Monday, November 21, 2011

Support Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence--Dec. 6, 2011

December 6, 2011 is Colorado Gives Day! You can participate by supporting Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN).  You can log on now to schedule your donation for 12/6/11 so that you don't forget when the day is here.
  • There are no credit card fees
  • The FirstBank Incentive Fund increases the value of each donation so that your dollar goes further!
Watch this short video to learn more:

So, here's how to participate:
  1. Search for Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (or click on my link to the left to go directly there)
  2. Choose 'Donate Now' and schedule your donation for Colorado Gives Day 12/06/11 to ensure that SPAN receive 100% of your donation (plus a little more thanks to FirstBank and

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Reproductive Rights: What's Your Opinion?

I've been in Washington D.C. this past week at a conference. Today, I had the opportunity to tour the Supreme Court. Such a beautiful building. The actual courtroom was elegant--I really wish I was here during an open session so I could sit in on arguments. We were told, though, that for controversial and/or highly publicized cases, people spend the night outside in line for tickets to get into the courtroom. Reminds me of black Friday for the Supreme Court.

Being inside the Supreme Court made me think about all of the significant cases that have passed through that building--that very room. In particular, I thought about Roe v. Wade. The issue of pro-choice/pro-life has remained controversial for decades (and undoubtedly will continue to be). Considering the information that has been in the news (and that I posted about previously) regarding the eugenics programming of the U.S., it calls to question the ability of the government to chose reproductive matters for a woman, but the lack of choice a woman has over her own body.

Often, the arguments I hear against giving individual women choice over their own pregnancies are based in religious beliefs, protection of the unborn and arguments of personhood (two different claims, really), and at times (though much less frequent) the demand that perhaps abortion is acceptable as long as both parents are in agreement and perhaps sign consent forms or something of the nature.  

1) Religious arguments: I tend to hear cites of Genesis, Psalms, and Exodus introduced. Suggestions that abortion is murder (Exodus) or that humans are made in the image of God and thus life is precious (Genesis) are present.

2) I am not going to delve into the argument of personhood. If you'd like to participate in this dialogue, you are more than welcome to do so in the comments. I request, however, that all individuals remain respectful and that we remember differences in opinion help us to grow and learn. The other argument here is similar to one I made regarding the Penn State scandal--protection of those that cannot protect themselves. Again, these two elements are linked. If one does not see a fetus as a person, then the need for protection can be questioned.

3) There are concerns that women could abort a fetus without the other parent knowing. Questions of fairness are introduced. It is the right of the other parent to know about the pregnancy and to be given options.

Opposing these views, however, are issues of maternal safety, managing consequences of sexual assault, and the medical status of pregnant women. I'll briefly discuss these things.

1) When maternal safety is introduced it may be a three-fold argument. First, there are particular claims regarding pregnant women who have cancer and their inability to treat themselves through chemotherapy without putting the unborn fetus at risk. Additionally, there are concerns regarding the consequences of banning abortion. Women will not stop seeking abortions, but instead the procedure will go underground. Stories of using hangers, unclean objects, and lacking anesthesia come to the forefront. So, here we hear the argument that if abortion were outlawed, we would see an increase in the deaths of women who are/were pregnant just prior to death. cited a recent 2009 Guttmacher report estimating that "70,000 women die annually from unsafe abortions, and millions of women are seriously harmed." Finally, there are arguments that if women birthed all pregnancies, women would die prematurely. In some countries women average 6-8 children each and the maternal death rate is much higher (see Somalia and Niger as examples).

2) There are also questions about how we would handle women who become pregnant as a result of rape and/or sexual assault. I find this argument tricky. Some individuals claim this would be an exception and that in these cases abortion would be acceptable. I question, however, whether we would see an increase in rape reporting because this would be the only legal means of obtaining an abortion. Also, considering young girls are beginning menstruation at younger ages, how do we handle cases of 10-year-olds who become pregnant as a result of rape?

3) Finally, the particular claim is introduced regarding women who are pregnant and also need chemotherapy or other series, long-term treatment that may harm the fetus. I question whether this should also be restricted if we are going to restrict abortion. 

There are other arguments from both sides of this debate, of course. But, I'd like to hear from you. Considering all of these things, I've decided to do a series of polls. Today is just the first in this series. I hope you'll stay posted and participate in this series.  And, leave a comment if you feel comfortable. Remember, you can remain anonymous if you feel the need. I hope, however, that this blog provides a safe and comfortable space for all opinions. Dialogue is meant to be productive. I remember seeing a bumper sticker that stated, "Debate, not Hate." Great motto, I think.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jerry Sandusky Interview & Grand Jury Report

No big post today. However, in case you missed it, yesterday evening Jerry Sandusky, the man accused of 40 counts of sexual abuse against young boys, gave his first interview by phone. I've included a portion of it below.

Additionally, if you're following this case, I strongly recommend reviewing the Grand Jury's report. Note, this report is descriptive and provides details of sexual violence. 

Grand Jury Report on Jerry Sandusky

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sexual Victimization of Children: Signs, Statistics & Suggestions

What group is the most criminally victimized in our nation? Children. And, sadly, we've developed a term for this heightened victimization--"polyvictimizations." Specifically, this term describes the repeated victimizations a child experiences, often within a single year. Sexual violence is one form of child abuse. Often this does involve body contact, but this is not a mandated element. For example, using a child for pornography is certainly considered sexual violence. Similarly, showing a child your own private parts (flashing) is also an example of sexual violence.  Child sexual abuse can take many forms, but ultimately the goal is still the same: arouse the abuser sexually.

