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Archive for January 12th, 2010

Alternate Takes on Abstinence-Only Education

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Let’s give “Fatherhood” and “Healthy Marriage” initiatives a break.  I have almost 5 minutes left to get some valuable, but fun, information out, and went looking for the history of the Abstinence Education idea. 

Abstinence Education – Let’s talk about sex

Aside from invading Iraq, one of George W. Bush’s favorite pet projects is pushing what is called abstinence-only education. According to Bush, the best way
irregulartimes.com/abstinenceed.html – CachedSimilar


This is from The Irregular Times (and uses the word “sex” about 3 times per sentence.  Enjoy — I’m sure you will, it’s LOGICAL).  If you pay taxes, I JUST want you to know the caliber of decision making that comes down from “on high” and sometimes even survives from one administration to another, kind of like a perpetual motion machine.  Bad Ideas are like fungi — they spread in the dark, do a lot of damage, and are kind of hard to deal with. . . . .

Abstinence-only education is founded upon the assumption that giving teenagers complete and accurate information about sex is dangerous. This foundation of George W. Bush’s abstinence agenda goes a long way in explaining the Republican animosity towards education in general. In abstinence-only education we see that Bush and his Republican supporters believe that knowledge is dangerous, and should be kept from people as much as possible. What George W. Bush never mentions is that the alternative to abstinence-only education is not some kind of hippy free love seminar in public schools. The medical community and responsible educational organizations promote an alternative called abstinence-plus. You won’t hear conservatives talking about this approach because it makes a lot of sense, and it’s easier for conservatives to sell abstinence-only programs when they’re able to keep parents frightened about unrestrained adolescent promiscuity. Abstinence-plus includes a strong component of information about the reasons that abstaining from sex can be an extremely wise choice for teenagers. The difference is that abstinence-plus does more than just tell teenagers not to have sex. Abstinence-plus programs also provide access to full and accurate information about sex, so that students can make intelligent decisions about having sex instead of remaining in the dark until it’s too late. It’s essential for public schools to provide students with complete sex education because if students don’t get their education at school, they’ll search for accurate information elsewhere. In a shocking display of naivete, George W. Bush and his Republican supporters suggest that teenagers would have sex less if only public schools did not let them know that sex exists. They ignore the fact that almost all American teenagers are skilled users of the Internet, which has plenty of information, both accurate and inaccurate. It’s the job of public schools to cut through the clutter of publicly available information, and provide an accurate presentation of it for their students. When George W. Bush insists that American public schools only be allowed to teach students about the reasons people should not have sex, he is performing a monumentally perverse act of academic censorship. That not only fails teenagers’ need for serious honesty about sex, it fails their need for an example of democratic principles in action. All other points aside, George W. Bush’s anti-education agenda is a dangerous idea because research shows that abstinence-only education just doesn’t work. Not too surprisingly, researchers have found that when teenagers sign pledge forms in front of their parents, promising not to have sex, they’re not really very likely to follow through. In fact, students who sign pledge forms as a part of sexual abstinence training are just as likely to have premarital sex as other students! The same is true of the students in abstinence-only programs in general. Full sexual education, on the other hand, has been shown not to act as an encouragement for students to have sex, and is shown to provide students protection from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases better than abstinence-only education does. The Bush Administration knows that abstinence-only education does not work at decreasing adolescent sexual behaviors, and actually increases students’ risk of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy. That’s why George W. Bush ordered that all behavioral standards for evaluating the success of abstinence-only educational programs be eliminated. He didn’t want to the government to gather information that he knew would show abstinence-only education to be a complete failure. The ultimate irony is that George W. Bush is pushing abstinence-only education at the same time that he is pushing for governmental programs to be performed by religious organizations. So, Bush’s plan includes promotion of taxpayer funding of abstinence-only programs by, among other groups, the Catholic Church. Given the scandal in the Catholic Church about long term and pervasive sexual assault of children by priests, this plan seems not only doomed to failure, but actually quite dangerous. After all, the Catholic Church, like other major religious institutions, appears to have been unable to convince its own leaders to stop having sex with children. How, then, are we supposed to believe that the Catholic Church is deserving of government grants in order to teach teenagers not to have sex with each other?

(of course, WITH paragraphs, in the original).

Written by Let's Get Honest|She Looks It Up

January 12, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Have Justice Will Travel — Rural Vermont DV help

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I heard of this woman on PBS a long time ago.  She is an Ashoka Fellow, doesn’t make a lot of money, and helps women stuck in rural areas, probably saving lives. . . . . . This was NOT a governmental program, not initiated by a federal grant, or managed by those whose prime business is getting such grants and attending lots of conferences.  it’s a hands-on type of help.

