“Why I Am Leaving” by blackbirds2015

Social worker, Grace Abbott, a tireless advocate for child welfare, Library of Congress, Div. of Prints and Photographs (Digital ID cph.3c11723) (PD-US, No Known Restrictions on Publication)

I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land.  I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall…” (Ezek. 22: 30 NLT).

Social workers are among the most dedicated and selfless people on earth. They stand in the gap when parenting and other institutions that should serve our children fail.

The tragedy is that we have our priorities skewed, as a society.  We shower sports figures and others with countless millions, but expect those charged with protecting our children to subsist on a pittance, and carry impossible workloads.

This is a heartrending post by a dedicated social worker dealing with burn-out.  It speaks volumes about the broken foster care system.

“I love my job.  Really, I do.  I love some of the foster parents and some of the kids and some of the bio parents.  I love working with the courts and knowing that I have a good reputation with them.  I love the flexibility and the ability to work from home.  I love returning kids home or helping them gain independence.  There are some biological families that I still talk to and I love them as well.

What I don’t love: turning kids into numbers, meeting dashboards instead of needs, looking out for the best interest of DCF instead of the child.  I can’t keep up with the changing policies and new requirements; the updated trainings, changes to our computer system, and the daily threat that I could really get hurt by someone.”

TO READ MORE, go to Social Work(er)ing at: https://threecatsandababy.wordpress.com/2017/11/15/why-i-am-leaving/

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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“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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Filth

Ancient Jewish bath for ritual immersion (“mikveh”), Author Arie Darzi to memorialize the Jewish communities in Spain, Source http://yavan.org.il/pws/gallery!82 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things…” (1 Cor. 4: 13).

Filth pours out of the wall.  It may look like water, cool clear water, but it is filth.

In fact, the entire bathroom is contaminated.  God knows when it was last cleaned.  The room reeks of the sweat of prior occupants, is covered in a fine white powder from the predator’s own ablutions.

The door cannot be locked; the predator has seen to that.

You take your clothes off preparing to shower, but cannot find a place to lay down the cotton pajamas into which you plan to change.  Perhaps the toilet seat will suffice, if the clothes do not touch the floor, do not touch the wall, do not touch the tank.

You stand naked on the throw rug, an old shag which is, also, filthy, and prepare to step into the tub.  You grit your teeth, avoid looking at yourself in the small mirror that hangs over the sink.  The tub, too, is contaminated.  You know this must be done, so you step over the edge, cringing, toes curled under.

In the shower, you scrub your skin till it is raw.

You dread having to use the only towels available, stiff and worn, rough and faded towels.  You pull one down onto the floor, in order to be able to step out of the tub.  You carefully avoid touching the walls, touching the toilet tank.

You dry yourself awkwardly, as if drying off a stranger, avoid making eye contact with your image in the mirror.  Then you dress, step into slippers, gather your clothes and the used towels in a bundle for the hamper, and step over the threshold, out of the room.

You can never really get clean.  The bathroom may be contaminated by the predator.  But the dirt, the sin, is inside you.

No Escape

“…and though the…young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her” (Deut. 22: 27).

This is how a victim of sexual abuse feels.  We despise ourselves, loathe our bodies, would shed them if we could [1].  This flesh is what he wants.  His hands have been all over it, taking possession of what is no longer ours.

Desperation alternates with hopelessness.  But there is no sign of rescue and no escape. Continue reading

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Hacking Barbie

Theatrical poster for “Cult of Chucky” (Copyright Universal Pictures) (NFCC#8)

Our society has become obsessed with technology.  Barbie dolls now come equipped with mechanical brains, and miniature versions of “smartwatches” are being marketed as necessary for a full and enriching childhood.

The technology tsunami is meant to keep our children on the “cutting edge” of progress, connect them electronically to the abundance of resources available online, and prepare them for a boundless future.

