Community Brainstorming Breakfast Forum is a monthly informational forum where the community comes together to have breakfast and brainstorm about the different issues in our community. Judge Russell Stamper is the chairperson of Community Brainstorming, whose membership consists of many professionals and activist in our community..
The topic this month was “Our Children’s Little Dirty Secrets: The tales of child trafficking sexual abuse and incest.” The moderator was Martha Love. The forums are held at St. Matthews CME. Church
The panel guests were Gerry A, Howze, Director of Program Services-Pearls for Teen Girls, Inc.; Lenard Peace and Doreen Dushar from the FBI Team Internet-Cyber Crimes Social Networking Sites, Claudine O’Leary of Rethinking Resources, and Dr. Hillary Wynn MD General Psychiatry and Child Adolescent Psychiatry.
The session opened with prayer and a good old-fashioned breakfast. Nationally renowned poetess, Tina (Ms. Jazzi) Nixon kicked us off with a piece, “My Sister’s Keeper”.
Jazz vocalist Cassandra McShepard sang “If I Could” as a tribute to all children who have suffered at the hands of abusers.
Child trafficking and sexual abuse has been a taboo subject in our families and communities for decades whether it’s done by a neighbor or family member.
There was a personal testimony from a mother who talked about her son being sexually assaulted by an uncle who babysat for her while she worked.
She trusted him. After they found out that he was raping her son, they also learned he has been preying on children in her family for years. He has since died. She states we must have that talk with our children about their bodies and someone touching them in the wrong way.
We can no longer look at our daughter’s actions of acting out as “oh she’s just fast or just wants to be grown,” or “he’s just smelling himself.” We must ask questions. We must let them know they can always come and talk with us about anything without fear.
Deidra Jacob, a life coach states abuse goes on for a lifetime for the victims. Men and women in their 30’s, 50’s and 60’s who were abused as children still suffer with the effects of the abuse. Those who abused them were not strangers, most were close relatives. “What I do is give them a safe place to begin to talk about the abuse,” she said.
She talked about “sex trading,” which means children trading sex for money, gifts etc. Many of the children are as young as seven years old.
She talked about how money was the inducer for children in the sex trade.
And it also becomes hush money to keep children quiet about what’s happening to them. Even parents pimp their children out as young as three years old.
The trauma and effects of sexual abuse is horrible for an adult. So imagine what it does to children. They began to act out as is most often said. Children run away from home. They engage in group sex, and are called names like “flipper” or “jump downs” for how other people use them sexually.
Usually, children don’t believe they have nowhere and no one to turn to so they endure the trauma for years never being able to heal.
Here in Milwaukee we have Pathfinders. For 35 years, Pathfinders protect children, strengthens individuals and families, and improve the emotional and mental health of their neighbors struggling with difficult challenges.
In partnership with generous individual supporters, foundations, businesses, faith communities, and government more than 9,000 people each year are able to find safety, hope and healing. Over 54% of Pathfinders’ service population is Black and poor and over 76% of their services are utilized by youth.
With the increase of poverty and homeless, many children are left vulnerable to many predators who are more than willing to take advantage or abuse them both physical and sexually. Pathfinders has a Youth Shelter with limited bed space and a two week limited stay for youth.
Homeless adolescents are sleeping under overpasses in cardboard boxes, or in unheated abandoned buildings, eating out of garbage bins, and being physically, sexually and emotionally abused by others.
Pathfinders’ is Milwaukee’s oldest and most comprehensive ongoing counseling program for young victims of sexual abuse. As well as Milwaukee’s leading program for youth with sexual behavior problems
The vast majority of these teens have no place to go, but to the streets. Some resort to prostitution or drug dealing to earn money.
Basic needs, such as safety, security, shelter and food are rarely met. Health care is a forgotten luxury. The harm inflicted on them as a result is enormous, and the scars are tangible and long-lived.
• Many of the youth who encounter Pathfinder 99% of the youth receive counseling services at Youth Shelter and had a runaway/homeless situation prevented.