I googled “Domestic Violence” on the Ashoka site, and will look further.  Initially, it seems (as ever) people are much more aware of “what works” when they go outside the continental US than when they look inside.  However, judge for yourself!


from the ASHOKA Social Entrepreneurs site


Wynona Ward

Country: United States
Region: North America
Field Of Work: Human Rights
Subsectors: Criminal Justice,
Violence and Abuse
Target Populations: Families,
Law Enforcement,
Organization: Have Justice – Will Travel
Year Elected: 2000


This profile was prepared when Wynona Ward was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.
Wynona Ward is breaking the generational chain of domestic abuse in rural communities. She brings legal and social services to isolated victims and their children by using her truck as a mobile office. Her project offers a full array of support from initial relief to enabling women to gain economic independence.

Related Links


The New Idea

Recognizing that victims of domestic violence in rural areas are not only isolated, but also have to seek assistance from a number of disparate agencies, Wynona launched Have Justice-Will Travel (HJWT) to address this two-fold problem. Raised at the end of a dirt road in rural Vermont, Wynona understands that women in rural areas, particularly battered women, often do not have a phone or transportation necessary to get help. They also find it difficult to trust a wide group of legal and social service providers. Instead of asking women to seek services in distant towns, Wynona brings services to their doorstep. She helps them understand the root causes of abuse and to leave their abuser by achieving economic independence and emotional self-sufficiency. From an initial interview to free legal representation to follow-up services, Wynona’s program offers it all.

The Problem

Results from the first comprehensive national health survey of American women conducted by the Commonwealth Fund in 1993, report that in the United States, more than four million women are abused each year. Children at home and others in the locality are also affected by this violence. The 1995 Gallup Poll of family violence reports that between 1.5 million to 3.3 million children witness parental violence every year. Seeing, hearing, and experiencing the abuse traumatizes most children for life. It results in a cycle of generational abuse, as children who have been victims and witnesses are more prone to becoming violent adults.When women look for assistance, they find a fragmented mosaic of services. Victim advocacy organizations run twenty-four-hour hotlines, give referrals to social services, teach safety planning, and provide emergency shelter. Legal advice and representation must be sought from other quarters. Social Service agencies counsel, support, and help women to be financially independent. Unfortunately, many are unable to navigate this complex network.

In rural areas, other obstacles such as inadequate public transportation, few law enforcers, and lack of privacy in tight-knit communities can seriously hinder access to legal recourse and other support. Moreover, while public awareness about violence against women has increased considerably in recent years, it has been limited to urban areas. As a result, while there is little variation in the extent to which urban, suburban, and rural women experience violence, the primary beneficiaries of research and improved services have been in urban areas.

The Strategy

Wynona’s program has five components. {{readers Please Note these 5}}
Wynona first meets the victim in a secure place such as her home{assuming abuser is out, I guess} where the victim feels comfortable. As Wynona puts it, “I am able to sit in a woman’s kitchen, where she is at ease, and talk with her as a peer, in a language she understands.” During home interviews, Wynona assesses legal and financial issues, the woman’s understanding of generational abuse, the effects on her children, the most recent episode of abuse, and the services the family requires to understand and deal with the problem.
The second component is transportation. Wynona uses her four-wheel drive office–equipped with a CB radio, cell phone, scanner, laptop, and a printer to transport the victim to and from court hearings and social service appointments. Total client mileage can vary from five to five hundred miles. In 1999, Wynona totaled 9,847 client miles. In-home consulting and transportation bridge an important gap, as at present no legal or social service agencies fulfill these needs.

The third component is free legal representation. Rural Vermont has few attorneys who address domestic violence. Wynona’s on-the-road legal services include client and witness interviews, taking affidavits, pretrial motions, filing for divorce and child support, motions to modify parental rights and responsibilities, custody and visitation, and motions to extend relief from abuse orders.

Understanding that simply ensuring safety is not enough to end the generational cycle of abuse, Wynona is helping women to become self-sufficient and thus raise their self-esteem. The final two components of HJWT programs work toward this end. These programs enable the victim and her children to achieve social, economic, and psychological independence. The first is a skills development and mentor support group for women and mothers. Led by former victims,…

{GOT THAT??  “Led by former victims..”}

this group educates women on the cycle of abuse, the effect of domestic violence on children, generational abuse, and theories of power and control. It also covers practical training such as money management, budgeting, and job skills.

