Category Archives: Christianity

Child Identity Theft

Anthem Breach Notification (security breach reportedly exposing the data of tens of millions of children), Author Tony Webster of San Francisco, CA (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

We do not give it much thought, but child identity theft is a growing threat.

According to the FTC, 4%-6% of the identity theft complaints received from 2014 to 2016 involved minors [1A].  At least 1 million children were victimized last year [2].

Personal Data

Child identity theft occurs when personal data like a child’s date of birth or Social Security number is stolen for the purpose of fraud.

A Shadow Identity

A child’s credit history is unmarred, and likely to go unchecked for years.  Because of that, child identity theft may go undetected for an extended period.

During that time, thieves can use the child’s identity just as they would an adult’s.  They can obtain driver’s licenses, sign leases, establish utility service, open bank accounts, qualify for credit cards, and purchase vehicles or property – meanwhile racking up debt in the child’s name.

Having developed this “shadow identity”, criminals can then sell and resell the child’s identity.  At that point, the process starts all over again. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Same-Sex Violence

leeway-lgbt-blog - UK SAYS NO MORE

Image courtesy of UK Says No More https://uksaysnomore.org/domestic-abuse-and-the-lgbt-community/leeway-lgbt-blog/.

In 2010, Annamarie Cochran was killed by her domestic partner, Cara Rintala [1][2].  Cochran was strangled, beaten, thrown downstairs, and covered in paint to destroy evidence.

The Massachusetts couple (both EMTs) evidently had disputes over money and infidelity.  Despite a tumultuous relationship, they continued to live together until the murder.

Rintala was convicted in 2016 after two mistrials.  She was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.  In 2019, Rintala’s request for a new trial was denied [3].

Domestic violence within the LGBTQ community is not often addressed.

Prevalence rates are difficult to come by, since heterosexual women are primarily targeted for intimate partner violence screening and intervention [4].  However, LGBTQ rates are believed to be slightly higher than those among heterosexual couples [5]. Continue reading

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Filed under Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Religion, Violence Against Women

Battery Acid

Car battery, Author Towel401 (PD)

The victims of child abuse often wrestle with the question of forgiveness.  Forgiveness can feel like defeat – another surrender to a predator who has already taken so much from us, including our self-respect.

Strength v. Weakness

But forgiveness is NOT a sign of weakness.  Nor is it a warm and cozy feeling.

Forgiveness is a deliberate decision to put the past behind us [1].  That requires enormous strength on the part of victims.  Most of us cannot accomplish it until we have first mourned our losses (a fact those urging forgiveness upon us must not overlook).

Unforgiveness

Emotionally speaking, unforgiveness is akin to the sulfuric acid used in storage batteries.

Battery acid is a dangerous substance.  It dissolves the skin, causing chemical burns.  Heavy scarring can result.  Contact with the eyes will cause blindness.  Long-term exposure to fumes is toxic.

Like battery acid, unforgiveness eats us up inside, creating scars that further tie us to the past, exacerbating rather than easing our pain.  And the longer our bitterness lasts, the deeper the scars.

Bitterness blinds us to the possibilities before us.  Forgiveness, by contrast, opens our eyes.  It clears our head, and cleanses our heart.  We can once again breathe freely.  The past no longer has power over us.

Release

Forgiveness is NOT salt in the wound, NOT an added stripe from the lash, NOT a final humiliation [2].  Nor is it an argument that predators’ horrendous behavior should be excused away at victims’ expense.

Significantly, forgiveness is not inconsistent with criminal prosecution, should victims choose to pursue that.  Prosecution may prevent others from being victimized.

Instead, forgiveness implies release for the victim…release from bitterness, from anger, from hatred.  From the groundless self-condemnation the abuse to which we were subjected left in its wake [3].

Victims deserve that.

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5: 44).

[1]  Prevention, “How to Forgive Someone Who Hurt You – Even When It Feels Impossible” by Cassie Shortsleeve, 12/13/19, https://www.prevention.com/life/a29995725/how-to-forgive-som.eone/

[2]  NPR, “Why Forgiving Someone Else Is Really About You” by Stephanie O’Neill, 7/30/20, https://www.npr.org/2020/07/28/896245305/why-forgiving-someone-else-is-really-about-you.