There is, unfortunately, a fundamental flaw in this theory.  Children need connection with live human beings.  Not only is technology retarding their social development, and alienating them from one another.  It is making them increasingly vulnerable to predators [1]. Continue reading

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Sandpaper

“The Woodworking Shop” by Charles Palmie, Source http://www.bassenge.com/ (PD-Art l Old-100)

Artists who work in wood can create astonishingly delicate sculptures.  The tools used include jig and circular saws, routers, planers, and drills.  Sandpaper with a fine grain can make a wood surface feel as smooth as silk.

But the reverse is, also, true.  Because sandpaper is abrasive, it can create a coarse surface, spoiling the natural beauty of wood.  Badly machining wood can create defects which limit its usefulness.

Abuse can do the same to us.

Fragility

The fragility of children evokes a desire to protect in most sane adults.

Abusers, by contrast, seem to delight in destroying that fragility.  Innocence does not act as a brake on their actions.  Instead, it evokes an insatiable perverted hunger or a deep-seated hatred for what is pure and unattainable.

Either way, the impact on children is the same.  They are grist for the mill, victims of appetites they cannot comprehend, consumed by the selfishness of more powerful adults as their predecessors were once sacrificed to the god Molech [1].

Force

Cutting wood mechanically forces a structural failure in the wood.  The process is influenced by the direction of the force applied and the strength of the wood, itself (a quality related both to the species of wood, and moisture content of a particular tree) [2].

This is very like the impact abuse has on children.  The relationship between an abuser and his/her victim, the type of abuse, its severity, the length for which it takes place, the age of the victim, and the resources that victim brings to the situation all play a role. Continue reading

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A Dangerous Thing

Traditional millstone used to crush olives in making oil, Sardinia, Italy, Author Giancarlo Dessi (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matt. 18: 6 Berean Study Bible).

Sexuality is a dangerous thing.  The Weinstein scandal has reminded us of that [1].  A power differential allows those with power to exploit those without it – sexually and otherwise.

But the exploited are not always women.  An account in Vulture by a man who alleges he was sexually involved with actor Kevin Spacey at age 14 (and that Spacey, 10 years his senior, attempted to rape him) sheds light on the confusion in a child’s mind, where sex is concerned [2].  Raw though that account is, I recommend it to you.

The Vulture account makes the following points:

  • Children are trusting. They do not question the motives of adults who appear to care for them.  For that reason alone, children can be easily manipulated.  They believe the promises made to them (and lies told them) by loved ones…however farfetched.
  • Immaturity can expose children to dangers of which they are unaware. It is the reason we have statutory rape laws in place.  Immaturity can, also, cause children to assume responsibility for circumstances over which they had little or no control…circumstances in which they were, in fact, victimized.
  • Children who have been victimized once are often victimized again.  Those who are emotionally needy are most vulnerable.
  • Children may mistakenly view themselves as adults long before they possess the capacities of an adult.  But judgment and perspective require life experience.  “Sophistication” on a child’s part is no substitute.
  • Homosexuality and pedophilia are not one and the same.

Christ, Himself, condemned those who would abuse children.  One way or another, in this world or the next, those who violate that prohibition will find doing so is a dangerous thing.

[1]  According to Entertainment Weekly, 56 women had accused producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment as of October 28, 2017.  Included in that number are Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.  See, Entertainment Weekly, “56 Women Who Have Accused Harvey Weinstein of Sexual Harassment”; 10/28/17, http://ew.com/movies/women-accused-harvey-weinstein-sexual-misconduct/harvey-weinsteins-accusers.  High profile men similarly accused include James Tobak, Oliver Stone, Ben Affleck, Roy Price, and Bill O’Reilly.

[2]  Vulture, “Man Comes Forward to Describe an Alleged Extended Sexual Relationship He Had at Age 14 With Kevin Spacey” by E. Alex Jung, 11/2/17, http://www.vulture.com/2017/11/kevin-spacey-alleged-sexual-relationship.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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Women and Hotel Security, Part 2

“Rape Victim in ZA” by Julian Trinidad Gardea a/k/a Julian Scorpio (2016) (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

There are larger issues than crime raised, in the context of hotel security.

Why are women so often victimized by men, both in hotels and elsewhere?  Why does God allow rape and other acts of violence against women?  What are rape victims to make of God’s promises of security?  Has He abandoned them?

