Friday, December 14, 2012

postheadericon Trained to Kill Kids?

I offer this commentary as the facts of the events surrounding the horrendous tragedy that occurred only hours ago resulting in the unthinkable killing of many young children at a Connecticut elementary school.

My view of this tragedy evolves from a multi-faceted perspective. I am as a retired U.S. Army Officer and criminal investigator with extensive background in prevention and investigation of crimes as well as criminal behavior.  And in recent years I serve as a child advocate, adjunct university professor.  But most importantly I am a father birth, adopted, step and foster children.

Many people are asking, “Why”, “What would cause anyone to take the lives of so many innocent children.” As I write many of the facts surrounding this heartbreaking tragedy are yet to be discovered. And while I am not a prophet my nearly forty years in the roles I shared above causes me to come to some troubling conclusions.

  • ·      The perpetrator(s) of this horrendous taking of life was immersed in a culture of death. Movies, music, games and much more were contributors.

  • ·      Chances are that the family setting from which the killer(s) was raised was problematic which include broken relationships, absence of a father figure, drug or alcohol abuse, and the lack of discipline.

There are other factors that I may share in the future. 

I mentioned a Culture of Death.  But in reality look at our society.  We are all living in this disturbing culture.  Life no longer has the value experience by passed generations. 

  • ·      Each day hundreds of acts of violence appear during prime time on our TV screens.
  • ·      Millions of unborn babies are murder in the U.S. and called, “a woman’s right to choose. 
  • ·      “Assisted suicide” is being promoted at being caring and the humane thing to do.

And I could name dozens of other contributors to our devolving culture.

I, like you, may feel hopeless at time.  Particularly when tragedy strikes.  But I can assure you that there are answer.  It is not found in academic institutions.  It is not found in government bodies.  It is not found in programs prompting non-violence.  The answer is found in a volume of sixty-six books that I often refer to in teaching graduate students.  It is a classic filled in wisdom and answers.  You probably have heard of it, The Holy Bible.

If this were a classroom and you were the student your homework would be:
1.     See answers from God through His divinely inspired writings of the Holy Bible.
2.     Read Kids Who Kill authored by Mike Huckabee.
3.     Read Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill by Lt Col Dave Grossman and Gloria DeGaetano.

Class dismissed. 
Thursday, November 10, 2011

postheadericon Sexual Abuse - Protecting Your Child

Sexual Abuse - Protecting Your Child

Safeguarding our children should begin very early in life.  And many safeguards are dependent upon the parent actions in a variety of ways.  Here is a limited list of some of the considerations.
  •  Don’t insist that your child hug or kiss relatives or friends.  Allow then to express appropriate affection on their terms.
  •  Let your child know that their feelings are important.  Intervene in situations where you notice that a child is not comfortable with what adults ask them to do. However, this is not a means by which a child should escape their responsibilities such as cleaning up after themselves.
  •  When a child is a toddler begin teaching them the proper names of body parts.
  •  As a preschooler begin teaching your child about private body parts and how to say “no” if anyone attempts to touch them or makes them uncomfortable. Give then direct answers about sex.
  •  In the early elementary years talk to children about good touches and bad touches and how to be safe when away from home.
  •  By late elementary school focus on teaching your child about personal safety issues.
  •  In the teen years discuss issues such as rape, date rape, HIV, pregnancy and other sexually related topics. Take advantage of “teachable moment.”
  • Know where your child spends their time.
  • Make unannounced visits to the nursery, daycare center or school. Make sure there are not areas considered off limits to parents.
  • Determine if your child’s school or church programs require child protection training for staff and volunteers.  What is the staff and volunteer screening process?  Is there a two-person rule which limits your child being alone in a one to one situation with another adult?
  •   DO NOT allow a child to go alone on a “vacation” or other outing with any adult other than parents or highly trusted family members.
  • DO NOT allow your child to travel alone with any adult to school, church or other destination.
  • DO NOT allow your child to accept expensive gifts from adults, particularly those who single them out.

Please do not hesitate to post specific questions.  

In my next post I will address a growing area of risk; the internet and other electronic means of communications.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Child Sexual Abuse – Consider the Reality

In light of the recent reports of child sexual abuse by a trusted coach with Penn State I am sharing some important insights that ALL those who have responsibilities for children should consider. But this is much more than opinion.

What I am sharing is based on my background, training, and experience as a:
·         Retired criminal investigator that have investigated crime against children in the U.S. and abroad.
·         Developer and instructor of a national child sex abuse investigation training program.
·         Foster parent who has provided a safe haven for more than 30 children.
·         Leader in a child welfare agency.
·         As the parent of two daughters who were stalked by a sexual predator now serving a length prison

 I can assure you that child sexual abuse is a threat to every family with children in America. I have seen the worst of the worst.  Please understand, child sexual abuse is a silent epidemic

It can happen to any family.  You can never be too vigilant.

·         90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way; 68% are abused by family members.
·         Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.

In the past I have personally taken into custody a physician, a clergyman, a scout leader and a elementary school teacher.  Please understand the typically child sex offender is a well respected member of society, is a skilled communicator, very friendly and engaging and often well educated.

