Is it just me, or does there seem to be a large number of families separated due to what courts determine to be child neglect? How many children are mistakenly removed from their homes??? They are not neglected but rather they are just poor….how many?
State legislatures, courts and state agencies differ in their opinions and approaches regarding the issues of poverty in child neglect cases.
The same differences apply with individuals working with youth and families; many of them have to determine whether a child is being neglected or if their situation is due to poverty. Evidence shows that there is a correlation between child neglect and poverty; although poverty is often a factor, it should not be mistaken for neglect. If neglect is suspected, the common solution to ensure a child’s safety is the child’s removal. It is the responsibility of those working in the field of social services to ensure the safety of all children; however, taking them from their families due to poverty and lack of resources and assistance is not the answer. There are many consequences of mistaking poverty and neglect; it is important to recognize the difference and act accordingly.
The Family Preservation and Support Act of 1993
For those of you who are not aware of the policies regarding the well-being of children, in 1993, there was concern that states were not paying enough attention to needed efforts in preventing the removal of children from their homes; thus, the reason why Congress introduced the Family Preservation and Support Services Act.
As crazy as it sounds, the number of children being placed in foster care between 1986 and 1995 had increased 76% making the Act necessary. The idea was for those with the authority to remove children from their homes to put more effort into preventing foster care placement. It was believed that doing so would help in eliminating the possible consequences the child would later face. Some of you may not be aware of this but a child being removed from their family, regardless as to how abusive or neglectful the caregivers may be, is a very stressful and painful experience.
Mistaking Poverty for Child Neglect: Removing Children from their Homes
Over the years, the idea of how to preserve family has taken on many changes as Congress tries to ‘simplify’ the definitions used to assist service providers in determining all that constitute the right for government to terminate a parent’s right to raise and care for their children. One very important concern is for children who are being maltreated and removed from their homes as the best solution to ensure their well-being, versus those who are not being maltreated but placed in foster care due to lack of money, resources and assistance. Making such a determination is critical in the ultimate well-being of children in either situation.
Before we continue, here are some important facts which you may have read in a few of my previous posts:
Now in continuing to sharee my point, a brief overview of definitions for child neglect is in order. Let me first point out that the courts have a very difficult job on their hands when needing to decide on which parents are able to care for their children and which are not. I must admit, I would not want to have that job!
Although many of us may not agree with the decisions that are made, for the most part the one and only concern for the courts is what is in the ‘best interest of the child.’ There are many factors that must be considered, including safety and permanency, and the proceedings of terminating the parent’s rights. Of the many terms used when considering what is best for the future of a child, one that does not have a definition is “best interest of the child”, and is taken under consideration when courts are in the midst of deciding the types of services, actions and orders will be best suited for the child’s situation.
Child neglect definitions may vary a bit depending on the state; however, they often all suggest that the primary caretaker of the child knowingly or negligently allow the child to be deprived of the basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter or care. In comparison, poverty is defined as having inadequate food, clothing and shelter; thus, making it easy to mistake poverty for neglect. The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System have included in their definition of neglect “the failure by the caregiver to provide needed age-appropriate care although financially able to do so or offered financial or other means to do so.” This, I believe should be considered throughout each and every family court system in the country.
Regardless of the definition, all family court systems consider the child’s basic needs with regard to these categories, a) physical – provide food or shelter and appropriate supervision; b) medical – ensure the child receives appropriate medical and mental health treatment; c) educational – ensure the child receives an education and ensure they attend to special education needs; and d) emotional – pay adequate attention to the child’s emotional needs, ensure they receive psychological care if needed, and prevent the use of alcohol and drugs. It is important to add, along with the previous categories there are subcategories with lengthy explanations which cause confusion to many practitioners; as if those making such major decisions need more confusion.
Poverty as a Factor in Child Neglect
Based on the information provided by the US Census Bureau (2013) in 2012, there were 46.5 million people living in poverty in the United States; 2.5% higher than in 2007. The American Humane Organization reported that poverty is the single best predictor of child abuse and neglect. When compared to families with an annual income of $30,000, families who bring in an annual income of less than $15,000 are 22 times more likely to maltreat their children. Twenty two times more likely, that is a pretty high number!
Researchers from both the United Kingdom and the United States have found that poverty is associated with an increase in a parent’s inability to cope and provide the basic needs for their children. Some of the more commonly added factors include anxiety, depression, fear and a feeling of being overwhelmed; thus, causing a parent to have a ‘disabling’ effect on their ability to parent, or to provide discipline, or tend to their child’s emotional needs and keep them safe.