The last component is a supervised visitation program, The Kids Place, which manages supervised visits at home and off-site, parent education, age appropriate children’s classes on domestic violence, and counseling and support groups for victims and their children.

{{And right about there is where I’m sorry I posted this.  However, it’s better than not helping the women. . . . .  Again, no damn abuser should have access to kids, PERIOD, and no outsider should have to pay for him (or if a her, her) to do so.  Plus,this whole system — which I imagine Wynona hasn’t stopped helping women long enough to realize – – of supervised visitation come from a different paradigm, and is in essence refusing to let them get free.  The tool can be turned against the women in a flash, also… and is….}}

Wynona piloted her program in rural Vermont and is currently working in three counties. The majority of her clients are referred by victim advocacy toll-free telephone hotlines located in laundry mats, grocery stores, doctor and dentist offices, and schools.

The courts and police also make referrals. In 1999 alone, Wynona served thirty-eight clients between the ages of twenty-one and fifty-eight. National statistics suggest that it takes an average of seven times for a woman to leave before she makes the final break from her abuser. Wynona’s high success rate speaks for itself–95 percent of her thirty-eight clients have left their abusers.

For more of her story, see next post…

Wynona plans to spread her idea by creating an HJWT Institute overseen by a national advisory board. The goal of the Institute will be to teach others across America how to incorporate cultural, psychological, geographical, and economic considerations with legal services for victims of family violence to bring an end to the generational cycle of abuse in rural areas. Using the HJWT mobile model, the Institute will work with partner organizations to train lawyers and advocates using a training curriculum Wynona is developing. Wynona intends to partner with Legal Aid, Legal Service Corps, law schools, and victim advocacy organizations. Her 2001 expansion plans include Maine, New York, Arizona, and Wisconsin.

The Person

“When I’ve think of how far I’ve come from an abused home, I think: Wow! Look how far you’ve come. Then I think: Wow, lady, you have a lot more to do!'”Born in West Fairlee, Vermont, Wynona was one of five children. Wynona’s father sexually abused his daughters and other village children. At an early age she was “given the role of oldest child.” As a result, while she watched her father abuse her mother, Wynona was only abused once “when he was drunk and mad at everybody else in the house.”

After graduating from high school, Wynona worked as a secretary at Dartmouth College and then for a high-tech firm. She attended Boston University for two years, but quit for financial and personal reasons. In 1980, Wynona and her husband started a trucking business and she spent fifteen years as a long-haul trucker. Wynona drove during the day, with the CB radio handle “Daybreak,” and her husband drove nights as “Black Cat.”

In 1986, the family discovered that Wynona’s father had abused a three year old niece. This event forced Wynona and her sisters to confront the family’s history of abuse. They prosecuted their father. He spent a few days in jail but the case was dropped, as it was difficult to have a three year old as a witness. In 1992, the same niece revealed in counseling that Wynona’s forty-two year old brother had also abused her. Once again, Wynona led the effort to prosecute her sibling. This family crisis and the role she played as a “volunteer victim advocate” convinced Wynona that she had to complete college so that she could help other abused women and children.

In 1993, Wynona completed her undergraduate degree from the “back of the cab,” earning a degree from a Vermont College adult education program. In 1995, she entered Vermont Law School. While in law school, she worked at the South Royalton Clinic on domestic violence cases. It was here that the HJWT was born. “I realized that these women needed transportation, in-home consultations, and legal representation.” Wynona drew on three experiences: a survivor of domestic violence, fifteen years working as a long-haul trucker, and legal training to develop Have Justice Will Travel. Wynona is a role model for women who want to break free of abusive relationships as she has been there and survived.

(2) more info:

from AnneCarolineDrake.com\

“Bravo Wynona Ward, 2010 CNN hero”

(best viewed on original site — more active hyperlinks….)

