Posts tagged ‘children’

December 2, 2013

Quote of the Day: Clothing Humanity

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“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”
― Dwight D. Eisenhower

July 22, 2013

Brave Little Girl Flees Forced Marriage, Records Powerful Testimonial [gawker.com]

by Neetzan Zimmerman / gawker.com

The longstanding severity of Yemen’s child marriages is gaining some much needed sunlight this week after a young survivor of this shocking custom took it upon herself to speak out on behalf of the untold many who can’t.

Nada al-Ahdal, an 11-year-old from Sana’a, had been promised by her parents to an adult suitor not once, but twice.

The “gifted singer” had been raised by her uncle Abdel Salam al-Ahdal since practically birth, and had been given the opportunity to go to school and learn English.

Abdel Salam, who was also raising a nephew and his aging mother, attempted to guard young Nada from any attempt by her biological parents to marry her off to a rich groom, having experienced the death of his sister by self-immolation over an arranged marriage.

When Nada turned 10, Abdel Salam learned that Nada’s mother and father had indeed sold her off to a Yemeni expat living in Saudi Arabia.

He phoned the groom in a panic, desperate to get him to rescind his offer.

“I called the groom and told him Nada was no good for him,” Abdel Salam told the Lebanese publication NOW. “I told him she did not wear the veil and he asked if things were going to remain like that. I said ‘yes, and I agree because she chose it.’ I also told him that she liked singing and asked if he would remain engaged to her.”

The man was persuaded to call the whole thing off, leaving Nada’s parents “disappointed.”

Months later they arrived in Sana’a, ostensibly to visit their daughter, but in reality were there to kidnap her and attempt another arranged marriage.

Nada asked to be returned to her uncle, but was told she had already been promised to someone.

Saying she would run away, Nada’s family reportedly threatened her with death, but were unable to stop her escape.

She reunited with her uncle, who took her straight to the authorities.

After an investigation was opened into the forced marriage allegations, Nada’s dad suddenly backed off the idea, and permitted her to continue living with her uncle.

“I managed to solve my problem, but some innocent children can’t solve theirs,” Nada said in a confessional released yesterday by MEMRI-TV. “[A]nd they might die, commit suicide, or do whatever comes to mind…It’s not our fault. I’m not the only one. It can happen to any child.”

http://gawker.com/brave-little-girl-flees-forced-marriage-records-powerf-866434307

June 20, 2013

Quote of the Day: Strong Children

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglas

January 23, 2013

Gabe’s Care Map: Cristin Lind, Mom, Illustrates What It Takes To Raise One Boy With Special Needs [huffingtonpost.com]

mindmap

by Lisa Belkin / huffingtonpost.com

Cristin Lind couldn’t find the words, so she drew a picture.

The artistic inspiration hit about a year ago, after she’d been asked to speak to a meeting of primary care physicians, telling them what it took to manage the complex care of her special needs son. Her page was still empty, despite hours trying to collect her thoughts, so she found some colored markers and began drawing circles.

Inside a small purple circle, smack in the middle, she placed a G, for her son Gabe. “He’s not always the center of the universe,” she says with a smile. “But for these purposes he was.”

Around him, she drew another purple circle containing the rest of the family: Cristin, her husband Dan, and their daughter, Dagny. She built outward from there: the health care providers in blue — pediatrics, endocrine, cardiology, orthopedics; school-related specialists in red — everyone from the teacher to the bus driver to the special education director; turquoise for the world of advocacy and support groups; pink for recreation; lavender for those who do the assessments and testing; orange for those who help fight against the rules and for the money.

We each have scaffolding in our lives, usually unseen. We are surrounded by a web we don’t always know is there, but every so often — usually in crisis or its aftermath — makes itself visible. By the time Lind finished drawing, there were 70 labeled ovals on her page, which she calls “Gabe’s Care Map.”

She felt overwhelmed, yet empowered, just looking at it.