The Accused Parent: Things to Consider
When a child is being maltreated, in any way they should be removed from the home immediately to ensure that they are safe. Knowing this to be the case, there are still many researchers who question the effectiveness of family preservation services; AND SO DO I! There is great concern in whether or not the correct decisions are being made when considering the removal of a child, particularly when the caretaker is loving, and the child would in fact be better off with their family.
The Supreme Court has recognized parent’s rights to care for and raise their own children; as suggested in the 14th Amendment. Although there are supposed to be…..or should be positive stages of proceedings that help in determining whether a child is a victim of neglect, such as a) an initial hearing; b) a case review; and c) termination of rights. Prior to getting to the last stage, termination of parental rights, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that this parent is in fact neglectful and the child’s well-being would in fact be at stake if they remain the home with that parent. The problem with this is that there are not any clear, concise guidelines to follow; therefore, children are being removed even when there are other options.
Research suggests insight on the disparities in the removal of children from their homes; children removed from their homes for neglect remained in out of home care for an average of 92 days more than those who were removed for abuse. They further found that 56.9% of children removed from their homes for abuse who achieved permanency were reunified with their parents whereas children removed for neglect were reunified only 40.3%. Don’t get it??? Neither do I!
The goal of all involved is the preservation of family, right??? Which plays a major role in ensuring the well-being of the child, right??? Yes, I have always thought so too.
I say….and this is keeping the child’s best interest in mind that it is necessary for there to be careful consideration in not only defining the difference between poverty and neglect, but also in providing answers once neglect has been disproved and poverty has been established. Once poverty has been established, just as the children are, parents are owed due process of the law and protection against the state’s interference.
It takes a village....so here are some suggestions
With so many concerned about the need to create a balance between neglect and poverty, there are many ideologies that a practitioner can adopt that will assist in making the best possible decision regarding the well-being of a child. It is important to keep in mind that although they would like to have, social workers, attorneys and judges do not have all of the answers. This is why it is very important to remain open and conscious of the changes within their field. I, along with many researchers suggest that those working in the field research (regularly) the more common strategies being used in their field and states. Some of the more common practices that may help in determining between neglect and poverty are simple to do and can allow the decision maker some flexibility in their findings eliminating bias and other possible distractions in their decision making process.
VERY IMPORTANT…..from the inception of a neglect allegation, the parents should be treated as partners in identifying the underlying causes of risk to the child’s safety; regardless of the accusation, the parent should feel as though the focus is on ‘how we can work together with the realities you face and ensure the safety and well-being of your child’, not ‘you neglected your child’. Upon determining the issues within the family, it is very important to quickly follow through with action. Concluding that a parent’s neglect is in fact due to their financial situation is wonderful, but there needs to be a solution for that parent. Supporting them without solutions to their financial troubles (as well as other factors, such as psychological, etc.) will only continue to jeopardize the child’s well-being. Concrete services that include financial assistance for rent, food, clothing, and childcare can make a huge difference in that caretaker’s parenting abilities.
COMMUNITY LEADERS/ORGANIZATIONS…..this model may not be used in one’s community or state but has been reported as being successful. Some states have created what is called ‘Family Team Meetings’ which have been successfully used for over the past 10 years. This includes families, particularly those with low-income who are or have been involved with the child welfare system. Through family groups and conferencing, family decision making, permanency teaming and team decision making, and involving families as partners with the welfare agencies assists in addressing poverty related neglect. The team meeting model allows an opportunity to share resources that assist families facing poverty related issues that may put their children at risk.
In 2004, there was research on poverty and parenting that suggested that more predictive of child protective services neglect reports than any other report of maltreatment. It is imperative that parents are provided quality legal representation and case management. Just as importantly, parents should have access to a parent advocate and parent-led support groups. In all fairness, many parents are not guilty of neglect, but rather guilty of living in poverty. If they are not offered the opportunity to have legal counsel and the support of parent advocates they are at great risk of losing their children to the ‘system’.
In conclusion, it very important for ‘folks’ like us to begin making a big deal about the misconception of such an important topic….poverty and neglect; if we do not then who will?!?!
It is time for us to begin discussing alternatives to taking children out of their homes based on confusing facts which are not really facts at all. Social workers, attorneys, judges and those alike must begin using prevention strategies alongside intervention strategies to improve the lives of children living in poverty.
