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Monday, November 10, 2014

Young Women on College Campuses and Rape

No woman (whether she is dressed provocatively or not) should ever be blamed for her own victimization. Women have a right to dress as they please, without it being perceived as an invitation for sex, nor should there be thoughts that she’s loose (sexually available). The issue to prove was, did any of these women consent to have sex, with their proposed assailants? Current laws state, if a woman is engaged in sex, then does not want to engage in a specific sexual activity, she can say NO to that specific activity. Under such circumstances, rape charges can be brought, as she did not provide consent for that specific sex act. Going out with a person, inviting him to your room, having drinks or even smoking pot is not an excuse or invitation for rape. There is no excuse.  As rape is grossly under reported, we should never blame the victim as it discourages reporting.

Glaring statistics show:
  • 60% of women will never report their rape
  • 44% of victims are under 18 years of age (college freshmen women are particularly vulnerable)
  • 97% of rape victimizers, never spend a day in jail
  • 2/3 (66%) of assaults are known by their victims
  • Every 2 minutes a woman is assaulted in America
Most women will not report rape, for fear of further victimization by the justice system, the accused assailant, ostracized by peers, other students, brought to task regarding her dress or other circumstances surrounding the incident. We MUST always encourage all women to report rape; otherwise, perpetrators continue to get away with this heinous crime.

Without access and review of the process and all the factors, Lincoln undertakes to investigate rape allegations, along with  concerns regarding whether all three (3) rape allegations were reported to the local police, access to hearing proceedings (if any), it would be hard to determine guilt in this question of rape..Those who watched the 3.5-minute video have not reviewed sufficient information. I do hope that there was someone more expert in this subject matter at these convocations to share their professional perspectives. Without access to alternative reports (including local police, district attorney, campus police, witnesses, etc.) and review of the annual Campus Crime Report, the information we see in the 3.5-minute video is inconclusive. What we hear is a 3.5-minute video (just reviewed) of President Jennings total 46 minute presentation to the girls. We all know media folk too often take statements out of context. Dr. Jennings, from my limited perspective regarding this matter was attempting to incorporate the federal Campus Sexual Violence Act, signed by President Obama in March 7, 2014. It is now required that prevention and awareness campaigns be implemented on all college campuses. It appears he was attempting to comply with this new federal directive. Dr. Jennings points regarding, how young men perceive, a young woman’s dress is true. We work with young men, and they have clearly misinterpreted and stated, they believe a woman’s provocative dress, gives the perception that she is loose, and sexually available. We let them know; her dress is not an invitation for sex, and opens the door for future legal troubles, if they do not shift their paradigm to self-control.  

In this culture, young women have the freedom to dress as they please. We live in a society where young women learn that their value lies in their sexual objectification example Nikki Minaj, Beyonce. However, young women need to understand that young men, (raging hormones) most often interpret their mode of dress as an invitation for sex. I believe that Dr. Jennings (not being expert in this matter) was attempting to comply with federal guidelines. His message during the male convocation that “No means No” is extremely important. Of course, we do not want our young men going to prison, because they did not have full knowledge, or consent was unclear.

Rape is traumatic, and scars its victims for life. I recall a Lincoln University student (friend) shared how she became a victim. She never reported it, because she thought that because her assailant was in her room late at night, as they smoked pot, she thought she would get into trouble with the University administration. However, based on her demeanor and projection she had been raped, by someone in the LU family that she knew! While a long time ago now, the wounds of her trauma remain. 

Regrettably, too many of us, have suffered this Gender Based Violence. Unreported, a victimize r continues their anti social behaviors. Rape is a crime that must be always be reported to take true assailants off the streets, and reduce their opportunity to rape another. We must always encourage reporting. In a society where women, particularly young black women are undervalued, we must do all we can to keep them safe from the trauma of rape.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Women and Balance

I am from a generation of women, with few role models before us (when younger) to guide and help in learning to balance all the demands of life, in an age where women were pursuing professional careers. Only prioritizing, focus, and strong faith brought me through such a time. Being a single Mom, with a philosophy that being a good mother was my primary purpose. This ideal really helped to guide and balance me. I knew in order to make a better life for me and my child, would require me furthering my education. This education (getting an MBA in the early 80's) would enable us to survive and be prepared to thrive. It would also enable me to command higher pay for greater expertise. Also being a naturalist this included making my own baby food as I didn't trust the off the shelf mass production stuff. I would study while making the baby food. l would pump while reading a book, and washing clothes, finish then work some more.

