Archive | January 2012

Poverty in America Awareness Month

Research indicates that poverty in America not only affects the millions of people who are deprived of the common necessities to live, but it also affects the idea of progression and hopefulness in our nation if not the world. More than forty-six (46) million people in America are living in desperate poverty. These children, youth, and families are not invisible their suffering is evident, if we choose to look. In an effort to bring attention to this national crisis, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) designated January as “Poverty in America Awareness Month.” As Dr. Martin Luther King so aptly stated, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”

As a long-time advocate for indigent children, youth, and families, I see and have seen the impact of poverty and need on the human spirit.  I know first-hand, what poverty and dependence look like and how they destroy lives, hopes, dreams, and aspirations. In spite of the seemingly limitless prosperity that many Americans enjoy, millions of others are going hungry, foregoing medical care, doing without winter coats and gloves, and struggling to break free from poverty. It has been reported that forty-six point two (46.2) million Americans lived below the poverty line – $22,314 a year for a family of four – marking the fourth year in a row that poverty has increased last year.

Currently in America, the unemployment rate stands at eight point six (8.6) percent. Despite recent economic growth, research indicates that more than forty-three (43) million Americans including fourteen point seven (14.7) million children – live in poverty, the highest in the more than fifty (50) years that the data has been  tracked. Yet a recent Gallup poll found that only five (5) percent of Americans believe poverty and homelessness are important problems for the country.  With that said, this post will share disturbing facts about the prevalence of poverty in America and give you some suggestions of actions that can be taken to help improve the quality of life for countless persons living in poverty that were shared by St. Vincent de Paul Society:

“Over twenty-five (25) percent of America’s children under the age of six live in poverty. The poverty rate among women climbed to fourteen point five (14.5) percent in 2010 from thirteen point nine (13.9) percent in 2009, the highest in seventeen (17) years. As poverty surged last year to its highest level since 1993, median household income declined, leaving the typical American household earning less in inflation-adjusted dollars than it did in 1997. One out of every six Americans is now being served by at least one government anti-poverty program.  Child homelessness in the United States is now thirty-three (33) percent higher than it was back in 2007. More than fifty (50) million Americans are now on Medicaid, the U.S. government health care program designed principally to help the poor.”

“Research indicates that one point six (1.6) million American children “were living on the street, in homeless shelters or motels, or doubled up with other families last year”.  The percentage of children living in poverty in the United States increased from sixteen point nine (16.9) percent in 2006 to nearly twenty-two (22) percent in 2010. One out of every seven (7) mortgages in the United States was either delinquent or in foreclosure during the first quarter of 2010.”

“The number of children living in poverty in the America has risen for four (4) consecutive years. There are ten different U.S. states where at least one out of every four babies is born to a family living in poverty.  Twenty percent of all U.S. households have at least one member that is looking for a full-time job. There are seven million children in the United States today that are not covered by health insurance at all.”

“Today, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.  It is being projected that approximately 50 percent of all U.S. children will be on food stamps at some point in their lives before they reach the age of 18. In 2010, 42 percent of all single mothers in the United States were on food stamps. More than 20 million U.S. children rely on school meal programs to keep from going hungry.”

“It is hard to fathom why, in a country so rich with resources, we continue to ignore the issue of poverty among Americans. There appears to be no courage among our political leadership (of either party) to address poverty and the issue of need among so many Americans. Many proposals to balance the budget place a disproportionate burden on the poor; cutting vital programs that would keep our children off of the streets and in school, keep families in their homes or fight hunger. Consequently, many Americans are being forced to make hard decisions between paying the rent, buying food, receiving health care or paying for utilities. These are impossible decisions that no one should have to make.”

“As we emerge from the holiday season, it is critical that we recommit to the fight against poverty and pursue a strong, sustained, and comprehensive response to help end hunger, homelessness and poverty in America. By defeating poverty, we will restore our failing economy and put our nation back on a path to prosperity.”

“The causes of poverty are complex – as are the solutions. Yet, there is much we can do, as individuals and as community groups, to work with other Americans to address the root causes of poverty. The first step to solving any problem is understanding it – educating ourselves and others about the true state of American poverty, its enormity, conditions and effects. Here are three (3) simple steps you can take to become informed and inform others about poverty in America. (Adopted from the USCCB ‘Poverty in America’ website).”