Removing children from their homes is not the only answer to all issues of neglect; there must be efforts put forth to address the financial needs of families. A few great writers said it best when they stated, “If poverty and economic strains lead to child neglect irrespective of parenting quality, interventions to prevent neglect are unlikely to be highly successful if the material needs are not simultaneously addressed.”
It is time to use new strategies to tackle the old and but growing issues within the homes of poverty ridden families.
Mrs. Tomaro M Pilgrim, MS
Have we all lost our minds or what??? I cannot stress to you how disturbing it has been to watch the news, log onto Yahoo, or pick up a newspaper! I know that violence has been an issue all throughout time, and it will more than likely continue to be an issue. However….the violence today is just simply not the same. Our young people are dying left and right, particularly young African American males! Let’s keep it real people, when you take a look at the stats one cannot deny the large number of African American males losing their lives to death and prison! And please forgive me, these past few weeks have just been a roller coaster of emotions for me; something is just not right in America!
Let’s take a few minutes and view some of the most recent stats; and I am sure, regardless of where you get them all of the stats currently out there are similar.
The Kelly Book 2014, written and submitted to Congress by Congresswoman Kelly out of Illinois talks about gun violence in American; the information that is provided in this submission should just blow us all away!
*Gun murders in America significantly outnumber those in other developed nations!
*If New Orleans were a country they would be the 2nd deadliest nation in the world; their gun rate is 62.1 per every 100,000 citizens!
*Detroit’s murder rate mirrors El Salvador!
*Chicago mirrors Guyana!
*And…Washington, DC (yes the nation’s capital) has a higher gun homicide rate than Brazil (known for its high crime rates from narcotics trafficking and gang activity)!
*American children are at greater risk of being killed by a gun than children in any other
The Kelly Book also stresses that the African American communities are at an even greater risk than all other communities. The Book calls the impact on these communities ‘particularly devastating’. African Americans make up only 13% of the United States population, but they account for 55% of ALL gun MURDER victims! On the other hand, in White communities the vast majority of deaths by a gun result from suicide.
The Book states that although urban violence and suicides are quite different, they are similar in that there is an easy access to guns. In addition, there is insufficient attention to socioeconomic disparities and mental health conditions which can often create environments that cause disputes or problems that lead to deadly situations. I believe this to be part of the problem; there is simply so much more to be considered.
Finally, I would like to address another ‘particularly devastating’ impact guns are having in African American communities. I cannot end this piece without making mention of the devastating impact police officers are having in African American communities. Again, let’s keep it real…we cannot deny that this has become a nationwide epidemic! We know of at least five shootings that took place just this month. Don’t get me wrong, for those who had been said to have committed a crime, I am not saying that they were innocent and I definitely do not condone criminal behavior; however, I am saying that it seems in each case that the outcome could have been different…allowing these young men to ‘breath’ another day.
In all of the deaths due to the excessive use of guns, there are mothers (and fathers) who have lost their sons; children who have lost their fathers (and mothers); and a future full of ‘what ifs’….what if he/she would have lived to see another day…what would they have contributed to the future of others, to this world??? We will never know!
Bottom line….cops or civilians, young or old, Black, White, Purple or Green this is a major issue! As a mother of a teenage, African American male I am horrified each and every time my child steps out of my site. I tell him I love him constantly; I never say good-bye but see you later; and I often have to stop myself as I pick up the phone wanting to check in on him every five minutes. This is no way for our children to have to live, at least it shouldn’t be here in the United States of America…”land of the free”.
No, I don’t know what the answers are; I have no clue how to intervene, how to change this country’s craze for shooting and killing as if life has no value or meaning. But what I do know is that something must be done. I am a firm believer that if something is broken, with hard work, concentration, a desire and dedication it can be fixed. I am also a believer that all of us professionals should stay in our own lanes…this aint my lane. So my question is, WHOSE LANE IS IT AND WHY AINT YOU FIXIN IT!?!?!
It takes a village….
Mrs. Tomaro M. Pilgrim, MS
For years, there have been discussions surrounding the term ‘crack baby’. Have you heard the term? Just in case you are not familiar, the term ‘crack baby’ was created during the crack epidemic in the 1980s and 90s. It was used to describe babies who were exposed to crack (cocaine) as a fetus; the term labeled children with cocaine addicted mothers, describing them as being seriously deformed, suffering from emotion and psychological issues, lacking the ability for cognitive growth, and automatically placing them in a category of crime and addiction.
