Don’t Send Your Teen to the Missing Persons List

Regarding the horrible revelation in Cleveland in May, 2013 when 3 women who had been held captive for ten years were rescued, several news outlets reviewed how the missing-persons list works. “Hundreds of thousands of people are reported missing each year,” the Wall Street Journal stated, “the vast majority of whom turn out to have run away, FBI data show.” Those numbers are misleading. Millions of children run away every year Actually, the data is worse. According to the National Runaway Safeline which obtained statistics from peer-reviewed journals, “between 1.6 and 2.8 million (that’s not a typo) youth run away in a year. 47% of runaway / homeless youth indicated that conflict between them and their parent or guardian was a major problem.” “Over 50% of youth in shelters and on the streets reported that their parents either told them to leave or knew they were leaving but did not care.” “32% of runaway and homeless youth have attempted suicide at some point in their lives.” Why do they run away? Why do they get into drugs, sex, and cutting? Is there a connection among all these youth problems? To get an idea of the answer, let’s look a little closer at the history of two of the three girls who were held captive for a decade and how they came to be kidnapped. First, let’s look at Amanda Berry, the brave girl who orchestrated their escape. According to news reports, she had piercings in her ears and eyebrows and liked Eminem’s music. What do runaway children want? For those who wouldn’t know Eminem from an Oreo, Wikipedia explains...

Warning Signs Of Child Sex Abuse — And What To Do About It

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION  from the Florida Jewish News, pp. 22, 24 [edited] The Florida Jewish News of Jul 22-Aug 4, 2005 published a lengthy article describing a case of child sexual abuse allegations. Although the accused family was cleared by three governmental bodies, there are still bad feelings and fear in the community. The accused family has sued the accusers and been shunned in the community. How are we, the readers—who are members of our own communities—to use this information? How can we enable it to help us rather than be a source of divisiveness? I offer five points for consideration: Sexual Abuse Exists In Every Community. It is absolutely necessary for the average reader to know, without a doubt, that sexual abuse does exist in every community. From Brooklyn to Florida, from London to Israel, sexual abuse is a problem that has lain hidden under the fear of exposing something ugly and dirty. Unfortunately, this permits perpetrators to continue abusing. Known Sexual Abuse Should Be Reported. The worst fear in reporting sexual abuse is of involving the world in our lives. That fear is understandable, especially in light of the degree to which governmental agencies have so frequently bungled their investigations in past years. Nevertheless, the damage done to victims—which could be a large number of victims from any one individual perpetrator—means the right thing to do is to report known abuse. Damage is an individual matter, but even one inappropriate sexual contact can ruin a life. Don’t ever assume “she” (or he) “will get over it.” They won’t. It is best to report the abuse and see...

Substance Abuse & Family Abuse–They’re Connected

Substance abuse and addictions do not occur in a vacuum. It is not merely the result of vulnerable kids becoming involved with the wrong crowd. If only it were that simple. In fact, substance abuse is more a symptom of the real problem than “the” problem. The real problem falls in one of three categories: abuse, neglect, or failure to discipline. Abuse Physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse will inevitably lead to later scars. Even people who cope well and rise above it are forever hurt by their horrible experiences. For some individuals, the best way to blot out the pain is substance abuse. When chemicals anesthetize emotions, a person can go on with life. There isn’t much quality to that life, but it is bearable. Neglect Neglect does not mean leaving a child without food-although that too happens. Neglect may simply mean being too busy to have formed a relationship with one’s child. My hunch is that Noelle Bush’s history involves this category at least [She is the daughter of former Governor of Florida, caught with drugs]. As children grow, parents become models for them of how to function in the world. Children also discover who they themselves are through the feedback they get from their parents. When the small girl constantly picks out the frilly clothes, her parents may say, “She’s all girl.” Those remarks help that little girl define her personality. Parents who ignore their children not only fail to give this feedback that is vital to their personality development, but instead give a most undesirable message: You are not important enough for us to pay...

Fear of Discipline Backfires!

Do you have a wild child? Then this article may be for you. Do you just blow up when you can’t take it any more? Then this article is definitely for you. Abuse victims, when they become parents, are handicapped in two ways. One, they have no clue how to give good discipline because they never saw it done. A parent who knows how does not resort to abuse. Or, I should say, a parent who knows how deep in his/her bones, not just intellectually, does not need to resort to abuse. So if you were beaten, humiliated, yelled at, ignored, neglected, abandoned, criticized, or any of the hundred other ways of being abused, you never saw positive discipline in action. So you just don’t know what it looks like. Now, suppose you take a parenting course. Here’s handicap #2. Even when you learn–intellectually–what it is, many parents who have been abused have a gut-level abhorence of anything that remotely looks like violence. Any form of discipline that is perfectly “kosher” may look to an abuse victim like something harsh, mean, and hateful. And those parents just can’t seem to put it into action. That’s when the leniency paves the way for the very abuse they don’t ever want to be guity of doing: Because they have failed to discipline their child, the child, of course, gets out of hand, eventually. That’s what normal children do, if unstopped. So then, these sweet, lovely parents who couldn’t bring themselves to discipline their child lash out at them angrily. And they actually feel justified! “I’ve had enough!” They exclaim. Well, that’s...
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