Tag Archives: violence

Why I Want to Cry for the Millenials

Don’t get me wrong–sometimes I want to wring their necks.

We talk a lot about millenials in my profession because they’re a big chunk of our constituency. Now, I’m aware and sensitive to the fact that not everyone born between 1982 and 2004 (SN: What’s the generation after 2004 called?) embodies ALL of the characteristics ascribed to the millenial generation. We are, after all, all unique individuals. And, of course, there’s some wiggle room on the start and end years. As a Gen-Xer, I share some characteristics of the millenial generation (i.e. obsessed with social media). And my husband is technically a millenial by birth year, but he probably resembles those kids less than I do (of course, he may or may not also believe he was meant to born 10 years earlier). You need only spend some time in our classrooms, though, to realize that many of them do share some of the traits associated with their generation by the experts. And many of them are not complimentary…and are the kinds of things that make me want to wring their necks. However, sometimes I just want to cry for them. Here’s 5 reasons why:

1. They are so stressed out! And I say this as a person who suffers from an anxiety disorder. Even when we think they’re exhibiting a “devil-may-care” attitude about their studies, a lot of these kids are straight freaking out on the inside. Because of the nature of the courses I teach and my particular teaching style, students often open up to me about more personal things–like their anxiety. This is an example of what I heard or read from students this week:

  • What if I choose the wrong career? What if I’m not good enough?
  • I’m pretty sure I’m going to fail this class just because I can’t get organized! I’m trying not to let anyone down. But I’m letting everyone down!
  • I’m not going to early advising because I won’t be back in the Spring. I already failed at college. And life. [note: it’s only MIDTERM of the first semester]

Wow. Breathe, kids, breathe. It’s college. You’re not supposed to have it all figured out, yet. You’re supposed to have time to mess up a little. It’s how you learn! This is the period in which you find yourself, figure out who you are as an adult. I can’t imagine what this stress is doing to them or how it will affect them long-term. But I do not envy them this level of constant anxiety, this constant fear of failure.

2. The American Dream is (maybe) dead. I’m not talking about the in-debt-up-to-my-eyeballs with a fancy car and McMansion dream (because some of them still seem to be “achieving that,” temporary though it may be). I’m talking about the real American Dream: to be able to move up in social class, to work hard and earn money and own a home and save for retirement. I’m talking about striving and succeeding at achieving a life better than that of your parents. I don’t think that these kids will achieve upward social mobility through hard work. I think they will work hard and scrape by. They will be no better off than their parents. They, in fact, may be worse off than their parents (with whom so many of them are back to living). Maybe there’s still hope. I don’t know. But I do know that they don’t feel that hope today…not in the way we did. Maybe that’s why they’re so stressed–they keep being told to work hard, that if they do, it’ll pay off. And all around them, they see evidence to the contrary. Maybe that makes them feel like they aren’t good enough. I don’t know, but I do know it’s sad.

3. They do not know a world in which they’re not constantly “plugged in.” They’re constantly connected. And again, I say this as a person with a social media management system on her phone, Android tablet, and iPad (auto schedule is the best thing ever). But think about this: they live in a world in which work is never just 8 hours a day. It’s 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. And it always has been. It always will be. It’s expected of them at this point. That makes me want to cry because it stresses me out for them.

4. They have never lived in a world in which a war was not on TV–in real-time. Seriously. Think back. And then think about our 24/7 news cycle. It’s just sad. And I have to wonder how that desensitizes them to violence.

5. Speaking of which, school shootings (and other mass murders by automatic weaponry)! Have always been a thing. Remember when school was a safe place? Where getting mowed down by an AR-15 after math class was not something that would EVER cross your mind? Yeah, my students don’t. And that? Makes me want to cry.

They get a lot of flak. And they seriously drive me bananas sometimes (and by “drive me bananas,” I mean “make me want to shake them until common sense settles in”). But I also feel for them in a lot of ways. I try to imagine what it would be like to have grown up like they did. To be in college now. To be job-hunting for the first time now. It’s easy to judge them for their sense of entitlement, for thinking they’re special & the rules don’t apply to them, for having been so sheltered they now seem incapable of functioning in the real world.

We want them to be like us. We want them to do it our way. But doing it our way isn’t going to get them anywhere. They’re going to have to find a way to do it their way.

 

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Filed under Community College, Higher Ed, Social Problems

We Are South Carolina; These Are Our Children

When an 11-year-old boy attempts to slit his wrists with a razor blade plucked from a pencil sharpener, it is a cry for help–a very loud, very important cry for help. And for one such boy, it was a cry no one really responded to–his cry was silenced, his pain ignored.