By this time the result of my prior work, I had become an expert in health insurance payments for all kinds of health and human service providers. It was a natural progression to start and manage my own business full time. This would allow me the flexibility to attend to my daughter's school to observe classwork, go on class trips, and show up unexpectedly. No way was I going to leave something as important as my child's education, up to a teacher I didn't personally know or have an idea of their values regarding children and education. So I showed up in class to see. I know this kept many a teacher on their toes. Occasionally, I would run across one or two that needed to be whipped into shape and become clear that this mom wasn't playing with her child's education. Although not intentionally, regrettably, I had a few teachers terminated, principals involvement in assessments, and a host of modifications like sending my 7th grader to Drexel University Math Diagnostics to be tutored by a college professor. This was to insure she got it. While I had an MBA, 7th grade math was challenging after so many years. The demands of self employment including writing proposals for funding, getting contracted work completed with quality, juggling multiple clients, balancing how many I could successfully handle at one time was truly a learning curve Forget a personal life. This was it. In all sincerity it was so rewarding. My child's education thrived, my business thrived, and while busy, there was never a dull moment, I was pleased with the outcome.

In efforts to overstand- how I could be most productive I sought advice from elders- usually male as at that time I knew few black women in business, who could advise me.. A few times I had an opportunity to sit with a wise and successful man known as the Father of Leaders, Mr. Sam Evans, founder of AFNA. What he told me something, I'll never forget. "We all have 24 hours in a day- 8 we spend working- 8 sleeping- 8 we need to be certain how we use this time. If you need extra time, take it away from sleep and be careful how we use the rest.  I interpreted this to mean, put the child to bed and work some more, throughout the night if needed. I follow his advise until this day. He also asked me, "What does living Holy mean". As I stumbled with my reply, he shook his head no, then Mr. Evans said, " living Holy means Higher Order Living- Yield". That made even more sense. From the wisdom of the elders.

Please review what a colleague Helen Tinsley, now working on her doctorate, has to say about Creativity and Balance as a woman. -  Hope you gain insight into how to handle all this stuff.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Concerns facing African American Teens from a teen perspective!

July 31, 2013 written by Summer Intern for Asia’s Foundation
     Some concerns facing African American teenagers are the stresses of having the latest fashions clothes, shoes, etc.  If not some teens feel like they just don’t fit in.  It seems like most teens are dressing the same, wearing the same hairstyles and looking the same.  What's the difference? It’s OK to be different and stand out from what everybody else is doing, not having the ‘’follow the crowd mentality. ‘’Teens also think it’s important to be connected to certain people that seem well known and popular. They appear to have the outer trappings of success.  We need to be leaders. However, how do we lead? With iPhones, Galaxy cells, we have full net access, to whatever we want, with few limits. This enables us to seek to satisfy many curiosities, venturing into a parent’s unknown.  
     Another major concern females and males smoking weed. Some just to fit in because friends are doing it, or they feel pressured so just give in. Some teens smoke to relieve their stress. In, my opinion, there are other ways to relieve stress like talking situations out with a trusted friend or family member , exercise, biking, walking, music etc. As smoking weed can be a harmful substance to the body especially for still developing teens, with brain cells not fully developed is an unknown challenge. Teens often sell the weed to make quick money instead of working a job, as there are too few jobs, except fast food places. Some feel if they sell weed they can get quick money on the spot. But is it worth it?  Because it’s illegal, if you are caught, you’re doing jail time.  While understanding it’s hard, we mustn’t ever give up hope!  What must we do, keep Faith.  Keep Striving.
     Another big concern is early age pregnancy, and not fully ready to take on the responsibility of caring for a child, and needed supports. We aren’t able to take care of ourselves yet. Often there’s dependency on welfare, access cards, or WIC. This is making some teenagers lazy and not wanting to find a job because they become dependent.  I feel if you lie down and have a baby, you should have known it’s a huge responsibility to take on. As many fathers are not in their child’s life, this circumstance plays a big role for both girls and boys, as a child needs both parents in their life for balance. Physically, mentally and emotionally parents teach us right from wrong, values, behaviors. I think the reasons why some teenage moms have children early, is they aren’t getting the love they want, so they feel their child will give them this love. Another concern facing young African Americans is managing our money and knowing how to budget and spend wisely. For an example:  Have you ever gone into some urban neighborhoods and see Asian and Papi stores at the end of each block. They are there for one (1) reason to get your money. They know we are going to eat their unhealthy foods and buy their goods. 
      My point is young African American’s need to come together, develop entrepreneurial skills, develop business, and create more coalitions, instead of trying to fight and compete.  We shouldn’t spend money on things in reality we really can’t afford. Another concern of teens is expressing our true feelings and trusting people. When things get rough instead of holding whatever the situation, we can talk about it with someone we can trust. Holding the situation without getting feedback only makes it worse. We need to let things out with the ability to speak confidentially. Finally, a real big concern teen’s face is relationships. Some think their mate really loves them, and will be with them for a long time.  However, when things go wrong many do not know how to work things out, and fear letting folk know. Others are just ready to give up and move to the next person, as they really don’t know which way to turn. I think we are still so young, we do not know what we want or need yet, or what’s healthy and in our best interest. Don’t get me wrong there are some teen relationships that last many years. My point is, we must be careful with whom we get into relationship. What we think we want from a relationship might not be the same thing the other person seeks. That’s when conflicts can happen!
12th Grade - Philadelphia Mennonite High School

