Child Abuse In The Disability And LBGTQ+ Community

With the current laws being enacted in Florida and Texas as well as other conservative states to stop the LBGTQ+ community from being able to live their lives, it got me thinking about how I used to believe some of the same things until I started really listening to these people. I have many friends in this community now and I am heartbroken over how they are treated.

Many LBGTQ+ children are kicked out of the house when they come out to their parents. Some are subjected to horrible “conversion therapy” to try to “convince” them that they are not gay or transgender. These children are very likely to be abused and murdered by their family or people in the community who don’t want to understand that they are people too.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people are over-represented in foster care, where they are more likely to experience discrimination, abuse, neglect and the risk of harm. A 2019 study found 30.4 percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ and 5 percent as transgender, compared to 11.2 percent and 1.17 percent of youth not in foster care.”

https://www.childrensrights.org/lgbtq-2/

In Texas, a law was recently passed making it “child abuse” for parents to give their transgendered children care that would allow them to have the body that their brain is telling them they are. As of now, a judge has partially blocked the law. I believe that the exact opposite is true. It is abusive NOT to allow these children to have the gender affirming medical care they require. They are at a high risk of suicide for not being allowed to have transitional gender affirming medical care and psychotherapy.

People like to shrug off the suicide issue of transgender children, but according to Forbes from 2021, “52% of all transgender and nonbinary young people in the U.S. seriously contemplated killing themselves in 2020. More than half thought it would be better to be dead, rather than trying to live with rejection, isolation, loneliness, bullying and being targeted by politicians and activists pushing anti-trans legislation.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/dawnstaceyennis/2021/05/19/terrible-time-for-trans-youth-new-survey-spotlights-suicide-spike—and-hope/?sh=712121d2716e

These children have to deal with so much discrimination from conservative policymakers. They are banned from using the correct bathrooms with which they identify. What do we think happens when a trans girl is forced to use the boys’ bathroom and vice versa? They look like the gender with which they identify.

And banning them from playing on the team of the gender with which they identify because people think they have an advantage over the other team is wrong. We might as well ban anyone “different” from playing sports because I can guarantee that transgender children don’t have any advantage over their peers. Everyone is talented in different ways!

Finally, the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida enacted by Governor DeSantis is horrible! As an early childhood professional, sex and gender identity isn’t a main topic in the curriculum unless we have a child with gay parents or a child who is struggling with this issue. These children deserve support and compassion. Teachers need to teach children to accept these differences. The LBGTQ+ community is in no way trying to get children to be something that they’re not. They are just trying to get acceptance and support to stop the horrible discrimination they face daily. I believe in having developmentally appropriate discussions and books that include the LBGTQ+ community in the classroom.

I am so grateful that President Biden is taking action to try to help protect everyone in the LBGTQ+ community by taking executive action to stop the use of conversion therapy and help keep the rights and lives of this group as safe as possible. The amount of bigotry from the religious, right wing is absolutely disgusting! And it’s only getting worse!

There’s another group of children and adults who live with a higher than average risk of being abused: The disabled.

“Child abuse and neglect is reported in 3% to 10% of the population with disabilities. The rate of child abuse and neglect is at least 3 times higher in children with disabilities than in the typically developing population.”

https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/147/5/e2021050920/180813/Maltreatment-of-Children-With-Disabilities

Children with disabilities have higher needs and require more care. They often have unique behavioral issues that typical children don’t. For some children with disabilities, these behaviors may last well into adulthood because their brains aren’t able to mature like typical people. They are so reliant on others for care and help that they are prime candidates for all types of abuse.

As someone with a severe disability, I can attest to the abuse. I was physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by my dad because I couldn’t control my muscles. I was emotionally and verbally abused by other family members and people at school. Just because life with a child who is disabled can be very stressful and frustrating at times doesn’t excuse abuse.

Like LBGTQ+ children, there’s a stigma that comes along with being disabled. We live in an ableist world. For a long time, people with disabilities, starting in young childhood, were locked up in institutions and forgotten. These institutions were absolutely horrible and many children died from abuse and inadequate care. There even used to be laws that prohibited people with disabilities from being in society. Similarly with the LBGTQ+ community, the disabled have a higher risk of being murdered.