[3]  This is not to suggest that we were responsible for our abuse.  Children, however, blame themselves for the actions of the adults around them.  Victims carry that misplaced sense of guilt into adulthood.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Babies for Sale

Baby For Sale – Gag-Signs.com

Image courtesy of Gag-Signs.com.

German police earlier this year arrested a Bulgarian couple believed to trade in infants. 

The 58 y.o. man and his 51 y.o. wife whose names were not disclosed are thought to belong to a criminal ring that engages in the sale of infants.  At least eight women in an advanced stage of pregnancy but willing to hand over their newborns for cash were transported from Bulgaria to Greece for that purpose [1][2].

Human trafficking is an ugly business under any circumstances.  When there are children involved, it takes on a whole new dimension.  But infants would not be offered for sale, if there were not a market for them.

Many couples anxious for a child are willing to pursue adoption by any means, if they can secure an infant.  Even more sinister are the countless pedophiles and pornographers salivating to get their hands on a child – no questions asked.

Meanwhile, thousands upon thousands of older children await legal adoption.

How much is a human life worth?  Clearly, we have no concept, since we treat children like commodities in this consumer culture of ours.  Can we quantify the value of a child?   Evidently, older children have depreciated in value as compared with infants.

In God’s view, all children are priceless – even those being discarded and sold.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1: 5).

[1]  CNN,  “German police arrest couple suspected of trading newborn babies” by Claudia Otto and Stephanie Halasz, 5/3/21, https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/03/europe/germany-newborn-trading-arrests-intl-grm/index.html.

[2]  We do not know the dire circumstances of these women, or the promises they may have been made that their children would be placed in good homes.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, sex trafficking, Sexual Abuse

Alternative Girls

Singer Melanie Martinez, Author DeShaun Craddock, Original Source flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Definition: Alternative Girls – Girls with colored hair, tattoos and piercings [Surgical decoration of the body, esp. the ears, nostrils, eyebrows and navel; sometimes the tongue, nipples, or genitalia.  Considered attractive by some, disgusting by others].

They usually started out as a scene [good, amazing, fun, etc.], punk or goth chick in High School.

Melanie Martinez is an alternative girl singer.

– Urban Dictionary

There is a cultural phenomenon these days known as the “alternative” girl.  Alternative girls favor a lifestyle different from the norm [1].  They have a fashion sense, musical tastes, and opinions different from those of the population in general.

Whatever the origin of this phenomenon, it closely parallels the experience of many child abuse victims.

Desperate for love, we offer up to the world the worst possible aspects of ourselves in the forlorn hope of acceptance and redemption. Continue reading

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Equal Rights Globally

African women discussing the progress of their community, Author Mailabari (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

The following is excerpted from an article in The Hill titled, “Only 10 countries consider women equal – that must change” [1]:

“Discriminatory laws affect every aspect of a woman’s life – from where she lives and works, to when and whom she marries, to whether she can open a bank account, inherit property or apply for a passport [not to mention access the courts, in the event of domestic abuse].

In Senegal the decision of where a married couple lives legally rests with the husband.  In Jordan only men can be the legal head of a household and in Mali a woman legally owes obedience to her husband…

[I]t is also true that important legal reforms have been made…

In the last year alone, Vietnam removed all job restrictions for women, Madagascar toughened domestic violence penalties, Suriname introduced paid leave for new parents and New Zealand enhanced laws mandating equal pay for work of equal value…The United Arab Emirates removed some travel and movement restrictions and became the first and only country in the region to offer paid parental leave.”

Continue reading

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Filed under Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Justice, Law, Religion, Violence Against Women

Father’s Day

Family/Parenting • Page 9 of 54 • EBONY

Image courtesy of Ebony Magazine
https://www.ebony.com/life/family_parenting/page/9/

The client was in his late 20s, his face impassive, revealing nothing.  He came to the legal clinic prepared, bringing along rent receipts carefully retained.

He told a story we had heard many times before: a layoff, promises to a landlord and partial payment of rent, then eviction.  In this case, the poignant detail was added of his returning home from the job search to find his sons on the porch with their mother, the door to their apartment padlocked.