A.  Violence Against Women

The relationship between men and women is complex and culturally varied.  It has though been impacted by sin the world over.

While there are countless good men, who would never think of harming a woman, there are rapists, murderers, and others who take pleasure in doing just that.  Men who vent their frustrations on women, who bully and berate women, who use and desert even the mothers of their children.

B.  Gender Inequality

Many such men do not recognize their actions as evil.  They define women – all women, including their own mothers – as less worthy than men.  In effect, less human than men.

This inequality is re-enforced to varying degrees by restrictions on the activities women may undertake outside the home, diminished opportunities for women regarding education and advancement in a given society, the treatment of women by the courts, and the stigma imposed by varying religions on women who violate such norms [1][2].

But the inequality between men and women is not of God’s making. Continue reading

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Women and Hotel Security, Part 1

Front Desk, Marriott Hotel, New Orleans, LA, Author prayitno, Source Flickr (CC Attribution 2.0 Generic)

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he [the wounded man] was.  And when he saw him, he had compassion.  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds…and…brought him to an inn…” (Luke 10: 33-34).

Inns offering travelers a place to rest have existed since Greco-Roman times.  Standards were, however, different in those days.

The inn might consist of a room in someone’s home, or a large building charging a fee to provide individuals or passing caravans with a meal and shelter.  A traveler would be grateful to stretch out on the ground for a night’s sleep.

Hotel Crime

Glitzy as they may appear today, hotels are not always safe places for women.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that there were on average 7840 annual hotel and motel incidents qualifying as “violent victimizations” (rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated or simple assault) between 2004 and 2008 [1].

In view of the recent attack at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, it would seem we must add mass shootings to the list [2].

But hotels may not file insurance claims for all losses, or report all crimes to police [3].  Protecting the hotel brand is often considered paramount. Continue reading

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“Alice, Milton and Oscar: Making Sense of It All” by Marie Williams

Child’s drawing (PD).

Marie Williams offers us a poignant word picture of abuse, from a child’s perspective.   A gifted poet, Marie has captured with utmost sensitivity the interaction between a painful reality and the fantasies which form a vital part of a child’s world:

https://mariewilliams53.wordpress.com/2017/10/10/alice-milton-and-oscar-making-sense-of-it-all/

Marie Williams blogs on Come Fly with Me at https://mariewilliams53.wordpress.com/ and on Blow Me Out of the Water at https://riceandpease.wordpress.com.

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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Punishing Ourselves, Part 2 – Emotional Hunger

“Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors Brought to Jacob after Joseph Is Sold into Slavery” by Diego Velazquez (1630), El Escorial (PD-Art l Old-100)

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3: 21).

Human beings inherently crave connection.  When our basic need for relationship is denied, abuse victims can develop an intense emotional hunger.  Some of us attempt to satiate that hunger with food, others with possessions, still others with sex.

But these will not satisfy us.  So the emotional hunger returns, and the cycle begins all over again – each time destined to fail.

Punishment and Reward

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age.  Also he made him a tunic of many colors.  But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him…” (Gen. 37: 3-4).

The reward – whether of food, material things, or sex – becomes punishment.  Each stop gap measure has negative consequences.  Each leaves us feeling empty.  Our sense of worthlessness resurfaces with renewed force.

Then the reward used to stem our emotional hunger becomes, itself, a source of shame.  It takes more and more food/things/sex to bring us even temporary relief.  Our desperation increases.

Punishment and Self-Forgiveness

“ ‘…inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25: 45-46).

Consciously or not, we ache for forgiveness, someone to take the guilt away.  And there is Someone who can do that.  In fact, He longs to do that.  He died on a cross to do that.

But we did nothing to “deserve” abuse.  We do not, therefore, need forgiveness for our abuse.  What Jesus Christ does to relieve us of the false guilt for which we have been punishing ourselves is reveal a truth it would have been too painful for us to accept as children, i.e. that our parents and caregivers were the ones at fault.

Where their love failed us, His will not.  And the life He offers us is everlasting.

This series began last week with “Punishing Ourselves, Part 1 – Numbness and Deprivation”

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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