Tag Archives: Personal Boundaries

The high cost of stupid: The Rutgers verdict

20 Mar

Adolescence is a time of risk taking and testing boundaries as the child defines his or her personality. There are some activities that can prove to be very costly in terms of future opportunities for the child and money by the parents defending the child. The Tom Hanks movie, Forrest Gump, has the great line, “stupid is as stupid does.” This pretty much describes the situation of a high school girl in a New York Times article written by James Warren.  In the article about the perils of technology  Warren describes a “sexting” incident.

A 16-year-old honors student took a nude photo of herself, used her cellphone to send it to a friend and, bingo, for the last two weeks the photo has made the rounds of the three-year-old school with 1,300 students. Plainfield police seized some students’ phones and passed them on to computer forensic experts at the Will County Sheriff’s Department.The school is contemplating punishment, the police are interviewing students and James Glasgow, the Will County state’s attorney, is mulling whether to prosecute anybody under Illinois child pornography statutes. In the meantime, everybody can spend time off over the holiday cheerfully consuming “Teens and Sexting,” a study just completed by the Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center.Based partly on a survey of 800 teenagers, parents and guardians, it underscores the role of cellphones “in the sexual lives of teens and young adults.” Four percent of the teenagers indicated that had dispatched “sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images or videos of themselves” via text messaging, while 15 percent claimed they had received such images of a person they know.Amanda Lenhart, who wrote the Pew report, said the images were “relationship currency,” shared as either part of or in lieu of actual sex. They are also used to begin or continue a relationship with a special someone. They are often passed along to others as entertainment, or a joke, with many students supposedly not taking the matter especially seriously and thus not understanding the negative legal, emotional or other consequences.Nationally, the response to this technology-inspired mess is a mishmash. Some jurisdictions have prosecuted teenagers under statutes aimed at creation and distribution of child pornography, in the process stamping them as registered sex offenders. Others have been less aggressive, considering downgrading statutes to make the passing of such images a misdemeanor, not a felony.Tom Hernandez, a school district spokesman on the Plainfield East situation, said: “Will there be discipline? Yes. But we can’t talk about it.”

What this young person did was extremely stupid, but apparently not that unusual. For all the description of being an “honor” student, there is no “honor” in the value system which thinks it is OK to send nude pictures of one’s self through the PUBLIC AIRWAVES.  This young woman is not an “honor” student, but a twit because somewhere along the line, she has not picked up the concept of boundaries and the value of privacy. Bottom line, she attaches little value to herself as a person.
For a good description of personal boundaries see the descriptions by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen who describes both healthy and unhealthy boundaries. 

A personal boundary is a space around yourself that gives you a clear sense of who you are and where you’re going. When you choose who you allow into your physical, emotional and mental space you’re activating your personal boundaries.For example, if your mother or child asks for a ride to the mall and you can’t say no without guilt, then you’re not protecting your personal boundaries. If your colleague consistently sloughs off her work for you to do and you haven’t figured out how to stop, then you’re not protecting your personal boundaries.The key to healthy relationships is a strong sense of personal boundaries. If your boundaries are collapsed or inflexible, your relationships will suffer….

Healthy Boundaries

Personal boundaries are evident and effective when you know who you are, and treat yourself and others with respect.

It is important for children to develop healthy personal boundaries. 

Maryclaire Dale reports in an AP story reprinted in the Seattle Times about a court case involving sexting.

Three federal judges in Philadelphia have heard the first criminal case of “sexting” to reach a U.S. appeals court – a dispute over cell-phone images of three teenage girls.The judges hearing arguments Friday must decide whether the girls can be charged with child pornography.The American Civil Liberties Union calls the photos harmless – and argues the girls are victims, if anything.Defense lawyers say the girls did not distribute the photos, which show two 12-year-olds in training bras and a topless 16-year-old.Wyoming County prosecutors say the images are dangerous because predators could get them.They ordered 16 public-school students to attend a “re-education” class or face prosecution. Three families are challenging the order.  