And it happened right here in the great state of South Carolina–at the Boys Home of the South in Belton. The state failed him. The Department of Social Services failed him. The adults at the group home charged with his care failed him, leaving him vulnerable to abuse by putting him what they knew was a potentially dangerous situation.

But finally something is being done about it–because, of course, of a lawsuit and not because someone accepted responsibility for this epic failure and decided to make changes to protect the children of SC because it’s the right thing to do (The Boys Home of the South maintains their internal investigations show no wrong on their part).

That little boy is not alone. There are reports of children in state care who were starved to death, were not getting proper medical care or, in at least one case, were placed back into a home where the child suffered more sexual abuse.

SC leads the country in institutionalizing children. About 24 percent of children in state care remain in group homes or institutions–and the regulations by which they operate are outdated and ineffective (which is how 11-year-old boys get raped in state care). We do not have nearly enough foster parents in this state.

There are children who did not celebrate Father’s Day today because they have no father to honor. South Carolina is their legal guardian. And we, who live here, are South Carolina.

These are our children. And they deserve better than we’ve been giving. These are our children. They are our responsibility. And we need to do better.

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Filed under Child Abuse, Foster Care, My Opinion, Ripped from the Headlines, Social Problems

You Didn’t Get Raped…

TRIGGER WARNING: The following includes discussions that may serve as a trigger for victims of sexual violence. Please be advised. 

“You’re a whore–you didn’t get raped. You just didn’t get paid.”

This burns me up–so much that if I don’t say something about it now, I might explode. But I’m just going to address this one idea–the rest I’m reserving for my book.

I know that there are plenty of people who will read that quote and nod, and think “Yup. That’s true.”  And that burns me up.

In case you’re one of those people (or you’re sitting on the fence or debating legitimate versus not legitimate rape), let me be really clear: Rape is rape is rape is rape is rape. Period. End of story. Roll credits. That’s all, folks.

Let’s put aside for the moment the fact that many women in the sex trade have been forced into prostitution and focus on the women who choose, voluntarily, of their own free will, to sell sex. Those women who choose to work in the sex trade do not deserve to be raped. They haven’t “asked” for it simply because they choose to have sex for money.

Because make no mistake: rape is NOT about sex. Rape is about control, domination, power, anger.

The fact that anyone would put rape in the same category as a “dine-and-dash” is disgusting–a condemnation of our very humanity and just further evidence of rape culture.

As  the good folks at Cogent Comment explain, rape culture is “a set of socially accepted beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes which contribute to the trivialization of a survivor’s experience, make light of or rationalize sexually violent behavior, and perpetuate the negative effects suffered by both individuals and communities as a result.”

And the words with which I started this post clearly trivialize the experience of the woman to whom they were said and are also obviously an attempt to rationalize a brutal rape:

A woman stood, naked and devastated–physically, emotionally, and psychologically–beside a dumpster having just been brutally raped by a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, who having completed the act of rape, said (and forgive the language as I’m quoting), “That’s what you get for  fucking niggers.” He left her there.

In case that doesn’t make it clear to you, let me just say it: that’s not about sex. It was about anger. It doesn’t matter that she was a prostitute and exchanged sex for money on occasions that were not this one. That doesn’t make her experience any less horrific or brutal or violent than if it happened to me, you, or anyone else. It doesn’t make it any less wrong.

Because what happened was not sex. It was an act of violence. As is all rape.  And women in the sex trade do not ask to be brutalized.

Just for the record:

  • Men do not rape because they can’t control their sex drives. And women do not incite men to rape.
  • No still means no–no matter who you are, what you do, where you were, or what you were doing or wearing.
  • And rape is still wrong. Rape is always wrong.

Let me be clear on one last thing: there’s a disclaimer on this blog, and if you haven’t read it, you should.

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Let Common Sense Have Fair Play

Thomas Jefferson once said, “I can never fear that things will go far wrong where common sense has fair play.”

Sadly, in the case of Kiera Wilmot, common sense has yet been given fair play; and as a result, things are going very, very wrong.

Look, I get that we’re all freaked out by the increasing violence in our society at large and particularly within our schools. We want to protect our children. And so we’ve stepped-up security at schools, tightened the rules, and increased the consequences. We are resolute in our quest for safety.