Over the years, it had been strongly suggested that exposure to cocaine in the fetus causes long-term developmental issues for children. It was believed that these children would end up dying, substance abusers, lacking the ability to learn, in and out of prison and so on. I can remember having my own ideas about what a ‘crack baby’ should look like, how they would behave, and how they would ultimately live their lives as adults; all of which was negative. My assumptions had been based on the ‘picture’ that was drawn for me by society and by the media. How about you??? When you heard the term, what would you imagine a ‘crack baby’ to be?
Some common descriptions sound a little like this, “Crack babies are born with small heads, they are easily agitated, they suffer from tremors and bad muscle tone, they avoid eye contact, they have learning disabilities and emotional deficits, they are overwhelmed with school, they are not able to keep a job and they cannot have successful relationships.
Well, I am here to share some really important information with you, so read closely…..
Quoting from an article that I recently read, only several years ago social workers and the like believed “crack was interfering with the central core of what it is to be human," and that crack babies were "doomed to a life of uncertain suffering, of probable deviance, of permanent inferiority." You will be relieved to know that there is no such thing as a ‘crack baby’! Based on current research the crack baby syndrome is a myth. You heard correctly, a myth! Research shows that the unsuccessful lives of children born to crack addicted mothers is not due to their being born as a ‘crack baby’, but because they are living in poverty. Yes people, poverty is more of an issue to our children than being exposed to crack cocaine while in the fetus!
Now don’t get my words twisted, I am not suggesting that it is okay for parents to do drugs during their pregnancy; women using drugs can suffer from high blood pressure, can trigger premature labor (all babies born prematurely are at risk for many medical and developmental problems), the drug use may be linked to a condition that causes the placenta to tear away from the uterine wall, and the mother drug use can cause a major disruption in the child’s home.
After reading a few articles, there is one that I thought was most informative. In this article, the writer describes a group of children born 25 years ago to crack addicted mothers compared to a group of children being born to mothers who did not use drugs. The one thing the groups had in common were that they resided in low income, disenfranchised communities.
What I found so interesting about this topic (so interesting that I felt the need to share) is that researchers have learned that all of the ‘hoopla’ spread about the ‘crack baby’ was nonsense. One research project in particular consisted of 110 children; one group was born to mothers who were addicted to crack cocaine and another group was born to parents who did not use drugs at all. The groups were studied for a total of 25 years. While looking for the effects of cocaine the researchers found something totally different. They found that the two groups performed the same on tests; and they both lagged behind on developmental and intellectual measures compared to the average child. Out of the 110 children participating in the 25 year research project, two were killed; three are in prison; six graduated from college; and six are going to graduate. There is no explanation as to what happened to the others.
Upon realizing the research was not turning out as they had expected, the researchers followed up with evaluations that would allow them to evaluate the environmental factors that could have played a role in the effects of the children’s development. They found that the children raised in a nurturing home, of course did much better than those who were not living in nurturing homes. They also found that 81% of the children had seen someone arrested; 74% had heard gunshots; 35% had seen someone get shot; and 19% had seen a dead body….all by the age of seven years old. The children who were exposed to the most violence were more likely to show signs of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Another important evaluation the researchers conducted was an examination of the brain and its link to attention skills. After comparing both groups they could not find any clinical significant effect on behavioral tests of attention skills.
All in all, it appears that poverty has more of a negative influence on the outcome of children living in inner-cities than gestational exposure to cocaine. As one of the researchers stated, “You can't walk into a classroom and tell this kid was exposed and this kid was not. Unfortunately, there are so many factors that affect poor kids. They have to deal with so much stress and deprivation; and exposure to violence is a huge factor."
Any kind of alcohol, illicit drugs and cigarettes are not good for babies; however, with all the labels our children are forced to live with it is a breath of fresh air to know that we can get rid of at least one of them! Children born to mothers addicted to crack cocaine are no longer labeled CRACK BABIES; they are not doomed to grow up and become addicts themselves, or to become criminals. Rather, they all have the same opportunities as the next child….that is, IF they can escape the ills of poverty.
The bad news…poverty is real, and it is a culture. The good news…born to a crack addicted mother or not, if we all work together, we can make a difference in the lives of young people. It takes a village to raise a child….get in where you can fit in, and help when and where you can!