In a future blog post I will address what parents and others responsible for the well being of children can do the protect the children they love.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

postheadericon Limitations + Unlimited God = Results

         Isn’t it amazing how God can use brief moments in time to teach us valuable lessons?  I experienced such a moment not long ago. It was only minutes before the beginning of a Sunday morning time of corporate worship. As the time drew near the chatter began to subside within the church worship center.  Those standing began to fill the pews.  I too was sliding in a pew with my family. I took a deep breath after a rushed morning.  Knowing how easily I can be distracted I whispered a short prayer, “Lord help me to focus on you and not those around me.”  
Then came the unexpected lesson.  His lesson would be brief but quite impacting. God did not provide a theme for the teaching.  But I will call the lesson, “Limitations + Unlimited God = Results”
Even though I prayed for no distractions, a distraction immediately happened.  My eyes locked onto a young man and woman coming down the aisle beside me.  The man was leading with the woman following.  He was talking. She was silent.   The scene passing me brought a smile to my face and joy to my heart because there was much more taking place than movement and words.  This couple was quite dependent on each other. And their dependence was quite obvious to others as well as myself.  You see, the man, a quadriplegic, was in a wheelchair. The woman was acting as his arms and legs but controlling the wheelchair.  But the woman was equally dependent on the man.  She needed his eyes because she was blind. Her white cane tucked under her arm.   Together their progress was smooth and steady. The sighted man was the navigator instructing the lady “pilot” when and where to turn and at what point to stop.  The young lady was the source of power and control moving them toward their destination.  
God reminded me though this act of mutual support how all of us have limitations or so-called disabilities.  Many of our limitations are not as visible as those of these two children of God.  But regardless of our inabilities we all have something to contribute in service to others. This couple had a common goal; join with others in worshiping their Lord.  I reflected on the reality that God sees what we cannot. His power is unlimited and can take us to destinations that we could never conceive, not to mention achieve without Him.
As I continued to ponder what I had observed in two Christians with visible limitations my thoughts turned to my two adopted children.  Both came to us as foster children.  Both entered life with what many would say were “two strikes against them.” And both have been given labels of, “disabled’, “special needs” and “handicapped.”
Neither my wife nor I had initially planned to provide them with a “forever family.” We were just seeking to help needy children for a season. But we not only discovered that they needed us.  We needed them; much like the couple needing each other as they moved down the aisle at church.  God used these two foster and later adopted children to challenge us, strengthen us and mold us for His glory.  God has blessed us through them in ways to numerous to count. Yes, there has been great heartache and at time even fear.  The pain and trials have been many.  But through it all there is an unexplainable peace and joy.  
But even before we adopted these two precious children God adopted us.  And it is only because of His adoption of me that I have the power to move forward in spite of my limitations. 
So, what are your limitations?  Who is guiding you? Who is providing the power to move you forward?  Think about it.
Sunday, September 25, 2011

 “I Couldn’t Do That To My Own Children”

     “Oh Bob, I couldn’t do that to my own children.” This is a statement I sometimes hear when talking to people about the possibility of ministering to needy children as a foster parent. When I hear comments like this I silently pray, “Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to be a foster parent and what it has done to my children.” Following is two of many reasons why I offer this prayer of thanksgiving; two of my daughters. 

     Today, I have two married daughters whose lives were intertwined with dozens of foster children for two decades.  From their earliest childhood experiences, seldom do they remember a time when foster children were not a part of our family. If you sat down with these two young women today and asked, “How did being a part of a foster family impact your life?” the response would be something like, “God blessed me as part of a foster family and helped shape me into the person I am today.” 

      Our oldest daughter was a “big sister” to dozens of children. I believe that because she was in an environment with so many younger children, she developed leadership and nurturing skills even before she entered elementary school.  As she grew she went on to become a leader in her high school and university and as an educator and mentor for at-risk children.  After serving as a mentor for at-risk teens, she was approached by a school administrator asking her to consider teaching in an intercity school with a highly diverse student body.  Later, as she interviewed for the position, she was asked about how she would deal with the challenges of a diverse student population where many of the students are from at-risk families.  Her response was something like, “As long as I can remember I have been a part of a family with a diverse population where many of the children were from at-risk families."  Because of her ability to adjust to all sorts of situations she was offered the job, and she readily accepted the challenge.  After just one year in the classroom with many troubled youth, she was named “New Teacher of the Year” in her large school system.

     And her husband is a servant as well (a good reason she was attracted to him). He has served his country as a U.S. Air Force Officer since graduating from college.  But his servant spirit began years previous as a firefighter and life guard.  As I proudly watch him work together with my daughter in parenting my beautiful granddaughter and handsome grandson, I am most thankful.

