Monday, February 18, 2013

What ‘ya gonna do?

In one of those “kids say the darnedest things moments” when they spill the family secrets, a neighbor’s son told me “my parents always say that if it happens outside my door, I don’t need to get involved”. I wanted to ask if his parents explained what kind of things he shouldn't be involved in – was it the argument overheard next door or the cry for help from a stranger? In the end, I decided not to question the youngster.

How much do we involve ourselves in the lives of others? And where do we draw the line?

What would you do if you knew a child was in trouble and possibly being abused by one of the adults she yearns to trust? There are some people who, by the nature of their jobs, are legally required to report all suspected child abuse such as teachers, doctors, police officers, and child care providers to name just a few. Any adult who lives with the child who has been abused is also legally required to report the situation although all too often these people are either involved in the abuse or complicity denying the existence.

What about the rest of us, what is our moral obligation to report when we've seen a child in distress with repeated and multiple bruises, or worse?

We need to learn to recognize the signs of abuse and not deny that it might be happening. Severe injuries, multiple bruises from obviously different occasions, fear at the idea of going home, a lack of medical care for illness or injury, detailed tales of sexual activity, consistently unkempt appearance, or frequent and constant hunger MAY be signs we should pay attention to. If a child comes to you with a blatant cry for help and story of an abusive situation, it shouldn’t be discounted without consideration. And as the parent of a child who once screamed for help standing at her bedroom window when she was angry for being sent to her room for a time-out, I am aware that sometimes things CAN be misunderstood.

If we must err though, we should err on the side of the child’s safety. Child protective agencies exist in every region and depending on the size of your municipality maybe even in your city. If you suspect the possibility of child abuse contacting them may very well be the first step in saving a child’s life. The staff at these offices are trained to determine if the information you provide is enough to warrant a more thorough investigation so they will ask you questions such as what you witnessed, if you've seen former evidence, and how well you know the people involved (to assess your vantage point). Your name will be kept out of it if they decide to investigate so you shouldn't worry about repercussions. Unless it can be proven that you maliciously reported a false case, you are immune to any consequences. Cases will be investigated and any actions taken will be done in the best interests of the child.

When I researched information for my novel Bartlett’s Rule, I came across survivors of childhood abuse and one of the things repeatedly stated was why people who knew didn't do anything to help. Physical and emotional scars never go away. Children are vulnerable and often not able to speak up and explain what is happening to them – but if we suspect abuse, we should do something to help. It's the right thing.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Keeping Up With Appearances

We tend to do this every day. We act happy when things are bothering us to keep our lives private, we go to jobs because we need the paycheck and the boss wants to see us putting on a happy face, we clothe ourselves in high fashion to look great even if the heels pinch a bit, and we look over our shoulders when we do give in to wild and impetuous desires.

When is the last time you rode a children’s ride in front of a shopping mall (rare but still there occasionally) or climbed into the bouncy house at a child’s birthday party? Have you played dress up and actually gone out in public with the same flair and pride as a four-year-old would? What did you order the last time you went out for a business dinner, the burger and greasy fries dripping in ketchup you really wanted, or the safe broiled sole and asparagus tips that seemed to meet with your host’s approval?

When is the last time you were really YOU?

Like Samantha in A Chaunce of Riches, are you leading a life others expect of you or are you living your dream? As I write this I am sitting in my robe and jammies in the mid-afternoon and doing a job I genuinely love, writing – very, very close to my dream. But I do admit, if someone came knocking at my door right now I would probably be embarrassed to be caught in my attire because it might not meet their expectations.

wouldn't ask any one of you to publicly admit the ways you pretend to give others an impression that makes you feel more accepted, just as I would never divulge all of my secrets either. But think about it, do the sacrifices you make in order to “keep up appearances” really make you happy?

Maybe it’s time to start jumping in puddles, build a snowman (If you live in the northeast there is PLENTY of snow), eat a fun food, or just stay in our robes until mid-afternoon. Keeping up with our happiness may just be more important than keeping up with appearances.

I’d love to hear what you think.

Ben Johnson was hired as a bodyguard for a rich widow and her kid, but he never expected to be working for the woman who had abandoned him just when he had needed her the most. Damn it all, he still wanted her. Samantha Chaunce never thought she would have to explain why she married the rich man instead of Ben. Or that her husband had been murdered...and Ben was the prime suspect.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Instant Gratification

I am pleased to announce that all of my novels are available for your reading pleasure and INSTANT download for the Apple IPad, KINDLE and NOOK as well as print from some brick and mortar retailers and all major online retailers.

and  NOOK 

and Kindle