Mrs. Tomaro M Pilgrim, MS
Not long ago, I was informed of someone dear to me doing something that I would not have expected. Because it is so common, (even so common that it hit so close to home) that I thought it would be a good idea to provide a brief introduction to the ‘unspoken’ issue.
Do you or someone you know have a teen that self-harms? Unsure of the definition? Well, self-harm is when someone intentionally does something to harm themselves; in most cases the reason for self-harm is to alleviate some kind of emotional/psychological suffering. This usually consists of cutting the skin with sharp objects, scratching oneself, picking at wounds before they are able to heal, biting oneself, burning oneself, and can escalate to more harmful behaviors such as hitting one’s head or breaking bones. Although there are many forms of self-harm, the most common is cutting; there is no one particular location for cutting, but is usually done in areas that can be hidden. Although it is rarely associated with suicide it is still an act that needs immediate attention.
Although it was surprising for me to hear of someone so ‘close to home’ cutting, it is not something that I’ve never experienced before. When I was a teenager, I had a friend who cut; I couldn’t understand how she could endure the pain, but knowing all that I did about her life (as strange as it may sound) I did understand her reasons for doing it. I also spent many years working with youth (mostly girls) who were cutters; some of whom were really dedicated to the act and others who realized the attention they could receive. Many professionals may disagree, suggesting that everyone who self-harms has some kind of mental instability needing attention; I agree that no cutter should be ignored, but from my experience we also have to learn/know whether or not the person cutting needs ongoing treatment (for some young people even negative attention can be better than no attention at all) – and if you are not a professional please seek one’s help before making this kind of assessment.
Believe it or not, there have been a bunch of articles informing us that self-harm is becoming a ‘trend’; teens are injuring themselves as a way to ‘fit in’ with their peers. Yes, young people are hurting themselves in order to be a part of a group; what is worse is that this type of behavior can become addictive, the release of endorphins can become a ‘high’ and/or a control issue, a way of releasing pressure. Doesn’t make sense??? Yes, I know….but this is what many young people are resorting to.
All of that being said, for the sake of this article let’s focus on those who are self-harming due to mental health issues or other mental concerns, such as depression.
One out of every eight people without a mental illness self-harm one way or another; if you imagine 100 people in a line and count from one to eight, then repeat that is a lot of people hurting themselves! Well, think about 100 people and count from one to four, and then repeat; one out of every four people with a mental illness self-harm!
It is important for all parents to know that these behaviors do not discriminate; it happens within all ethnicities, ages and income levels. Just as importantly, I must point out that the most common person to self-harm is an adolescent, Caucasian female who comes from an intact, middle to upper class family. The usual age when cutting begins is during middle school, and is often introduced via their peers or the media.
There are no clues as to why people purposely cause themselves harm; however, there are some suggestions such as impulsivity, to alleviate emotional/psychological pain, feelings of control and peer pressure. Thankfully, there are interviewing techniques that professionals are able to utilize that will help in determining the reasons why an individual may be hurting themselves, and interventions techniques can be implemented.
Risk factors include:
If you know someone who is self-harming (as crazy as this may sound) do not get alarmed; parents….do not freak out! Unfortunately, it is a common thing and based on statistics (yes, I know I am not a fan of them, but for this topic let’s consider them) the majority of teens who hurt themselves do not intend to inflict serious injury, and especially do not intend to cause death.
There are several tips that can be offered if you are aware of your child (or any child) is purposely hurting themselves; however, I think the most important tip is to COMMUNICATE, and in doing so…parents, LISTEN, speak calmly, do not judge and remind your child how much you love them; do not try to ‘fix’ the problem, rather I suggest that you speak to a professional and get your child checked out. The situation may not be as serious as you think, but it is a good idea to know so that you can ensure your child’s emotional and psychological well-being is ‘intact’.
If you do not know who to contact then try calling the Boys Town National Hotline at 800.448.3000. They are highly trained crisis counselors and have been recommended by parenting.org.
Awareness is key to making a difference; become aware and act. This is not just a family issue, it is a worldly issue. If you know anyone hurting themselves get involved, talk to someone. As I always say, it takes a village.
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, MS
There are so many things that I would like to say about the girls in Nigeria; however, I will keep this post as short as possible while still sharing information.
For many, many years Nigeria has had an issue with kidnapping, particularly the kidnapping of those in wealthy families. According to the Global Database of Events, Language and Tone (GDELT Project) there were two kidnappings reported in 1983, compared to 3,608 in 2013. By April of this year (2014), there were already 2,285 kidnappings! Just recently, there were 151 kidnappings and the following day another 215….insane!!!
