Category Archives: Poverty

“A Mother’s Love” by Kelly Fratamico

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/68/Mary_Cassatt_-_Mother_and_Child_%28The_Goodnight_Hug%29.jpg

“Mother and Child (A Goodnight Hug)” (1880) by Mary Cassatt, Source https://www.wikiart.org/en/mary-cassatt/mother-and-child-1880 (PD)

Readers of my other blog A Lawyer’s Prayers will be familiar with Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia https://www.clcphila.org/, a non-profit whose predecessor I had the opportunity of co-founding.

Through the efforts of volunteer Christian attorneys and paralegals, CLCP provides the poor of Philadelphia with legal services at no charge.

This is one story [1]:

“In 2016 Maria, a native of the Dominican Republic, sent her two young sons, to live with their father in the US.  She could not afford to come with them, so stayed behind…Maria made this sacrifice so her sons could receive a better education and not be influenced by violence in their town.

Maria was finally able to join her sons and their father in the United States…in the summer of 2021.  However, their father became abusive with Maria and tried to keep the boys from her.  With the help of the police and her sister, she was able to retrieve her sons and move into a place of her own.  However, Maria…was scared that he would use the court system to take  her sons from her.” Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Justice, Law, Poverty, Religion

To Believe


TO BELIEVE
Lyrics by Matt Evancho

“Before I lay me down to rest
I ask the Lord one small request
I know I have all I could need
But this prayer is not for me

Too many people on this day
Don’t have a peaceful place to stay
Let all fighting cease that your children may see peace
Wipe their tears of sorrow away

To believe in a day
When hunger and war will pass away
To have the hope amidst despair
That every sparrow’s counted
That you hear each cry and listen to each prayer

Let me try always to believe
That we can hear the hearts that grieve
Please help us not ignore
The anguished cries of the poor
Or their pain will never leave

To believe in a day
When hunger and war will pass away
To have the hope amidst despair
That every sparrow’s counted
That you hear their cries and listen to each prayer

Father, as you see, I’m just a child
And there’s so much to understand
But if Your Grace should surround me
Then I’ll do the best I can
I promise, I’ll do the very best I can

To believe in a day
When hunger and war will pass away
To have the hope amidst despair
That every sparrow’s counted
That you hear each cry and listen to each prayer
(Hear each cry and listen to each prayer)

Help us do Your will our Father
In the name of all that’s true
And we’ll see in one another
The loving image of You”

Wishing you all a blessed Easter!

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, Poverty, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

Fire Shut Up in My Bones

“…you may try your best to repress a truth, but you cannot because it hurts!  It’s literally painful.  And until you release it, it will feel like a fire shut up in my [your] bones.”

-Charles M. Blow, Author of Fire Shut Up in My Bones

Tickets are sold out to jazz great Terence Blanchard’s [1] “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” [2], the first opera by a black composer to be featured at New York City’s prestigious Metropolitan Opera.

This is not “Oklahoma!”.  There are no songs here that will become popular hits, later sung by schoolchildren.  The music is instead somber, in a minor key.  The story is powerful and moving – a coming of age story set in the Deep South; a story of sexual abuse and resilience.

That story is based on the autobiographical memoir [3][4][5] of New York Times op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow [6]. Continue reading

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

Abandonment

Abandoned teddy bear, Author Ryan Hodnett (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Brittany Gosney, a 29 y.o. Ohio woman charged with murdering her 6 y.o. son James Hutchinson, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity [1]. 

In a confession now being contested, Gosney alleged that her boyfriend, James Hamilton, urged her to abandon all three of her children.  She proceeded to do this, leaving the children in a parking lot at Rush Run Wildlife Area.  The youngest grabbed the car door as Gosney gunned the engine, and was apparently dragged. 

Gosney turned the vehicle around to check on the boy, and found he was dead.  She then loaded the body and her two living children (7 y.o. and 9 y.o.) back into the car, and returned home.  Gosney and Hamilton later tossed the little boy’s remains into the Ohio River, and attempted to pass his absence off as a disappearance.

Abandonment

Child abandonment is the practice of relinquishing interest in and legal rights over one’s children in an illegal manner, the intention being never to resume guardianship [2A].  As in the Gosney case, this is often done in such a reckless way that the children’s welfare and their very lives are placed at risk.

The term “abandonment” is generally used to describe physical abandonment of a child.  It can, also, however, include severe neglect and emotional abandonment, as when parents fail to provide financial and/or emotional support to  minor children for a prolonged period of time.

Apart from the damage severe neglect can cause, this particular form of abandonment may expose a child to sexual abuse by other adults with whom the child then comes into contact.  It is not unheard of for addicted parents to trade their young children to sex traffickers in exchange for drugs. Continue reading

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

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

Dreams

Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria, Author Diego Delso delso.photo (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Our society urges children to dream big; to follow, even fight for, their dreams.  These are laudable sentiments.  But they presuppose that children can one day transform their dreams into reality.

For some children, reality is so painful that dreams are their only escape from it.  Whether this is the result of poverty or abuse, fantasy seems preferable.