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Media effects Teen Dating Violence (TDV) rates

Teen Dating Violence (TDV), a growing public health epidemic especially in low income communities. has major hurdles to overcome to reduce the United States occurrence rates. While rates in Pennsylvania are close to the national average, in Philadelphia rates are double both national and state averages.  Why? What are the challenges we face in reducing rates of TDV..

One answer: Competition with highly offensive rap lyrics, with degrading depictions of girls and young women, used by noted rappers like Lil Wayne and Rick Ross, who both rap in their songs indicate it's okay to rape, hit, or kill girls and young women

We believe these violent lyrics are having major impact on the psyche (mind) and behaviors of young folk, who spend too much time listening to this offensive genre. Poorer low income communities, youth with less exposure to entertainment choices, living in communities plagued with crime, drugs, and violence, most often are lacking in safe community opportunities for constructive teen activity, and is a fertile breeding ground for increased TDV rates. Our focused research partnership with our Youth Leadership Team,and University of Pennsylvania takes a closer look during our Money-Power-Respect research project (soon to be released).

How does a young mind separate reality and truth from these lyrics? Are they just  loving the beat, but immune to these violent lyrics depicting how to treat girls and young women? Are adults so turned off to this form of youth entertainment- we don't even know what the lyrics are saying? Answer: All the above.

From my remembrance, music had profound impact on attitudes and behaviors of it's listeners. The argument for freedom of expression rights, should never outweigh ethics, values, and morals, or target a specific group or gender.  The recent pull back of Mountain Dew and Reebock from sponsorships to the two (2) rappers referenced above- is a great step towards saying, "we aren't taking it anymore". Some of us are listening intently and refuse to allow this low level of regard for OUR daughters to prevail. Stay tuned.... 

We welcome your opinion.

Monday, December 10, 2012

International Human Rights Day- What about Public School Education?

Okay today December 10th is International Human Rights Day. In today’s social media I saw posts regarding Freedom of the Press for Journalists, dialogue about issues of public life and political decision making, freeing jailed activist, and few with a focus on education. I personally saw nothing regarding the rights of black children to live in a violent free society, and very few expressions concerning the rights of OUR urban inner city children to obtain a quality education, preparing them to compete in a global society. Has the 1954 case of Brown vs. the Board of Education that argued for school desegregation and the rights of black children to obtain a quality education, equal to those in more affluent areas been realized?  I say a definite NO. We are not seeing equal rights, opportunity, justice and dignity without discrimination manifested in Philadelphia’s Public School system when compared to Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks or Chester Counties. Whatever one may think about this statement, please do not blame the newest School Superintendent. (He just got here a few months ago).  Also don’t blame his predecessors. OUR education system problems didn’t dissolve overnight, it took years to get that way. Philadelphia children like other urban area children are regrettably victims of conditions beyond their control. The blame game cannot fix anything. Only we can. WE should include elected representatives, parents, advocates, college and private school educators and anyone else who cares about the future of all children. So what if you don’t have a child in the system, the children of OUR generation have few alternatives.  They depend on us as adults to create a desirable learning environment.

