Recently, the White House launched the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative to empower boys and young men of color.
This new Obama administration initiative is intended to address the systemic challenges and barriers faced by young men of color in schools, communities, and in the criminal justice system.
In response to this new Obama Administration initiative, some have argued that the opportunity gap faced by boys and young men of color will not be closed by a set of programs and initiatives that benefit some individuals but do not have a larger scale, collective impact.
In his article on My Bother’s Keeper Warren Simmons,executive director of Brown University’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform, stated that “…..We must first acknowledge the historical nature of the problem [ i.e. opportunity gap] and its damaging, cumulative impact. Then, we must reinvest in communities and urge the people who live there to define what that reinvestment looks like. The solution is not technical. It’s not about data. It is about fundamental change at the social, political and cultural levels…..”
For a further information on this new initiative, please visit the following website: http://www.ed.gov/blog/2014/02/my-brothers-keeper-a-new-white-house-initiative-to-empower-boys-and-young-men-of-color/
Source(s): US Dept. of Education
“What Will It Take To Close The Opportunity Gap”, Cognosenti, Warren Simmons, August 22, 2014.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art
An increasing number of children are being 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).
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). 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).
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, 2004).
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
 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.
Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern. Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
The costs of intimate partner violence in the United States alone exceed $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion. In the fall of 2010, the Obama administration launched a new initiative to assist employers to respond to domestic and sexual violence. Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence: A National Resource Center is a new initiative that makes it easier for employers to adopt policies to support and protect employees who are victims of domestic and sexual violence.
The National Resource Center’s website includes but is not limited to: information on work place violence, guns and the work place, and union responses. The new Workplace Resource Center was created by a partnership of seven national organizations led by the Family Violence Prevention Fund.
For further information on the new national center, visit Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence: A National Resource Center’s website at http://www.workplacesrespond.org/.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Parents play an integral role in the development of their children either directly or indirectly. In recognition of the important roles played by parents in the lives of their children, we honor and celebrate mothers in the month of May on Mother’s Day and fathers in the month of June on Father’s Day. This year, Mother’s Day was held on Sunday, May 10, 2014 and Father’s Day is Sunday, June 15, 2014.
Each year, for the past thirty-two (32) years, in the United States, on the third Sunday in the month of June, we honor and celebrate the contributions that fathers make in the lives of their children. Dr. Sigmund Freud is reported to havesaid that, he could not think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.
For a growing number of American children, they have not known the love, protection, and guidance of a father. Social science research has shown the devastating impact of fatherless homes on the lives children. Data indicates that children in fatherless homes experience more major challenges in life than those who grow up with a father at home. The following statistics on children in fatherless homes are alarming and should give any father pause when thinking about his children.
“Incarceration Rates. “Young men who grow up in homes without fathers are
twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families…those boys whose fathers were absent from the household had double
the odds of being incarcerated — even when other factors such as race, income,
parent education and urban residence were held constant.” (Cynthia Harper
of the University of Pennsylvania and Sara S. McLanahan of Princeton University
cited in “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration.” Journal of
Research on Adolescence 14 (September 2004): 369-397.)
Suicide. 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of the Census)
Behavioral Disorders. 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders
come from fatherless homes (United States Center for Disease Control)
High School Dropouts. 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.)
Educational Attainment. Kids living in single-parent homes or in step-families report lower educational expectations on the part of their parents, less parental monitoring of school work, and less overall social supervision than children from intact families. (N.M. Astore and S. McLanahan, American Sociological Review, No. 56 (1991)
Juvenile Detention Rates. 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988)
Confused Identities. Boys who grow up in father-absent homes are more likely than those in father-present homes to have trouble establishing appropriate sex roles and gender identity.(P.L. Adams, J.R. Milner, and N.A. Schrepf, Fatherless Children, New York, Wiley Press, 1984).
Aggression. In a longitudinal study of 1,197 fourth-grade students, researchers observed
“greater levels of aggression in boys from mother-only households than from boys in mother-father households.” (N. Vaden-Kierman, N. Ialongo, J. Pearson, and S. Kellam, “Household Family Structure and Children’s Aggressive Behavior: A Longitudinal Study of Urban Elementary School Children,” Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 23, no. 5 (1995).
