Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Cloak Of Secrecy: Shame on Penn State

I'll be honest with you...I am not a football kind of gal. So, up until a few days ago, I had no idea who the heck Jerry Sandusky was. All that changed, however, in the matter of a seconds when all the sexual abuse allegations against him surfaced! Now....he will never be forgotten. The most disturbing part of this story is not that he could have done this to all those young children. I am well aware of how prevalent this crime is. (The statistics do not lie.) I am disturbed...appalled...nauseated by the allegation that so many knew about this....AND DID NOTHING TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN! (Yes, I'm yelling because I am peeved!)

I reviewed the infamous timeline that has been widely reported. In summary, it begins in 1994. In 2000, a Janitor allegedly sees Sandusky molesting a young boy. Again in 2002, a graduate assistant (Mike McQueary) allegedly witnessed Sandusky sodomizing a 10-yr-old in a locker room. A 2008 Grand Jury investigation found that 118 phone calls were made from Sandusky's phone to a victim's home after his mother reported that her son had been molested. However, it was not until October 5, 2011 that Sandusky is arrested for the alleged crimes. Siiiiiigggghhh!

The sad truth is that there are thousands of
"Sandusky's" out there. However, don't be misguided because there
are just as many "McQueary's" in the world as well!!!!! In fact,
in order for a pedophile to victimize, they need a cloak of secrecy.

Remember as well that kids often do not tell when they are being abused because the pedophile has brainwashed them into thinking that what they are doing is okay; or that no one will believe them; or that they would harm their loved ones. That is why I want each of you to know the warning signs to watch for. Here are just a few:

Masturbating excessively.
Showing unusually aggressive behavior toward family members, friends, toys, and pets.
Complaining of pain while urinating or having a bowel movement.
Exhibiting symptoms of genital infections such as offensive odors, or symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease.
Beginning wetting the bed.
Experiencing a loss of appetite or other eating problems, including unexplained gagging.
Showing unusual fear of a certain place or location.
Developing frequent unexplained health problems.
Engaging in persistent sexual play with friends, toys or pets.
Regressing to behaviors too young for the stage of development they already achieved.
Initiating sophisticated sexual behaviors.
Indicating a sudden reluctance to be alone with a certain person.
Engaging in self-mutilations, such as sticking themselves with pins or cutting themselves.
Withdrawing from previously enjoyable activities, like school or school performance change.
Asking an unusual amount of questions about human sexuality.

I also want want you to know what to do if you discover that your child has been abused. Here is a short video that offer 5 key things you should know.

An open and honest blog about what matters most.....CHILDREN AND FAMILIES!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I'm gonna tell my Daddy!!!

Today's guest post is from a good friend of mine who was able to perfectly capture and describe how a father's love can make a difference in a child's life. The recent Penn State scandal makes this article even more impactful. I wept as I read his recent post and asked if I could share it with all of you. So happy that he said yes!

I'm Gonna Tell My Daddy
By: Cushmeer

5 words. 5 simple words that every child deserves to have in their arsenal. Every child deserves the protection of a caring, loving and most importantly, PRESENT daddy.

Far too often, our children are left to fend for themselves because they have been abandoned by the one who is best equipped to protect them. Far too often our children are preyed upon by those who know that there is no one there to fill the void that only a father can fill.

As I sit here in my office my eyes are filling with tears because I cannot help but feel for the kids out there who can't say these words. I feel for the little girl that doesn't know her value because daddy abandoned her. I feel for the little boy who doesn't know how to respond to situations because he has no male role model to pattern himself after.

Abandonment is a weird feeling. It hides inside of you quietly and unnoticed until the moment that you need daddy. The moment that your instincts tell you to reach out for help, only to be reminded by your mind, that there is no one to reach out to. That is when the feelings of worthlessness creep in and take root in your still forming psyche. When you are watching mommy get her a** beat by her boyfriend, or when you see someone abusing your sister and you have no one to call and you don't know how to respond.

Abandonment does not have to be permanent to leave permanent scars. All it takes is a few months of not being there for life long damage to occur to your child. That little baby that you were so proud of when he or she was born. The little one that made you feel that you suddenly mattered for the first time. The one who gave you the opportunity to be better than your absentee father was to you.

Every time I look in the mirror at my shirtless torso, I am reminded of what can happen when daddy isn't around and when uncles didn't, wouldn't or couldn't step in. I also know the feeling of being all alone in the world, coming home from school to find no one home and the doors locked. Forced to stay with friends, wondering where I was going to sleep. I had plenty of family that loved me, but I didn't have a single phone number to call. Then, after a week of staying at a school mates home, I had worn out my welcome. The abandoned little boy who didn't know his father's phone number got beat up by the school mate who's home I couldn't go back to.

So there I sat, in the lobby of the empty home that my family had left. I was 12. I sat on the steps crying and hugging my skinny little doberman who had been abandoned with me. The plan that my little mind came up with that night was to put the both of us up for adoption. He was all I had in the world. Then out of the blue, the phone rang. "A-Salam-Alaikum"....It was my father. I hadn't seen him for a few months, but at that very moment, I knew that I was safe. Within a matter of an hour, my father was there to comfort me. To protect me and to replenish the self-worth that had been sucked out of me.