We discussed his limited options.  It was only at the end of our session with him that the topic of fatherhood came up.  We were deeply impressed by his faithfulness, his efforts to protect his family against the hardships of poverty.  When we told him so, the dam burst.

He spoke with passion of having been abandoned as a young boy by his own father, of leaving home by his early teens, and fathering his first son within two years.  He spoke of feeling a failure, of the temptation to leave, walk away as his father had.

We did what little we could.  He needed a job and a roof over his head more than he did a lawyer.

But he stands to this day as an example for me of what fatherhood should be.  It is the reason I am reminded of him on Father’s Day.  His sons – the evidence of his existence, the personification of his desire to do better than his father – I am certain were blessed by his presence and his character.

I know I was.

So Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people, being old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him” (Gen. 35: 29).

Originally posted 6/15/14

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Christianity, Justice, Law, Religion

Chaos

Poor child, Author Pankajauyangoda (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

They are like straw before the wind, and like chaff that a storm carries away” (Job 21: 18).

Often, those of us not raised in dire poverty fail to understand the chaos of that environment.

The electricity is turned off, and homework is not done.  The ceiling falls in, literally.  The grocery bag rips, the eggs smash, and there is no dinner.  Children sleep in the bathtub as their only defense against drive-by shootings.  An intoxicated neighbor sets the house on fire.  An argument over sneakers escalates into a shooting.  Police arrest a parent, and the children go into foster care.

No Safety Nets

There are no safety nets.  There are no margins for error.  What to the rest of us might be an inconvenience, at worst a minor hardship, can be devastating to the poor.  Progress is impossible.  A youthful indiscretion may cost a life.

Is there any wonder that long range consequences are imperfectly understood?  These children have not been in a position to predict from one hour to the next what may befall them.

Disappointed and Discouraged

Children in poverty face constant disappointment, and daily discouragement from the adults around them.  Promises must be broken again and again.  Some of the criticism may actually be an attempt by adults to protect their children against the bias they are expected to face.  Underachievement is perceived as “safer” than success. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Religion

Elder Abuse

Image courtesy of ARAD Insurance https://www.araglegal.com/individuals/learning-center/topics/caring-for-others/how-to-identify-elder-abuse.

Elder abuse has become so common that older adults write into public forums for advice [1].

Adult children moved back in with parents with increasing frequency during the COVID-19 pandemic [2].  Less than 25% of parents asked that their children contribute to increased household expenses such as food and utilities.  This has strained some relationships, both financially and emotionally.

Other abusers may include partners, spouses, relatives, neighbors, friends, volunteer or paid workers, lawyers, and individuals intent on theft or fraud [3A].

Forms of Elder Abuse

As parents grow more frail with age, they become increasingly vulnerable to abuse.  Abuse can range from rudeness and disrespect, to financial mismanagement, threats, intimidation, and outright violence. Continue reading

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Captives

“Young Slave” by Michelangelo (1520-1523), Galleria dell’ Accademia, Florence, Italy, Author Jörg Bittner Unna (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Those of you familiar with the perfection of Michelangelo’s “David” or “Pieta” may not know that he created a series of sculptures loosely referred to as the slaves, prisoners or captives.

Art critics argue over the merit of these – the central issue being whether Michelangelo intended them as finished works of art or not.  Details on these statues are vague, chisel marks still clearly visible.

The figures though are striking.  Incomplete, they struggle not only to free themselves from their chains, but from the very stone in which they are encased.

The Scars of Abuse

Like Michelangelo’s captives, the victims of childhood abuse wrestle with the scars of their abuse – low self-esteem, perfectionism, boundary issues, depression, anxiety, PTSD, relationship difficulties, sexual promiscuity and/or dysfunction, addiction, and the rest.  We struggle against the chains binding us, desperate to get free.

The Figure Within

Michelangelo’s entire approach to sculpture was to envision the figure within.  He saw his role as first identifying that figure, then removing unnecessary elements to reveal the image present all along.

Despite our scars, God, too, sees the figure within.  Like a sculptor, He shapes us to an image only He can see.  Bit by bit, He removes unnecessary elements, always aware of the ultimate outcome. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse