Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The truth about twelve-year-old girls and the world

“09-28-2010 2:59:13 PM EST
At twelve, girls are still children. They act like children, talk like children and think like children. And they are helpless like children. You grossly misrepresent the abilities of twelve year old girls, and portray them as older than their years. It is stories such as yours that destroy childhood as a time of innocence. Why do you people have to dwell on the trials of the few and apply them to all? No twelve year old should have to think about this stuff. Why write it?”  -- a comment left on my website

So it is wrong to portray in writing or other art forms the reality many twelve-year-old girls live – is this what you’re saying?

As adults whose memories of our own adolescences grow ever hazier and distant, we might not like the thought of it, but the reality is adolescent girls need to think about those things. Attempting to keep them ignorant (or remain ignorant ourselves of the plain fact that they're not) only teaches them that there is no real difference between acting on your own desire and being forced to act out someone else's.  If the only message to young girls is “Sex is bad; don't think about it at all, until I tell you otherwise," despite their own normal adolescent desires, lessons about self-determination and consent -- crucial information to have a few years down the line, when they're legally capable of making the distinction for themselves -- are not part of the picture.

And let’s face it, most twelve and thirteen year old girls are already the focus of too much adult oriented sexuality as it is.  Should we not equip them to understand what they face? Or shall we let them live in the shadows of our own denial and pray they will somehow – through the atmosphere itself, I suppose soak up enough savvy to deal with it?

The photograph to the right is of a twelve-year-old girl, an image seized by police during a raid of a "modeling" agency. It is one of several thousand.

You write girls of twelve act like children, talk like children, think like children and are helpless like children.  Twelve is legally still a child, no doubt, but are children necessarily helpless and unable to understand and manipulate the world around them? 

I decided to peruse world events keying in on twelve-year-old girls in the news. Here are a few stories:

In Bend, Oregon, Mimi Ausland, 12, wanted to help feed hungry dogs housed in the hard-pressed to keep up with costs animal shelters in her state. In order to do this, she created freekibble to try and do just that. Every day, people enter the site and answer the daily dog trivia question. Every answer, right or wrong earns a donation of 10 kibbles to the Human Society. In the first five weeks, freekibble has generated enough kibble to feed 560 dogs for one day. Is Mimi a voiceless and helpless child of twelve? I don’t think so.

In the Chilean waters of the Archipelago of Juan Fernandez, some 420 miles off shore, lives a twelve-year-old girl on Robinson Crusoe Island. One morning, she noticed a vibration of her bed. Everyone else was asleep in the early morning hours. She looked out the window and noticed the sea was moving the boats in a strange way, and ran to the village square and sounded the alarm bell, waking the 700 inhabitants of the islands only town, San Juan Bautista. It was just in time. While the villagers scrambled into the hills, the giant tsunami struck, destroying everything in its path. Was Martina Maturana incapable of understanding or implementing a plan of action? Most definitely not.

In Long Island, New York, Miriam Starobin saved the life of Allyson Golden – with a little help from Sponge Bob Square Pants.  Allyson choked on her gum while laughing over something funny. Allyson stopped breathing and turned blue. Without thinking, Miriam pulled her friend up and gave her three or four Heimlich maneuvers.  The gum shot out of Allyson’s mouth and landed five feet away.  Miriam said she remembered an episode involving Sponge Bob’s neighbor, Squidward and a choking episode she’d seen years earlier.  "It was like a flash right in my eyes. I saw in my head Squidward with his clarinet lodged in his throat and then SpongeBob does the Heimlich maneuver and the clarinet comes flying out of his mouth," she said. "I had no clue what I was doing until it was done." Another helpless child of twelve – yes.

The Seattle Times reported a conspiracy by two twelve-year-old girls to cause physical injury to their teacher. Their weapon of choice? Strawberry lip gloss. Yes – they smeared the teacher’s water bottle and coffee cup to prompt an allergic reaction in their teacher who has a severe allergy to strawberries.  Why? A progress report was due, and one of the girls lacked a parental signature and the girls wanted to distract the teacher. It worked – for a while. The teacher did have a reaction – watery eyes and shortness of breath and went home early. A fellow student turned in the girls – and the police were called.  Nothing my heroine concocted up as a plan came anywhere near this true life one.

Apparently, law enforcement doesn’t share the above commentor’s view of childhood.

In Queens, Alexa Gonzalez, age twelve, was led out of her school in handcuffs and detained for hours at the local police precinct. Her crime? Doodling on her desk with an erasable marker.  Alexa is the latest in a string of city students who have been cuffed for minor infractions. In 2007, 13-year-old Chelsea Fraser was placed under arrest for writing "okay" on her desk at Intermediate School 201. And in 2008, 5-year-old Dennis Rivera was cuffed and sent to a psych ward after throwing a fit in his kindergarten. Alexa states the fear and humiliation was overwhelming. "I cried for hours." At least, she says, her arrest has taught her not to doodle on her desk.

The police don’t see twelve-year-old girls as helpless or lacking the ability to plan nefarious acts.

Consider this story.

It was 7:45 PM on a balmy Galveston, Texas evening when the power went out in twelve-year-old  Dymond Milburn’s home.  Her mother sent her out to flip the main breaker switch.  There she was, standing in her own front yard, when an unmarked van screeched to a stop and four men, dressed in ordinary street clothes jumped out. One shouted “You’re a prostitute. You’re coming with us.” The girl grabbed hold of a tree and shouted, “Daddy! Daddy!” The four men commenced to beat her. When her father arrived and tried to defend his daughter, they beat him too. They were police officers, undercover, responding to a complaint two blocks away of two white prostitutes soliciting a black male. Dymond, an African American pre-teen, eventually made it to a hospital that night and was treated for her injuries. As if this wasn’t bad enough, three weeks later, she was arrested at school for assaulting a police officer. So was her father.  You can read the whole story here, so I won’t give any further detailst Though I do wonder how threatening four male police officers found this pubescent girl, and why, instead of apologizing for the mistake, they felt compelled to lay further charges. 

Here’s another astounding story.

New York: The music industry has turned its big legal guns on Internet music-swappers — including a 12-year-old New York City girl who thought downloading songs was fun. Brianna LaHara said she was frightened to learn she was among the hundreds of people sued yesterday by giant music companies in federal courts around the country. "I got really scared. My stomach is all turning," Brianna said at the city Housing Authority apartment where she lives with her mom and her 9-year-old brother. "I thought it was OK to download music because my mom paid a service fee for it. Out of all people, why did they pick me?" The Recording Industry Association of America (search) — a music-industry lobbying group behind the lawsuits — couldn't answer that question.

Apparently, dear commenter, the world at large doesn’t share your beliefs as to the innocence, the helplessness or the lack of ability of twelve-year-old girls.

But back to the sad and sorry state of true affairs for twelve-year-old girls in this incomprehensible world of ours.  My story is undermining the innocence of young girls, this commenter says. Perhaps we should all consider these stories.

Dallas, Texas: A sixth grader danced nude at Diamonds Cabaret for a two-week period, but that is not enough to shut the place down. "If they're not shut down, it's like they're giving them permission to have underage girls dancing and working in that club," said the mother of the 12-year-old. The mother is not being named because her daughter, a runaway at the time of the incident, is considered a sexual assault victim.

Minnesota: A 12-year-old girl in Minnesota has been charged with drunk driving. The girl met a 19-year-old boy at a party where both were drinking. And for some reason, this guy asked the girl to drive him home. She obliged and on the way, mistook the gas pedal for the brake. She hit a highway sign before skidding into a yard. Amazingly, no one was seriously hurt. But when the cops arrived, they had a lot of head scratching to do. Cause there’s not really a law for this one on the books.

And speaking of the inability of the law to make sense of a situation, here’s another:

Salt Lake City - Utah Supreme Court justices acknowledged that they were struggling to wrap their minds around the concept that a 13-year-old girl could be both an offender and a victim for the same act - in this case, having consensual sex with her 12-year-old boyfriend.  The Ogden, Utah, girl was put in this odd position because she was found guilty of violating a state law that prohibits sex with someone under age 14. She also was the victim in the case against her boyfriend, who was found guilty of the same violation by engaging in sexual activity with her. Randall Richards, the girl's attorney, argued that prosecuting children under a law meant to protect them is illogical.  "A child (victim) cannot also be a perpetrator in the exact same act."

On the international scene, try this one.

A girl is to become Britain's youngest mother after becoming pregnant at 11. She will be 12 years and 8 months when she has the child next month. Jenny Teague, Britain's youngest mother until now, was a month older when she gave birth in 1997. Her boyfriend, 15 has since been charged with rape. Her 34-year-old mother, who gave birth to her youngest child eight months ago, said she was proud of her daughter.

In Yemen, it is legal and common for young girls to marry fully-grown men. But a growing activist movement trying to abolish the practice won a small victory Saturday, when 12-year-old Sally al-Sahabi was granted a divorce from her 26-year-old husband. After four months of begging her husband and petitioning human rights groups, Sally was finally getting her divorce.  Shadda Nasser, Sally's lawyer later said that the only reason the divorce went through was because Nabil had requested it. Sally was beaten and raped as a 10-year-old bride, but her December 2009 petition for divorce had failed.

Lahore (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A 12-year-old  girl died on Friday as a result of physical violence inflicted by her employer, a rich and powerful  lawyer in Lahore.. The authorities are trying to appease people and have pledged that justice shall be done. Pakistani President Zardari has also promised to pay compensation to the family. A concerned religious leader, reported the case of Shazia Bashir, 12, who was employed for the past eight months as a domestic worker in the household of Chaudhry Muhammad Naeem, a lawyer and former president of the Lahore Bar Association. This sad picture accompanied the story.

Turkey: Police have rescued a 12-year-old girl from Syria who was married to a middle aged man in a “bride wealth” exchange after she informed her parents that she had been raped and was forced to use drugs. The girl was handed over to Abdülhakim Doğan in the eastern province of Şanlıurfa for 12,000 Turkish Liras, which was paid to the family in two installments. Daily Radikal reported that 40-year-old Doğan has had 38 criminal convictions against his name prior to his recent arrest for raping and forcing porn and drugs on his wife.

And back here at home in the good old US of A:

Maryland:  A man is accused of forcing a 12-year-old girl from Washington, D.C., to work for him as a prostitute in New Jersey and Maryland. Forty-two-year-old Derwin Smith of Glen Burnie has been charged with human trafficking of a minor and related offenses. He's being held on $3 million bond. Anne Arundel County police say Smith was arrested Monday night at a Laurel hotel by a task force of local and federal law enforcement. The girl told police that Smith kept all the money she made and that he held her against her will.

So my dear commenter, tell me why I should not write a fictional account of a girl’s life that mirrors some of what goes on in this world every day, and everywhere? Did I suggest this story be put in the library of a middle school (junior high school)? No. Though I have targeted women and mature girls -- maturity being a state of mind, not years, my advance readers only included girls as young as sixteen.

I think you do our girls a disservice by labeling them as lacking in ability to plan, to understand the world, to make decisions and take actions to care for themselves. Further, I think you endanger them by desiring to keep them in ignorance of the truths they face. Considering that of the 100,000 American children trafficked each year in the U.S. most are girls with an average age of eleven, and that one in three girls reports sexual abuse by age twelve, there's no doubt the issues they must make sense of are entirely real, and far from rare.

Sincerely yours,


"It is a dangerous world for a girl child." -- Oprah Winfrey, in "The Color Purple."

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

About writing those articles on registered sex offenders ...

