Category Archives: Community

Blue Sunday

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Today is Blue Sunday – a day of prayer for the victims of child abuse, and those who attempt to rescue them.

We hope and pray.  But it is difficult to escape the grinding reality of child abuse, to remain in any way positive despite the fact that innocent lives are daily being lost.

Another such tragedy came to light this week, when the body of 5 y.o. AJ Freund was found in a shallow grave [1].

The boy’s parents, JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund, have been charged with his murder.  After subjecting the child to an icy shower, the couple proceeded to beat him to death, then reported him missing to cover their tracks.

Neighbors tied up blue ribbons while the search for the boy was still ongoing.

However, the Illinois Dept. of Children and Family Services had been involved with the family for years.  AJ, you see, was born with opioids in his system.  DCHFS later investigated two more allegations of neglect, documenting horrific living conditions.

AJ’s younger brother has temporarily been removed from the home.  Meanwhile, JoAnn Cunningham is expecting another child [2].


[1]  Chicago Tribune, “Parents of missing 5-year-old AJ Freund charged with murder after Crystal Lake boy’s body found in shallow grave” by Amanda Marrazzo et al, 4/25/19, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-aj-freund-crystal-lake-20190424-story.html.

[2]  Chicago Tribune, “As AJ Freund’s pregnant mother faces murder charge in his death, what happens when her baby is born?” by Angie Leventis Lourgos, 4/25/19, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-aj-freund-crystal-lake-boy-mother-unborn-baby-20190425-story.html.

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, Community, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Footprints in the Snow

Jackson Park, Chicago, Field Museum Library, Source Flickr (No known copyright restrictions)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The Maryland Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) has arrested 69 y.o. James Morris, Jr. on charges of sodomy, second and third degree sex offenses, child abuse, and perverted practice [1].  Further charges are possible.

ICAC investigators received a tip that Morris was sexually abusing young teens.  An investigation disclosed multiple victims over some 27 years.  A search warrant at Morris’ home revealed computer and other electronic equipment believed related to the production of child pornography.

Terror and Seduction

Maryland Criminal Law, Section 3-306 prohibits sexual acts without the consent of another by force or threat of force; where the victim is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless; and where the victim is under 14 y.o.  Criminal Law, Section 3-307 explains that threats may involve death, suffocation, strangulation, disfigurement, serious physical injury, and kidnapping.

These statutes give us some idea of the terror children who are sexually exploited can experience.  Children can, also, be lured and seduced by a “friendly” predator.

Inadequate Community Response

This travesty was ongoing for decades.  Some in the community, it seems, suspected.  Until now, no one took it upon themselves to register a complaint.

Footprints in the Snow

Pedophiles do not send up smoke signals.  They cannot be identified by the grimy raincoats they wear.  Like footprints in the snow, however, the evidence of their passing is the imprint left on the lives of the children with whom such predators have come into contact. Continue reading

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Mangers

Nativity scene, Germany (early 20th Century), Author Andreas Praefcke (CC by SA 3.0 Unported)

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.  So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2: 4-7).

Every day 2715 children are born into poverty in America alone [1].  And every day 22,000 children across the globe die from poverty-related illnesses and deprivation [2].

We are surrounded by mangers.  Surrounded, yet 2000 years after that first Christmas we still decline to see.  Why spoil this festive season? Isn’t there another sale, another party somewhere?  Pile those gifts high!  We need no encouragement to put Saturn back in Saturnalia.  We can manage that all on our own.

If pressed on the point, many of us would echo Scrooge’s sentiment:  “Are there no prisons?  Are there no workhouses?”  Who brought all these children into the world anyhow?  Why should we be saddled with their upkeep?  Who gave them the right to impose on our comfortable lives?

“…[W]ho made lame beggars walk, and blind men see[?]” to use Tiny Tim’s words.  As Christians we ought to know the answer to that.  We ought to live the answer to that everyday.  If we did, no billboards would be necessary urging that we put Christ back in Christmas.  He would already be there.
___
[1]  Children’s Defense Fund, Research Library, “Each Day in America,” http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/each-day-in-america.html.
[2]  Global Issues, “Poverty Facts and Stats,” http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats.

Originally posted 12/22/13

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, Community, Justice, Poverty, Religion

Scandal…Yet Again

Scales of Justice with emblem of Holy See, Author Ktr101 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Just when the dust appeared to have settled, the Catholic Church sex scandal has expanded to a new venue.  This time the setting is Australia.  The proportions are massive.

A Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has uncovered the widespread abuse of children by religious schools and other institutions [1].  Most of those suspected are Catholic priests and religious brothers.