Click here to read the rest of the story…

January 23, 2013

The Accidental Activist [vanityfair.com]

She appeared to be the perfect plaintiff in a case that changed America’s political landscape: Roe v. Wade, decided by the Supreme Court 40 years ago this month. But Norma McCorvey, now 65, was never what she seemed: neither as the pregnant Texas woman who won fame as abortion-rights icon “Jane Roe,” nor as the pro-life activist she would become.

by Joshua Prager / vanityfair.com

It is a spring night in rural Texas, and crickets sing as a woman in her 60s with broad shoulders and short brown hair stops a pregnant young woman on an empty sidewalk. The older woman has heard that the younger woman, her neighbor Lucy Mae, may be seeking an abortion. “You don’t have to do this,” she says, her brown eyes and long loose cheeks filling with emotion. “Children are a miracle—a gift from God!”

The women are performing a scene in Doonby, a movie about a drifter who awakens a sleepy Texas town to its spiritual possibilities. The movie, tentatively set to be released this year, is directed by Peter Mackenzie, a Catholic filmmaker from Britain. It stars John Schneider, best known for The Dukes of Hazzard, who is a born-again Christian.

The older woman is born-again, too. Her name is Norma McCorvey. She is not a professional actress. But back when Nixon was president, McCorvey landed the role of a lifetime: that of “Jane Roe,” the plaintiff in what would become one of the most divisive legal actions in American history.

Forty years ago, on January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wadethat women had the right to an abortion “free of interference by the State,” as Justice Harry A. Blackmun wrote in the Court’s majority opinion. The decision greatly expanded the legal boundaries for abortion in the United States, allowing women to terminate a pregnancy at any point during the first 24 weeks—that is, through the first and second trimesters. (Roe did, however, permit states to impose regulations in the second trimester, including who could perform abortions and where. It also gave states the right to ban most abortions in the third trimester.)

McCorvey, under the pseudonym Jane Roe, had brought the precipitating lawsuit in 1970, when she was pregnant for a third time and living in Texas, where abortion was prohibited unless the life of the pregnant woman was threatened. (The Wade in Roe v. Wade was Dallas County district attorney Henry Wade, the named defendant.) Roe v. Wade was a watershed legal ruling. But it also helped to turn abortion into the great foe of American consensus. Subsequent cases have made it clear that the Supreme Court majority in favor of abortion rights has been eroding, from 7 to 2 in Roe to 5 to 4 in cases decided in more recent years (with the majority deciding against abortion rights in a number of cases). Roe is undoubtedly the most familiar legal ruling in the minds of most Americans—not for nothing did Katie Couric ask Sarah Palin in a 2008 interview to cite any Supreme Court case except that one. But few people know much about the woman who prompted the ruling in the first place.

Norma McCorvey, now 65, has presented a version of her life in two autobiographies, I Am Roe(with Andy Meisler, 1994) and Won by Love (with Gary Thomas, 1997). In McCorvey’s telling, the story is a morality tale with a simple arc: An unwanted pregnancy. A lawsuit. Pro-choice. Born-again. Pro-life. Peace. The truth is sadder and less tidy. And with the help of a cache of documents retrieved two years ago from the clutter of a Texas home she had abandoned, as well as interviews with people once close to her, the story can be more accurately told.

Click to read the rest of the article…

January 16, 2013

This Is What’s in President Obama’s Gun Control Package [gawker.com]

By Robert Kessler / gawker.com

A few minutes ago, President Obama announced a $500 million package, synthesized from suggestions put forth by Vice President Joe Biden’s task force on gun control, aimed at curbing gun violence in the U.S. in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. The President called on Congress to take action in a number of ways, including:

  • Establishing universal background checks for anyone looking to buy a gun
  • Banning military-style assault weapons, as well as a 10-round cap on gun magazines
  • Confirming Todd Jones as the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. (Jones is currently acting director, as Congress has not confirmed a director in six years)

Immediately following the announcement, Obama also signed 23 executive actions, which do not require congressional approval. They are the following:

  1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
  2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
  3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
  4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
  5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
  6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
  7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
  8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety
    Commission).
  9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns
    recovered in criminal investigations.
  10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it
    widely available to law enforcement.
  11. Nominate an ATF director.
  12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper
    training for active shooter situations.
  13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
  14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to
    research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
  15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective
    use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop
    innovative technologies.
  16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients
    about guns in their homes.
  17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits
    them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
  18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
  19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
  20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
  21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
  22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
  23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental
    health.