• 91% of the youth who received shelter care were placed back into their home or in an alternative living environment that was safe and secure.
• 82% of youth and 56% of parents reported an improvement with their problems that had been initially identified prior to services.
• 80% of the youth encountered by the Street Beat outreach program experienced a positive behavioral change and reduced risk levels of sexual abuse and exploitation.
Pathfinders cannot keep up with the needs of children needing a safe place to go for help.
So in their efforts to find more ways to assist children in crisis, Pathfinders has opened a Day Shelter where our youth can come doing the day,
The Center would provide day services to the many homeless youth encountered by shelter and outreach staff, including food, hygiene and laundry facilities, health and risk reduction resources, computer access, job supports, and case management.
Marty of Pathfinders shared the information with us about the organization But it was Edward, who gave his personal story of how Pathfinders has touched his life.
He is a teen who has been kicked out of his house with no place to go.
He stated it means a lot when you’re on the streets to have some where to just rest for a moment, a place where you can feel safe, a place to wash up and wash your clothes and have a meal.
He challenged the adults in the room and society to do more to support the youth of our city. “You just can’t gather and simply talk,” He said.
“I’m just one. But there are 100’s and 100’s that are on the streets that don’t know about Pathfinder and are in harm’s way.
Lenard Peace of the FBI talked about Human Trafficking where children are used strictly for sex and are transported to various parts of the world.
He also talked about cyberspace /internet predators and how parents must protect their children. Detective Dureen is usually the “little 15 year old” that predators are talking to on the internet here in Milwaukee. She works both for the Milwaukee Police and the FBI in trying to capture these predators online before they can harm a child. She gave instructions how parents can begin to protect their children while on the internet.
Place the computer in a room where it’s visible to you and you can monitor who your children are chatting with. Low-self esteem is the biggest thing that helps predators captures your children. These predators groom children to the point of trust so that they will do anything they say.
She cited a couple example a real situations. Where the child thought they were talking to another child but it was really an adult.
Dr. Wynn took us through being a child, stating that sexual play is very normal as little children. It is where they learn the physical difference as they see their bodies.
When you find children playing sexually, exploring each other body, don’t get upset. That is the time to begin to teach them about boundaries and their bodies. What’s not all right to do anymore.
She talked about how society, designers, manufactures has imposed this sexual revolution on children; they have it now that even a child must be sexy before they even reach puberty. And it says to girls if I’m sexy, I will get a man.
Girls who appear on the cable station BET are the true role models for most of our young girls. We have girls as young as 13and boys 12 who are out here working the streets. It’s a real crisis out here and we as a society have got start protecting our children.
Urban Underground, who I-Witness supports big time, is a group of young Black youth who work with other young people who are out here on the streets.
They have an excellent outreach program where they assist young people in crisis. They also attended the session.
The Milwaukee County Sheriff Department had a representative at the forum who also shared tips with us on how to protect our children. He talked about how you need to really check your babysitter out.
Talk to your babysitter about your expectations. What will they be doing with the children while you are away?
Get a clear understanding and always ask your children about what they did with the sitter.
Martha Love asked everyone to become a steward of our children to protect them and help to stop the cycle of sexual, physical and emotional abuse.
There was a Q &A after the panelists were done.
Hey Community Brainstorming, it was a good start for us to begin to dialogue about the taboos of rape, physical and mental abuse of our children.
For years the ugliness and shame brought to those who have been abuse as well as to the families of the abuser has been the incentives to keep sexual abuse hidden in dark closets and a secret, where the predator is left to attack children over and over again.
Thus sentencing them to a life time of pain of feeling worthless, unloved and that it was something that they did to cause these power driven attacks on their young spirits.
The session at Brainstorming was a great beginning for us to begin to tackle the evils of child sexual abuse and begin to break the cycle. So that children can be children again, growing up crisis free. Good Job, Martha and Russell.