Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sincerely, by Erin Billings

About 2 weeks ago I wrote about 15 year old Erin Billings who wrote a book to bring awareness about bullying. I was impressed with her initiative even though I hadn’t read the book yet and immediately submitted my book order online. I had a brief (and blissfully enjoyable vacation) and came home to find Sincerely in my mailbox. It’s a really quick read, but at times powerful kick in the chest, as the reader sees how multiple injustices, insensitivities and sometimes malicious cruelties can demoralize a child. But what I really take away from the book is the opposite message… that the positive actions of one person can become the lifeline that changes a person’s life.

In the beginning of the book, Lucy , a 16 year old wheelchair-bound with cerebral palsy is mercilessly taunted by her classmates… and shamefully even adults in her life. But the friendship of one girl gives Lucy a sense of belonging. In time there are other friends and supporters who mitigate the devastating effects of bullying with just a kind word or action. These allies weren’t always perfect; betrayal by someone you trust and count on can be more devastating than intentional cruelty.  I won’t say more and spoil a good read. But more importantly, throughout the book Erin illustrates how truly life changing small kindnesses can be.

What a great take away message to carry with us… that a simple word of  encouragement or positive comment may mean so much more to someone than we can possibly imagine.  What a powerful message for a little book… and what sage advice offered to us all by 15 year old, Erin Billings.

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness.

Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. ~ Scott Adams

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sincerely Inspirational

Well yesterday I wrote about actor Patrick Stewart’s courage in telling his very personal story as a child growing up in an abusive home. He tells his story for the simple reason that as a child he wished some adult had stepped in, spoken up and helped. May his stentorian voice help to break the silence surrounding domestic violence.

Shortly after writing yesterday’s post, I ran across a story of another person who is giving voice to the experiences of a child … this time a child  who is bullied relentlessly. This inspirational author is not a renowned Royal Shakespearean actor and movie star, but rather a local teenage girl who wanted to give voice to how it feels to be a kid who is bullied. Fifteen year old Erin Billings, wrote Sincerely in the form of a diary written by a bright girl with cerebral palsy who is targeted and ridiculed by her classmates.

I haven’t read Sincerely yet.  I’ve just placed my order for it via Open Door Publishers, but I’m already impressed by the tenacity of a 15 year old who spends 5 months writing a book  in order to raise awareness about bullying.  Stayed tuned for more thoughts after I’ve read Sincerely (but in the meantime purchase your own copy and let me know your thoughts.)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Patrick Stewart...Speaking out for the Next Generation

Actor Patrick Stewart, provided one of the most compelling examples of leadership I’ve ever seen. But it wasn’t on the bridge of the Enterprise as Star Trek’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard, nor was it playing Macbeth on Broadway.  Instead it was simply Patrick, the man, engaging in a conversation, dressed in a black sweater and button down shirt, speaking about his childhood and being raised in a home where he felt frightened and helpless as he watched his mother repeatedly brutalized.

“I needed someone else to take over
and tell me everything was going to be all right and that it wasn't my fault. 

“ I felt responsible.
The sense of guilt and loneliness provoked by domestic violence is tainting – and lasting.”

What resonates with me most, is that he speaks without anger or drama, but he still carries the memories  and the scars of a seven year old watching his mother being abused day after day. More than 6 decades have passed since he was that frightened child. The anger has burned to cool embers, but it is clear that being a witness to his mother’s abuse had a lifelong impact on him and his relationships.
I also think of  the courage of that small boy who stepped in between his father’s fist and his mother to protect her, a child stepping between a military man, a regimental sergeant, and a terrified woman to protect her. He speaks about how everyone knew, but whether from shame, or embarrassment or the sense that it’s a private matter, no one intervenedNo one came to help. No adult stepped in and took charge. Today we’re much more sensitive to these issues, but not sensitive enough. Still these things are hushed up… still the violence is allowed to continue.
I applaud Patrick Stewart for speaking out, for telling his intensely personal story so that others may also find their voice. Because no child should bear witness to such abuse… and only when each of us speaks up, will we as a community value home as a safe place for every child.  Silence hides violence… if you too find Patrick Stewart’s words moving please forward them to someone you know. Speak out about relationship abuse… so we can end it…
“Still the Violence is Allowed to Continue”

Friday, August 3, 2012

One More Step toward a Safer Community

Governor Cuomo recently signed legislation requiring all Level III sex offenders to submit to new photographs if they alter their appearance. Level III sex offenders are considered higher risk for reoffending. The new legislation, which takes effect in 30 days, reduces the likelihood that a convicted high risk sex offender can alter his/her appearance to become less identifiable. The NYS Sex Offender Registry provides New Yorkers with information on Level II and III sex offenders living in their communities, including: residence and employment address, photographs, and conviction history.

During the past year, this administration has implemented several initiatives that protect our communities from sexual and relationship violence:

·         The All Crimes DNA bill expanded the crimes that qualify for  evidence collection of convicted offenders to include all  felony and misdemeanor crimes.

·         The NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services launched  a domestic incident repository that gives law enforcement immediate access to information about past domestic incidents. See Allowing the Past to Shed Light for more info.

·         On August 2, 2012 Governor Cuomo also signed new legislation providing additional safeguards by 1) requiring law enforcement to notify the State Education Department’s Office of Professional Discipline if they are investigating alleged sexual misconduct by a licensed  health provider and 2) requiring the Board of Parole to submit release interviews to the NYS Office of Mental Health to make informed judgments about sex offenders being released to the community.