Inner city urban schools continue with often substandard facilities, dated textbooks (if any), little if any state of the art educational technology (white boards-lcd overhead projectors, etc),too many teachers who regrettably view their chosen vocation as merely a job that pays the bills, whereas the passion for educating children seems to be reminiscent of days long gone. All American children should have a right to access to a free, quality public education. Frankly, the educational environment leaves little to be desired. If I were a child attending these schools, I would be truant- I wouldn’t go. The myriad of social problems, bullying, and violence would not make today’s school environment desirable to me. I recall in elementary school, being many a teacher’s pet as I wore crindolens (poofy slips) under my dress, and ruffled anklets, smiled a lot, did ballet and was outgoing. Not sure how I would have progressed if I didn’t fit that profile. I say all this to say, I know teachers do have biases. When it comes to our children, their individual subjective opinions shouldn’t matter.

With the prison industry forecasting the number of jail cells to build, based on 2nd grade reading levels, these stats are being used to develop an option that’s not an option for OUR children.

Almost thirty years ago as I was raising my own child (I truly valued education); I refused to educate Asia in the public education system particularly in the lower grades. Elementary school is a time critically important to children learning the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic. Moreover, it is a critical time to learn how to learn and develop a love (at least like) for learning. With few alternatives to obtain a class education, unless it was privately paid or I moved to the suburbs, getting a free quality public education in urban Philadelphia was and remains virtually impossible. As she reached middle school years, I also had few alternatives. I considered using where I worked as an address, but that school wasn’t good either. One time in desperation I presented to the School District, how my child was gifted. Then I learned a secret, it wasn’t how smart your child may be, it was who I knew.  Bull’s eye this formula worked. Her being gifted, my boldness to address the school board, while nice none of it worked, who I knew did. The private elementary school education, as I prioritized and sacrificed my own needs to insure my child had the best education possible. This action proved a benefit as she excelled in middle school, and was thus awarded a scholarship to attend high school at one of the best private schools in the nation. 

Today with the evolution of Charter Schools and Home Schooling at least this provides some alternative. I do distinctly recall political proponents of these educational alternatives, initially had a real fight on their hands with the unions. Gheez,-I personally witnessed the teachers union, throw all kinds of union money around trying to unseat incumbents voting for Charter Schools, unsuccessfully thank GOD and look now, at least there are alternatives, although the jury is still out on how well these alternatives are educating OUR children.One visible outcome is less overcrowding, and an ability to cherry pick the best potentially scholarly candidates. If the child has any major psycho social problem, Charters can leave them to be educated in the public school, and they do. This of course allows the child with resourceful parents and no psychological issues to have fair educational alternatives. 

But it leaves the child with multiple psycho social issues in public schools, unwanted because they are “problem children.” Having worked previously as a child behavior specialist and mobile therapist, I observed classrooms where teachers labeled children with psychiatric diagnosis of Attention Hyperactive Deficit Disorder (ADHD) or Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Yes, the psychologist does the actual diagnosis, but the seed of this diagnosis is implanted by a teacher. Only if that teacher is a special education teacher, should this process carry weight, as these special education teachers have had some training in behavioral development. But a teacher not trained in psychology or assessment, making that assessment is not good clinical practice and shouldn’t be allowed. Also remember the Psychological Evaluator only has limited time to observe child behaviors, and in most cases relies on information from a teacher. This is why its good to have behaviorists and counselors working in schools to assess children over time, not a regular teacher. How objective the teacher is about feedback given to the evaluator must be  considered. Worse yet often these children don’t get added psychological supports after graduation. I know too many children medicated up through 12th grade, with no follow-up supports. These children often upon graduation (approximate 50% graduation rate in Philadelphia) are not followed up with psychological supports. Without understanding how to handle the child, now young adult fails in society as they’re educationally inferior, there’s no continuum of psychological aftercare and they end up undesirably in prison, on drugs, self medicating, homeless and a burden on society.