Golden Goblets

Oh, the dreams, themselves, are beautiful.  Every detail is clear.

The dreamers will live in an enormous  palace, on a silver lake.  They will drink from golden goblets, wield magical swords, wear pearl-studded gowns or impenetrable armor, and sleep on satin sheets.

They will become world famous ballerinas, applauded by millions, or physicians who cure disease with the wave of a wand.  They will become race car drivers, and own fleets of flashy limousines.  They will discover the lost city of Atlantis and raise it from the sea, or fly rocket ships to the farthest stars.

Self-Defeating Traps

Tragically, the children dreaming these dreams have no means of achieving them, and no one to show them how to implement such goals.

Rather than a source of motivation, their dreams become self-defeating traps, all too often enhanced and perpetuated by illegal drugs in later life. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Sexual Abuse

Bad Parental Behavior

Juvenile Criminal Law | Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa

Image courtesy of Barnett, Howard & Williams, PLLC

Maryland resident, Cornella Rookard, drove her armed 14 y.o. son to confront another boy.  The teen fired several times at the intended victim from the backseat of his mother’s vehicle with a shotgun.  He was later charged with attempted murder.  His mother was charged with assault, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and reckless endangerment [1].

We assume parents will raise their children to become good citizens, and teach them right from wrong.  Unfortunately, that assumption is often mistaken.

Parental Impact

Parents have enormous impact on the behavior of their children.  Parental interest and encouragement can increase a child’s self-esteem, motivation, and interest in school [2].  The reverse is, also, however, true.

Children who are rejected by their parents, who are inadequately supervised or grow up amid conflict run the highest risk of delinquency [3A].  Where parents are, themselves, involved in criminal activity, that risk increases exponentially [3B].

Absent Fathers

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5: 8).

It may be painful to hear.  But the absence of a father from the home is considered the single most important cause of crime [4].  Boys who do not share a home with their fathers after the age of 10 y.o. – 14 y.o. are twice as likely to be jailed as those from intact homes.  Boys fatherless from birth are three times as likely to be jailed.

This is not intended to cast aspersions on single or divorced mothers.  It is simply to point out that fathers serve a purpose above and beyond procreation (a concept that seems lost on our society). Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Religion, Sexual Abuse

A Child Is Born

Yawning newborn, Author Martin Falbisoner (PD)

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9: 6).

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 8.28% of American infants (some 240,000) are born with low birthweight [1].  Over 194,000 are born to teen mothers as young as 15 [2].

More than 5 in every 1000 will die in infancy – a rate 71% higher than that of other developed nations [3][4].  Another 862,000 will be aborted before birth [5].

Approximately 40% of American children are born out of wedlock [6].  19.7 million (1 in 4) live without a father in the home [7]. Continue reading

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

Abuse and Cutting, Part 1

Healed scars from prior self-harm, Author James Heilman, MD (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Mental health issues including drug abuse and suicide are known to be long-term consequences of child abuse [1A][3].  Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI), more commonly known as cutting, is another [1B][4A].

Definition

NSSI is defined as the deliberate damaging of the surface of the skin – whether by scratching, cutting, piercing, or burning – but without suicidal intent [1C][2A].

“After I’d seen the blood, it was like a release of anger or some sort of release.  I can’t really explain the feeling, but it was just a release.”

-Alex [6]

According to the Mayo Clinic, this type of self-harm is a maladaptive means of coping with profound emotional pain, anger, or frustration [2B].

Cutting (in whatever form) acts to distract from internal turmoil; restore a sense of control (at least over the body, if not the underlying situation); inflict punishment; and communicate distress to the world [2C].

Though cutting may bring temporary relief, calm is generally followed by guilt and shame [2D][7A].  Soon enough, the troubling emotions return.  More-serious (even fatal) harm can follow.

Prevalence

Studies have shown cutting to be extremely common among adolescents.  Over 20% of adolescents are now thought to self-harm at some point [7B].   Approximately 18% continue into adulthood [1D].  This does not make the practice benign. Continue reading

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Filed under bullying, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Sexual Abuse

A Voice for the Poor – The Parallels Between Poverty and Abuse

Poverty in Chicago, IL (1974), Author/Source Danny Lyon for National Archive and Records Administration (NARA Record 1709309; NAID 555950), Original Source Environmental Protection Agency (PD as work product of federal govt.)

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov. 31: 8-9 NIV).

Poverty and abuse have much in common.

The traumatic and repetitive nature of child abuse, and the huge imbalance of power between adult and child, can leave profound psychological scars on victims – scars that may include PTSD, depression, and anxiety to name a few.

Often, victims are left with a fear of authority as adults.  The impact of poverty is surprisingly similar.

Fear of Authority

Their hopes chronically dashed and their pleas for justice routinely ignored, the poor frequently assume further effort on their part will be futile.

People who have been repeatedly downtrodden – deprived of basic necessities, cheated of their rights by abusive landlords and the host of other scam artists who prey on the poor – will forget that they have a voice, and throw in the towel (already exhausted). Continue reading

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