You just knew a court case has to follow almost every imaginable activity because that is how we seem to settle everything in this society.
Emily Bazelon has written an excellent analysis of the Rutgers University verdict in the New York Times opinion piece, Make the Punishment Fit the Cyber-Crime:

Mr. [Dharun] Ravi was 18 years old when he spied on Mr. Clementi, legally an adult, but he did things that reek of immature homophobia. He told a friend he wanted to “keep the gays away,” and when he set up his webcam a second time, his tweets and texts showed that he was giddily trading on Mr. Clementi’s homosexuality to get attention. Was Mr. Clementi intimidated by Mr. Ravi’s spying? The record is mixed, but inflected by Mr. Clementi’s suicide a day after the second spying incident. Though it’s not clear how much Mr. Ravi’s actions influenced his roommate’s decision to take his own life, the proximity in time is chilling. Given how broadly the civil rights laws are written, it’s not surprising that prosecutors turned to them to ramp up the charges against Mr. Ravi, especially because this normally increases the pressure on a defendant to plead guilty. The state then made Mr. Ravi a fair offer: community service in exchange for admitting to invading Mr. Clementi’s privacy. It was Mr. Ravi’s mistake not to take it. And yet, if Mr. Ravi spends years in prison, his case will set an alarming precedent of disproportional punishment. The spying he did was criminal, but it was also, as his lawyer put it, “stupid kid” behavior. Mr. Ravi isn’t the only person caught in this legal snare. After bullying was blamed for the suicide two years ago of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old in South Hadley, Mass., prosecutors criminally charged six teenagers. That time, the district attorney used the state’s civil rights laws to directly blame five of them for Phoebe’s death. Like Mr. Ravi, they faced a sentence of up to 10 years. Never mind that the Massachusetts law had previously been used against violent racist thugs. Because it was broadly written, like New Jersey’s, prosecutors could seize upon the law because it “sent a message” about bullying, as one of them later said. The Massachusetts cases ended with a whimper: After the district attorney who brought the civil rights charges left office, her successor dropped the charges against one teenager and wisely resolved the cases against the other five, who admitted some wrongdoing, with probation and community service. Mr. Ravi, of course, will not be so lucky. States like New Jersey and Massachusetts should narrow their civil rights laws so that he’s not the first of many stupid but nonviolent young people who pay a too-heavy price for our fears about how kids use technology to be cruel. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/20/opinion/make-the-punishment-fit-the-cyber-crime.html?_r=1&ref=educationandschools

The cow was way out of the barn on this, as the saying goes, before the sexting incident took place. One has to wonder, what if any, values these children and/or parents might have regarding modesty and what is considered private. Do the parents, for example, have as a norm that it is OK to walk around the house partially dressed or even naked? Hillary Swank, the popular actress, told Marie Claire she walked around nude in front of her boyfriend’s son 

Hilary Swank got herself in a bit of trouble recently by telling Marie Claire magazine that she often walks around nude in front of her boyfriend’s 6-year-old son.My boyfriend’s son is six years old, and you wonder at what age you should stop walking around nude,” she said. “Every morning he comes into the bedroom, and you’re just nude. But he doesn’t look twice; he doesn’t think about it yet.She later tried to explain her remarks, stating: “I think every family is different and you have to know what’s right for you and your family.But psychologists don’t quite agree with Swank and believe that she should cover up. “Hilary, you’re not this child’s [mother],” said Dr. Jeff Cardere. “What if things don’t work out with your present boyfriend? Who knows what might happen in the future; what his psycho-sexual adjustment may be. It’s not a good thing.Read more: http://www.worstpreviews.com/headline.php?id=15483#ixzz0ci4xpAcb

Of course, some nudists may think nudity is acceptable, but they recognize boundaries and are not nude in every circumstance. The question is what are parents teaching children about their bodies and their value as individuals? In my opinion, sexting is an activity that points to a much deeper issue.