But clearly, we’ve also become inflexible. And maybe, just maybe, our reactions have grown a little teeny, tiny bit exaggerated. After all, here is a young woman, a budding scientist, an exemplary student by all reports, who was cuffed, arrested, and expelled from school for what, by all accounts, appears to be an experiment gone wrong. She’s been charged with two felonies. Felonies. Her life will forever be changed unless we give common sense fair play here.

It’s as if down in Polk County, critical thinking has evaporated. And common sense has been shoved in a corner.

Still it’s not too late. And that’s why I’ve just signed this petition. I invite you to join me and the 66,000+ (at time of this writing) people who are asking Florida State Attorney General Jerry Hill to let common sense have fair play before things go too far wrong.

Remember: This is just my opinion as pointed out in the disclaimer for this site.

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Filed under My Opinion, Ripped from the Headlines, Social Problems

Dear SC,

Let me get this straight: You’re going to ban laser pointers–make them illegal for young people to purchase or have in their possession, but you’re simultaneously considering legislation that would allow South Carolina gun owners to openly carry their weapons in public without a permit or prior training.

Really? Laser pointers are more of a threat than irresponsible and uneducated gun owners walking around with their guns in public? This is the message you’re sending–despite the fact that instances like this keep happening all over the state. Y’all: we rank 18th in the nation in child deaths by gun, and a recent study found that “South Carolinians rank poorly in gun security…ranked in the top 10 nationally for households reporting loaded and unlocked firearms.” No worries–encouraging responsible gun ownership is probably not nearly as important as ensuring dangerous laser pointers stay out of the hands of minors–who, thanks to a revision suggested by Brian White of Anderson, can still legally buy laser scopes for guns–just not those little pointers people use to play with their cats. 

Seriously. The mind boggles. Meanwhile, there’s a good chance we’re going to send to Washington a man who, as our governor, abandoned our state, disappearing for 6 days to rendezvous with his mistress in Argentina, turning off his state and personal phones and telling no one where he was going–leaving no one in charge of the affairs of this state. He’s totally trustworthy.

You are my home. I love you, but sometimes you just make me want to scream. Seriously.

Love,

Me

PS: Have you read my disclaimer?

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We Are the Good in the World

Over the last 24 hours, I’ve seen these words from Mr. Rogers shared all over social media:

I love it–it’s true. When these things happen, we should look for the good–it reminds us that there is good in the world. And we need that reminder when tragedy strikes.

With that said, let us remember that it isn’t just when we hear about bad things on the news—it isn’t just when tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombings occur—that we should look for the helpers. Let us remember that we shouldn’t just look for them to reassure ourselves that there is good in the world—more good than evil. Let us remember that each of us should be a helper—in our daily lives and not just in the face of catastrophe.  Yes, it is events like this that pull us together, that unite us as a people. But that shouldn’t be the only time we come together to help one another.

We should strive in our everyday lives to support and love one another—to stand against hate, oppression, violence, and all that is bad and wrong in this world.

Sometimes it’s about the little ways in which we help one another. It’s about not turning our backs when we see someone in need. It’s about choosing compassion and empathy and selflessness. It’s about understanding that we’re all in this together—and we should look out for one another.

I lived in an apartment complex upon first graduating from college—no roommates for the first time. I had moved to a town I did not know to take a job. And I had to find and secure an apartment with little to no knowledge of the area and in a short amount of time.  I had never lived in an apartment complex before, and it was an adjustment.  Living amongst so many other people was a definite change.  I had so many neighbors. Many of them I did not know and never would—especially because it was a transient population—people were constantly moving in and out (and getting kicked out or arrested in a cocaine sting…whatever). One morning I was sitting on my little balcony, drinking a cup of coffee when I heard a scream. I turned to my left, and saw two people on the second floor of the building across the street—right on the front walkway. One was a man and one was a woman. It took a moment for me to realize what was happening—and it wasn’t good: he had already hit her a couple of times and then, as I ran inside to call the police, he began mercilessly beating her and screaming obscenities. The police, I knew from previous experiences, would take a while to get out there, so when I completed the call, I ran out my front door and reassessed the situation. Still bad. I ran down the stairs of my own building and beat on the door of the apartment below mine—because three young, strong men who worked construction lived there. No answer. I looked over again—still bad. And so I ran over there. And I started screaming at the man, telling him to stop.  I didn’t really think it through all the way (Had I, I might have considered I could be injured). I just did it. I could have gone back into the safety of my apartment and waited for the police to come. But I didn’t.  And I’m glad I didn’t because he stopped. He stopped and threatened me and yelled obscenities at me.  But that gave the woman an opportunity to run inside the apartment.  It was a little thing—not a disaster like what happened in Boston yesterday. Not a catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina. But it was an opportunity that presented itself: to help or not to help?

