Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Parens Patriae - Waiting for Superman

Parens Patriae - Waiting for Superman
The movie, Waiting for Superman by director, Davis Guggenheim won an Oscar for his film, An Inconvenient Truth. In exploring the deplorables of the public school system, Waiting for Superman follows five school children and their families, who are trying to get their child into Charter schools through lotteries.  Four of the kids are from inner cities and one from the suburbs.  The subject matter tackles the very fundamentals on our approach in education, funding and leadership.  The concept of the documentary falls under the precept that the United States laws of parens patriae concerning the public school system.  

If anything, the focus on children and their futures puts the issues of parenting, government responsibilities and social activism to the forefront of American minds.  The ideas of parens patriae, which is latin for "parent of the nation," requires citizens to accept personal responsibilities for the welfare of our own children and the public school system so therefore, knowledge is power. The Founding Fathers implemented the concepts of equality, freedom and justice but modern society has set those values aside in comparison to time, equity and comprehension. U.S. history is testimonial to this with the equality of rights finally obtained for a minority group within the last 60 years but hey, they aren't victims of the system nor been victimized for hundreds of years. Public denial is the general rule of thumb.

I have yet to see the film but I wonder if the subject of the various States' lotteries are discussed. I find more people interested in the possible return of the State's lotteries than the educational system of this country. The mindset being living on a pipe dreams with an instantaneous solution to what ails us - which is lack of empowerment. The money dividends within lottery winnings is more freedom, security and the ability for unyielding generosity or perhaps power. In the public school system, often teachers cite lack of funding as a main source of restriction for their teaching skills.  Sadly, the funds of a multi-state lottery can reach excesses to over half a billion dollars. 

Many of us send our children to school with the hopes of making a better future than the ones of their parents but so many of us are still learning about our world. We are aware of new findings of what was previously considered important as less important. One completely free documentary is the Yann Arthus-Bertrand film, Home dealing with the education of our environment. Children and adults are reaching new heights in priorities, learning tools and skills and beginning to put things into correct perspective.  One major outcome of it all is in the voices of children.

In recent research, the questioning of our children's abilities to compete with the global world has led to more serious consideration for today's youths.  Globalization gives people evidence of the disparities of the world.  In many statistics, children in the U.S. fall far behind those in China and India in I.Q.'s and China will become the number one English speaking country with the highest population in the world.  The video Did You Know: Shift Happens gives statistics on the U.S. and where in the world we stand.  While one Youtube user said, "Finally, a G-rated video I can use to scare my grandma!" is a true assessment of today's times.  

Educator, Charles Sykes also deals with the issue of public schools and American children in his books, Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write or Add.  His previous book, A Nation of Victims: The Decay of the American Character explores a culture of victims that's filtered down to the essence of society from minorities to the middle class, to the working class and to the academias.  The main message is apathy and not so much sympathy for the political entities that placed society into its unwritten roles.  Sykes addresses the issue of helplessness and grandiosity that seem to go hand in hand and is being passed down to our children.  In order for children to rise above, they must attend higher education.

Although, much of higher ed specializes on specific learning, the basic core classes are often the same subjects taught in high school but elaborated on in college.  Why do something twice when it can be done right in the first place?  The statistics for Waiting for Superman states that 1.2 million U.S. students drop out of high school each year and American teenagers rank toward the bottom in math and science among 30 developed nations.  While statistics are staggering for the high school dropout, their fates are not set in stone and the negative media often perpetuates a myth in learning aptitudes of the average student.  The education of other global countries were quick to jump on the band wagon for industrialization of their countries and knew what to teach their students which is the reason for their rapid rise in education.  In addition strong study skills without American cultural influences, like television, computers, cell phones, video games, etc., is essentially about time management and dependent on age, supervision.  These things are within a parent's control not a child's.  The adult culture of the U.S. is a bi-product of technological numbing through consumerism. Which eventually led to these chains of events.

Bill Gates is a strong advocate of the film, Waiting for Superman but it must be asked then why are we waiting?  As it is according to Learningpartnership.org, the three richest people in the world own assets that exceed the combined gross national product of all least developed countries and its 600 million people, one of these people being Bill Gates.  Though, his increase in world affairs and knowledge of today's times has also made Gates a major proponent of social change, increasing awareness and development of organizations aimed to filter equality across the board.  His efforts should be applauded.  Each of us can learn to earn to work for change to build a better future, if not for ourselves but for the younger generations, it's now rather a matter of choice.

