Archive | September 2009

Nichelle Mitchem Discusses the Importance of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Celebrate, Mourn, Connect & Act

Domestic violence poses a clear and present danger for countless persons. The pervasive problem of domestic violence takes everyone to make it stop. Each year, across the country, the month of October is recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM).

Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity which was first observed in October, 1981 and spear-headed by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). The intent of establishing the Day of Unity was to connect battered women’s advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children.

Soon, the Day of Unity became a week-long event where a range of activities were held at the local, state, and national levels. The activities conducted had common themes: mourning those who have died because of domestic violence, celebrating those who have survived, and connecting those who work to end violence.

Domestic violence can be eradicated with an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, each of us should commit ourselves to halting violence within our homes, our communities, and our nation.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Nichelle Mitchem Discusses Safety Planning

 

  • If you are planning to leave an abusive relationship/home:
    • Do you have a friend or supportive family member that lives nearby with whom you can stay?
    • Do you have a friend that will stay with you to minimize the violence in the home?
    • Do you want to go to a battered woman’s shelter, homeless shelter or use other housing assistance programs such as hotel vouchers from social services or advocacy programs?
    • Do you want to call the police, obtain an order of protection or an emergency protective order?
  • If you are not planning to leave an abusive home/relationship:
    • Would you call the police if the perpetrator becomes violent? Is you couldn’t get to the phone, could you work out a signal with a neighbor to call for you and/or teach your children to call 911?
    • What kinds of strategies have worked in the past to minimize injuries? Do you think these strategies would continue to work for you?
    • Can you anticipate an escalation of violence and take any precautions?
    • Do you have a support network or friends or family that live nearby who could help you when you need assistance?
    • Are there weapons in the home? Can they be removed or placed in a safe locked area separate from the ammunition?
  • If the batterer has been removed from the home:
    • Consider safety measures such as changing the locks on the doors and windows, installing a security system, purchasing rope ladders, outdoor lighting sensitive to movement, smoke detectors and fire extinguisher, if affordable. It is important to teach children how to use the phone and make collect calls in case the perpetrator kidnaps them.
    • Make arrangements with schools and daycare centers to release children to designated persons.
    • Consider telling your neighbors, family and friends that he has left and to call 911 if he is seen around the house.
  • Preparing to leave:
    • Try to keep the following items in a safe place:
      • Keys (house and car)
      • Important papers:
        social security cards and birth certificates (for parent and children); photo ID/driver’s license; green cards.
      • Cash, food stamps, credit cards, checkbooks, etc.
      • Medication for parent and children, children’s immunization records. Spare set of clothes. Important phone
        numbers and addresses (friends, relatives, police, domestic violence shelter).
      • Loose change to make phone calls from pay phones.
  • Plan with your children. Identify a safe place for them: a room with a lock or a neighbor’s house where they can go, and reassure them that their job is to stay safe, not to protect you.
  • Consider arranging a signal with a neighbor to let them know when you need help.

It is important for victims of domestic violence to know that they are not alone.  There is help available to leave an abusive relation.

Remember: Domestic violence is not your fault.  No one deserves to be abused.  You are not alone. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
Counselors there will listen, and can help you.

Sources: Sanctuary for Families. Safe Horizons. National Domestic Violence Hotline. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Nichelle Mitchem Shares Findings About Children Born to Teenage Mothers

It has been reported that children born to teenage mothers experience significant life-long
challenges. Social science research indicates that teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of high school and live in poverty, and their children frequently experience health and developmental problems (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2004). While millions of American families struggle individually with the emotional and economic challenges that unintended pregnancy can bring, teen pregnancy poses a significant financial burden to society at large — an estimated $7 billion per year (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1998; National
Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2003a).[1]

Data indicates that teen pregnancy rates vary widely by race and ethnicity. In 2000,
the pregnancy rate for white teens was 56.9 per 1,000 women 15-19 years of age.
The pregnancy rate for Hispanic teens was 132. For African American teens it
was 151 (Abma et al., 2004).[2]  In general, it has been reported that teenage
mothers do not fare as well as their peers who delay childbearing:

–                       Their family incomes are lower.

–                       They are more likely to be poor and receive welfare.
–                       They are less educated.
–                       They are less likely to be married.
–                       Their children lag in standards of early development.