Achievement. Children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as one-parent homes. (One-Parent Families and Their
Children, Charles F. Kettering Foundation, 1990).
Delinquency. Only 13 percent of juvenile delinquents come from families in which the biological mother and father are married to each other. By contrast, 33 percent have parents who are either divorced or separated and 44 percent have parents who were never married. (Wisconsin Dept. of Health and Social Services, April 1994).
Criminal Activity. The likelihood that a young male will engage in criminal activity doubles if he is raised without a father and triples if he lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of single-parent families. Source: A. Anne Hill, June O’Neill, Underclass Behaviors in the United States, CUNY, Baruch College. 1993”[i]
If you want to make a meanigful difference in the lives of children and youth in homes where the fathers are absent, you can support the very necessary work of nonprofit organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and/or Boys and Girls Club. Big Brothers Big Sisters has a 100 year history of providing quality youth mentoring services that have proven to have a measurable impact in the lives of: the youth served, their families and their community. Boys and Girls Club’s mission is to “…enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”Every day, these agencies are changing the perspectives of children and enabling them to see the world around them in a more positive light. With that newfound point of view, they can see their potential more clearly and dream bigger about their future. Get involved in a child’s life.
Sources: Boys and Girls Club’s website. Big BrothersBig Sisters’ website. Indystar.com. “Father’s absence takes heavy toll on children”, Editorial, June 18, 2011. “Statistics on Fatherless Children in America”. Wayne Parker, About.com Guide. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art.
[i] “Statistics on Fatherless Children in America”. Wayne Parker, About.com Guide
Domestic violence continues to pose a clear and present danger for women and girls. To highlight that fact here are some alarming facts shared on the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website:
“Almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner. In 70-80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder. Less than one-fifth of victims reporting an injury from intimate partner violence sought medical treatment following the injury. Intimate partner violence results in more than 18.5 million mental health care visits each year.”
With that said, not all homes provide a safe haven. For far too many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Many incidents of domestic violence go unreported. What data that is available indicates as shared previously that domestic violence continues to pose a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of countless women and girls. Yet, domestic violence is a subject that we, as a society, are reluctant to talk about. As a result, victims often suffer and sometimes die in silence. It is important to know: what constitutes domestic violence, how you can help, and available resources.
What constitutes abuse? Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including but not limited to physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that people use to gain power and control over their intimate partners. Research indicates that domestic violence is common and affects people of all cultures, religions, ages, sexual orientations, educational backgrounds and income levels. Domestic violence is not a private family matter as was once thought but rather a crime against society. Abuse takes many forms.
Abuse comes in several forms and, while some define abuse as a physical attack, it can also be emotional, financial, or sexual. Physically abusive behavior can escalate quickly and have lethal consequences. Emotional abuse is considered a psychological or mental attack on another, including name-calling, destructive criticism, harassment, isolation, intimidation, or humiliation. These emotionally destructive behaviors by the abusive partner can be detrimental to the victim’s mental well-being both in the short-term as well as long-term without counseling. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy the victim’s self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make the victim feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and the first step to breaking free is recognizing that the relationship is abusive.
Are there other forms of domestic violence? Other forms of domestic violence include but are not limited to financial and sexual abuse. Financial abuse, also known as economic abuse, results from one partner’s attempts to gain and maintain control over their partner’s finances. Taking many forms, financial abuse includes disallowing a partner from obtaining a job, purposely hurting a partner’s credit, limiting access to funds, and demanding that a partner ask for money for every expense. Sexual abuse results from one partner forcing his or her will on the other, often causing physical and psychological harm in the process. When a partner is afraid to say no, he or she suffers from abuse. Once the victim acknowledges the reality of the abusive situation, then she or he can get the much-needed help.
Is this an exhaustive list of the forms of domestic violence? Although lengthy, the aforementioned categories of domestic violence do not comprise all forms abuse. Stalking is another form of emotional abuse. With the rise of technology, many abuse their partner by stalking them with the aid of cell phones, computers, and the Internet, or using technology to monitor a partner’s activity. Research indicates that this type of abuse is especially common among teenagers and young adults.