ENLIGHTEN YOURSELF

“Watch the local news. Read the newspapers. Look for stories about poverty in your community – and be aware of policies and programs in your area affecting poor and low-income families, including those related to affordable housing, access to health care, public transportation, and good quality education.”

INFORM OTHERS

“After familiarizing yourself with the facts about poverty in the United States, share what you have learned with others – at home, school, work, church, or wherever else opportunities arise. Others in your community will benefit from your informed viewpoint. An honest, open dialogue is a good step toward addressing the problem. If you are a parent, talk to your children about poverty in America, about its causes and what we as individuals and as a nation should and can do to help those in need find permanent solutions to the problem.”

SHARE KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING

We can only make a difference when we take action. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” “You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result.”- Gandhi.

Source(s): Gallop Poll. Brainy Quotes. 2010 US Census. National Center on Family Homelessness. USCCB ‘Poverty in America’ website. St. Vincent de Paul Society. PTA.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

In its recent press release the National Council on Churches reminds us that Wednesday, January 11th, 2012, is Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States. Faith based organizations are calling upon Americans to become more aware of the millions who are victimized by trafficking – and more involved in finding ways to stop it.

“The U. S. Government recently reported that eight hundred thousand (800,000) people are trafficked across international borders each year; eighty (80) percent of them are female and almost half are minors. These figures do not include the millions who are trafficked into labor and sexual slavery within national borders.”

“The International Labor Organization (ILO) – the United Nations agency charged with addressing labor standards, employment and social protection issues – estimates there are twelve point three (12.3) million people in forced labor, bonded labor, forced child labor, and sexual servitude at any given time; other estimates range from four (4) million to twenty-seven (27) million. (United States Department of State, “Trafficking in Person Report”, June 2007. The U.S. State Department estimates traffickers make thirty-two (32) billion annually in their illicit trade.”

The Rev. Ann Tiemeyer, program director of National Council of Churches Women’s Ministries, said the issue of trafficking is increasingly urgent. “As Christians, we believe that all human beings are made in the image of God, that every person is of intrinsic worth before God and that every individual has a right to the fullest possible opportunities for the development of life abundant and eternal,” Tiemeyer said, citing the NCC’s human rights policy statement.

“Human trafficking denigrates the values of human life, exposes victim to serious health risks, endangers the mental well-being of victims and impedes the ability of victims to reach their full God-give potential,” Tiemeyer said.

Source(s): National Council of Churches

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Honor the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,

Each January, countless people across the nation honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with a Day of Service. Join volunteers across our nation giving countless community service hours as Dr. King’s legacy continues to empower individuals to eradicate injustice.

Each year, volunteers of all ages come together to address problems through service projects that help strengthen our community. Having witnessed how budget cuts potentially threaten the non-profit sector, my aim with this post is to raise awareness of the importance of volunteerism and deepen service engagement by children, youth, and families. Investing individual time and talent is an excellent way to keep the spirit of Dr. King alive. There are countless volunteer opportunities in our community that would be both family-friendly and allow for completion in shorter blocks of time.

Consider volunteering on the upcoming national Day of Service held in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Join hundreds of thousands volunteers giving countless hours as Dr. King’s legacy continues to empower individuals to eradicate injustice.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art.

National Stalking Awareness Month

 

On December 28, 2011, President Barack Obama declared January 2012 National Stalking Awareness Month. A stalker can be someone you know well or not at all. Most have dated or been involved with the people they stalk. Most stalking cases involve men stalking women, but men dostalk men, women do stalk women, and women do stalk men.

Stalker Profile: (1) 2/3 of stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week, many daily, using more than one method. 78% of stalkers use more than one means of approach. Weapons are used to harm or threaten victims in 1 out of 5 cases. Almost 1/3 of stalkers have stalked before. Intimate partner stalkers frequently approach their targets, and their behaviors escalate quickly. [Kris Mohandie et al., “The RECON Typology of Stalking: Reliability and Validity Based upon a Large Sample of North American Stalkers,” Journal of Forensic Sciences 51, no. 1 (2006).]

Things you can do if being stalked as recommended by the Stalking Resource Center are listed below:

Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, yet you can take steps to increase your safety.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

 Trust your instincts. Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.

Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship.

Contact a crisis hotline, victim services agency, or a domestic violence or rape crisis program. They can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about local laws, weigh options such as seeking a protection order, and refer you to other services.