Currently, it is being suggested that the girls recently abducted (276 of them) have been separated into groups; it has also been suggested that the girls are being sold. Boko Haram Militants abducted the first group of girls on April 14, 2014 from the Government Girls Secondary School in rural Chibok; the following day, the other group of girls was kidnapped with villagers in Warabe. Based on the admission of Boko Haram’s leader, Arubakar Shekau, the Militants did in fact abduct these girls.
According to a former Boko Haram negotiator, the fact that Sani has not vowed to kill the girls is a good sign. He says that the leader of the group often kills following his abductions. The former negotiator says that Sani must have a consciousness of the interests and sensitivity the abduction has generated, and considering the consequences of what killing the girls will mean to the group. Rather, it appears that Boko Haram has taken another angle by attacking those who may try to find the girls. There have been incidents pointing to the typical pattern of Boko Haram’s revenge-seeking tactics towards the government and those who may be helping the government.
The United States and the British government will be sending a team of law enforcement experts and military advisers to help locate and return the girls to their families. Boko Haram has been deemed as a terrorist organization; the United States has put a $7 million bounty on Shekau. The Nigerian police also announced a reward for rescuing the girls of about $310,000.
So, the question that must be asked is what causes such a large number of kidnappings??? Some of the data suggests an unacceptable rate of unemployment, an inefficient and corrupt police force, and corrupt politicians. This latest horror story appears to have occurred for a totally different reason than those mentioned. The leader of the Boko Haram Militants, the kidnappers of the young girls, stated that the reason for the kidnapping is because, “There is a market for selling humans; and Allah says they should sell; Allah commands them to sell.”
Yes, for those of you who didn’t know the ‘terrorist’ group is Muslim. Boko Haram means Western education is sin in the local Hausa language. The Militants say they want to see stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Africa’s most populous nation. Is this why they have kidnapped the girls??? Regardless of the reason, this is an absolute outrage!
Sadly, it took for such a large number of children to get abducted at one time in order for us (folks in other countries) to learn of the issues taking place in Nigeria! There must be changes made; group efforts in providing and executing solutions. Once the girls are returned home safely, we cannot allow the issues of Nigeria and other countries like it to be swept under the rug! Enough is enough! Get involved….
As a community, as a nation, as a family of human beings let’s all give what we can; with the United States, Britain and possibly China assisting in saving of the girls all that is left for us to do is pray. Even in a situation such as this, it takes a village...a village of prayer warriors!
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, MS
Note: One thing that must be made clear; Boko Haram Militants DO NOT represent the Muslim community! Anyone believing that the Islamic community agrees with or participates in such horrible, negative acts please do your research. The women (and young girls) in Islamic communities are respected and loved, not abused and mistreated as many would want you to believe. The abduction of these girls is solely the responsibility of Boko Haram, and them alone; it has NOTHING TO DO WITH GOD!
Yes, you read the title correctly! Prepare to either get angry, or agree; there are no grey areas on this topic.
Have you ever heard of the PIE, Pedophile Information Exchange? The group was derived in England, and then relocated to London in 1975 with goals of advocating for pedophiles. PIE suggests that pedophilia is a wholly undesirable abnormality requiring sensitive treatment; and they also advocate to, “alleviate the suffering of adults and children” while hoping to abolish the age of consent which would legalize sex between adults and children.
Based on a few articles that I’ve read over the past few days, PIE members have been lobbying for the age of consent to be reduced as they campaign for “pedophile love”. The group suggests that children who have had sex with adults were not harmed. Yes, that is what I said….they suggest there is no harm! In fact, a published report written for the Criminal Law Revision Committee back in 1976 states that a representative of PIE stated, “Where both partners are aged 10 or over, but under 14, a consenting sexual act should not be an offense; and as the age of consent is arbitrary, we propose an overlap of two years on either side of 14. Childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in, with an adult result in no identifiable damage. The Criminal Law Commission should be prepared to accept the evidence from follow-up research on child ‘victims’ which show there is little subsequent effect after a child has been ‘molested’. The real need is a change in the attitude which assumes that all cases of pedophilia result in lasting damage. The present legal penalties are too high and reinforce the misinformation and prejudice. The duty of the court should be to inquire into all relevant circumstances with the intention, not of meting out severe punishment, but of determining the best solution in the interests of both child and pedophile.”