Some of you might be thinking I have an unhealthy fascination with sex crimes, particularly those committed against children. It’s true; I do. The subject has engaged me for years. Nay, decades.

Lately, I’ve been doing research for a series of articles on sex-offenders. Why? Because in thirty years involvement in child protection, I’d never once sat down and talked to the ‘doer,’ the offender, which is probably just as well considering my frame of mind after working with their victims. I had long unanswered questions, such as “how could you?” asked in appropriate tones of moral outrage, of course.

I confess to this perverse curiosity over the subject, specifically the motivation, psychology and moral compass of ‘the other side.’

I contacted local law enforcement, introduced myself and my project, and asked for assistance. And I must say, they were extremely helpful and not only met with me, but arranged for me to speak with a Corrections Officer who supervises the highest level of sex offenders: Level 3 or Predators. He agreed; an article on the subject would be a good idea, and an appointment was set for interviews to begin in two weeks time.

In the meantime, I threw myself into background research. This involved a study of the laws regarding the sex offenders registry (there have been a flurry of laws in the past decade,) and a review of many sex offender support sites, and email contact with some of the more outspoken faceless names I found there.

"I must try to take a balanced look at this issue", or so I instructed myself. I had as many preconceptions as anyone else going in: sex offenders were the lowest of the low, monsters lurking about playgrounds waiting to pounce and attack our children, self-centered psychopaths who deserved the worst punishments society could dish out. I had a somewhat new view coming out.

What I thought would be a straight forward job turned out to be the study of a can of worms, a wriggling mass of, misguided intentions, zealous and blind-minded implementation, contradictory results, misinformation and enough hysteria on all sides to float a hot air balloon.

Here are some of the bitter facts. No two sources of statistical information agree, but here are some rounded figures common to all studies we can deem reliable. 90% of all sex offenses against children are intra-familial, meaning the offenders victimized members of their own family, extended family or family circle; 8% are against children known to the offender. Only 2% represent the much publicized and dreaded by all parents crime of attack by a prowling stranger.

Add to this, 95% of new sex offenses reported are committed by someone without a previous record, someone unregistered. Another interesting fact, contrary to popular myth, sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rate of all categories of crime: 5.3%.

Granted a true pedophile will always be a pedophile, and a danger, but familial sexual abuse is rarely about pedophilia. Sex abuse within the family is generally more motivated by domination and control, not sexual orientation.

An even more troubling statistic is the estimate by professionals in the field that perhaps only 20% of all child sex abuse cases are reported, and the true scope of sex offenses against children is uncertain. The best estimates put together by a conference of world-wide professionals is 7 of 10 girls, and 4 of 10 boys. Compare this to the ‘official’ numbers (none of which agree) of 18-30% of girls and 6-14% of boys.These official statistics are based on reported cases, and as we all know...

Now, on the other hand, I learned that while the registry is an excellent resource for tracking the predators, those that represent an ongoing danger, and for informing the public as to their presence and whereabouts, in our zeal following some highly publicized and horrific crimes, perhaps the nets have been cast too wide. There are many on the registry paying a very high price,enduring a punishment that far outweighs the severity of their crime (if crime is the appropriate word.)

Offenders in some states now register for twenty-five years, even if they are deemed a Level One offender, that is, unlikely to re-offend and some whose offenses might be considered victim free. Many law enforcement professionals consider the swollen ranks of the registry as counter-productive.

How does registering as a sex offender affect the lives of those ordered to do so? With the information easily accessible on the internet, and society’s misconceptions about what the term sex offender may mean, no employer will hire anyone registered. Housing choices can be affected. Some have been targeted for harassment, abuse, vandalism of their homes, assaulted and even killed.

In fact, the more I read, the more disturbed I became. A twenty-year-old fellow who meets a girl who says she is eighteen but turns out to be fifteen, will end up registered as a sex offender for twenty-five years. And we all know of many cases of fifteen and sixteen year old girls with boyfriends more than four years their senior. Are we ruining lives over this?

