Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Saying goodbye is hard to do -- Jack's last post


Hello everyone,

This is going to be my last month working at the Children’s Advocacy Center and my last blog.  I have been here with my mom, Toni, since I was two months old and I am 5 years old now.  My birthday is July 4th and my mom tells me there is a parade in my honor on that day.  I think she is just kidding because I know the 4th of July has a very important meaning to all of us who live in America. Mom says I am special too, not only to her, but to the kids we see here at CAC and I deserve a parade!

I have met lots of children, teens and their families over the years.  I like to think that my presence made them feel safe and loved.  I am always excited to see returning clients and new ones too.  Mom warns them that I like to smell their hair and feet, but she doesn’t know why.  I like to know where people have been and their shoes and feet can tell me that and smelling hair is another way to get to know them.  I also like to give kisses which mom does not want me to do, but some kids and parents like it just like me!  Lying across their laps on the love seat, getting petted and snuggling is wonderful.  I am going to miss that. 

Sometimes the little ones feel safer talking to me about their problems, feelings and fears rather than my mom.  This is okay with her because she says they just need to be heard and I’m a great listener, never interrupt and give them unconditional love.  That’s what dogs do; give love without judgment or any expectations.

Mom and I will miss all of you.  Those we have worked with as clients and CAC staff.  We’ll still be seeing kids in mom’s private practice, but it won’t be the same.  We just want to thank everyone for the opportunity to work with such wonderful kids, families and colleagues.  Take care of yourselves and know that the Children's Advocacy Center is here to help you with whatever problems you may encounter.  There are three great therapists at the center, who are there to help you.  Please don’t be afraid to call.  Until we meet again….

As Always,
Jack & Toni

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Where to get answers when you are curious about sex

Jack, the therapy dog and therapist, Toni Richmond

Dear Jack,

I am writing to you about something that is making me feel uncomfortable, and I don’t know who to talk to. Now that it is summer I am spending a lot more time playing at the park by my house. There are a lot of kids there who don’t have much to do, and a lot of times they start talking about things that I don’t know much about. A lot of what they talk about has to do with sex and they use words that I don’t understand, but from the way they use them I don’t think they are words my mom would want me to ever use. They also make weird gestures and move their bodies in funny ways, and then they all laugh, but I’m not sure what they are laughing about and I feel uncomfortable. Sometimes I’ve tried to act like that with them so they wouldn’t think I was dumb, but I feel funny doing that.

I really want to be friends with all the kids at the park, but I don’t know what they are talking about sometimes. My mom lets me use our computer to play games, and I decided to try to look a few of the words up on the internet so I won’t feel so dumb when I hear these kids talking about things. When I did that, some things came up that I know aren’t for kids to see. There were a lot of videos and things with grown-ups doing sexual things. I kind of wanted to look at them because they made me curious, but they also kind of grossed me out.

I don’t know what to do. My mom has tried to talk to me about sex to tell me things she thinks I should know, but this stuff I am hearing seems really different from what she has talked about. I want to fit in with other kids and I want to understand what they are saying, but I’m also not sure if I should be learning that, and I feel pretty mixed up. I don’t want to talk to my mom about it because it is embarrassing.  Can you help me?



Dear Casey,

Thank you for writing to me about this topic. It can be very confusing to kids when they begin to explore sexuality, but this is a natural part of growing up. Children are curious about sex.  It is really important to talk to your parents about the questions you have about sex and sexuality.  I know you say it is embarrassing, but this is a conversation every parent should have with their children when the time is right.  It seems that you are being exposed to language and behavior that may be done in such a way that it makes sex appear dirty or something to hide and laugh about, which is not the truth.

Parents, by their actions and words, teach their children their values and attitudes about sex.  You said your mom has tried to talk to you about these things which is really good.  She is open to answering your questions.  Some parents may be not want to talk about this topic because they don’t know what or how much to say, but it sounds like your mom is pretty smart and can answer your questions.

Going on the computer to find answers, especially for the sights you have been talking about, is not something children should be looking at.  These sights may be showing sexual acts that may, or may not be deviant, but children do not need to see adults performing sex.  These images can be twisted out of their  natural state”. Morals and values about sex should come from your parents, not your friends, who may not really know what they are talking about, or from computers, television, movies, music videos and the radio. 

Tell your mom about the dirty jokes or words that are going around or the gestures that the kids are doing that you are not sure what they mean.  It is better to check these things out with your parents than stay confused.  Generally, other children don’t know any more than you do, but they make something up because they want you to think they know it all!

I know you want to fit in with the other kids, but you have said that some of their words and behaviors make you feel uncomfortable.  It is important to listen to your own body.  It’s like when you get the feeling of “butterflies in your tummy” that may make you not feel so good, so listen to your body and leave.  

I know its summer and you want to be with your “friends”, but when they begin to talk and behave in these ways its okay for you to go home.  Hopefully, they are not acting this way all the time.  If they are, then it might be the time to find new friends.  Another way to make it so they won’t say and do these things is to be at your house, in the presence of an adult.  I’m sure that would make them think twice before doing or saying anything that is inappropriate.

I hope this has helped.  Again, it sounds like you have a parent who is open to talking to you  and answering questions you may have about anything you find confusing or uncomfortable.  If you want to talk to my mom, Toni, you can call her at (541) 734-5437 X107.  Sometimes it’s easier to talk to another trusted adult that is not your parent.



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Teen asks about child trafficking

Toni Richmond and Jack

 Dear Jack,

In my high school we began to study what constitutes abuse, whether physical, sexual, emotional, or neglect.  It was all really interesting and gave me and the other students some valuable information.  At the end of school we were just beginning to study child trafficking, but didn’t have enough time. Do you know anything about it?  I would like to know more about this topic.


Dear Josh,

This is something that has been going on for a very long time.  In 2000 the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) first made trafficking in persons a federal crime.  All states have anti-trafficking legislation, but the problem lies in identifying the victims who are commonly hidden and living in fear.  Even if these victims come in contact with law enforcement, they may be re-victimized by being treated like criminals, denying them the support and services that they need.

Many people, when thinking about human trafficking, believe it only happens when people are trafficked into the United States, but many are U.S. citizens.  The Department of Justice has estimated between 14,500 and 127,000 foreign men, women and children are trafficked into the United States each year.  According to “Building Child Welfare Response to Child Trafficking Handbook” these figures fail to take in account the 293,000 children who are United States citizens and who are at risk for being trafficked specifically for sex trade each year.

The federal definition of human trafficking states “Severe forms of human trafficking" are:

1. Sex trafficking (i.e., the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of commercial sex act) in which a commercial sex act is induced by force fraud or coercion;

2. Trafficking in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age;

3. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor of services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

I hope this information helps a little in understanding the scope of the problem.  If you want more information go to http://www.vera.org.