I realize that the statement was made in 1976, but apparently PIE has had some influence on policy-making at the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL)! So why are we just now hearing about this??? It appears that after all of these years, the pressure of needing to know forced the former Labour MP for Leicester West, Mr. Hewitt to admit that the NCCL was naïve and wrong for involving themselves with PIE. Now that the ‘word’ is out, Mrs. Hewitt is trying to convince us that she never condoned crimes against children, and that she “consistently distinguished between homosexual men on the one hand, and the abuse of children on the other.” Confused??? Yes, I am too! I am not sure what one has to do with the other.
From what I’ve been reading it seems to me that there were a bunch of folks supporting PIE, and doing so since 1976. Today, there is evidence of this, and many people fighting for the rights of children are learning about what has been going on behind closed doors. There are many individuals running in the opposite direction, which is what they should have done 18 years ago! All of a sudden folks want to deny their involvement with PIE; well the question remains, what was going on all of these years that kept these same folks from speaking out about PIE’s campaigns???
For those of you who do not know, the legal definition of child sexual abuse is an act of a person (adult or child) who forces, coerces or threatens a child to have any form of sexual contact or to engage in any type of sexual activity at the perpetrator’s direction.
Child sexual abuse consists of sexual intercourse or its deviations, which include the following:
Touching offenses - fondling; making a child touch the perpetrator’s sexual organs; and penetrating a child’s vagina or anus regardless to how slight with one’s penis or other objects (unless for medical purposes)
Non-touching offenses – engaging in indecent exposure or exhibitionism; exposing children to pornographic material; deliberately exposing a child to the act of sexual intercourse; and masturbating in front of a child
Sexual exploitation – engaging a child or soliciting a child for the purposes of prostitution; and using a child a child to film, photograph or model pornography
Effects on children who had experienced child sexual abuse:
Children up to age 3 may exhibit:
Fear or excessive crying Vomiting
Failure to thrive
Children ages 2 to 9 may exhibit:
Fear of particular people, places or activities
Regression to earlier behaviors such as bed wetting or stranger anxiety
Victimization of others
Feelings of shame or guilt
Nightmares or sleep disturbances
Withdrawal from family or friends
Fear of attack recurring
Symptoms of sexual abuse in older children and adolescents include:
Nightmares or sleep disturbances
Poor school performance Promiscuity
Substance abuse Aggression
Running away from home
Fear of attack recurring
Early pregnancy or marriage
Anger about being forced into situation beyond one’s control
Effects on adults who experienced child sexual abuse:
Self-esteem – have no rights; have no control in their life; and believes they are bad people
Emotions/feelings – have a difficult time identifying or expressing feelings; cannot trust their feelings; feel like their emotions are out of control
Relationships – avoid closeness in order to prevent betrayal; become involved with abusive people; cling to people for approval; put other people’s needs before their own because they don’t feel worthy
Body – disconnected from bodily sensations; feel bad about their body; inflicts pain or injury to one’s self; abuse alcohol, drugs or food
Sexuality – numb during sexual intercourse; avoid sex altogether; seek sex to meet other emotional needs; vulnerable to sexual exploitation
Parenting – find it difficult to balance needs their needs with those of their children; overprotective; find it difficult to show affection appropriately
Further information that some of you may not know is that child sexual abuse is an epidemic in Western society! Based on the 2014 Child Welfare Information Gateway, in 2012 there were approximately3.4 million referrals of child maltreatment; of that 3.4 million there 17.7% of those referrals were substantiated; and of the 17.7% substantiated 9.3% of them were victims of sexual abuse.
I don’t know about you but when I read the facts, facts that have been proven time and time again, I cannot help but get angry over the idea of a group of people trying to ‘change’ the already horrible laws that are supposed to protect our children! It is obvious that there is a major issue that needs serious attention; but the issue is not changing the consent age or trying to convince folks that pedophiles should have just as much rights as the children being victimized! The issue is that there needs to be tougher laws and better options for psychological treatment for the offenders! A tap on the wrist, sign up with Megan’s Law and a few pills to 'control' their desires or mental health issues is not the answer!
