Onslaught of Cases Prompts Advocate to Share Tips for Recognizing, Reporting Abuse
The news reports are as shocking as they are relentless:
An Army sergeant in Maryland charged with 1st-degree child abuse, accused of starving, beating and burning her 4-year-old stepdaughter.
A North Carolina Child Protective Services supervisor and her husband, a nurse, arrested after their 11-year-old foster son is found handcuffed to a porch railing with a dead chicken tied around his neck.
Three malnourished sisters in Arizona, ages 12, 13 and 17, kept locked in their bedrooms for up to two years. Neighbors reported they sometimes heard children’s voices at the house at night, but never saw anyone during the day.
“These are just a few of the most recent stories you’ll find about child abuse around the country,” says Rayne Golay, a mental health counselor, children’s advocate, and award-winning author of a newly published novel, The Wooden Chair, (http://www.raynegolay.com/), which she hopes will prompt witnesses to speak up about suspected abuse and neglect.
“These cases remind us that child abusers can look like upstanding members of society. They can be your very nice neighbor, a trusted professional, the guy at the grocery store.”
In the case of the Army sergeant, Golay notes that an observant schoolteacher spoke up about her concerns, which led to the arrest of the child’s stepmother. The three sisters in Arizona, however, were not discovered until the two youngest girls escaped after their stepfather kicked in their bedroom door and threatened them with a knife.
“Neighbors said they’d heard children at night, but never saw them,” Golay says. “Wouldn’t you call that suspicious?”
She offers these suggestions for recognizing and reporting suspected child abuse.
• Don’t be afraid to be wrong. You don’t need to have hard evidence or proof of child abuse or neglect to report your concerns. If you’re wrong, social workers and investigators will soon discover that and close the case. It might be uncomfortable for the alleged abuser and he or she may get angry. But you can report anonymously, and it’s far better to risk someone taking offense or social workers finding no evidence of abuse than for a child to suffer because no one speaks up.
• Actions often speak volumes. Does a young child cringe, raise an arm defensively or try to hide when her mother turns to her? These behaviors can be the reflexive response of a child who’s frequently hit. Do you know a child who has become withdrawn, had a persistent loss of appetite, or started doing poorly in school? Changes in behavior may signal a variety of emotional problems, including abuse and neglect. What about witnessing an adult lose their patience with a child at a store or other public place in a manner that seems over-the-top? If it appears to be an emergency, call 911, Golay says. Otherwise, try to defuse the situation. “You might smile at the parent and say something like, ‘It can be so hard to bring kids shopping. I remember it well.’ Scolding or criticizing will only make the situation worse, but attention and understanding words may calm the person.”
• How to report your concerns? If you want to talk to a professional crisis counselor before making a report, call Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). While counselors cannot file a report for you, they can answer your questions, provide information about resources, and discuss the situation that has drawn your concern. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To report abuse, each state has a toll-free number; find the list at tinyurl.com/ReportChildAbuse. If you witness a situation that requires an immediate law enforcement response, call 911.
“Whatever you do,” says Golay, “do something.”
“We’re all very aware of child abuse and neglect, but still, most people continue to hang back and say or do nothing when they have concerns,” she says. “This is not acceptable. We all have a duty to keep our children safe.”
About Rayne E. Golay
Rayne E. Golay is a certified drug and alcohol counselor whose work with addicts informs her understanding and insights into the consequences of child abuse. She has a Master’s in Psychology and is a lifelong reader and writer. The Wooden Chair, published in 2013 by Untreed Reads, won the Royal Palm Literary Award for mainstream literature in the 2005 Florida Writers Association’s competition. She hopes that this story inspires witnesses to speak up for children whom they suspect are suffering from any form of abuse and/or neglect.
Larry Katzen forged an ambitious career as a leader at one of the world’s most prestigious accounting firms.
But he has been equally ambitious with his family life; he’s the father of quadruplets—three sons and a daughter. And he felt it was important to serve his community, sitting on more than 10 boards of directors.
“It was an incredible challenge and I don’t regret one minute of it!” says Katzen, author of “And You Thought Accountants Were Boring – My Life Inside Arthur Andersen,” (Larryrkatzen.com), a look at working in one of the world’s most historically important accounting firms while nurturing bonds with his wife and children.
“The quadruplets were born April 22, 1974, before multiple births became fairly common, so we were front-page news and featured on all the national TV news shows,” Katzen says. “But that also tells you there weren’t many other parents who could give us advice, and certainly no internet forums to turn to!”