Oh my! – I published the first article, and the comments starting pouring in. I was ‘spanked’ by someone claiming to be in law enforcement specializing in sex offenders for any hint there may be some injustice in the registry. In fact, says this person, they are all liars, and anyway, it is all worthwhile if one sex offense against a child is prevented. (Though why the welfare of a child was worth more than the welfare of a man was beyond me. It should be equal.)

Then, on the other side, registered offenders left comments suggesting my hints of injustice didn’t go far enough, and regaling me with instances of gross injustice, and stories of those as young as 16 being ordered to register (though in Florida, no one under the age of 18 is registered.) No, they felt my article was too soft, and look at the numbers now registered, and for which offenses – impossible! Unjust! A crime!

Parents left comments expressing their emotional outrage. “These monsters are unspeakable, and should be locked up forever!” “No punishment is enough for these terrible crimes.” “They should be castrated/executed/put on another planet.” All those easy outbursts that do nothing more than fuel our moral outrage.

Like I said, enough hysteria to float a hot balloon.

Truthfully, I think this is one issue we should examine with cooler heads. Let’s put away our emotional outrage. Need help cooling off? Well then, think on this:

If 95% of sex offenses are committed by someone not registered, then it isn’t helping all that much. IF 90% of offenses against children occur within the family circle, then publication of these names does nothing to protect the public, and much to destroy the family – including the victim.

And while law enforcements points to the declining number of sex offenses over the past decade as an indicator such measures are working, is it not more likely the only decline has been in the reporting of the crimes? Considering the consequences to the family and the offender who may be the support of that family, it’s more likely victims are either choosing or are pressured into remaining silent.

According to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the registered sex offenders in the United States constitute 232 for every 100,000 people, or .232%. Is it possible that such a small fraction of the population is responsible for the number of sex offenses each year? Even the mere 20% that are reported?

Of course not.

Seven out of ten girls, four out of ten boys and one in three households. Let’s be real.

Yours sincerely,                                                                                             


Here are links to the first two articles in the series on Registered Sex Offenders.

Feel free to share your opinion on this issue in the comment section.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why did I write this book?

Why did I write this book?

A publicist sent me a list of questions I could expect to be asked during any interviews – real and virtual – over the course of the promotional campaign for This Bird Flew Away. These, she insists, require thoughtful answers – and it won’t do to sit and stammer while I think one up.

The first question is: Why did you write this book?

Not such an easy question as one might imagine.  You’d think after writing, rewriting, editing, rewriting again, more editing , more rewriting, query letters, advance readers, author’s review sites – more rewriting, and finally, an offer to publish … somewhere along the line, I would have asked myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’

The first answer to fly into my mind was simple – I had to.

I’ve known two great passions in life, writing fiction and working for justice and social change as they relate to children and the abuses children suffer; yet up to this time, they didn’t come together.  Strangely, for a long time, aside from articles in professional journals, I avoided writing of this subject. Why?  I think I wasn’t ready to do so.

Not only did I have a painful bout of depression related to child protection work and the growing sense of impotence I felt, as though trying to empty a river with a teaspoon, I also had issues relating to my own childhood. Certainly, I hadn’t suffered from some of the hideous abuses I saw, but what I had survived required a lifetime to sort out. There are many forms of abuse, and destruction of self-esteem may well be the worst.

Writing ‘This Bird’ was a healing process for me. This is a story of courage, of healing, of triumph, but in the most ordinary sense, with sadness, yes, but dedicated to the sheer joy of life, survival and the profound resilience found in all of us.

So it came to me, the second part of the answer was more complex – the writing of this book was a journal of healing, not just for me, but for all of us.

Although much emphasis has been placed on the sexual abuse component of this story in discussion and in the promotion, in truth, it is a minor element. For our fictitious Bria that was the least of her concerns, and is not the real focus. The true damage done to her is best echoed in her cry, “I am nothing; I am no one. I am the nobody nobody wants.”