She and her team log in over 30,000 miles/year, but get no funding from the state of VermontInitial funding came from a $32,500 grant from the VAWA.  In 2002, she told PBS that she pays herself just $25,000/year.  Today, HJWT has five offices and employs five full-time attorneys:
When these women get away from the abuse, they just bloom.  They become assured, confident, and want to help other people.
What keeps her going?  She told CNN:
I think about my mom sitting at our kitchen table, trying to figure out how to make the last 10 cents last to feed us all.
She wishes there had been a HJWT to tell her mother:
You do not have to be a submissive wife.  And you do not have to put up with having someone beat you.  We can help you.  We can help you to get out.
Honors and Accolades
Ms. Ward is a Schweitzer Fellow, an Ashoka Fellow, and an Equal Justice Works Fellow.  In 2009, the American Bar Association’s Delivery of Legal Services section honored her with an award for Bringing Legal Services to Domestic Violence Victims.  She is the first CNN Hero of 2010.  Hosted by Anderson Cooper, CNN Heroes was launched in 2007 to spotlight everyday citizens changing the world.
She has been featured in Ms. Magazine and was named in 2009 as one of the women changing the world by Women’s Day.  Her story was told on PBS in 2002 as part of a series on 12 local heroes which became the book Your America.  The book tells the stories of 12 ordinary citizens who fought for change and successfully made a difference.  Each found a route to change built around action.
Ashoka Fellows are leading social entrepreneurs who craft innovative solutions and demonstrate unrivaled commitment to bold new ideas.
Bravo, Wynona Ward!  Bravo!

Warning: ALL of you just got Outsourced!

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Apologies in advance if this post is a little ill-tempered.  So was I, at the time.

The need for the most human of functions in life is rapidly becoming obsolescent.  We are becoming, I fear, a patriarchal society modeled on the Queen Bee and hive mentality.  Assets are collected centrally, larvae (adjust term for biological precision) nursed, and workers sent out to collect more, for more of the same. 

Those with too much drive, individuality, and just dang eccentricity will be dumped, and not allowed to breed.  Or if they do, not keep their own.  Or, if they do manage to keep their own for a few years, they will be forced to break that “unnatural” parental bond and be coached on REAL parenting from, I suspect, people who haven’t gone through the most challenging aspects of it — like: poverty, exposure to racism, sexism, and the familycourtism(s).   

This is only half in jest.  And in order to express this, I may have to incorporate some scatalogical terminology.  Otherwise, it just doesn’t make sense…

I am trying to think of some sphere of human activity — character-formation that has NOT become a market niche.  That I could engage in, PRIVATELY, without being told by some expert how to do it better. 

Certainly no one could state that the basic human functions of eating, copulating, and (sometimes, sometimes not) a product of the second, parenting are not now major market niches.   Similarly, communicating, and making basic decisions relating to, say, their own lives….

Decisionmaking has been outsourced in the courts, obviously, to those more expert in (well, the facts and the law) than the general peasantry. 

Face it, you’re either expert, or you’re not.  The key to determining whether a person is a true expert, or not, is language.

If they use simple, declarative prose with concrete active verbs and nouns, they don’t know what they are talking about, obviously.

If they use passive tense, and speak in terms so ridiculously vague no one could prove or disprove a single fact regarding (whatever the subject matter is), t hey are “one of us” and should be given more power over more people (and said people’s money, children, and futures).

If they behave in a generally moral fashion without being educated, forced, bribed or threatened in order to do so, they are living in an alternate economic system, and should be quarantined, or otherwise silenced, and prevented from propagating more of their kind.

If they show signs of independent THINKING, ditto.


How did I come to this jaundiced opinion?  Well, on my way to this particular internet access, I am confronted coming and going with signs encouraging the (unwary) to open a child support case.  A beautiful photo of a young, light-skinned black girl tenderly holding a growing plant claims that it’s quick, easy, and free to open a child support case.  Please do so.

NOTHING, friends, in life is truly free except life itself from (so far) sperm & egg when it comes to humans.  You may squeak out a little privacy between him and her (initially), but institutionally, there are sperm banks and egg donors, too.  THOSE are not free. 

 TurboCourt has fostered a collaboration between the California courts and the Department of Child Support Services 

07/01/2008TurboCourt has also fostered a collaboration between the California courts and the Department of Child Support Services where Domestic Relations court filers are directly linked to the Child Support application allowing them to immediately request IV-D services. And the data from TurboCourt’s Family Law application is transferred to the Child Support application, speeding up the process.

Not in the fine print:  http://fatherhood.gov/

Now, the logo changes to a profile of one adult male holding a child (boy’s?) hand, and the motto to “Take Time to Be A Dad today!”  (I couldn’t copy it, but you can go look….).

The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) is funded by the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Family Assistance’s (OFA) and supports efforts to assist States and communities to promote and support Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Marriage.

Primarily a tool for professionals operating Responsible Fatherhood programs, the NRFC provides access to print and electronic publications, timely information on fatherhood issues, and targeted resources that support OFA-funded Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Marriage grantees. The NRFC Web site also provides essential information for other audiences interested in fatherhood issues.