The great Nelson Mandela recognized the power of mercy and forgiveness because he knew that in the land of an “eye for an eye” everyone is blind. For all those who want Mr. Ravi drawn and quartered might want to spend some time reading the statement of Nelson Mandela when receiving the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In part, Mr. Mandela said:

Reconciliation requires that we work together to defend our democracy and the humanity proclaimed by our Constitution. It demands that we join hands, as at the Job Summit tomorrow, to eradicate the poverty spawned by a system that thrived on the deprivation of the majority. Reconciliation requires that we end malnutrition, homelessness and ignorance, as the Reconstruction and Development Programme has started to do. It demands that we put shoulders to the wheel to end crime and corruption, as religious and political leaders committed themselves to doing at the Morals Summit last week. More particularly, we will start consultations with all sectors of society on how to contribute to the variety of programmes required to restore the dignity of those who suffered and to give due recognition to those who paid the supreme sacrifice so that our nation could be free. This Report contains material that could sustain endless finger pointing and gloating at the discomfort of opponents whom the TRC has pronounced to be responsible for gross violations of human rights. And in the brevity and the pattern of media reports, the fundamental principles it raises may be missed, creating an impression that the honourable thing to do would have been to acquiesce in an inhuman system. But we should constantly keep our minds on the broad picture that has emerged. We are extricating ourselves from a system that insulted our common humanity by dividing us from one another on the basis of race and setting us against each other as oppressed and oppressor. In doing so that system committed a crime against humanity, which shared humanity we celebrate today in a Constitution that entrenches humane rights and values. In denying us these things the Apartheid State generated the violent political conflict in the course of which human rights were violated. The wounds of the period of repression and resistance are too deep to have been healed by the TRC alone, however well it has encouraged us along that path. http://www.info.gov.za/speeches/1998/98a29_trc9811312.htm

See documents from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at:


In the land of an “eye for an eye” everyone is blind.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Adult Predators: Teaching children about boundaries

30 Dec

Frequently there are reports in the media that some adult occupying a position of trust has abused that trust and inappropriately had contact with a minor child. Adults accused of inappropriate contact come from all social strata, religions, races, and occupations. Seattle PI.Com is reporting in the article, Voice teacher accused of persuading student to strip to sing better:

A former community college instructor in Tacoma faces accusations that he convinced a student that she could improve her vocal range by getting naking or touching herself sexually.

The News Tribune says Kevin Gausepohl, 37, is charged with seven counts of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and one count of obstructing a law enforcement officer. The charges he faces are midemeanors.

He is a former music instructor at Tacoma Community College. He is accused of telling a Gig Harbor student — a 17-year-old girl attending college as part of the Running Start program — that he was studying how sexual arousal could change vocal range.    http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Vocal-teacher-accused-of-persuading-student-to-2432792.php#ixzz1i3Z9NVlf

This guy abused his authority and violated his position of trust.

A rudimentary definition of sexual abuse is found at the link Sexual Abuse:

If a child is involved, the following activities are a few examples considered to be sexual abuse:

· Touching of a child’s private parts

· A child touching someone else’s genitals

· Sexual intercourse

· Obscene phone calls

· Watching sexual activity

Keep in mind these examples do not constitute a legal definition of sexual abuse. Each state defines what constitutes sexual abuse in that state. Generally, sexual abuse occurs when an adult person makes sexual contact with a child or there is forced sexual contact by a peer of the child.

For a good description of personal boundaries see the descriptions by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen who describes both healthy and unhealthy boundaries. 

A personal boundary is a space around yourself that gives you a clear sense of who you are and where you’re going. When you choose who you allow into your physical, emotional and mental space you’re activating your personal boundaries.

For example, if your mother or child asks for a ride to the mall and you can’t say no without guilt, then you’re not protecting your personal boundaries. If your colleague consistently sloughs off her work for you to do and you haven’t figured out how to stop, then you’re not protecting your personal boundaries.

The key to healthy relationships is a strong sense of personal boundaries. If your boundaries are collapsed or inflexible, your relationships will suffer….

Healthy Boundaries

Personal boundaries are evident and effective when you know who you are, and treat yourself and others with respect. If you have healthy boundaries, you may:

Feel free to say yes or no without guilt, anger or fear.