At the time, Katzen was also working his way up the ladder and taking on new challenges at Arthur Andersen, one of the “Big 8” accounting firms. How did he and his wife, Susan, manage?
“It comes down to sticking to some basic principles: doing the right thing, for one, and listening to your heart,” Katzen says.
He draws on his 35-year career and family life to offer these tips for working parents with multiple children:
• Cultivate support systems! One of the wonderful things about Arthur Andersen was the people who worked there, including his bosses, Katzen says. “They knew the physical and financial struggles Susan and I faced caring for four babies and, because I never gave less than my all at work, they did what they could to work around my situation,” he says. That included a heftier-than-usual annual pay raise that Katzen learned only years later was approved because the firm’s partners knew he would need the extra money.
Susan reached out to moms of multiples to develop her own support system, and the couple hired a recent high school graduate to help care for their rambunctious brood a couple days a week.
“There’s no glory in not asking for support and help,” Katzen says.
• Combine business and family. Katzen traveled frequently for his job and, when his children were 9 years old, a business friend suggested he bring them along, one at a time, on his trips.
“The first was my daughter, Laurie. We flew to New York on a Friday and spent the weekend shopping, dining, taking in a show. For the first time ever, we were alone together without any disruptions,” Katzen says. “Neither of us ever forgot that weekend.”
• Consider buying a small vacation home. Traveling with four young children was extremely difficult, especially nights in motels, where the family would split up into two rooms – one parent and two children in each.
“When we discovered Sun Valley, Idaho, the children were 6. On our first trip there, they quickly learned to ski, and they clearly loved the snow – we could hardly get them to come inside,” Katzen says.
The family so enjoyed the vacation, they looked into the prices of condos.
“We found a furnished condo at a very affordable price and for the next 13 years, we enjoyed summers and winters in Sun Valley,” Katzen says. “It may sound like a big investment, but when you consider the costs of motels and dining out for a family of six, it works out well – and it’s a lot more comfortable.”
About Larry Katzen
After graduating from Drake University in 1967, Larry Katzen started working at Arthur Andersen and quickly rose through the ranks to become the Great Plains Regional Managing Partner. An honorable, hard-working man who devoted his life to Arthur Andersen, Larry was there from the company’s meteoric rise to its unjust demise. He stayed with the firm for 35 years, serving clients globally until 2002. In his new memoir, And You Thought Accountants Were Boring – My Life Inside Arthur Andersen, Katzen details the political fodder in the government’s prosecution of Enron; how the company was unjustly dismantled for its supposed connections to the corruption; its vindication and why it came too late, and the devastating impact it had on 85,000 employees.
Remember the old excuse “the dog ate my homework?” Well, now it seems that dogs can help children improve their reading skills.
5 Reasons Why Dogs Make Great Reading Partners For Children
Studies Track Improvements in Grade School Language Studies
It turns out dogs are not only good for our health; finding missing people; and helping disabled people live independent lives – they’re good for kids’ report cards, too!
Canines have been found to improve the immune system and reduce blood pressure, among other health benefits. They help rescuers and law officers, blind people and those with limited use of their hands and arms. Now we have another reason to celebrate man’s best friend.
“Dogs not only help children learn to read, they help children learn to love reading,” says Michael Amiri, coauthor with his wife, Linda, of the children’s book, Shellie, the Magical dog. “And that’s true of for children with and without learning disabilities.”
A Minnesota pilot project called PAWSitive Readers finds that trained therapy dogs helped 10 of 14 grade-school participants improve their reading skills by one grade level. Additionally, a University of California study showed that children who read to the family dog improved their ability by an average of 12 percent.
Amiri discusses five reasons why dogs help kids learn to love reading:
- No embarrassment: “Most of us have memories of reading out loud in class,” he says. “Though we may have been proficient readers, the fear of stumbling on a word in front of everyone was a constant source of anxiety.” Dogs are excellent for unconditional, nonjudgmental love; they won’t laugh if and when mistakes happen.
- Confidence boosters: “I never had a dog while growing up, which is too bad because I think I would have had an easier time gaining self-confidence,” says Amiri. As an adult, he discovered the many benefits of dogs through he and his wife’s very special Maltese, Shellie. She’s often the center of attention in their community at pet-friendly restaurants, where she laps her water out of a martini glass. And she has a full-time job as the greeter at Linda’s hair and nail salon. “If a little dog can give me, a grown man, more confidence, imagine what it can do for kids,” he says.