If you THINK you understand government, read this and think again. . . . . There is NOTHING that can’t be sold, taught, marketed, and summarized in a slick brochure paid for by (your donations and/or taxes).  

Target population?  Anyone that has a problem with practically anything relating to human life (raising children, personal relations) or supporting it (low-income families especially welcome for subject matter, or those in prison, or under other distresses — possibly from the same institutional sources that are now going to illuminate and fix the problems that “emerged” during the passage through some other institution(s).

Seriously now, I printed this one out and read it….

INITIAL SALES PITCH:  We love your CHILDREN and we want to make sure they are SUPPORTED.  (aren’t we nice?).

ACTUAL INTENT:  We need CHILDREN to participate in RESPONSIBLE FATHERHOOD PROGRAMS as run (substantially) through the OCSE (Office of Child Support Enforcement):


On the bar to left of this page is one called “Access Visitation.”  Click on it:

The motto on THIS page is “Giving Hope and Support to America’s Children.”

[[Doesn’t that  sound noble enough?  It had BETTER, when it involves wage garnishment, possible incarceration for contempt of orders (but never mind, Big Brother will contact you in prison to teach you how to be a better man, or woman, and give you FREE legal help to get back with your children, possibly even job training… and that child support payment which –in typical ‘rational’ system manner, continues to accumulate while you’re IN prison — reduced, therefore helping you, if not the kids, experience “success” and “support.”]]

Whoever wrote this cannot have been on the requesting help in the form of CHILD SUPPORT end of a custody battle, and attempting to get a consistently straight, honest response out of this agency.

If I had ONE piece of valuable advice for women leaving a battering relationship, which I well know usually includes economic abuse as well (else we’d LEAVE, right?) it is — Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT entangle yourself in this system.  Figure out SOME other way. 

Here’s from that Access/Visitation page:


With an annual appropriation of $10 million, 54 States (*including the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands) have been able to provide access and visitation services to over a half million non-custodial parents (NCPs) and their families since the program became operational in 1997! In FY 2006, States contracted with over 300 court and/or community- and faith-based, non-profit service providers for the delivery of access and visitation services to NCPs and their families.

I. Enabling Legislation

The “Grants to States for Access and Visitation” Program (42 U.S.C. 669b) was authorized by Congress through passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

Goal: “..to enable States to establish and administer programs to support and facilitate non-custodial parents’ access to and visitation of their children…”

II. Allowable Services

According to the statute, States are permitted to use grant funds to develop programs and provide services such as:

  • Mediation
  • Development of parenting plans
  • Education
  • Counseling
  • Visitation enforcement (including monitored and supervised visitation, and neutral drop-off and pick-up)
  • Development of guidelines for visitation and alternative custody arrangements.

    Mothers attempting to leave abusive relationships with kids intact, FORGET THIS ROUTE!  Do anything (legal) to avoid the emotional and fiscal prostitution of Y OUR soul, time, and potential loss of your children (and money) in the long run anyway.   Put extraordinary and superhuman effort in UP Front.

    Think about it:  If he was going to pay willingly because of the goodness in his heart and concern for the kids, he would, without being forced, or bribed to with more time with the kids.

    How hypocritcal — the same theory that is to teach “morality” (relationship counseling) and so forth, is doing it in the form of a bribe, and not because it’s just the right thing to do.  Go figure.

    MEANWHILE, on the outside (for the custodial parent, often a MOM), SHE is repeatedly told, there is NO connection between payments and visitation, and if she withholds visitation on teh basis of the person simply won’t pay support (No, I do NOT recommend this either), SHE could be jailed for custodial interference.    But on the INSIDE (and out of her hearing) he gets free legal help and reduced support assignments for moving a few steps in the direction of payment,  i.e., we got here a serious double standard, and dishonesty.

    And this is who is telling us how to raise kids and be better parents?

    Caveat Emptor and Beware unsolicited helpers bearing ridiculous, vague, and ( unenforceable) promises.  Get enough help to get out and then develop good boundaries and if possible a cash flow system. 

     Keep your self away from that agency.  Think about it:  Why are they soliciting parents with cute fuzzy pictures in high commute areas? 

     Why don’t they instead go to the soup lines and ask the mamas and papas what’s up?  That’s where to find at least SOME people that truly need some help (if divorced) with child support payments. . . . .

    Add this to the Moral Reconation Therapy — which was first tested on female inmates, then males, then I guess trademarked, bundled, and marketed.  Beginning with a truly “captive” audience.

    To “get” this first read the history of it, and then the variations.  A sense of humor will be required.

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