So, on the behalf of all of the children who suffered at the hands of a pedophile, WE DO NOT ACCEPT THE ‘APOLOGIES’ AND ‘REGRETS’ OF THOSE INDIVIDUALS WHO STOOD BY AND SUPPORTED, AND/OR STOOD BY AND QUIETLY WATCHED THE CAMPAIGNING OF PIE! Yes, pedophiles need help, and their sickness should not be swept under the rug; but NO THERE SHOULD NOT BE A CHANGE IN THE AGE OF CONSENT, AND CHILDREN SHOULD BE CONSIDERED FIRST AND FOREMOST IN ALL CASES OF RAPE AND MOLESTATION!
People....please learn what you can about this topic and share your information. I will continue to do my research and if I am able to find anything that disputes or provides more detail into this topic I will be sure to post it. In the meantime, people remain aware; and please defend what is right.
Our children cannot speak for themselves, which means they need us to stand up and help them be heard. Let’s work together to ensure the safety and well-being of our babies!
Let’s not forget….it takes a village to raise a child!
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, MS
For further information on how to recognize child maltreatment please visit http://www.tomaros-change.org/prevention-tips.html!
My great-grandmother used to say, “Two heads are better than one”; and when joking she would add, “Especially if one would is a cabbage head.” Of course, being young I didn’t really appreciate the importance of her words (one of many).
Today, as the founder of an organization whose mission is to assist in improving the lives of young people I have learned the importance of Helen Johnson’s analogy. It is because of this that part of Tomaro’s C.H.A.N.G.E. foundation rests on the notion that ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.
Multisector collaborations are important to our communities. Building strong, long lasting relationships with individuals and organizations that share the same interests as one another, but offer services that one or the other may be lacking. As one of our partners, Mrs. Rashida Jabbar often says, “Everyone stay in your own lane.” This type of collaboration can only do one thing, and that is ensure that those involved can and will get things done. Another good point to make is that while we all focus on making a difference in the lives of youth, we are enhancing the opportunities of growth within our partner’s businesses/organizations.
Don’t get me wrong, collaborations can be difficult. There are responsibilities that each individual or business/organization must take into consideration, and be prepared to take on. Folks must let go of ‘turf issues’ and be willing to take positive criticism as well as give it. All involved must realize that collaboration is a greater enterprise than simply networking, coordinating, and cooperating; and the potential to make huge strides in the lives of at risk youth are enormous! Groups of people and businesses/organizations working together proves that we as a people can overcome all the obstacles presented to us as individual entities; working together allows us to break down the many barriers that has held many back, keeping them up from making an evident difference.
Although there are many, I am only listing a few of the more typical issues that exist in current collaborative situations, many of which cause folks to back out forgetting the ultimate goal:
1) People believe that individual effort is more beneficial than cooperation – because of the individualistic culture in which we live, many people believe that they can do better if they fight the battles of society on their own; as well, many are more concerned about obtaining available ‘funds’ themselves, or receiving all of the recognition for accomplishments within the communities. Sometimes folks tend to forget why we do what we do…this only aids in the failure to make change.
2) Lack of trust – people have a very difficult time trusting one another. Earning trust in any situation takes time; however, it can be done. Because there is not a whole lot of time to waste many tend to go into relationships before forming some kind of trust in one another. This is not a good idea; it is best to take your time and gain the trust then it is to realize after time has been spent that one is not trustworthy. We should only move forward in a collaboration after feeling comfortable with one another, and realizing the risks involved.
3) Communication skills are often an issue – it is extremely important for collaborating businesses/organizations to put someone in place that is able to not only talk, but who also has great listening and negotiating skills. Communicating in groups is definitely more challenging than doing so with one or two others; during collaborating efforts one must become skillful and disciplined in communicating, otherwise all collaborating efforts will fail.
4) Discrimination of any means that any collaborating efforts will fail. There is absolutely no room for discrimination when trying to come together for change.
Clarifying goals for each organization to accomplish, with one mission in mind is key. Tomaro’s C.H.A.N.G.E believes that without collaborating efforts we will not touch the lives of youth in a ‘mighty’ way. We recognize the importance of working with others in order to recreate what society tells us is the ‘norm’ for many of our youth. Now we need others to recognize the importance too.
In beginning to expand our collaborating efforts we held our 1st Annual United We Stand Mixer on May 3, 2014. The idea behind this event was to gather a large number of professionals, and growing leaders in one space with hopes that we would all share our missions and find a way to utilize our platforms in pursuit of one common goal….to make a difference in the lives of young people. The Mixer was indeed a success!
We believe that with adequate involvement, excellent communication, time and trust a great collaboration can be successful, and we can change a life today and a nation tomorrow!
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, MS