He didn't have a fancy house. He didn't have a car, or fancy clothes, but when I saw him that night, he was as beautiful as any movie star that anyone has ever seen. I had a hero. I had a shoulder to cry on without a single string attached. Years later, back with my mother, dad faded off into the distance again. We were in Georgia. Mom was trying to hustle to take care of my sister and I. In and out of jail she went, so my sister and I were forced to stay with strangers for weeks and months at a time. Again, with no contact information, we had to deal with the pain of abandonment again, and again, and again as our mother was in and out of jail.

During my freshman year at Frederick Douglass HS in SW Atlanta, Ga, I didn't have any clothes. I wore the same pair of pants everyday until I came up with the idea of turning them into shorts as the weather improved. After all, shorts beat highwaters. Only problem was that I didn't know the rule of "measure twice, cut once", so now my one pair of highwater pants became highwater SHORTS. :)

It was the third day of the spring semester, and Mrs. Fanning had just fronted me out for not wearing deodorant. Mom hadn't been home for a few days, and dad was who knows where at this point. Arizona I think. I noticed that the kids on the other side of the classroom, facing me, were all whispering and giggling amongst themselves. I knew that it was because the teacher had just fronted me out something fierce, but it went on for too long so I knew there was something else. I assumed that they were making fun of my off brand tennis shoes again, and when I looked down; to my horror, I saw that my teenie weenie shorts had let me down. My little nutty buddies, had somehow crept out of my short shorts. As soon as I shut my legs, that entire side of the classroom erupted into laughter. I couldn't take it, so I grabbed my books and ran all the way home to the 2 bedroom Allen Temple sh*t hole that we lived in....crying all the way.

I did not go back to school that year; cutting class by hiding in buildings from April-June. Those were some of the loneliest days of my life, sitting in those stairwells wondering why my life was the way that it was. Wondering why I was being tormented by God in this way.

Fast forward a few months to that summer and we moved to the Kinsgridge Apts near Greenbriar Mall. I got busted shoplifting by the Woolworths plain clothes security. When he saw that I was stealing underwear, I could see the anguish on is face as he tried to figure out what to do with me. Thank goodness for me that he let me go. I also joined a football team, The Buccaneers. I lied and said that I was 12 so that I could get one of the practice outfits. A pair of shorts and a Bucanners t-shirt. To me, it was a new outfit that fit, because, sad as it sounds, YES, I was still wearing those little shorts. Where was mom? Back in jail. This time for a failure to appear violation. She's been arrested so many time by this point, who could keep up with all of the court dates.

All this time that I was struggling, daddy wasn't around. Yes I knew that he loved me. Yes I knew who he was. Yes we'd had a beautiful bond at one point, but here I was, both of their son, lying and stealing for clothing, humiliated beyond imagination.

What would have happened to me if the Bucaneers coach was a Jerry Sandusky or an Eddie Long? Who was I going to turn to if I were being abused? Who did I even think cared enough to do something? Nobody. That's who. And that is what abandonment feels like.

But it can be undone in an instant.

So I am outside playing catch with my friend Ulysses. It is September and I am still wearing my E.D.O. (every day outfit). The Bucanners practice ensemble and my busted a** jeepers when the baseball we were throwing went through the neighbors window. As we stared at the window, with the tenant scolding us from the inside, I could see that I was not going to be getting any new school clothes now because that money was going to have to pay for the window. I had spent the whole summer looking at the sears catalogue in the house, wishing that I could have all of the nice clothes to wear to school and now this. Mom had just gotten out of jail a few weeks earlier and hadn't scraped up enough money except for maybe a pair of Levi's or 2.

As I sat there looking at the window a car pulled up a few yard away on the street. I didn't notice the car until the man in the passenger's seat yelled "Cushmeer!" It was my uncle Rasheed who I had not seen in years. He had just happened to be in Atlanta from Chicago, and was only in the neighborhood because the driver was dropping some money off to his kids. I cannot tell you what it felt like to hear "Cushmeer" at that moment. Only my family knew that name.

The next day, my uncle Rasheed came back to the house and took my sister and I to the Polo Store at Perimeter mall and bought us more clothes than I had even prayed for.

I remember staying up all night looking in the mirror at every outfit combination that I could think of. The impact that Rasheed's love had on me was instant and profound. Rasheed never abandoned us. He made sure that we got out of the new sh*t hole that we were living in. He made sure that we were reconnected with our family, and to this day, we have not been out of contact.

I owe my life to that day. I fear what I may have become had God not brought Rasheed to us at that moment. I was a victim waiting for a victimizer. Fortunately for me, I was rescued by a loving uncle who cared enough to fill part of the void created by my father's absence.

So I say to you, if you know of a child that is missing a father, take the time to help them, to encourage them and to love them; because if we don't, the horrors of Penn State and New Birth will continue to haunt our community for years and generations to come.

God Bless the fathers who, despite the obstacles and roadblocks find it in themselves to MAKE A WAY to be there for their children; and God bless the children who have no daddy to protect them.

Shout out to all of the fathers who stood strong and weathered the storms. Shah Salahdeen, Troy DaGraca, Patrick Hudson, Karriem Shah, WD Shah, Craig Gloster, Jihad Khayyam and Juan Pittman, through thick and thin, you stand tall for yours.

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