Does it matter the form our degradation takes? Whether it is a rape at a young age, ongoing molestation, simple neglect, over-zealous punishments or emotional abuses, the healing follows the same course.  Sometimes, that healing may involve an entire life.

Lastly, I wrote this novel as a testament to the girls it was my privilege to meet, to help, to befriend and most of all, from whom I learned so much about the strength of the human spirit.

Over the years I met many young girls and did my very best to help them. I wasn’t a very good professional in that I lacked the ability to maintain my distance.  When it came time to go home, I couldn’t ‘turn it off.’  I cared; I became too involved; for some I opened my home and for all, my heart.

Some didn’t make it. 
Some did – barely. Others triumphed, and went on to live fruitful, happy lives of purpose and love, and some few to fine accomplishments, against all the odds.

Bria’s story holds elements of all of them. I hoped, as I wrote, this story would be accepted by mature girls, as well as the adult audience and they would find within its covers a message of optimism, faith in themselves, a belief in a better future and a road map of healing hidden deep inside a good tale.

There’s more, of course and I’ll talk of them in future musings, no doubt. There’s an exploration of the nature of true love, as in the depth of attachment based not on romantic myth and infatuations, but on respect, friendship, and selflessness. Perhaps we might consider the ties of family in a non-traditional form – very timely in these retrospective times.  Certainly, there are questions of morality to delve into, as no one in this novel is worthy of sainthood.

But then, I’ve never met a saint, but I have a very strong suspicion that should I one day do so, I probably wouldn’t like him or her very much.

Sincerely yours,


PS: Here is a rose blooming in my garden. Too bad you can't smell it -- divine. 

Which brings to mind an old article of mine: 

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Friday, September 10, 2010

The child's voice -- an excerpt from my article on voice in writing

An excerpt from my article on voice in writing -- the child's voice
 The writing of This Bird Flew Away, written in the first person voice of a child narrator, and a child who we meet at nine and follow for twenty years, brought with the task some very interesting challenges -- the need to capture authenticity in a child's voice and work within those limitations. The following is an excerpt from my recent article on the subject I'd grappled with for over a year.

As an adult, how can you write in the voice of a child?
You must be able to tap into your own past, your own childhood and once again be the person you used to be. You must actively engage with children at any given opportunity, and remind yourself of the special attributes of that unique time of growth, wonder and curiosity.

Authors so often short-change the child’s voice.
Common belief states children are inarticulate; children have no understanding of their emotions; children don’t understand the world around them. Writers who believe this and write accordingly tend to be condescending, or precious, or preachy, or worse – their children sound like intellectual adults, without respect for the limitations of the age. Or worse yet – their children are hollow, void, stick characters from a morality play and infantile rather than just plain kids.

Writing from the viewpoint of the child does not give us the right to make of our character what we wish children were – but to consider them as they are.
Kids go about the business of being kids no matter what goes on in their lives. There’s this wonderful resilience kids have… They stay innocent and keep reinventing themselves despite all the appalling crap. I find the ideal of childhood innocence played against the cruelty of the world very inspiring.
Even in the most despicable of circumstances, they maintain that wonder and magic in their views of life and the world. They are all philosophers, processing everything around them and always ready to ask, “Why?”

They are painfully honest. Up to about age ten or eleven, what goes on in their minds is exactly what comes out – nothing is filtered for politeness, nothing censored for political correctness, and there is never any chance a child says one thing but thinks another. This is a powerful tool for a writer – a complete lack of subtlety, or deviance.

Those qualities in adults that attract, impress or disgust children are so far removed from what other adults see, it is a whole new way to see the world. Writing from the viewpoint of the child allows us to describe our world from a fresh perspective, and possibly, quite possibly shed some of society’s preconceptions along the way.