Here’s an excellent article about the history of ableism.

As the article above points out, many religious groups believe that disabilities are due to “sin,” thus, causing people to treat them badly and abuse them. Let me be clear: No disability is due to sin!

Another thing that the article on ableism points out is that the medical community often treats the disability as a “problem.” But people with disabilities have absolutely nothing “wrong” with them. They are just different and deserve quality medical care, and yet, they often don’t receive it. The cost of medical care is even higher than that of typical people and people with disabilities also usually require adaptive equipment and therapy to be able to live the best life they can!

Unfortunately the Americans with Disabilities Act hasn’t helped all that much because most public places only do the minimum requirements. Many employers don’t want to have the responsibility of helping people with disabilities work in their work places. And people with disabilities don’t get “free money.” If they are on SSI, they can only have $2,000 if they are single and $3,000 if married. We’re trying to get this changed.

Being told by parents, teachers, employers, and society in general that “You’re worthless, a burden, a problem, a liability, and your life doesn’t matter” leads to isolation, anxiety, depression, and suicide.

Covid has really bought out just how ableist the world is, especially the United States. Many people feel that their lives are more important than others who are still vulnerable to serious consequences of getting Covid. It’s all-too-often just laughed at while believing that it is perfectly fine for people who are high risk to remain locked up for the rest of their lives. This is going back to the days when children and adults were forced to remain locked up and out of society. This is abuse!

There is no excuse for abuse of any child or adult, especially if they are different. We are all equal and worthy no matter our race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and/or disability. We need to stop going backwards and start moving forward to become a kinder, more accepting world. No child should be hurt. It is also abuse and ableist to expect any child to be someone that he/she isn’t or to expect children to be able to do things that they are not yet able to do!

Laughing

I love this quote especially with the current state of the world. I know that I write a great deal about empathy and compassion. I am seeing, and experiencing, less and less empathy. On social media, there’s more “laughing” than there used to be. For example, any public post about Covid including stories about people who had it and had to be hospitalized are laughed at.

I am also coming across people laughing at other people’s trauma from being abused and spanked/hit in childhood. It seems to me that the world has become much more inconsiderate of others. I wrote a post a few years ago about how I truly believe that technology is playing a role in the desensitization of suffering.

As a child advocate, I am all too familiar with the hate and insults I get from people who believe that spanking/hitting, harsh punishment, and cry-it-out are “necessary” for raising “great” people. However, I’m not as familiar with this whole concept of laughing at other people’s stories about their very real pain. I don’t understand why this is happening. I am afraid that the conservative cult is definitely behind it.

Our children are watching everything and listening to everything. We’re trying to fight and stop bullying, but we are seeing adults being the bullies. They bully their children into doing what they want. They bully people like me who refuse to stop speaking up for the most vulnerable in society. I don’t want to live in a world where it’s acceptable for people to be bullied for their pain and fear. It’s not okay; if you believe in Jesus, it’s not what He taught.

This makes me truly afraid of the future and the children growing up with those parents who are laughing at suffering. Those people who are laughing at suffering are sadistic and that’s scary. What kind of world are we headed for if so many are laughing at suffering instead of helping people and protecting people?

This is what Jesus taught:

“I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

John 13:34, (NASB).

Do we really want to teach children that it’s ok to laugh at suffering of any kind? Do we really want to teach children that they can walk all over people who are hurting and/or scared? Do we really want to live in a society that doesn’t protect the vulnerable?

At the rate we’re going, that world is becoming too much of a reality and it’s not going to end well for humanity!

Where are you Christmas?

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With the pandemic still raging on and the new variant, it feels like it will never end.  Children ages 5-11 are, as of this writing, finally able to get vaccinated against Covid.  Sadly, the same arguments are continuing and getting worse from the anti-mask and anti-vaxxers crowd.   They are not able to think about the common good.  I have lost all hope for humanity.  I guess this could be a product of generations of spanking as research has shown that corporal punishment can have a negative impact on the development of empathy in children.

The world is in disarray and we’re all tired of it.  The children are stuck in the middle of the arguments, and are being fueled by the adults to act out. I am only getting glimpses of the true Christmas spirit.

