Category Archives: Newsworthy

Irrational Fears?

That’s what Bruce Schneiner suggests is at the root of a story about a woman in South Carolina who was arrested for letting her 9 year old play at a park while she was at work. Now Bruce is an expert on security, and risk assessment and I tend to agree that we don’t assess the risks very well, especially when it comes to very emotional topics like protecting children.

Lovely Sunday in St. James Park. Oh, if you like the deck chairs, you can sit in one, for a price. ;-)
Now, without knowing the kid, the park, the neighborhood, the people in the park, or anything like that, I can’t say how much of a risk this truly was. I was allowed to walk to a neighborhood park as a 9-10 year old by myself for Little League games, so I don’t find the idea of a 9 year old hanging around a park by herself to be as shocking as some others might. I also know the truth about child abductions and abuse, that the vast, vast majority of them are the result of someone the kids already know, not the random stranger on the street. But, the random stranger on the street abducting a child does happen from time to time, and perhaps in this situation, leaving the kid there wasn’t the safest thing in the world. But, it also sounds like maybe there weren’t a lot of options here, which is a whole other blog post that I’ll let someone with kids write!

No, what I want to talk about are the irrational fears we have as a result of media attention. You see it’s the rare and random crime that gets the media attention precisely because it is so rare and random. A child being abducted due to custody disputes, or a child being abused by a family member, doesn’t grad headlines the way these other stories do, so you don’t notice it as much. Unfortunately, our brains are hardwired to pay attention to the risks that we see and hear, and those are the ones that make big news, rather than the risks that we take everyday.

So, it’s the “stranger danger” risks that grab our attention, because the stories are horrifying, but also because it’s the type of risk we feel like we can do something about. Managing the real risks of children being abused is hard. Figuring out how to keep kids safe from the much more likely risk, the people already around them, requires a lot more work and good ideas. But people don’t want to acknowledge the real rate of victimization, or imagine that kids are being abused by people they already know! It’s too scary to think about!
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TED Talks on Mental Illness

In light of yesterday’s news about Robin Williams, lots of folks have been reaching out on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media to share their own stories of depression and other mental health issues, or make sure folks know where to go to get help, and that there is help for mental illness.

I even shared out my post from a couple of years ago about my story with suicide on Twitter and Facebook as well. It has been heartwarming to see so many, from all walks of life, coming out of the darkness and sharing their own struggles. I hope it’s something that continues. We all could do with feeling less alone.

TED Talks shared this playlist that I thought many of you might want to take a look at.

7 talks on the struggle of mental health.

There’s quite a lot there, real stories from real people dealing with metal health issues. Exactly more of the kinds of stories we need to be talking about if we hope to stop losing good people to the lies their illness is telling them!

Time Doesn’t Heal All Wounds

Dr. Robert K. Ross giving a Tedx Talk at Ironwood State Prison. In it he talks about the long lasting effects, physical and emotional, of repeated childhood trauma. He also talks about courage and resiliency that can not only overcome the trauma, but better ourselves through it.

I have to admit, some survivors are some of the most courageous and resilient people I know. Others are the most self-destructive people I know, and some of those turn into the former category. This helps explain what is really going on.

Going Beyond Prosecution

I found myself nodding along as I read a recap of a presentation given by Connilee Christie, who works with children who report being sexually abused. Especially, this part:

Success often is measured on prosecutions, she said. In part, she said, because it is easily measured.

But that is not how the Children’s Advocacy Center in St. Louis measures it. The center abides by what is called the “Child First Doctrine,” which states:

“The child is our first priority. Not the needs of the family. Not the child’s ‘story.’ Not the evidence. Not the needs of the courts. Not the needs of police, child protection, attorneys, etc.”

“Sometimes that means no prosecution,” she said.

I’ve written before about the difference between “justice” and healing. Just because your abuser didn’t go to jail, or didn’t go to jail for as long as you thought they should, has no bearing on your ability to heal. I see the same sort of thought pattern in what they are doing for children in St. Louis. Yes, it would be wonderful if justice could be served in every case, but that’s never going to happen. We can do as much as we can to try and carry out justice in these cases, but getting a guilty verdict is dependent on so many things that are out of our control, as survivors, or those who wish to help them. It depends on being able to take the stand, having others do the same, having a jury believe you versus the person you are accusing, etc.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t pursue justice, but that can’t be the only goal, and the only definition of success. Success, when dealing with victims of sexual abuse is in getting them the help they need, keeping them safe, and getting them on the path to healing as soon as they are able. The best part, is that we can do that without waiting to see what the criminal justice system comes up with, and we can do it regardless of the results.

A survivor overcoming their childhood and learning to life a full life is just as much of a success as seeing their abuser convicted. But the two are not the same thing. Healing can happen regardless.

Mental Health Stigma in the News

Sure enough, last week, one of the first tidbits of information that was given by the military, thus becoming the focus for the tragic shooting at Fort Hood was that the shooter, Ivan Lopez, had been treated for “mental health issues”.

John Grohol has the run down of the various news stories that came out in the wake of that information, blaming these mental health issues, or the lack of proper mental health care, as the reason for the shooting, when in fact, that probably had nothing to do with it. He also explains that the issues he had sought help with, probably had nothing at all to do with this.

We talk a lot about encouraging people to get help when they are suffering from PTSD, depression or any other form of mental health problem, but then we turn right around and make these connections between those who might have mental health problems, and violence.

Imagine if we told people that they should speak out about being victims of abuse so that they can get help in healing, and then every time a violent act occurred, we proclaimed that it must have been a result of them being abused as children, because “you know how those people are”. Would any one want to come forward and admit that they are, in fact, one of “those people”? Yet the media does the same thing with mental health issues all the time. Sure Ivan Lopez spent time in Iraq, and had sought treatment for some sort of mental health issues. So do thousands of other people, every day. Are they all just a mass shooting waiting to happen?

I don’t think so.

 

Rewind to Fast Forward Movie

I’m going to just go ahead and admit, I was really moved by this clip. I think this is going to be a very interesting, and powerful movie about a survivor, and a family dealing with the effects of child sexual abuse. I’m even more impressed that it will be tackling it by looking at a family where there are male survivors. More male survivors need to know that they are not alone.

You can learn more, and support the project on the Kickstarter page.

Healthy Place Looking for Mental Health Bloggers

The Healthy Place website is looking for some freelancers to work on mental health blogs over on their site.

Like they say on the tv show America’s Got Talent: “So you think you have talent?”

If so, we hope you’ll consider blogging for us. We are looking for mental health bloggers (paid freelance positions) in the following areas:

  1. Abuse Issues
  2. Addictions
  3. Anxiety Disorders
  4. ADHD in children (parent of a child with ADHD)
  5. Adult ADHD
  6. Borderline Personality Disorder
  7. Depression
  8. Eating Disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating/overeating)
  9. LGBT (relating to mental health and relationships)
  10. OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
  11. Parenting a child with mental illness
  12. Narcissism
  13. Relationships
  14. Schizophrenia
  15. Self-injury
  16. Sex Issues

If you want to write a blog or do a video blog on another mental health topic, we’ll be happy to consider that.

It seems like a good way to share your thoughts on any of these issues, for those they choose to work with. If you’re interested, head over and check out the requirements!

Personally, I have enough trouble keeping up my own blogs to start another one over there, but it is tempting to be part of that network. ;-)