Tens of thousands of children were impacted.  While the exact number of victims cannot be known, the abuse extended across generations.

The Commission’s official report reads, in part:

“It is not a case of a few rotten apples.  Society’s major institutions have seriously failed.  In many cases those failings have been exacerbated by a manifestly inadequate response to the abused person.  The problems have been so widespread, and the nature of the abuse so heinous, that it is difficult to comprehend.”

More than 4400 victims have come forward and more than 4000 institutions been implicated.  In numerous cases, the commission found those in leadership were aware of the abuse, but failed to take effective action. Continue reading

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“Cycle of Abuse” by Mary Mattison

“Children sleeping in Mulberry Street” by 19th Century reformer Jacob Reis (1890) (PD)

The history of child abuse in all its forms would astonish many.  It leaves little hope to be vanquished, considering in many countries it is deemed “culture”.  Although we can not stop child abuse in its entirety, we do have the power to help save one child at a time in America, and hope for humanitarian efforts to continue their fight for children around the world.

The life of Mary Ellen Wilson started an increased awareness for the need to protect children.  She was born in 1864.  When her Mother became  widowed, she sent Mary to boarding school, but could not continue the payments.  By the age of two Mary Ellen was placed in foster care, suffering the abuse for eight years.  Although neighbors heard the cries, and saw the condition she lived in, they did not come to her aid, but thankfully one concerned woman could not forget her. Continue reading

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Hostile Territory

Staged scene of bullying at Pres. Errázuriz Regional Institute (IRFE), Author Diego Grez (GNU and CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

A security camera inside Carson Elementary School in Ohio recorded the assault on an 8 y.o. boy by a fellow student in a restroom.  Other children are believed to have struck and kicked Gabriel Taye as he lay unconscious, then stepped calmly over him. Two days later, the boy hanged himself [1].

Impact of Bullying

The victims of bullying are more likely to feel disconnected from their peers, self-isolate, and perform poorly in school [2A].  They can have low self-esteem, feelings of emptiness, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Physical problems, also, occur. Victims may have headaches and stomach aches, problems sleeping, and difficulty concentrating – all contributing to higher absenteeism (school avoidance) [2B].

In extreme cases, victims may self-harm (via cutting, alcohol, or drugs) and/or attempt to take their own lives.  Tragically, some like Gabriel Taye are successful.

School Safety

Which begs the question:  Are schools keeping our children safe?  The evidence strongly suggests they are not.

An investigation by the Associated Press uncovered an astounding 17,000 official reports of sexual assault by students in elementary and secondary schools over a four-year period [3A]. Continue reading

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Filed under bullying, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Community, Neglect, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault

Absent, Part 4 – “Gangsta” Culture

Author Roxe (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Author Roxe (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

“Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.  Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity…” (Titus 2: 6-7).

So called “gangsta” culture, also, feeds into the problem of absent fathers in the inner city.

Gansta culture (no longer confined to a single race) embraces a super-macho image which prizes male power and gang loyalty above everything.  For many, gangs take the place of family which is one reason they command such fierce loyalty.

The merest slight, even if unintended, may be perceived as disrespect.  Disputes are resolved by violent means.  The domination of women is glorified, which is why misogynistic lyrics are common in gansta rap.

The truth is that the boys fathering children never knew a father either.  The grown men acting like boys are displaying their immaturity – not their strength.  A large ego is a fragile ego.

The victimization of women has always been a way for men to vent their frustration with a society they felt robbed them of their due.

Community Impact

There is a negative impact from absent fathers, not only on individual lives, but the whole community.

“For a variety of reasons, including the lack of jobs, equal education and crime, many of those communities are now gripped in deep violence and fear.  Strong, positive, hard working men are there, but in too many situations are not as visible or engaged with their kids or the other kids in the community.  It is as if they leave home, go to work, come home and lock themselves inside their homes in front of TV sets.  Not as many are walking the streets in the evenings, standing at the corner by the school bus stop, sitting in the church, or volunteering at the park or school.”

– Michael Knowles, “The Need for Male Role Models in African-American Communities” [1]

Make no mistake.  There are good black fathers, men who want to be involved in the lives of their sons and daughters.  Men who are sober, employed, and devout. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Community, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Rape, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women

Gratitude

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Author Jon Harder, (Gnu Free Distribution License, and CC-BY 2.5 Unported)

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Author Jon Harder, (GNU Free Documentation License, and CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

“ ‘Thank you’ more complex than at first viewed when examined thoroughly through the lens of the human experience.”

– Marie Williams, https://mariewilliams53.wordpress.com/2016/10/07/guest-blog-post-thank-you-in-marie-williams-exact-words/

That statement about the phrase “thank you” has great significance.

