Category Archives: Poverty

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Resilience, Part 1

Dandelion, Author Robert Flogaus-Flaust (CC BY-SA

“There are children who like dandelions can thrive almost in any environment…They do well even in conditions of stress and adversity.  There are other children who are like orchids, who are extremely sensitive…Under the right nurturing conditions they thrive…But under conditions of adversity…they wilt and they don’t do well.”

-Dr. W. Thomas Boyce, Division of Developmental Medicine, UCSF [1A]

In the wake of World War II, 300 children who had survived the Holocaust were brought to an English estate for rehabilitation [2][3].  Children who had been torn from their parents’ arms; children who had been imprisoned, beaten, and starved; children who had witnessed murder and atrocities were taught to be human again.

In our inner cities, single mothers struggle to raise children in poverty.  Children under the age of ten are killed in drive-by shootings.  Children already victimized are further abused in foster care, their parents lost to addiction.

How do we survive tragedy and evil?  Why are some broken by circumstances, while others endure? Continue reading

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“Commercial Surrogacy” by Kaeley Triller Harms

Abdomen of a pregnant woman, Author Canwest News Service, Source https://article.wn.com/view/2009/03/19/Vitamin_B12_deficiency_linked_to_birth_defects/, (PD)

The state of Washington legalized commercial surrogacy in 2018, despite opposition by children’s rights advocates [1].  A list of the states which allow surrogacy in one form or another can be found at https://www.creativefamilyconnections.com/us-surrogacy-law-map/.bi .

“Last year I sat in stunned silence at a WA State Senate hearing concerning the matter of commercial surrogacy.  The proposed bill contained 55 pages of legislative text full of demands and bloviations about alleged parental rights.  Its goal was to legalize commercial surrogacy without limit through the entire state.

I listened as concerned citizens pointed out the many dangerous loopholes in the bill and requested amendments that would safeguard both the women and children from potential abuse, but every request was categorically shot down as unnecessary.

There were no limits whatsoever to prevent abuse:

  • No required background checks for prospective parents (Convicted pedophiles could commission children.)
  • No limit to the number of children any given person could order. (One millionaire from Japan has fathered at least 13 children via surrogacy.  His expressed goal is to father at least 1000 over time)
  • No limit to the amount of compensation any given surrogate can receive (Hello, money-hungry human traffickers)
  • No requirements for surrogates to be WA State residents (Again, traffickers?)
  • No language preventing mentally disabled women from being exploited for commercial gain

In all 55 pages of text, there was but one single solitary reference to the needs of the child.  The rest was emotionally manipulative language revealing a deep seated sense of entitlement and a devil-may-care attitude toward the myriad ethical implications on the people most greatly affected by surrogacy- the women and children.”

Continue reading

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Becoming Ourselves

It has been said that we become more ourselves, as we grow older.  Superficial beauty fades, and a softer (or, in some cases, starker) beauty takes its place.  This incorporates our scars, evidence of the life we have lived, with and without our consent.

We long, in youth, to be part of a larger whole – the beloved or a noble cause, perhaps.  The paths we take determine greatly – and depend greatly on – whether or not that happens.

The heart calls us to venues and ventures we would never have thought ourselves capable of pursuing, let alone achieving.  Sometimes though it seems we are being led.  Not by our desires alone, but by some external force.

“…[H]e made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in His quiver” (Isa. 49: 2).

Most of us must deal with tragedy, along the way.  Some lives are cut short by it.  Grief and loss can arise from many causes in this imperfect world:  abuse, racism, poverty, and violence, to name a few.

We are shaped by these experiences, and can be broken by them.  Chances are, we will be forced to make difficult choices.  Almost everyone is.

For a tree branch to be made into an arrow, it must be stripped of leaves (John 15: 2); fired, so as to become pliable (Isa. 48: 10, Rom. 5: 3 and 8: 28, James 1: 2-4, 1 Pet. 1: 6-7); straightened (Eph. 2: 21 and 4: 15-16, Heb. 10: 24-25); sanded (Heb. 12: 7-11); and oiled (Ps. 104: 15, Gal. 5: 22-23, Eph. 5: 18) [1].

Ultimately, the arrow finds its target.  So, too, will our lives, in God’s hands, find their intended target…even if that target is not what we originally supposed.

We can rely on that.

[1]   All credit for this information about arrow construction, and the biblical citations associated with it goes to Fountaingate Christian Foundation. See, ChurchLink, Bible Study Warehouse, Series:  The Call – Lesson 7,  “Preparation for Ministry”,  http://www.churchlink.com.au/churchlink/bible_studies/call/call7.html. Copyright © 1981, 1996 Paul Bunty and David Collins. All rights reserved.

Originally posted 7/10/16

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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