In the most successful kids of today, they are pulling in double overtime as a child contrasting the childhoods of their parents generation.  These kids who have multiple extracurricular activities and honor students are pushing that bar even higher for the "average" student.  Parents often are making it full time work just to keep up with their children's lifestyles.  The type of child I refer to is the one who goes to afterschool sports, participates during the off season in a community sports groups and attends some other artistic hobbies, like band, drama or dance.  They are children whose grades are rarely in question and often pushing to be in advance placement or taking college courses while still in high school.  Some might question and label them as over-achievers. However, they are often harried and it begs to question their future in the massive rush to get ahead but often parent's give their children these choices. The parents are also trying to keep up with the times.  Children must be superheroes not waiting on Superman.   

Friday, September 24, 2010

16 Years Since Violence Against Women Act

Vice President Biden addresses and commemorates the 16th year since the Violence Against Women Act was enacted.  Biden help draft the 1994 bill when he was the senator for Delaware.

The Violence Against Women Act was passed as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, and has been reauthorized in 2000 and 2005.

Biden said: "I said I want many things, but one of them is I want control of the Violence Against Women Act," "God ain't made a new brand of men and women in the last few millennia, so that's why we have to keep working to change the culture."

Youth Promise Act

Citizen coalitions for children are one way for the voices to rise up.  In the youthpromiseaction.org the following is stated:

The Youth PROMISE Act (HR 1064/S 435) is bipartisan legislation that will give our communities the support and funding they need to effectively address youth violence issues.  By specifically focusing on violence prevention and intervention strategies, this bill ensures we are funding programs that save lives and give every young person the opportunity to meet his or her potential.

This is the time that all information on child abuse has been explored and disseminated and it is individual citizen actions that can push Congress to move forward.  The research has been set in motion, it is time to take action.  

Congressman Bobby Scott, representing the 3rd District of Virginia explores the Youth PROMISE (Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education) as principles for implementing funding to the appropriate divisions of government, social services and other organizations aimed against violence with prevention for the youths of today and the adults of tomorrow.  

In essence, violence is curtailed by reaching out to those who confront conditions that provoke anger, frustration, fear and brutality.  If you reach to them for insight and understanding that perhaps the return investment will be strength, prosperity and diligence for the rights to live in the country that holds truth, freedom and dignity as a priority for the future.  

Signing the petition is a step for awareness and getting involved.  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Power of Potential

The Power of Potential

One of the greatest gifts of love that a parent can give a child is to learn of all the potential difficulties that might lie ahead and to prepare them for the journey.  A parent's true role is to guide their young away from unnecessary anguish and point them in the direction of free will and enduring relationships, starting with their sole caregiver - the parent or guardian (some are without a mother or father).  For children dealing with child abuse victimization or parental abuse this is critical in their developmental growth.  For the child torn from the security of family, the other intervention is with police officials or public services to help bring them home.  One tremendous example of family perseverance are the parents of Elizabeth Smart and others who have dealt with family abductions.

After the media's interest, the road to recovery is often lonely and less glamorous but for the loving and caring people in the lives of these children, it is the most tantamount testimonial of love.  The Surviving Parents Coalition is a nonprofit organization that lobbies for funding and legislation to protect children from abduction and sexual abuse.  The founder, Ahmad Rivazfar who's a father of six children decided to organize members to promote awareness and to find a workable solution.  Rivazfar tragically lost one of his daughters, when the boyfriend of his ex-wife took two of his children.  One was able to escape and the other died.  The Surviving Parents Coalition is one of the more progressive and effective groups that can guide others to the ideas of child protection.  Their methods so far have been through revamping the The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974.  As the decades passed, this federal Act delineated from its original purpose - protection and treatment.  Somehow the law went through an osmosis of sorts as the information of child abuse and maltreatment broadened the scope too broad to narrow down the purpose of the law.  Eventually, leading the massive issue of child abuse into the hands of family courts.

The new guidance of direction has been correctly assessed by the parents of these very children who were not "abused" by their own family members but by various community members and other institutions that have failed them.  One of the more obvious case was the kidnapping of Stacy Dugard, where police entities failed to protect her and the State of California recognized this unfortunate series of events by awarding her a $20 million settlement for her and her children.  Hindsight is twenty twenty but costly.  For the heart of the matter begins in the home, with awareness, education and recognition of the previous tragedies of abuse and violence.  In dealing with the words alone, often the terminology "abuse" makes everyone cringe and distinctions needs to be made.