 A child victim of long-term sexual abuse may develop low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness, and abnormal and/or distorted views of sexual behavior and activity. Some children become withdrawn and depression may develop. For some child victims, suicide is the only way out.

Most often, sexual abusers know the child they abuse, but they are not family.  For instance, the abuser may be a friend of the family, a neighbor, a camp counselor, or a babysitter. Notably, approximately 3 of 10 abusers are family members of the victimized child. And, the abuser is a stranger in only about 1 of 10 cases of child sexual abuse. Also, abusers are men most often, regardless of the sex of the victimized child.

Other things to be aware of in children who have been sexually victimized:
  1. unusual interest in or avoidance of all things of a sexual nature
  2. sleep problems or nightmares
  3. statements that their bodies are dirty or damaged
  4. fear that there is something wrong with them in the genital area
  5. refusal to go to school or any other specific location where a child would otherwise go (e.g., a friend's house, a park, etc)
  6. delinquency/conduct problems
  7. secretiveness
  8. aspects of sexual molestation within drawings, games, fantasies
  9. unusual aggressiveness
  10. lose of skills they once used/acting younger than they are (e.g., wetting the bed and/or sucking of the thumb)
The question we need to ask is, "what can we do to keep children safe?" While it is impossible to keep  the children in our lives 100% safe all of the time, it is important to get to know the people with whom they come into contact. Most importantly, we must work to create and sustain a safe, comfortable environment in which children feel they speak about sexual abuse. 

Typically, this is the space in which you might expect tips on what to do/how to protect your child(ren). I've noticed that most websites and other resources focus almost exclusively on what we can tell our children (e.g., safe touching versus unsafe touching, your body is private, etc). While I am not claiming these tips as incorrect, I find it interesting that these websites place responsibility on the victim--the child. In other words, why is it the child's responsibility to say "no" or to explain to the perpetrator that s/he doesn't have to do what they are demanding. (Again, please note I am not saying we shouldn't instruct our children about these things.) Instead, why not think about what we can do that would prevent any child from having to experience these circumstances? How can we bring the focus to the offenders, not the victims? Make a comment with your thoughts/ideas. If we focus on the offenders, do you think we'll see a decrease in child sexual assault? Preventative techniques? Do we need more severe punishment?

If you'd like more information, you might be interested in:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Penn State: The True Victims

I've attempted to stand back a bit from the Penn State abuse case. I wanted to watch, listen, and assess the things I heard. Right here, right now, let this serve as a warning: this entry is a mixture of talk. Tomorrow I am posting an entry purely on victimization. Today, however, let this entry serve as a reminder for some and a wakeup call for others.

10% of children have experienced some form of sexual violence (sexual assault, rape, harassment, or flashing) during their lifetime (Finkelhor et al, 2009).

As I know some of you noted, there was an extreme lack of attention paid to the victims in the case. Newspaper articles, radio shows, Facebook posts--all focusing on Paterno. I might even go so far as to assert that society seemed to be saying, "yes, we know there were young children molested, but what about football?"  Is entertainment really more important than the lives of young children? Is this the message we're trying to send? Is this what we want young children to think?

A meta-analysis of 61 studies found that 12.7% of child molesters were convicted for a new sex offense within 4-5 years (Hanson and Bussiere 1998).

As a consequence of Paterno being fired, Penn State students rioted. Again, I just want to say, really? Why don't they/we "riot" daily against those individuals who think it is acceptable to take advantage of those who cannot defend themselves? Why not riot against those that stepped away after seemingly doing the least that could be done without following up? To be clear, when I say "riot," I am not proposing violence. Rioting doesn't have to take the form of violence. I am simply asserting that we, as a society, should declare certain things, such as child molestation, as unacceptable in ALL circumstances. When I read the news, I see uproars against certain other behaviors that are arguably low-level or completely unharmful. Individuals that have perpetrated no violence towards others are portrayed as maniacs, sick, and/or problem-causing. In this case, it seems we are constructing a victim, but its the wrong one. Paterno is not a victim. As a man in a position of high power, he had a responsibility. Yes, I recognize he told someone, but he then stepped back. I've done my job, no more guilt for me, right? That's not how it works.   So, instead of creating an uproar around our constructed victim who simply lost his job, why not focus on the children that ARE victims? I assert that Paterno chose whether or not to move forward with the information brought to him. He chose whether to step back or not after telling someone else (not the police). These young children did NOT choose to be assaulted. They did not have a choice.

Child sexual abuse has been reported up to 80,000 times a year, but the number of unreported instances is far greater (AACAP, 2011).

Instead of writing or talking about how horrible it is that Paterno got fired (it's a job!), why don't we talk about how horrible it is that these children were molested? They were taken advantage of by a man in a position of power and other men in similar positions of power simply did not do enough. I suggest we remind ourselves that as adults, everyone, including Jay Paterno, has the obligation and responsibility to protect those that cannot protect themselves. And, as a further reminder, sometimes telling someone else simply isn't enough. As individuals, as adults, as humans--we must do what is needed (whether it is comfortable or not).

So, coming blog entries include 1) child victimization (signs, statistics, and suggestions for what to do) and 2) the culture in/of sports.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

End to National Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2011

Hi everyone!
It is now November 1 and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month has ended. This, however, certainly does not mean we should stop now. If you've been involved before, great. If, perhaps, you've not been as involved in ending violence against women and girls as you would like, let this past month be a jumping point for you!

I'd like to dedicate this post to all of the things you and/or your family and friends did this past month as a way of becoming active in ending violence against women and girls in any form. Send me a comment. Let's share ideas so others can try things, too!