Refuse to tolerate abuse or disrespect.

Know when a problem is yours or another person’s – and refuse to take on others’ problems.

Have a strong sense of identity.

Respect yourself.

Share responsibility with others, and expect reciprocity in relationships.

Feel freedom, security, peace, joy and confidence.

How do you set healthy boundaries?

Setting healthy boundaries involves taking care of yourself and knowing what you like, need, want, and don’t want. The best time to set personal boundaries is before they’re being encroached upon.

Two steps to healthy personal boundaries:

Be honest with yourself with your true feelings and opinions.

Share your feelings and opinions with others.

The college professor was not who many feel would fit the picture of a molester, but he was. So, are the Mary Kays of this world, molesters all.

What is a Criminal Background Check?

The legal definition of a “criminal background check” focuses upon the review of public records. Legal Definition of Criminal Background Check

A criminal history background information check is the review of any and all records containing any information collected and stored in the criminal record repository of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the state Department of Public Safety, or any other repository of criminal history records, involving a pending arrest or conviction by a criminal justice agency, including, but not limited to, child abuse crime information, conviction record information, fingerprint cards, correctional induction and release information, identifiable descriptions and notations of convictions; provided, however, dissemination of such information is not forbidden by order of any court of competent jurisdiction or by federal law. Criminal history background information generally does not include any analytical records or investigative reports that contain criminal intelligence information or criminal investigation information….

Parents should be aware of any criminal record, but they should focus on crimes of violence and sexual crimes like rape. Is the person a known registered sex offender?

The US Department of State describes the different ways that an individual can demonstrate that they do not have a criminal record. State Department Criminal Records Check

LOCAL POLICE CHECK: Go to your local police department where you reside or last resided in the United States, request that the police conduct a criminal records search and provide you with a document reflecting that there is no history of a criminal record. Local police departments may require your personal appearance in order to conduct the search. Your local police department can phrase this in whatever way they deem appropriate. The document should then be authenticated for use abroad following our guidance on authentication or legalization of documents.

FBI RECORDS CHECK: The Criminal Justice Information Services  centralizes criminal justice information and provides accurate and timely information and services to local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies, the private sector, academia, and other government agencies. The subject of an identification record may obtain a copy thereof by submitting a written request to the CJIS . The request must be accompanied by satisfactory proof of identity (consisting of name, date and place of birth, and a set of roll-inked fingerprint impressions) and a certified check or money order for the $18 processing fee. The FBI will not provide copies of arrest records to individuals other than the subject of the record. Requests should be directed to FBI CJIS Division, Attn: SCU, Mod. D-2, 1000 Custer Hollow Rd., Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306. If there is no criminal record, a report reflecting this fact is provided.

If you are interested in a criminal background check, the CASA program lists resources for each state. Casa State Background List

How to Recognize Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children

Shelia Wilkinson describes signs of sexual abuse in children. Sexual Abuse Behaviors Among the signs she tells parents to observe are:

1. Pay attention to your child’s posture. If your child suddenly has pain or difficulty sitting or walking, talk to them. Check out their bodies but be prepared that they may fight you on this. Abusers often threaten to harm the children or their families or pets and your child may be terrified.

2. Look for adult behaviors. Suddenly seductive rubbing on or around the genital area, using sexual words or adult, flirty behavior. …

3. Watch for sudden shyness or fearfulness. Refusing suddenly to change in front of others or in gym class is common. So are nightmares, bedwetting and sleeplessness….

4. Know your child’s habits. Are they suddenly eating a great deal more or less? Do they want to be alone more or never alone at all? Are they afraid or reluctant to go places they always enjoyed? Do they talk about or try running away? Daycare, school, friends’ and relatives’ homes, the nursery at church, all seem like safe places but these are the places where kids most often get abused.

5. For older children, pregnancy or contracting an STD may not be promiscuity. It may be sexual abuse. ….

6. Talk to others–discreetly. Getting to know your child’s teachers, principal, nursery workers and sitters is extremely important if you want to ensure your child’s safety.