Develop a safety plan, including things like changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, and having a friend or relative go places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your home, work, school, or somewhere else. Tell people how they can help you. Click here to learn more about safety plans.

Don’t communicate with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you.

Keep evidence of the stalking. When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date, and place. Keep emails, text messages, phone messages, letters, or notes. Photograph anything of yours the stalker damages and any injuries the stalker causes. Ask witnesses to write down what they saw. Click here to download a stalking incident and behavior log.

Contact the police. Every state has stalking laws. The stalker may also have broken other laws by doing things like assaulting you or stealing or destroying your property.

Consider getting a court order that tells the stalker to stay away from you.

Tell family, friends, roommates, and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support. Tell security staff at your job or school. Ask them to help watch out for your safety.

The Presidential Proclamation for National Stalking Awareness reads as follows:

Presidential Proclamation

“In our schools and in our neighborhoods, at home and in workplaces across our Nation, stalking endangers the physical and emotional well being of millions of American men and women every year. Too often, stalking goes unreported and unaddressed, and we must take action against this unacceptable abuse. This month, we stand with all those who have been affected by stalking and strengthen our resolve to prevent this crime before it occurs.”

“Stalkers inspire fear through intimidation, explicit or implied threats, and nonconsensual communication often by telephone, text message, or email that can cause severe emotional and physical distress. Many victims suffer anxiety attacks, feelings of anger or helplessness, and depression. Fearing for their safety, some are forced to relocate or change jobs to protect themselves. And, tragically, stalking can be a precursor to more violent offenses, including sexual assault and homicide. The consequences of this crime are real, and they take a profound and ongoing toll on men, women, teens, and children across our country.”

“Despite the dangerous reality of stalking, public awareness and legal responses to this crime remain limited. New data show that one in six women and one in 19 men have experienced stalking that caused them to be very fearful or feel that they or someone close to them were in immediate physical danger. Among men and women alike, victims are most commonly stalked by current or former intimate partners, and young adults are at the highest risk for stalking victimization. Though stalking can occur in any community, shame, fear of retribution, or concerns that they will not be supported lead many victims to forego reporting the crime to the police. As we strive to reverse this trend, we must do more to promote public awareness and support for survivors of stalking.”

“My Administration is working to advance protection and services for stalking victims, empower survivors to break the cycle of abuse, and bring an end to violence against women and men. With unprecedented coordination between Federal agencies, we are promoting new tools to decrease the incidence of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking, and we are taking action to ensure perpetrators are held accountable. To reinforce these efforts, advocates, law enforcement officials, and others who work with victims must continue to improve their capacity to respond with swift and comprehensive action. From raising awareness to pursuing criminal justice, all of us have a role to play in stopping this senseless and harmful behavior.”

“This month, let us come together to prevent abuse, violence, and harassment in all their forms and renew our commitment to bring care and support to those in need.”

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2012 as National Stalking Awareness Month. I call on all Americans to learn to recognize the signs of stalking, acknowledge stalking as a serious crime, and urge those impacted not to be afraid to speak out or ask for help. Let us also resolve to support victims and survivors, and to create communities that are secure and supportive for all Americans.”

For further information on National Stalking Awareness Month related activities, please visit the White House website. Additionally, you can visit www.stalkingawarenessmonth.org for information, resources, and downloadable material to help you raise awareness for Stalking Awareness Month.

Source(s): National Center For Victims of Crime’s Stallking Resource Center website. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/12/28/presidential-proclamation-national-stalking-awareness-month-2012. [Kris Mohandie et al., “The RECON Typology of Stalking: Reliability and Validity Based upon a Large Sample of North American Stalkers,” Journal of Forensic Sciences 51, no. 1 (2006).]

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art.

Violence-Free Teens Conference

Like domestic violence, teen dating violence is a pattern of controlling, and abusive behaviors of one person over another within a romantic relationship. It can include verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse. It can occur in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. It knows no boundaries and crosses race, socio-economic status, culture, and religion. Violence can happen to anyone.

