaping dose of all you can eat at the salad bar of pain and abuse.  Taking a little taste of negativity, nibbling on a chunk of guilt large enough to choke a horse, a dip of put downs and innuendo, a spoonful of diced self esteem, add a sprinkling of despair, a serving sized dollop of loneliness, add a slice of isolation, a bowl of anger, and lets not forget a huge serving of accusation.  Hey, you’ve already paid the price…there is no limitation on how much you can have…it is there if you only want more.  (more…)

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        For those of you who have been depressed, despondent, abused, neglected, suicidal, victimized or just oppressed; know this, the human spirit is subject to change at any moment…it is resilient.  The absolutely amazing thing about going through any of those difficulties in life, is that it has the potential of either destroying a person, or strengthening them, like steel that has gone through the heat of a fire. 

          What causes a person to either become submerged under the weight of negative influences; or, to spring up and bounce back even stronger ? 

           I believe it is a combination of things.  We are all products of our past; we have been taught many things throughout our childhoods and young adulthood that influences how we perceive things.  Most of those things are unconscious and basically invisible, but, still they are there; determining how we interpet the challenges in life; and, therefore, how we handle those same challenges.  We have to make a personal committment to ourselves to change the direction our lives are going if we wish to live a life that is full of the good things life has to offer.

          If we have been lucky enough to have a strong healthy foundation during those formative years we have a huge headstart.  If we were instead rooted in poor soil and unhealthy relationships during those years; we often have alot to overcome. 

          It is not impossible to overcome those things.  It is by strength of will and determination that we learn how to channel our inner self to go in the direction of love, health, and personal well-being.  It is a matter of retraining how we think about things and learning not to focus on the obstacles and the negativity that surrounds us on a daily basis.

          I was reminded of these things today, when i read about Elizabeth Fritzl, the young Austrian woman held captive by her father in a basement for 24 years.  She was forced to endure loneliness, sexual abuse, emotional damage and physical confinement.  She was raped repeatedly by her father and gave birth to seven children during this time.  They grew up without “normal” human interaction. 

        At this point they are receiving treatment in a  psychiatric facility.  The family is getting help learning how to bond together; how to communicate with others, how to function outside of their basement prison.  Elizabeth, the mother of the children grew up at home, with her mother and father…until she was 18 years old.  At that point, he forced her to live in the basement while explaining her “disappearance” to the rest of the world by saying that she had run off to join a cult.

          Elizabeth and her children are bouncing back in amazing ways.  One would think that they might never recover.  After all, some of them didn’t speak as we know speaking; they communicated with grunts and noises.  However, they survived against all odds.  Their healing and renewal will happen with good guidance and therapy.  It should be encouraging to us all that the human spirit is resilient; it is meant to sustain us in times of devastation.

            At some point in life we have to “choose” to overcome the negative forces that have gone before and “decide” to grow, heal, strengthen; and, claim victory over the things in life that hold us back from who we were created to be.   It is work, it isn’t easy and often professional help is necessary; but, it is so worth it to have the freedom to once again live life fearlessly, and fully, with joy!

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        Here is a news item that will make your head spin.  Think you are a good parent? What if you made a simple, honest mistake?   Do you understand that a simple misunderstanding could cause you to loose the custody of your child to a government agency…even for just a few days?  Child Protective Services is such of a powerful agency that even common sense can be overridden, at times, when the zeal to “protect” child from abuse or neglect.

       In theory, CPS is in the business of keeping kids safe from abuse and neglect.  In it’s worst form….they cause irreparable damage.  I read an article today referring to a case of a father who went to a Tiger’s ballgame at the CoAmerica ballfield in Detroit.  He had his 7 year old son with him.

       The father bought them some Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  For those of you who don’t know…it has alcohol in it.  The father did not know this.  The father works out of the country alot.  A security guard spotted the boy holding his bottle and confiscated it…and then, had the boy taken to an ER to be checked out.  From there it only gets worse.  CPS was called and the child was taken to foster care; this, all because of a lack of knowledge that the lemonade had liquor in it. 

       The child was checked out at the ER…and there was no measurable amount of liquor in his system.  Still the child was placed in foster care.  There was an aunt who is a social worker and foster parent, who lived in new england; she drove all night to get to Michigan to take custody of the boy.  When she got here…they told her she had to have a hotel room which she promptly went to get.