     Another reason for me to be thankful took place several months ago.   I observed my second daughter and the young man who is now her husband at a gathering of adults interested in orphan care.  While they where the youngest adults in attendance, they knew much more about the plight of orphans than some twice their age.  The ministers, community leaders, adoptive and foster families, and others child advocates all shared with others in attendance why they came to the gathering.  Near the end of the “share time” my son-in-law (who has been around our family for years) and daughter captured the attention of the group as they expressed their calling to reach out to needy children. Their passion for needy children was expressed with not only words but also tears as well. You see, both of them had “been there – done that.” They had not only heard about needs, they had touched and had been touched by the lives of the less fortunate in their community and beyond. This daughter and son-in-law had regularly traveled to serve children in an area that is labeled “poorest county in the U.S.” This daughter also worked at an orphanage in Uganda, cared for the children of young widows in our own community, and nurtured hundreds of children in a large church’s preschool ministry.  Now with a degree in early childhood education, she continues to impact the lives of little ones. And my new son-in-law?  Well, he is serving in an intercity church that has as one of its focuses, at-risk youth.

     Yes, when my wife and I first became foster parents our oldest daughter was very young.  And yes, we were somewhat concerned about how fostering would impact our daughter and later our other birth children. In fact, our adopted son, who was severely abused as an infant, came to us as a foster child and was adopted the same month our second daughter was born.  

     All families, regardless of the composition, have challenges and we have not been the exception.  However, looking back over the last twenty-five years we could not have imagined the positive impact that growing up as foster sisters would have on these two grown daughters.

     Finally I would like to say I am so thankful what God did through foster parenting to my wife and I and these two grown daughters.  Blessings do not always come to us as we expect. 
Friday, September 23, 2011

postheadericon Does Father Know Best?

Father Knows Best
For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:14
From October 3, 1954 'til September 17, 1960, father knew best. On 203 television episodes of Father Knows Best, Jim Anderson was the go-to guy for his family. Whether an episode's crisis revolved around Jim's wife, Margaret, or the three children—"Princess," "Bud," and "Kitten"—Jim was the man with a plan, week after week. Viewers knew that, within the space of a half hour, the most faithful and consistent father in America would always come through.
Christians also have a Father who knows best. And He knows best because He knows us so well. It should be an amazing source of comfort to every believer that they are known and loved intimately by the God who created them. "Episode after episode" in our lives, God is there to provide solutions and support in the way that He knows is best. The solutions may not come in a half hour like they did in the original TV show, but they will come—even if the solution is "No" or "Wait." God's answers are not given primarily for our comfort but for our conformity to Christ (Romans 8:29).
If you have a question or a crisis, take it to the Father who knows you best. You can trust His response, whatever it is.

What is a Christian? . . . The richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God as his Father.
J. I. Packer
Thursday, May 5, 2011

postheadericon Charity and Children

The key to teaching generosity is for parents to be a positive model of generosity. Demonstrate generosity in all areas of your life.  Then help your children catch the habit.

“Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.”  Edmund Burke

1. Give to your church.
Provide money to young children to give through their Sunday School class or during worship services. But first explain to them why they should give.

“We are the Bibles the world is reading; We are the creeds the world is needing; We are the sermons the world is heeding.”  Billy Graham 

2. Donate clothes and toys.
Take your children on a survey of their clothing and toys. Select items to give to their church clothing ministry, the Salvation Army or other charity providing to the needy.  Allow them to select which clothes or toys they wish to donate. The value of this activity is diminished greatly if you go through their closets for them without their presence. For maximum benefit, get your children involved in choosing the appropriate items.

3. Help a neighbor.
Regularly engage in a service-oriented project. Rake the leaves of an elderly couple. Send “care package” to someone in your community in military service.  Bake cookies or bread for a neighbor who has been hospitalized or lost a loved one.

4. Give blood.
Take your children with you so they see you as a model for giving. Talk to them about why you choose to donate blood and what you hope it will accomplish to do so.

5. Make birthdays charitable.
Set up birthday parties as a time for giving to others. Help your child find a cause and encourage children to ask those attending the party to bring a gift for children in need. 

"The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things." Plato

 6. Deliver nutrition.
Build food baskets around the holidays and give them to a needy family suggested by your church. Involve your children in selecting canned goods, fruit, and other treats to include. Decorate the gift package and deliver it together, as a family.

7. Change for a difference.
Create a charity jar to be used by the family when allowances are distributed. Invite children to share some of their allowance with others through donating to the jar. As the jar fills, decide as a family where to contribute the contents. Read about various charities on the Internet and share this information with your children to help them make an informed decision.

8. Help elders.
Do things for the elderly that they have trouble doing for themselves. Pick up sticks in your neighbor's yard after a big windstorm. Mow the grass for Grandma. Wash Grandpa's car. Clean their windows in the spring. Help them plant flowers.

9. Have a yard or garage sale.
Engage your child in the process including selecting toys, books, clothing and other items for the sale. With your child decide what percentage of the money received will go to meeting the needs of others and what cause.  A lemonade stand or selling baked good during the sale is a good way to engage children directly in the project.

10. Water for workers.
During hot weather buy some bottle water. With your child place the water in a cooler. Then go for a drive around the community looking for construction workers or others exposed to the heat of summer and offer them a drink.

Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future."  John F. Kennedy


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