In fact, I keep hearing the toxic message from Christians that “this is from ‘God'” and that “God will spare the righteous.”  It is so sad that they don’t understand that this is not from God.  Children have died from Covid.  Devout Christians are dying from Covid.  Jesus never intended for all of this confusion and toxic teachings from the church.

Spirituality is so simple and we weren’t supposed to know it all. Jesus was trying to teach so much more, but because our human minds are so limited and prone to boxing everything up, and man’s desire to control people who are different from them, has led to religion being toxic and oppressive instead of promoting true spiritual freedom. And it’s ruined love for one another. I just feel so bad for humanity; we’re truly stuck in hell of our own making.

We’re losing so much with this pandemic. Grief is horrible for many people this year again.  I know it’s pretty bad for me.

My message to everyone is to grieve together, and think of other people more than ourselves. Seek truth, Science, compassion, and true love.  May children stay safe and learn true empathy.  Or, may we learn it from them!  Peace and love through the holidays!

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“Let The Children BREATHE!”

As Covid is raging on and affecting our children more due to the virus mutating and “learning” how to infect yet even more vulnerable people, once again we hear parents who don’t care about the well-being of their children or others scream, “Let the children breathe!”  Some states have enacted  laws banning schools from mandating masks.  Thankfully,  an increasing number of school districts are defying those states’ laws that ban mask mandates in schools.   Here’s what is already happening as children are back to school full time.

And some schools have already had to go remote due to Covid.  Children are being hospitalized at higher rates as the Delta variant is ravaging the country and world.  The very people who are supposed to protect them are arguing about masks being mandated and are even getting violent over it.

As of this writing, children are not yet eligible for the vaccine if they are under twelve years of age in the United States, and yet, after over a year and a half of this pandemic, people refuse to accept the fact that this pandemic is dangerous and deadly.  Some people may get lucky and have a mild case, but not everyone is that lucky.  Look at the hospitals and talk to the healthcare workers.

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It turns out that children are more accepting of  wearing masks than adults.  The adults are, sadly, teaching aggression and selfishness by fighting (sometimes literally) over masks, vaccines, and other mitigations to try to stop the virus.  This is the wrong direction for all of us.  We need to stop politicizing the health crisis and come together.  Our children need to see us caring enough about our fellow man that we wear masks and get vaccinated if possible.  Otherwise, this world will never be healed.  

People talk about selfishness all the time, especially when it comes to raising children and not wanting the children  to become “selfish little brats.”  However, the parents who are arguing about wearing masks as well as getting vaccinated and protesting against mask/vaccine mandates are teaching the children how to throw a “fit” and be “defiant” to get their own way.  These parents, ironically, tend to be pro-spankers.  It is so sad that their children are getting spanked/hit for similar behavior that goes against the parents’ wishes.  This makes no sense.  We have to model appropriate behavior for children.  They are mimicking us!

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Another thing is that as soon as infants are able to get into dangerous situations, we teach them about danger.  An infant doesn’t know that an electrical socket is dangerous, but we tell him/her it is and move him/her away from the outlet.  Young children can’t see the danger of running out in the street until we panic and scoop them up out of the street while saying, “DANGEROUS!”  There are so many dangerous things from which we have to protect children.  They must take our word for it or suffer possible horrific consequences.  It is just the same for Covid.  Just because we can’t SEE the virus floating around in the air, does not mean it’s not dangerous!

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We need to step up and do what is right for the whole world instead of the individual.  We must protect our children and everyone else by looking beyond our own wants to the needs of our society.  Let the children breathe.

 

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Where’s The Empathy?

As we continue to deal with this COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of empathy is so apparent in this country.  People not wanting to do the simplest things to protect others from the virus.  Anti-maskers are shouting about their rights and, ironically, they are using the pro-choice slogan, “My body, my right.”  This totally disregards the lives of others.  If one is truly pro-life, one cares about the life way after birth!  Otherwise, it’s just pro-birth!

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes to understand as much as possible in order to try to understand what the other person is feeling or going through.  One can feel the same feelings as the other person or at least get an idea of what the other person is going through.