On Friday nights, I used to always watch ABC’s What Would You Do? And I would always ask myself that question about the scenarios presented: What Would I do? I wasn’t always happy with my own answer. But I try. I try to do better, to be better, to be the helper.  In yesterday’s news there were reports of people who ran towards the blasts, towards the smoke, towards the screaming—instead of away. People who were helping. People who, when push came to shove, chose to help others even at risk to themselves. Would I do that? I don’t know. Because I’ve never been in that situation. But in my everyday life, I strive to be the helper when I can.

We all have opportunities to be the helpers–every day. And we should embrace those opportunities—no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. Because we–we are the good in the world. And as Edmund Burke said, “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

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Filed under My Life, My Opinion, Ripped from the Headlines, Social Problems

This Should Be No Child’s Normal

When you grow up in an abusive/neglected home, you assume that what goes on at home is just like what goes on in every other home. Just like people don’t see what happens in yours, you don’t see what happens in theirs. Thus, your idea of what is “normal” is colored by that experience.

The screaming, the fighting, the throwing things–>all normal.  The slapping, the hitting, the kicking–>normal.

The name-calling, the threats, the repeated rejection–>business as usual.

The insults, the put-downs, the gas-lighting–>par for the course.

The crying, the loneliness, the despair–>normal. The intimidation, the isolation, the aggression–>all normal.

The fear? Perfectly normal.

Every year 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving nearly 6 million children.

This means that for potentially 6 million children in America this is normal. But this should be no child’s normal.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention month: find out more.

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Filed under Child Abuse, Guardian ad Litem

Our Culture of Violence

Disclaimer

I read this article “One Nation Under The Gun: Thousands of Gun Deaths Since Newtown” yesterday morning and cried. It’s long, it’s sad, it’s painful but it’s so important; it deserves to be read. It needs to be read.

It deserves our attention, our tears, our anger, our outrage.

It deserves our dedication and commitment to finding a solution to an epidemic that plagues our country.

Because make no mistake: we are under the gun. We must find a way to end the violence. Yesterday.

But it’s not an easy task we face–because the problem is complex. We live in a culture of violence.

Recently, Lauren has posted several pieces on the rape culture in which we live (She’s done a great job; read them). Rape culture is a part of the larger problem: cultural violence (rape is violent by its very nature; thus, it is a part of our cultural violence problem, so I am not trying to take away from Lauren’s excellent & important discussions of rape culture; I am merely adding to them.).  It’s so important to recognize that. Because the first step to finding a solution is admitting we have a problem. And boy, do we have a problem!

In short, we have a problem because we live in a society in which violence has been not just normalized but glamorized. We’ve legitimized violence, made it acceptable…even desirable. And it’s not just one thing or another. You can’t just go blaming the movies–it’s not just that. You can’t blame music or video games–alone they do not a culture of violence make. A culture of violence grows from a variety of sources. And it reflects our behaviors, our beliefs and values, our priorities, our definition of ourselves, our country, our society. Thus, there is no one simple solution. Rather, a problem of this magnitude requires a comprehensive (and likely complex) set of solutions.

In one of her most recent posts, “Confronting Rape Culture in Our Own Backyards,” Lauren provides a personal example of rape culture manifesting itself in her neighborhood.  Towards the end of the post, she provides a list of steps that each one of us can take to begin fighting rape culture in our society.

A problem like rape culture or the umbrella problem of a culture of violence may seem so big that there is nothing each of us can do. After all, how is one person supposed to make a difference? How will one action change a problem so deeply embedded in the very fabric of our society?

In the words of the admirable Helen Keller, “I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do.”

There is something you can do. There is something I can do. There is something each one of us can do. We shouldn’t refuse to do something just because we can’t do everything.  We shouldn’t refuse to do something small because we think it too small.  We need to start small, and as Lauren’s title suggests of rape culture, we need to start in our own backyards.

To paraphrase and play off Lauren, the first small steps we can begin by taking are as follows (read her detailed explanations on her post):

  1. Acknowledge that a culture of violence exists;
  2. Learn how that culture of violence manifests;
  3. Get informed (do your research!);
  4. Speak up;
  5. Educate others;
  6. Talk with your wallet;
  7. Talk with your vote.

These are small steps each of us can and should take. These are the first steps.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evils is that good men do nothing.” –Edmund Burke

This is where I start today.

Where and how will you start?

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