7. Listen to your child. The last warning sign is the most important. If your child talks about or reports sexual abuse, believe it to be true. The evidence is very clear that this is not something that children make up…..

8. Remember to take action if you have suspicions…..

Don’t be afraid to gently ask your child about their experiences in different settings like school, daycare or recreational activities. Listen to them and any cues they provide. Abuse sometimes happens to infants and toddlers. Since an infant is too young to verbalize what is happening there are certain signs that a parent should look for. Dr. F. Felicia Ferrara’s video describes what parents should observe in infants and toddlers. Infant and Toddler Abuse Parents should look for strange rashes and an unusual fear of people as possible clues that something might be wrong.

What to do if You Suspect Your Child has been Abused or Molested

The National Child Trauma Stress Network  has excellent resource material available. National Trauma Stress Network They suggest the following actions’ if you suspect your child has been abused:

1. Stay calm…..

2. Believe your child, and let your child know that he or she is not to blame for what happened. Praise your child for being brave and for telling about the sexual abuse.

3. Protect your child by getting him or her away from the abuser and immediately reporting the abuse to local authorities. If you are not sure who, to contact, call the ChildHelp® National Child Abuse Hotline at 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453; http:// http://www.childhelp.org/get_help) or, for immediate help, call 911.

4. Get help. In addition to getting medical care to address any physical damage your child may have suffered (including sexually transmitted diseases), it is important that your child have an opportunity to talk with a mental health professional who specializes in child sexual abuse. Therapy has been shown to successfully reduce distress in families and the effects of sexual abuse on children. Many communities have local Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) that offer coordinated support and services to victims of child abuse, including sexual abuse. For a state-by-state listing of accredited CACs, visit the website of the National Children’s Alliance

5. Reassure your child that he or she is loved, accepted and an important family member. Don’t make promises you can’t keep (such as saying you won’t tell anyone about the abuse), but let your child know that you will do everything in your power to protect him or her from harm.

6. Keep your child informed about what will happen next, particularly with regard to legal actions. (For more information on helping abused children cope with the stress of dealing with the legal system, see the National Child Traumatic Stress Network’s factsheet, Child Sexual Abuse: Coping with the Emotional Stress of the Legal System, available on the web. 

It is not the child’s fault that he or she has been abused It is the fault of the abuser and parents must emphasize that what occurred is not the child’s fault.

What can Parents do to Prevent Their Child from being a Victim

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents should take the following steps. Sex Abuse Prevention

· Talk to your child about sexual abuse. If your child’s school sponsors a sexual abuse program, discuss what he learned.

· Teach your child which body parts are private (parts covered by a bathing suit) and the proper names of those parts. Let him know that his body belongs to him. Tell him to yell “no” or “stop” to anyone who may threaten him sexually.

· Listen when your child tries to tell you something, especially when it seems hard for him to talk about it. Make sure your child knows it’s OK to tell you about any attempt to molest him or touch him in a way that made him feel uncomfortable, no matter who the abuser may be. Let him know he can trust you and that you will not be angry with him if he tells you.

· Give your child enough time and attention. Weekly family meetings can be used to talk about all good and bad experiences.

· Know the adults and children with whom your child is spending time. Be careful about allowing your child to spend time alone or in out-of-the-way places with other adults or older children. Make visits to your child’s caregiver without notice. Ask your child about his visits to the caregiver or with child sitters.

· Never let your child enter a stranger’s home without a parent or trusted adult. Door-to-door fund-raising is particularly risky for unsupervised children.

· Check to see if your child’s school has an abuse prevention program for the teachers and children. If it doesn’t, start one.

· Tell someone in authority if you suspect that your child or someone else’s child is being abused.

The world can sometimes harbor dangers, but parents must be ever vigilant and always aware of their child’s world to prevent predators from robbing their child of their childhood. Hopefully, the vigilance of the parents and the community will prevent more children from an experience that will take away their childhood and sometimes can take their life.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©