Annually, 1 out of 11 adolescents reports being a victim of physical dating abuse (CDC 2006). According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, electronic dating violence and teens is a significant social problem. The Cyberbullying Research Center reported that an online survey of teens sponsored by the Liz Claiborne company revealed that 36% of teens say their boyfriend or girlfriend checked up on them as many as 30 times per day and 17% reported that their significant other made them afraid not to respond to cell phone calls, email, or text messages. Another recent poll spearheaded by MTV and the Associated Press found that 22% of youth between the ages of 14 and 24 who were involved in a romantic relationship said that their partner wrote something about them online or in a text message that wasn’t true. This same survey reported that 22% of youth felt that their significant other checked up on them too often online or via cell phone. The results of these studies referenced on the Center’s website illustrate that electronic dating violence is occurring across a meaningful proportion of youth.

Many of these cases of teen dating violence could have been prevented by helping adolescents to develop skills for healthy relationships with others (Foshee et al. 2005). Like adults, teenagers can choose better relationships when they learn to identify the early warning signs of an abusive relationship, understand that they have choices, and believe they are valuable people who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Event Date:    February 16 and 17 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Cost:               Two (2) days –$125

One (1) day–$75

Continuing Education Units: CEUs in partnership with IVAT[i]. CEUs $35 pre-registration; $45 day of registration Cultivating Connections: Empowering Youth and Adult Allies to End Relationship Violence

This year’s conference promises to be a ground-breaking event spanning 2 days.  Building on the momentum of the youth engagement track introduced last year, the conference theme focuses on building powerful youth-adult partnerships to end teen dating and sexual violence.

Thursday will spotlight engaging boys and girls in activism to end relationship violence through the theatrical presentation of Voices of Men, and a plenary address on girls’ activism by Dr. Lyn Mikel Brown. Thursday Workshop(s):

  • Introduction      to Teen Dating Violence Prevention Tools and Resources
  • Working      With and Empowering Young Women—Introducing the Center for Young Women at      Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles
  • Violence      Prevention and Parenting Adolescents at Hope Street Family Center
  • Advocacy      for Healthy Teen Relationships and Teen Dating Violence Prevention
  • Respectful      Sexuality—Having Positive Conversations with Youth about Sex and Sexuality
  • Teen      Dating Violence Policy Change: A Case Study of Los Angeles Unified School      District
  • High Tech,      High Touch, and Texting: Lessons from Building Capacity in Technology to      Engage Youth

Friday will be a pragmatic leadership and multi-media campaign development training with, by, and for youth to build their voice in preventing relationship violence. Adult allies will have options of various workshops aimed at strengthening adult-youth collaboration, mentoring, and empowerment. Friday Workshop(s):

  • Becoming      an Adult Ally: How to Engage and Empower Youth Now
  • Legal      Remedies Available for Teen Survivors
  • How to      Talk to Your Teen about Healthy Relationships
  • Passport 2      Social Media: A Parent’s Ticket to a Safe Digital World.
  • Friday      Youth Track—Building a Multi-Media Campaign to Promote Healthy      Relationships, Presented by Peace Over Violence and Change Agent      Productions (for youth only!)
  • Announcing:      A Teen Dating Violence Immersion Track will be provided for school staff,      parents and other stakeholders that are new to teen dating violence      prevention

Invited Presenters

  • Ben Atheron-Zeman, Voices of Men: A One-Man Play Working To End Men’s Violence Against Women.
  • Dr. Lyn Mikel Brown, Encouraging Activism: Girls’ Voices and the Power to SPARK Change

Access to information is integral to breaking the cycle of violence. Toward that goal, I would like to direct your attention to very help informational resources related to domestic violence intervention, prevention, and community outreach. For further information on teen dating violence, here are several websites you can visit: www.thesafespace.org; and www.breakthecycle.org.

For further information contact Emily at Emily@peaceoverviolence.org.

Source(s): Peace Over Violence. Prevent-Connect. Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). http://www.thesafespace.org; and www.breakthecycle.org. Cyberbullying Research Center. Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art


[i] This conference is co-sponsored by The Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT) at Alliant International University. This conference meets the qualifications for up to 10.0 hours of continuing education. IVAT is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. IVAT maintains responsibility for this continuing education program and its content. IVAT is recognized by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) to offer continuing education for National Certified Counselors (Provider #5659). IVAT adheres to NBCC Continuing Education Guidelines. IVAT is approved by the CA Board of Behavioral Sciences (PCE #33) to offer continuing education for LCSWs and MFTs. CE credits approved by CA agencies are accepted in most states. For more information on continuing education, contact psmith@alliant.edu

Preserving Our Roots While Looking to the Future

Preserving Our Roots While Looking to the Future

Saturday, July 21, 2012 – Wednesday, July 25, 2012

 NCADV, in partnership with the National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS), will be holding their next conference, Preserving Our Roots While Looking to the Future, July 21-25, 2012 at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Denver, Colorado.