During his announcement, Obama stated that in the month since the massacre in Newtown, more than 900 Americans have been killed by guns. Obama, who at parts of the speech was both emotional and forceful, urged several times he will do everything he can to curb gun violence in America.

http://gawker.com/5976447/this-is-whats-in-president-obamas-gun-control-package

January 9, 2013

The Up Documentary Series Is the Anti-Reality TV [gawker.com]

by Rich Juzwiak / gawker.com

If Michael Apted’s Up series of documentaries plays like the older, more relaxed brother of reality TV, it’s because that’s basically what it is. Launched in 1964 as a one-off special of interviews with 7-year-olds in Seven Up by director Paul Almond, the film surveyed 14 kids of various economic backgrounds to explore England’s class system (it was based on the repeatedly invoked Jesuit motto “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man”). Apted, who helped cast that film, then took over and has returned to its subjects every seven years to document their lives over time. Though the films are still inherently political, what emerged was less of an economic survey and more one of humanity. Reality TV is often referred to as a sociological experiment, but the Up series is as bona fide of a longitudinal study as pop culture has ever offered.

56 Up, the series’ eighth film and most recent entry, features all but one of the people interviewed in the first film. It aired last year in England and opened last week in America. While you feel the project’s prescience – our cultural ideal that, as Apted put it to me last week in the First Run Features office, “every life is worth sharing” – the film plays vastly different than what you’d expect from reality TV. It’s almost two and a half hours of soft-spoken, 56-year-old British people describing their quiet existences which, in most cases, seek to avoid drama as opposed to reveling in it. Take Jackie, who describes a string of familial deaths she’s endured since 49 Up, and whose mother and ex-husband have since been diagnosed with cancer. She is without a partner, suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and her benefits have been taken away, forcing her to rely on her sons for support. And yet the tone of her segment is as upbeat as the rest. She likes her life, she says. We see her meeting men. She is, in fact, here to make friends.

 

December 18, 2012

Talking to Children About Death

June 15, 2012

Transgender kids get help navigating a difficult path [latimes.com]

Amber is one of an increasing number who are getting specialized care. The 12-year-old takes puberty-blocking drugs and hopes to have gender reassignment surgery at 16

By Anna Gorman / latimes.com

Amber, a soft-spoken, feminine 12-year-old who loves Hello Kitty and fashion design, lives with a secret. It is a secret most sixth-graders can’t fathom, one she hides behind pink skirts and makeup. It is a secret that led to all her baby pictures being tucked away as though her childhood had never happened.

Amber was born a boy.

When she was 10, she stopped going by her given name, Aaron, and began dressing as a girl. Last year, she started taking medication to keep her from going through puberty.

“I can be who I am,” Amber said. “I can be a girl.”

An increasing number of children like Amber are realizing they are transgender and seeking care at clinics around the nation. Because of their age, the complex and emotional journey is as much their parents’ as their own. Families are forced to make tough decisions about therapy and medication, and about what to tell friends and relatives. They are trying to give their children a normal upbringing with summer camps and sleepovers while protecting them from harm and embarrassment.

“How do you move through society with a gender-variant child?” said Nancy Quay, a psychotherapist at the University of Michigan gender services program. “What do you tell your neighbors? How do you keep your child safe?”

For Amber’s parents, Michelle and Jamie, the last few years have been a roller coaster of emotions — guilt for not recognizing earlier that their daughter was transgender, grief over losing Aaron and worries about Amber’s future.

The family’s last name is being withheld at Amber’s request. They all agreed, though, to both a video and photographs. Michelle said their family and others close to them know about Amber’s transition.

Telling their story, she said, “is the right thing to do…. Hopefully it will bring more awareness and help other families.”

Michelle said she believes that letting Amber take the medication and live as she wants is the only real choice. “We are confident this is her authentic self,” she said.

Jamie is supportive but not quite as sure. “This is some pretty serious territory,” he said. “As a parent, you are always second-guessing yourself.”

Click the link to read the rest of the article on the LA Times website:
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-transgender-kids-20120615,0,1463761,full.story

June 7, 2012

Gay teens less likely to be happy, nationwide survey finds [latimes.com]

Even as barriers to equality fall, gay and lesbian teens report they still struggle with harassment and identity issues more than their straight peers do.