Those of us deprived by childhood abuse of the basic necessities of love and nurture may well be deadened, emotionally.  The human connection that the words “thank you” signify may actually feel threatening to us.  Sadly, that connection has been foreign to us, outside our experience.

At a minimum, we are likely to doubt we have anything of worth to offer the world…anything to prompt thanks from others.

But deprivation heightens the capacity for gratitude.  Skip a single meal.  Sleep a single night on a park bench or huddle against the cold, under a makeshift cardboard shelter.  Then go home again to a full plate and a warm bed, a solid roof over your head.  See whether your perspective has not changed.

The smallest kindness is magnified a thousand times over for abuse victims.  A word or gesture of concern feels like rain on the desert to us.  A thoughtful act can sometimes save a life.

As victims (who, incidentally, make up a large percentage of the homeless), we may not be able to express our thanks, not adequately.  But we will treasure that simple phrase or gesture as if it were precious gold.

To us, it is.  The words “thank you” acknowledge that we have been seen, that we exist.  They imply, above all, that we are human and worthy of acknowledgment.  That is healing balm to our wounds, even if we cannot vocalize a response.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (1 Chron. 16: 34).

Wishing you all a Happy Turkey Day!

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

 

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Sparrows

WARNING:  Graphic Images

A 7 year old in Pennsylvania shared with her school bus driver that she had been unable to wake her parents [1].  Christopher Dilly and Jessica Lally were discovered to have overdosed.  The child’s younger siblings – ages 3 months, 3 and 5 years old – were found in the home.

Ashley Hutt and Mac Leroy McKiver, a pair of addicts in Washington, have been charged with repeatedly injecting their young children – ages 2, 4, and 6 years old – with street heroin to keep them quiet [2].  The children were living in squalid rat-infested conditions, their home littered with drug paraphernalia.

All seven children have been placed in protective custody.

Where was God in all this?  Could He not have intervened?  Such evil is staggering.  Confronted by it, we cannot help but cry out.

God is not immune to our pain.  Nor is He indifferent.  He suffered for us on the cross, and continues to suffer with us.  We are His children.  Would you not suffer for yours?  Surely, you feel their pain when a young wing is broken or a young dream falters.

This is a fallen world — home both to incalculable evil and amazing good.  We get to choose sides.  That privilege comes at great cost.  But those choosing evil should make no mistake.  God’s eye is on the sparrow…on all the defenseless little sparrows.  And there will be a reckoning.

” ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?  And not one of them is forgotten before God.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows‘ ” (Luke 12: 6-7).


[1]  Washington Post, “A 7-year-old told her bus driver she couldn’t wake her parents. Police found them dead at home.” by Cleve Wootson, 10/5/16, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/10/05/a-7-year-old-told-her-bus-driver-she-couldnt-wake-her-parents-police-found-them-dead-at-home/?tid=a_inl.

[2]  Washington Post, “Parents injected children with heroin as ‘feel good medicine,’ police say” by Lindsey Bever, 11/1/16, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/11/01/parents-injected-children-with-heroin-as-feel-good-medicine-police-say/.

Original version posted 10/27/13

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

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Community, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion

Kansas

Dorothy's ruby slippers from the 1938 version of

Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the 1938 version of “The Wizard of Oz”, Author dbking, Source http://flickr.com/photo/65193799@N00/234170351 (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

WARNING: Graphic Images

Dorothy and Toto spent most of the beloved movie classic, “The Wizard of Oz”, trying to get back home to Kansas. But Kansas City has not been a safe place for children for years now.

An investigation by the Kansas City Star has disclosed that police abandoned many child rape and other cases of serious abuse against children [1].  Internal memoranda by the Kansas City Police Dept. describe 148 cases as reflecting gross investigatory negligence, and what can only be characterized as callous disregard on the part of investigating officers.

The Crimes Against Children Unit investigates around 1,000 cases annually. Last summer, prosecutors were unable to proceed on a case it had taken over a year to investigate. Several hundred cases in the Unit were found to be six months old or older.

A Special Response Team was formed in September 2015 to clear these backlogged cases. Half the cases over six months old were found to have been insufficiently investigated. Fifty involving rape, broken bones, and near starvation languished for over a year.

These included cases where:

  • a 4 y.o. rape victim was infected with a sexually transmitted disease;
  • 4 y.o. and 5 y.o. malnourished children were sodomized by a known sex offender who was, also, a household member; and
  • a 12 y.o. runaway was raped by three men, one of whom she was actually able to identify.

Irregularities were uncovered so severe that nearly all the detectives and sergeants of the Crimes Against Children Unit were suspended. Continue reading

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