Empathy is a learned behavior.  While some children are born with more empathy than others, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are naturally egocentric due to their developmental stage.  This is a survival mechanism and not a “bad thing.”  Adults can help the development of empathy by modeling it to their children and pointing out feelings of others—whether positive or negative.

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Source unknown. I got it off Facebook.

Not spanking/hitting or using other harsh punishment with children also promotes the development of empathy in children.  Not using aggression to get what one wants teaches children to respect other people and have empathy.  Corporal punishment and using other harsh punishment only breeds fear and anger.  These make children turn inward in a negative manner instead of being open to other people and what they are going through.

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I talked a bit about helping children understand about COVID-19 in my previous post, but here’s a great book written by a teacher that helps further explain this highly contagious, dangerous, damaging, and deadly virus in a developmentally appropriate way.  If you are one who is not taking this seriously, please read this story!

While places are now opened and the topic of going back to school rages on, and schools are opening only to have cases of COVID-19 the first week of school, the numbers of positive cases continues to rise.  I am truly saddened by the fact that this health crisis has become political and empathy for people who are high risk, children, teachers, healthcare workers seems to be going by the wayside.  Except for the rare medical appointment and the fact that my chosen family owns a private tattoo shop and keeps people out while I am there, my quarantine hasn’t ended.  I try to wear a mask but it falls down because of spasms due to my severe cerebral palsy.  Anti-maskers laugh that I am not able to be in public because too many people are worried about their own comfort and rights to have empathy for those who can’t wear a mask and/or are high risk.  What a horrible example they are setting for our children.

As an early childhood professional,  I don’t recommend children going back to school until this virus is under control.    I know it’s hard for poor families and I worry about social-emotional development of the children, but we have to realize that even if children are less likely to get seriously ill,  some are going to get seriously ill or get the inflammatory disease that kills them.   Not to mention bringing it home to the family and then we don’t know who will get mild symptoms and who will be hospitalized and on a ventilator.

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I am so grateful  for everyone who is wearing masks and protecting people like me who can’t wear masks easily and then the health care workers busting their butts to fight this pandemic.

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Children who are old enough to wear a mask in public should!  While some children will have an easier time adjusting to wearing a mask, it is possible to help them with it.

Here are some things that we can do to help children adjust to wearing a mask:

Always wear a mask yourself when out in public.  Actions speak louder than words!

Educate them about how masks help protect others and them.  If they like superheroes, compare them to being a superhero for wearing masks because superheroes always protect others from dangerous situations.  There are some wonderful children’s books to read to them to further encourage them to wear a mask in public.   I recommend this book.

Start with short periods of time wearing a mask and do a fun activity to help distract them from the mask.

Let the child pick out a few masks and/or let him/her decorate one so he/she wants to wear it.

Try different masks for the most comfortable one for the child.

Validate feelings about wearing a mask and tell the child that it is uncomfortable sometimes but it is the only way to go anywhere.

Keep little hands busy so they don’t constantly touch the mask.

Always have extra masks on hand or in the children’s backpacks because they are going to drop, throw, spill, forget masks so they need extras on them whenever they are in public.  Also, keep hand sanitizer with you and/or them for washing their hands.

Make up a silly song to sing such as, “This is the way we wear our masks” to the tune of Farmer Brown.

Turn mask wearing into a game to see who can keep theirs on the longest.

Use mirrors in the car to have everyone put them on at the same time.

If for any reason the child has a meltdown and refuses to wear the mask when you get to have a destination and you have to go in, take some deep breaths, make sure that the child doesn’t have an unmet need, the mask isn’t pinching or hurting him/her,  and carry the child in if it isn’t possible to have someone bring stuff out to you.  

Never make wearing a mask into a power struggle.  This will make the child want to wear it even less.  If the child is showing you that he/she is not ready for a mask, make sure that he/she knows that going out is not an option without a mask.

This is a very uncertain time for everyone.  We are all extremely stressed and anxious and children are no exception.  Regression during times of extreme upheaval and stress is normal for children, so try to hold space for it and your own feelings.

The only way we will get through this pandemic is to have empathy for each other and do what we need to do to stop the spread of the virus.  We can do this TOGETHER!!!!

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