- Polite listeners: Like humans, dogs are social creatures and most enjoy the sound of a calm voice speaking to them. Many – except perhaps the most energetic breeds – seem to enjoy curling up on a rug and listening to a story being read aloud. They don’t interrupt (except for the occasional ear scratch or to sniff a body part) and they often show appreciation for the attention.
- A fun approach to schoolwork: Too often, when children think of studying, they think of time spent hunched over a desk struggling alone to work out problems and memorize lists. Interacting with a lovable, fuzzy friend for an hour of homework is an appealing alternative.
- Win-win: A canine-student reading program is a great way to help service dogs-in-training learn patience and discipline. Dogs are trained to help veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, the blind, and people who use wheelchairs, among others. These dogs in training help children, while children improve a dog’s service abilities.
About Michael and Linda Amiri
Michael Amiri grew up in New York City and became an actor in local theater productions and television commercials. Linda Amiri is an entrepreneur, the owner of a successful hair and nail salon. Their personality-plus Maltese, Shellie, is a popular community character, who puts in a full day of work every day as a greeter at her “mom’s” salon. She’s the inspiration for the first in a series of children’s books that will address topics and issues of concern to children.
America’s Young ‘Globals’ See U.S. Role Differently, Author Says
He Notes Benefits of Millennials’ Itch to Travel, Work Abroad
Just a couple decades ago, only the young adult children of the very rich, the very religious or the very adventurous ventured abroad to live and work in other cultures.
“It was a life-changing experience for those of us fortunate enough to be offered it,” says Ross Palfreyman a lawyer who recounts his two years as a young missionary during the 1970s in Two Years in God’s Mormon Army (www.mormonarmy.net).
“If you had wealthy parents, joined the Peace Corps or belonged to a faith with a belief in mission work, you were able to develop empathy and a broader world view at a younger age,” he says.
“In my church, young men typically go abroad for their mission trip at 19 years old and stay for two years. For Baptists, it may be a group of high school students spending their spring break building a church in Haiti. Whatever the reason, the lessons learned were the same: Less ethnocentricity, the gratification that comes from service to your fellow man, self-discipline, self-sacrifice.”
Travel abroad for work and study is no longer the experience of a select few and that has helped shape America’s young adults for the better, Palfreyman says. Surveys show they have a global world view fostered by the internet and social networks that cross boundaries.
Having online “friends” in other countries and being immediately connected to events in faraway lands through social networks such as Twitter makes them curious about and respectful of other cultures, he says.
“America’s young adults are the ‘First Globals,’ a term coined by the pollster John Zogby,” Palfreyman says. “The group of people born from 1979 to 1990 travel; they embrace and feel connected to other cultures; they want to make a difference.”
That’s exactly what his two years as a missionary did for him, Palfreyman says.
He notes these characteristics of 22- to 33-year-olds:
- Two-thirds have passports. By comparison, according to officials from the U.S. Travel Association, less than one-third of all Americans – 30 percent – have passports. Two of five Globals say they expect to live and work in a foreign capital at some time in their lives.
- 270,000 young people studied abroad in 2009-10. In 1989-90, only about 30,000 did so, according to the International Institute of Education. While Western European countries are still their top destinations, students are increasingly choosing more far-flung locales, especially China and other Asian nations.
- They want to “make the world a better place to live.” A study of 10,000 adults by Campbell & Co. fundraising consultants found this group is more likely than any other generation to cite world improvement as the key reason for their philanthropy. (They also give just as much as other generations.)
- They want to make a global impact. The Campbell study found they are most likely of all age groups to respond positively to messages that focus on the global impact of an organization’s work.
The problems we face today, such as global warming and regional conflicts, will require nations and cultures to work together toward solutions, Palfreyman says.
“This generation just might be able to achieve that.”
About Ross H. Palfreyman
Ross H. Palfreyman is a Laguna Beach, Calif., lawyer who began his mission work in 1973 in Thailand, during the Vietnam War and the Thai Revolution of ’73. Two years of trying to convince devout Buddhists that they’d be better off as Mormons was trying enough, he also was threatened at gunpoint and fended off parasites and rabid dogs during his “indentured servitude.” He initially wrote about his experiences for his six children. Palfreyman’s youngest son returns from his mission in Mexico in August.