       By the time she got back to CPS they had placed the child into a foster home which they would not disclose to the family.   A CPS worker, and a police officer said that placing the child into foster care was not necessary in their opinion; but, the supervisors insisted. The police officer at the hospital after interviewing the parties involved believed it was an honest mistake.  I am all for balancing safety and well being for children…but, it must be balanced with common sense.

        Eventually, after the department forced the father to leave his own home for a week…the child was returned to his mother after two days of foster care. 

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      This should make us all weep.  It was reported in the last couple of days that 1 infant out of 50 has been abused/neglected before they reach the age of one. Out of that group, one third of them is less than a WEEK OLD!  Where is the natural protective instinct that even animals have towards their babies?

       These numbers are horrible… even one baby is too many…but one out of 50?  A baby less than a week old is doing nothing beyond eating, sleeping, filling a diaper, and giving/receiving love.  Those beautiful little babies are so dependent on those around them to survive.  Imagine being abused from the very beginning of life; it is a cycle that will repeat itself over and over again if it isn’t stopped.

         Of course, i know in my logical mind about those who are so consumed with addictions and rebellion that they continue to use drugs and alcohol during pregnancy.  My heart is another matter.  I have children that were adopted who were victims of their parent’s drug and alcohol use while they were still forming in the womb.  It burdens those children everyday with learning disabilities, physical deformaties and or limitations, retardation, psychological well being, as well as having socially acceptable skills and life long medical problems.  Is it fair?  No!  Is it abuse?  Yes!   Read up here:  http://www.nofas.org/ or http://childwelfare.gov/.

         The news report went on to educate me further.  It seems that the neglect and abuse before the age of one includes things such as drug/alcohol use during pregnancy as well as after birth.  Trust me…i live with those results everyday.  My children were abused before birth and they struggle in ways most people don’t understand.  They are “special needs children” because of that abuse.  See this organization for information:  http://marchofdimes.com/.

           Then, the article informed me that those same babies that are abused/neglected, before the age of one, includes those situations where the mother did not receive proper, prenatal health care …or the mother did not follow up with doctor appointments and or normal health care during that first year.  Here is some helpful information:  http://kidshealth.org/ .

           Alot of those statistics, i am sure, are a direct result of the health care crisis in America.  Many people don’t have health care coverage.  Poverty is a huge player in this part of the scenerio.  I know money can prevent people from getting the check ups that they need.  To walk in the door at my doctor’s office it costs $84 per 15 minute visit.  Imagine a young mother (or father) having to take that infant in for care every other month or so plus the cost of immunizations.  Check with your local health departments for help with those costs.

           Some of the other statistics were infants under the age of one who did not have proper housing, food or clothing.  Again those numbers are influenced by the national economy.   Take a look at this:  http://feedthechildren.org. or http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/.

            My personal opinion is that a larger section of our population was left out of these statistics; those  little lives who are aborted each and every day.    Is not killing a young life just as abusive as  some of these other abuses/neglects?  The number of aborted babies, i would dare to say, would jump these numbers of abuse/neglect into the stratosphere.  Some would say that abortion is a personal/moral choice some say it is a political choice.   There are organizations that try to help, by offering alternatives to abortion, such as:   http://healthybeginnings.org/ or http://www.bethany.org .  Those who have been affected by abortion often need help healing from the trauma even years down the road.

        It is easier in our minds to dislike the person who physically/ verbally abuses, or neglects to feed or give emotional support to a young child; than it is to understand, that we all must play a part in changing things or we become a part of the problem.  Silence or inaction on these subjects is equal to condoning them.

           If you are able to support a young parent with physical or emotional help…do it.  If you are aware of drug/alcohol use in an expecting mother…educate her to the consequences,  seek medical intervention and/or report it if she refuses help.  If you see or suspect abuse report it; you might save a life.

             While i am trying to wrap my mind around these staggering numbers of affected people…i am also processing the idea of so many young lives being hurt just by being born.  What must we do?  We must make a positive impact on those around us.  We each have areas of influence where we can impact positive changes.  Take a look at this website for protecting children:  http://keepingkidssafetoday.com.

              We must take action.  We must continue to educate.  We must continue to stand between ignorance, addictions, abortion, poverty and plain old abuse and protect those who can’t protect themselves.  We must build up our programs of intervention with jobs, health care, anger management, parenting classes, drug and alcohol counseling, family planning/pregnancy counseling, mental health/counseling; and yes, when necessary even prosecution of those who would visit pain and neglect on our littlest and most helpless citizens.  After all, they can hardly do it themselves. 

         

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