Regrettably, in schools today, due to diversity in social and familial environments, we have many more children involved in child welfare systems due to parental absence, drug use, imprisonment etc. This leaves a lot of children with many issues. Regrettably, these circumstances impact too many children. It’s a Human Right for OUR children to get quality education. It’s up to us to attend school board meetings, attend town meetings, call elected officials with new ideas to fund public education, join existing movements, and ask your employer to adopt a nearby public school. Even adopt a young parent to help them understand how important it is to attend child progress report meetings. Let’s do whatever we can to support and Save OUR children in the public school system.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

OUR Children Need us to listen!

OUR Children are under many new pressures in this age. While all of us (adults) may have had similar experiences, many times we refuse to share, due to thoughts, they will see us as "less than perfect." While they may look grown, they aren't. They often want to ask for help in navigating their lives, but don't. The old adage "I wish I knew then, what I know now" is so true. Now (as adults) we know. Help Children better understand. Listen carefully as they share their experience and feelings. They may need prompting to discuss some things. Best to learn from loving adult parents- than the sometimes less than loving world. Talk more openly, be for real (not perfect), and don't freak out -when they tell you something about their experiences. (Your over- reaction may cause them to not share again). The attached survey from Essence shares what OUR Children are thinking. Save OUR Children----Check it out...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Letter to the Community from the Founder of Asia's Foundation- her Mom

My beloved Asia came into this world on June 30, 1983. As we approach her would be 28th Birthday, and learning that mother’s love never dies, I look back over these past seven years. I’ve experienced both personal and spiritual growth and development, out of necessity. Most importantly I’ve seen growth of the Asia Adams Save OUR Children Foundation and OUR impact on the more than 5000 youth served since we began in April 2005. Over the last three decades a combination of professional experience gained in Health, Public Health, Child Behavioral Health, and Child Welfare, combined with personal life experience and observations have been the breeding grounds for the work we’ve been providing. An examination of the data, literature, and contributing risk and community factors has influenced my understanding of the insidiousness and pervasiveness of Teen Dating Violence (TDV).  While in the general population there have been an increasing number of teens who are victims of TDV, when factors of poverty and race enter, rates increase substantially in African American communities (as much as 4 times the general population). In 2009, 17.3% of Philadelphia public high school students were victims of dating violence, compared to 9.6% in Pennsylvania (statewide) and 9.8% nationally.[1] 
Through these years I’ve observed a severe lack of evidence-based curriculum to effectively address the needs of urban Philadelphia teens in low income African American communities.  Programs based on rural white teens in Iowa, is not effective for urban Philadelphians. While teens are more vulnerable, the result of their youthful innocence combined with greater risk factors of poverty, residence in high crime communities we must effectively address this emerging teen public health problem. We recognized a need for added research to develop a quality evidence-based program that works. In October 2010 Asia’s Foundation submitted a research abstract and poster to the Philadelphia Collaborative Violence Prevention Center (PCVC) a collaboration of Philadelphia’s most noted institutions including Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Drexel School of Public Health to name a few.. Our submission was awarded a research partnership with the Center for Health Equity at the University of Pennsylvania. In July 2011, under Penn’s guidance we will begin researching factors of economics in Teen Dating Violence (TDV). Currently little data exists. This portion of the Love Speak for ME TDV project, known as Money-Power-Respect in TDV will take place over the next year until June 2012. As part of this project we’ve assembled a talented and dynamic Youth Leadership Team consisting of eight (8) college students, the first of its kind to focus on TDV. Asia’s Foundation also had an essential role as a member of the State Wide Teen Dating Violence Team, in response to a Center for Disease (CDC) grant awarded the Commonwealth Health Department. We collaborated with Women against Abuse, Women in Transition, Women Organized against Rape, among others to finalize a plan for Philadelphia teens, now submitted to the CDC. With University of Pennsylvania, Asia’s Foundation provided focus group training to State team members and organized one of the largest teen focus group in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Crucial feedback was obtained to begin implementation of effective evidence based prevention programming and information. We fully realize culturally sensitive programming is needed. At Asia’s Foundation we’ve committed our existence to identifying and resolving these needs. When looking into the eyes of a teen and they light up with increased understanding, I say as others have said, “Asia would be proud of OUR work. As Asia stated in one of her most creative poems “In the end it will not be the voice of my enemy-but those who love me, they will speak for me.” I can honestly say we love OUR future generations of children and teens, and will always speak and work towards preserving their health.