Their are predatory behaviors of people that should be singled out and recognized and they are violent offenders.  If the officials are not given the proper tools to understand the motivations, the social environment or the potential dangers of certain people than it is going to be a long and ineffective battle.  The criminal behaviors of the child molester is often hand in hand with the violent criminal who seeks control of his/her situation and utilizes children as a mark to express their rage.  It is not necessarily the pedophile who seeks to dominate children for sex as a game of enticement or trust, eerily similar to the numerous recollections of priest molestations.  The work in the families of victims is very important for today's time as many decades before, the issue of child maltreatment was only a family/personal issue or hidden issue in society.  Today is should be known as child survival.

The parents of The Surviving Parents Coalition takes the issue and puts it in the hands of adults.  In Ed Smart and Ahmad Rivazfar leadership, they both decided to ride across America to bring awareness to child advocacy, raise funds and to introduce their campaign to the public.  The campaign is called, The Ride for Their Lives and their trek from Rochester, New York to Los Angeles, California had gently reminded me to keep fighting for the cause.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Alice Miller

The undaunted beauty of those who have tirelessly learned about child abuse, Alice Miller's grace resonates within the gentle gift of giving.  As a woman, mother, artist and psychologist, she studied adverse affects and the painful beauty of children and their environments.  She was born in Poland in January of 1923 and migrated to Switzerland where she received her doctorates in philosophy, psychology and sociology in 1953 at Basel.  Her life as a psychoanalyst gave her insight to human interactions and her revelations of child maltreatment catapulted her as a leader in the field of child abuse awareness and prevention.  Miller was dedicated in her own theories and evaluations. Today, they are applied and utilized as a means to an end.  Her work emphasizes that child maltreatment and violence could be known, understood and curtailed by accepting responsibility and understanding interpersonal actions.  

Miller wrote numerous books on childhood issues concerning development and interpersonal perspectives for healing.  Most notably, The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self digs deep into the psyche of the effects of trauma of young children.  She hits all the marks on addressing the issues of personality development, loss of love, inner prisons, depression and repressed memory.  She continued to explore how trauma manifested itself in adults.  The Drama of the Gifted Child was her first book and published in 1979.  

In the next year, she wrote For Your Own Good, which examined the child rearing of Hitler, revealing the toxic pedagogy of Hilter's childhood.  In her studies, she often utilized art pieces and lives of artists as illustrative views by assessing psychobiographies of Nietzche, Picasso, Kollwitz and Buster Keaton.  Her elegance and views on reclaiming the inner child, the youthful exuberance of innocence is reiterated in her work and personal life.  Sadly, she passed on April 14, 2010 while residing at  Saint-Rémy de ProvenceFrance.  She lived as a relative recluse and was 87 years old at her death.  Her spirit lives in many of us as we learn from one of the most dedicated people of today's time.  Her wide knowledge goes beyond the issue of child abuse and reflects humanity in its purest form.  

A collection of her books and paintings -

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Child Abuse Prevention 101

Child Abuse Awareness 101
Child victims, adult survivors, professionals and communities must remember to fight for the rights of children. Education is key to eliminating the long term effects of child maltreatment and abuse. In addition, prior victims must stand up and find voice and remember those who came before and after them. Otherwise the cycle of abuse will continue and society will accept the common occurrences as as "just" another story or tale of wrongs to be abhorred but unaddressable.

In regards to terminology, children have been and are victimized everyday. The term "child abuse" has become common and accepted as a series of events that plagues the unfortunate during childhood, much like the terminology of dysfunctional families, a popular term during the 1980's. It is yet to be seen how young minds and bodies will survive in today's world, as young children attempt to shed their lives of words as "abused", "misused", "exploited", "wronged" and "victimized". In many ways, the culture of our times and the mass media use these words to perpetuate abuse but without malice. The intent of the media is to shed light on the issue and yet, statistics shows us that child abuse is on the rise in regards to child cruelty and within misguided power. Young children and babies have become targets for defective individuals with or without knowing the impact of their wrongdoing or criminal behavior. The focus has been misdirected and should be redirected to the actions of these types of individuals.

Whether or not those who have suffered from adults hands as a young person will find their rightful place in life, the stories keep coming of outrageous, delinquent, perverse, and atrocious maltreatment of children. Some very critical points that have enlightened society is the survival and the restoration of these small victims. It has been inspirational that families, friends and communities have gathered the knowledge and wisdom to understand abuse to help young people find a home on this planet once again. Any young person who's been seen violence up close, been so disregarded that their life was endangered, been forced to have sex before any consenting age, or practically been forgotten as a youth, this blog is written for you. Perhaps, as this blog grows, so shall each thought of positivity, endurance and brave hearts join in understanding that a child that should be free from the very beginning.