The false belief that children are inarticulate and incapable of comprehending the world should be the first to go.They do speak their minds (sometimes embarrassingly so) and do understand their environment, but from the viewpoint of a child. 

Who is to say one person’s perceptions are more true than another’s; perhaps the children have it right and the adults see things falsely.
This is from one of nine articles on writing from a series called "Good Writing is ..." You can read the entire article here.

For a listing of all nine of my writing articles visit my portfolio here.

I wish you all good writing and good reading.

Sincerely yours,


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Have men become reluctant to befriend a child for fear of allegations?

Have men become reluctant to befriend a child for fear of allegations?

(Brought over from my old blog page, originally posted August 30, 2010)

“You’ll have to rewrite your main male character,” the agent said during our phone conversation (back when I still thought I needed one of those.) “He acts like a pedophile.” She was busy laying down all the things I’d have to change if she was to represent my manuscript. Needless to say, we did not strike up a relationship.

But she did give me food for thought.

Let me explain: Jack – the main male character of This Bird Flew Away -- is not a pedophile, but a decent individual who cares for this young girl he’s known since she was three, and sets out to gain her trust. And yes, I deliberately made his actions -- which are not explained until the third chapter -- seem as though they may be questionable.

I found such a knee-jerk reaction interesting.

What does a child molester do? (And I don’t mean the grab and rape variety, who account for a very small percentage of child abuse events.) He ‘grooms’ the child, meaning he works to gain her trust. He becomes a friend. He offers a welcoming ear to her troubles, takes her side in her petty dramas, assures her he understands her problems and appreciates her special qualities ...

So how does one tell the difference between a caring adult genuinely concerned for a child, or simply liking the child and enjoying her company and a potential child-molester?

It’s tough.

Even in this fictional work, the first reaction to a man befriending a girl was 'he must be a pedophile.'

I wonder if we haven’t produced a world where adults, particularly men no longer feel comfortable befriending a child, or even coming to the assistance of one. I asked my husband, and he says he feels that pressure. He doesn’t want to be left alone with any of the neighborhood kids who like to visit me in our house.

I did some research on the question. A recent poll in the U.K. found that half the men asked would not risk coming to the aid of a child for fear of being branded a pedophile.

Have our fears so ruled our lives, we’ve isolated children from adult society?

Here is a link to the article in the Daily Mail, U.K. Read and judge for yourself.

Sincerely yours,


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Allow me to present a true story of strength, healing and courage:

Allow me to present a true story of strength, healing and courage:

(Brought over from my old blog page, originally posted August 25, 2010)

I racked my brain for a week, trying to decide on a good subject for my first blog. It seemed such a momentous decision, as though it would set the tone for all that was to follow. I started several times but none of my attempts seemed right.

Then the contents of my inbox solved the problem for me.

The first was from the editor of hubpages, a popular on-line publishing site, telling me one of my favorite writers, Deborah Demander from Wyoming had published a new hub. The title was “Letter to a Molester.” Of course, such a subject drew my attention immediately.

Never have I read such an eloquent and poignant address from a grown victim, directed through time to her childhood molester. In a later comment on one of my articles, she says she never told anyone at the time, and when she did as an adult speak of it, her confidante did not believe her.

Her lovely prose speaks of her embarrassment, her shame and her fear, and of growing up in the shadow of misplaced blame – like so many others. But Deborah found salvation in love and her family.

She speaks of watching her own daughters as they approached the age she’d first been accosted – eight -- and thinking of their innocence and praying it remain. She tells her molester, clearly, what she thinks of him now, and wisely decides to put the past in the past and move on.

There have been readers of This Bird Flew Away, who suggest my story is overly optimistic. I’ve never thought so. To these I say, read Deborah’s Letter to a Molester and you will read the words of a real-life heroine, whose strength rivals the fictitious Bria.

Here is the link to Deborah’s beautiful article. The Prairie Sage: Letter to a Molester

I heartily recommend it.

Sincerely yours,


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