By Rebecca Trounson, Los Angeles Times

It’s not easy growing up gay in America, despite the nation’s increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage and other issues of gay equality.

Gay and lesbian teenagers across the United States are less likely to be happy, more likely to report harassment and more inclined to experiment with drugs and alcohol than the nation’s straight teens, according to a new nationwide survey of more than 10,000 gay and lesbian young people.

The survey, which will be released Thursday by the Human Rights Campaign, aWashington, D.C.-based civil rights group, is described as one of the largest ever to focus on the nation’s gay youth. It was conducted online and involved 10,030 participants aged 13 to 17 who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. It also included interviews with about 500 13- to 17-year-olds who composed the poll’s “straight” population.

The study paints an often stark picture of the challenges of growing up gay in this country, even as same-sex marriage gains support among many Americans and other legal and cultural barriers to gay equality begin to fall.

The survey showed, for example, that half of all gay and lesbian teens reported being verbally harassed or called names at school, compared with a quarter of non-LGBT kids. About twice as many gay and lesbian respondents as straight teens also said they had been shoved, kicked or otherwise assaulted at their schools, with 17% of LGBT teens and 10% of straight youths reporting such assaults.

Fewer than half of gay teenagers said they believe their community is accepting of people like them, and 63% said they would need to move to another town or part of the country to find acceptance. Just 4 in 10 gay teens reported being happy, compared with nearly 7 in 10 of their straight peers.

And more than twice as many gay (52%) as non-gay (22%) respondents said they had experimented with drugs or alcohol.

Child welfare advocates who reviewed the study before publication praised it for shedding light on a population that is difficult to reach and in need of help from government agencies and others.

Linda Spears, vice president of policy for the Child Welfare League of America, said the study bears out “our worst fears about LBGT kids. These kids are often so vulnerable in the way their lives are being led because of the lack of support they have. They need what all young people need, parents and others who are there for them and nurture their development.”

Chad Griffin, the new president of the Human Rights Campaign and an advocate for same-sex marriage, said the survey “is yet another reminder that we still have a lot to do in this country so that young people can grow up healthy.”

Griffin, who helped organize the legal fight against Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage, said he hopes the report will inform policymakers and serve as a reminder to parents, schools and elected officials about the challenges facing a vulnerable population.

“These are young people,” he said. “They worry about which hall they can walk down at school, which table they have to avoid in the lunchroom, what happens at church on Sunday and whether they need to hide their identity from their family.”

But the survey also showed that many gay teens find safe havens among their peers, on the Internet and in their schools. Nearly 3 in 4 gay teenagers said they were more honest about themselves online than elsewhere and 67% said their schools were “generally accepting” of gay people.

In interviews this week at L.A.’s Gay and Lesbian Center, several young people spoke about the survey’s findings and their own experiences coming to terms with their LGBT identity.

Jonathan McClain, a 22-year-old from Altadena, said he identified strongly with part of the study showing that many young gays and lesbians feel forced to change their identities almost hour by hour, depending on where they are and who’s around. Many LGBT kids are more likely to be “out” at school than they are with their families.

“Sometimes you’re out of the closet, sometimes you have to put yourself back in and watch what you say and how you act,” said McClain, who volunteers at the center.

McClain, who came out after he graduated from high school, said he had never directly experienced harassment.

That was not the case with others interviewed, including Edwin Chuc, from Los Angeles, who said he had been beaten up in middle school and ended up with broken ribs. Chuc said he had lived on the streets for several years and abused drugs and alcohol before turning his life around.

Now a confident 19-year-old who will attend USC in the fall, Chuc said his parents are much more supportive now than they were when he first came out. “I’m happy and I have people I can turn to,” he said.

Logan Woods, 18, of Manhattan Beach, said middle school was tough for him too, but high school, at the private Vistamar School in El Segundo, has been much better, with good friends and a strong gay support group among the students.

“It’s getting easier for me to live spontaneously and not feel like I have to plan everything out for fear of being hurt,” he said.

The survey was conducted online from April 16 through May 20. It was advertised through social media, as well as through LGBT youth centers across the country. The researchers said the survey method is not unusual for targeting hard-to-reach populations but may not represent a truly random sample.

http://www.latimes.com/health/la-me-gay-youth-20120607,0,6913489,print.story

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