(AGI, 1999; Hoffman, 1998; National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2003a;
National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2004a).[3]

In the United States, nearly 80 percent of teen mothers eventually go on welfare.
According to one study, more than 75 percent of all unmarried teen mothers
began receiving welfare within five years of giving birth (Annie E. Casey
Foundation, 1998; National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2004a).

In 2001, only 30 percent of teenage mothers received child support payments (Annie
E. Casey Foundation, 2004). Although not as severe as those for teen mothers,
the effects of early childbearing are also negative for teen fathers. They are
more likely to engage in delinquent behaviors such as alcohol abuse or drug
dealing, and they complete fewer years of schooling than their childless peers.
One study found that the fathers of children born to teen mothers earned an
estimated average of $3,400 less per year than the fathers of children born to
mothers who were 20 or 21, over the course of 18 years following the birth of
their first child (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1998).

The offspring of teenage mothers are more likely to be poor, abused, or neglected
than those of women who delay childbearing, and they are less likely to receive
proper nutrition, health care, and cognitive and social stimulation (Annie E.
Casey Foundation, 1998; Maynard, 1997). On average, a child born to a teenage
mother visits a medical provider 3.8 times per year, versus 4.3 times for a
child born to a mother over the age of 20 years (National Campaign To Prevent
Teen Pregnancy, 2004b).

Experts estimate that the annual costs of births to teens totals about $7 billion in
tax revenues, public assistance, child health care, foster care, and
involvement with the criminal justice system. In addition, during her first 13
years of parenthood, the average teenage mother receives approximately $1,400
per year in support from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and the
federal food stamp program (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1998)

Sources: Annie E. Casey Foundation. (1998). Kids Count Special Report: When Teens Have Sex: Issues and Trends. Baltimore, MD: Annie E. Casey Foundation. Abma, J.C., et al. (2004). Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2002. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Statistics, 23(24). AGI — Alan Guttmacher Institute. (1995, accessed 1999, August 30). Issues in Brief: Lawmakers Grapple with Parents’ Role in Teen Access to Reproductive Health Care.
[Online]. http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/ib6.html.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

[1] Annie E. Casey Foundation. (1998). Kids Count Special Report: When Teens Have Sex: Issues and Trends. Baltimore, MD: Annie E. Casey Foundation.

[2] Abma, J.C., et al. (2004). Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2002. National Center for Health Statistics.
Vital Health Statistics, 23(24).

[3] AGI — Alan Guttmacher Institute. (1995, accessed 1999, August 30). Issues in Brief: Lawmakers Grapple with Parents’ Role in Teen Access to Reproductive Health Care.
[Online]. http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/ib6.html.

“Out of evil came good.”

In commenting on the horror that occurred on the morning of Tuesday, September 10, 2001, President Bush proclaimed that, “Our nation was deeply wounded.”  The President went on to say that, “Out of evil came good.” September 11, 2009, marks the eighth anniversary of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, when nineteen (19) suicidal terrorist highjackers crashed four (4) planes headed for New York City, New York and Washington, DC. In response to the atrocities that were committed on Tuesday, September 10, 2001 a
movement grew to have good concur evil via provision of community service nationwide.

The date of September 11, 2001 will be indelibly etched in the collective memory of every
American. Upon learning of the devastation and the tremendous loss of lives, our nation gasped in horror at the senseless loss of life. On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, two (2) planes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The third plane hit the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The fourth plane crashed in field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Almost three thousand (3,000) people perished and countless lives are forever changed. As the President so aptly stated on this memorable day “Our nation was deeply wounded.”

“Out of evil will come good.”

“Beginning in 2002, family members who lost loved ones in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and support groups began to seek a forward-looking tribute to honor the sacrifice of those lost and pay tribute to those who rose in service in response to the tragedy. By encouraging Americans to participate in service and remembrance activities on the 9/11 anniversary, family members wanted to provide a productive and respectful way to honor those who perished and rekindle the spirit of unity and compassion that swept our nation after 9/11 to help meet the challenges we face today.

Because of their efforts to build support for this idea, September 11 has been designated a National Day of Service and Remembrance. The 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance was established into law by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009, and is consistent with President Obama’s overall call to service, United We Serve.” (Corporation for National and Community Service website).

In honor and in celebration of the almost 3000 persons that lost their lives on 9/11, please join countless persons nationwide participating in service and remembrance activities on September 11, 2009.

Sources: Corporation for National and Community Service website. Wikipedia. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art