The immigration status of the victim can also afford the abusive partner an opportunity to control the victim. When the abusive partner, often a spouse, holds control over the victim’s immigration papers, threatens to call immigration authorities, or refuses to let his or her partner to learn English, among other things this behavior constitutes abuse. More than ever before, society must guard against domestic abuse in all forms, paying special attention to non-traditional forms of abusive behavior which all too often go overlooked.
How can you help? There are several ways that you can help a person in an abusive relationship. First, you must be a patient and non-judgmental listener. Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. Secondly, you can encourage him or her to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Assist your friend in locating a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling and/or shelter. If the person elects to go to the police, court or a lawyer, you can offer to accompany them for moral support.
It is important to be mindful that you cannot rescue the person being abused. Although it is difficult to see someone you care about being hurt only the abused person can decide when to take the requisite steps to secure a life free from the violence and turmoil which occurs in an abusive relationship.
The pervasive problem of domestic violence takes everyone to make it stop. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, keep in mind that expressing your concern for their health and well-being will let the person know that you care and may even save her or his life.
Sources:NCADV website and PCADV website
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Over 15 million children in our nation live in homes where there has been at least one incident of domestic violence in the past year, and seven million children live in families where severe partner violence has occurred. Data indicates that 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the home. Growing up in abusive household can pose a threat to not only the child’s physical health but his mental health as well.
Research indicates that the non-abusive parent is often one the most important protective factors in the lives of children who witness domestic violence. All women, children, and men have the right to live in a safe environment and to conduct their lives without emotional, physical or sexual abuse or the fear of abuse.
Often, one of the greatest concerns for battered women is the affect of living in a violent home environment on children. In some instances, the domestic becomes so severe that women with children leave their homes without a place to go. Research indicates that domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness. In a 2007 report by the United States Conference of Mayors, thirty-nine percent of the city leaders who were surveyed identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness among households with children.
Victims of domestic violence experience difficulty finding housing. There simply are not sufficient beds to house all the battered women and their children seeking shelter. The U.S. Conference of Mayors report indicated that city leaders turn persons experiencing homelessness away from shelters and transitional housing because of lack of capacity all or some of the time. Not only do battered women experience challenges in securing a bed in a shelter, they also often have difficulty securing a safe, decent, affordable apartment.
Domestic violence thrives on apathy. It can be eradicated with an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action. How you can help? Advocate for increased funding for domestic violence programs and public housing.
Sources:United States Conference of Mayors. Center for Diseaese Control & Prevention (CDC), National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. McDonald, Renee, Ernest N. Jouriles, Suhasini Ramisetty-Mikler, et al. 2006. Estimating the Number of American Children Living in Partner-Violent Families; Edelson, J.L. (1999). “The Overlap Between Child Maltreatment and Women Battering.” Violence Against Women. 5:134-154; U.S. Conference of Mayors. 2007. A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s Cities: A 23-City Survey. Washington, DC.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Today, the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) turned nineteen years old. On September 13, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed this piece of critical legislation. Drafted by former Sen. Joe Biden’s office and approved with bipartisan support, it was designed to give better protection and recourse to women experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault.
Annually, 12.7 million men and women in the U.S. are physically abused, raped or stalked by their partners.[i] That is approximately the number of people in New York City and Los Angeles combined.[ii] That is 24 people every minute.[iii] These are people we know.
VAWA provides money to: enhance investigation and prosecution of violent crimes perpetrated against women, increase pre-trial detention of the accused, impose automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allow civil redress in cases where prosecutors elect not to prosecute. Some have described this law as “the greatest breakthrough in civil rights for women in nearly two decades.”
VAWA was reauthorized by Congress in 2000, and again in December 2005. The bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush on January 5, 2006. This year, VAWA was reauthorized. The latest version of VAWA expanded federal protections to the LGBT community, Native Americans and immigrants.
Since 1994, the annual incidence of domestic violence has dropped 64 percent, according to the White House. But there’s still plenty of work ahead to reduce violence and maintain federal and state funding for anti-violence programs. So as we celebrate another year of this important law, let’s light candles but hold the confetti.
For more information, visit the United States Department of Health and Human Services violence against women website and the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Sources: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Ms. Blog.