The Mission of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) is to organize for collective power by advancing transformative work, thinking and leadership of communities and individuals working to end the violence in our lives.

NCADV believes violence against women and children results from the use of force or threat to achieve and maintain control over others in intimate relationships, and from societal abuse of power and domination in the forms of sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, anti-Semitism, able-bodyism, ageism and other oppressions. NCADV recognizes that the abuses of power in society foster battering by perpetuating conditions, which condone violence against women and children. Therefore, it is the mission of NCADV to work for major societal changes necessary to eliminate both personal and societal violence against all women and children.

The National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS) is an activist organization of men and women supporting positive changes for men. At NOMAS’ Men and Masculinity conferences, we evaluate and examine diverse aspects in gender identity, gender roles, the construction of masculinity, and the experiences of men’s lives, specifically as related to the role of men as allies to the women’s and sexual assault domestic violence movements.

The Doubletree Hotel Denver
1-800-445-8667 (1-800-HILTONS)
3203 Quebec Street
Denver, Colorado 80207

Click the link below to see our main conference agenda: 2012 Main Conference Agenda

SNAPSHOT of conference events:

July 20th, 21st and 22nd:

  • NCADV’s Pre-Conference      Institutes (optional and closed to those who do notself-identify      with each group). The pre-conference institutes are free to all attendees.
    • Friday (20th) Women of Color       Institute
    • Saturday (21st) Rainbow Pride       Institute
    • Sunday (22nd)       Battered/Formerly Battered Women’s Institute

July 21st and 22nd:

  • NOMAS’ Conference on Men and      Masculinity
    • NOMAS Opening Session (21st       from 4pm-6pm)
    • NOMAS Men’s Studies       Association Meeting (22nd from 9am -3pm)

July 22nd through 25th:

  • NCADV’s main conference events      including all NCADV plenary sessions and workshops.
    • Note:       NCADV’s Opening Plenary Session is Sunday, July 22nd from 3:30pm to       5:30pm
  • NOMAS workshop track session on      men and masculinity (July 23rd through 25th).

Following the conference, we will be offering two post-conference institutes from 1pm to 5pm on Wednesday, July 25th:

  • Institute on Child Custody and      Domestic Violence
  • Institute on The Link Between      Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence

Both post-conference institutes will be available to conference registrants for no additional fee. We will also be offering special registration rates for the post-conference institutes only. More information will be coming soon.

The plenary sessions that will be held over the course of the conference will be on the topics of:

  • Intersecting Violences
  • Radical Solutions for Ending      Violence
  • Women’s Use of Violence
  • The Effects of Domestic      Violence on Children

NCADV will be offering five workshop tracks during this conference (workshop tracks consist of 5 workshops and 2 strategy sessions on the specific topics below):

  • The Effects of Domestic      Violence on Children
  • Intersecting Violences
  • Radical Solutions for Ending      Violence
  • Women’s Use of Violence
  • National Organization for Men      Against Sexism

They will also be offering mini-tracks (up to a total of 4 sessions over the course of the conference) on the topics of:

  • Human Trafficking
  • Elder Abuse
  • Financial Education
  • Animal abuse and domestic      violence

They will be offering topic-specific strategy sessions on the afternoons of Monday, July 23rd and Tuesday, July 24th. The aim of these strategy sessions is for attendees to strategize, plan and produce a suggested idea or solution for addressing the issue of the session they attend. The idea or solution can take any form (ex: a call to the movement, a toolkit, a resource list, etc.). NCADV will distribute these ideas to the field following the conference.

Following the conference, we will be offering two post-conference institutes from 1pm to 5pm on Wednesday, July 25th:

  • Institute on Child Custody and      Domestic Violence
  • Institute on The Link Between      Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence

Both post-conference institutes will be available to conference registrants for no additional fee. We will also be offering special registration rates for the post-conference institutes only. More information will be coming soon.
NCADV’s Young Advocates for Peace Program will run concurrently with all conference events beginning on July 20th and ending on July 25th. More information about this program can be found here. You will be able to register your child or children for this program during registration.

Source(s): NCADV

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art