Trashy Journalism

Last year (2015) I attended a training on the identification and assessment of the needs for intervening with CSEC; I attended the update earlier this month (12/16). CSEC is the commercial sexual exploitation of children. It’s a multimillion, if not multibillion per year business here in these USA as well as globally. Of the top centers in the world, we here in California can disappointedly claim three of them: Los Angeles, San Francisco & San Diego. Two of the main streets/locales that are common are the Figueroa corridor stretching from the Port of Los Angeles through, and past, University of Southern California. The other is Long Beach Blvd, with a lot of activity in Compton.

The CSEC population comprises of children, many who are victimized at 11 years old for the first time by their pimp. But this isn’t their first forced foray into trauma and victimhood: they’re likely to have been sexually molested by family members, witnesses to domestic violence, been in group foster homes because their home environment is deemed entirely too unsafe for them to remain there. These boys and girls frequently run away, but also are sold into CSEC by family – sometimes unwittingly (i.e. gang families, indentured overseas, coyotes).

One of the biggest impediments to working and obtaining help for these children is the lifespan they have once they enter CSEC: 7 years. Many do not live to be 20 years old. They are gang raped, drugged, beaten, starved. They are branded with tattoos or have microchips (yes, like Fido) embedded so that if they do manage to run away from the Pimp/John/Bottom-Bitch they are easily tracked, beaten for punishment. If a pimp, John, or Bottom Bitch has too much trouble with a girl or boy, they will kill them. Survival only happens if social services and DHS intervene, or if the child is abandoned by the pimps, but not without consequence. Frequently if a child is not killed for being troublesome to the pimp, they are burned with acid resulting in severe disfigurement.

The second impediment has been the issue with law enforcement labeling the children as criminals (i.e. charged with prostitution) instead of victims. When pimps and johns are caught, arrested, they have to attend a class on child prostitution to attend and it’s expunged from their record after 6 months. It’s on the record of the children forever.

A child cannot consent to sex. A child is not a criminal. He, or she, is a victim. There’s a growing number of boys being trafficked through the LBGT community in Hollywood, and they have pimps just like the girls. Instead of criminalizing children, let’s criminalize the johns and pimps. But you can’t have pimps and johns being thought of as the victim AND the child. So, we decriminalize prostitution to keep the children off the books, and start labeling the johns and pimps as criminals, start putting them into the sex offender registry.

What a dirty piece of trash journalism this link is!

Just Sayin’

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2016/12/what-are-your-advent-and-christmas-customs/

Fr. Z had some good, entertaining questions.

I can’t be bothered to come up with yet another s/n and p/w. Besides, this is clearly directed to families. I’m a single woman in my 30s.

Do you have certain personal or family customs for Christmas time?

Perhaps you readers could use this entry to share some ideas about how to make Advent and Christmas a fruitful time for yourselves and families.

Do you have an Advent calendar?

Are there any other things you do, or don’t do, for Advent?  Remember, it is a time of penance, too.

Do you listen to Christmas music before Christmas or wait until after?

When do you put up your tree and when do you decorate it?

Do you eat fish on Christmas Eve?  Pork hocks and lentils after Christmas?  Goose?

Do you bake cookies?

Do you have stockings at the mantle or a creche?

Does the youngest child put the star or angel on the tree?

What happens in your parishes?  Are there food and clothing and toy drives?

Maybe some discussion here can help other people think, in advance, about Christmas, which is fast approaching.

I’m just askin’.

As a child my sister and I would hang little wooden ornaments on a felted Christmas tree, with the little hangers being sequins, and ornaments pocketed in little embroidered felt pockets. It was charming. There’s no grand-babies yet. It’s still packed away.

I don’t keep an Advent calendar at home. I have two wall calendars in the apartment: kitchen and bedroom, both of which I’m too blind to read without my glasses. I like having the Advent wreath instead. My faux pine wreath sits on a bronze plastic charger plate from Michaels, and the candles cause the Leaning Tower of Pisa to blush at the thought she/it ‘leans’. Advent candles be falling over, yo!

I put this out with the nativity set the weekend of the first week of Advent. The Nativity set is a wooden stable with little ceramic figures; Baby Jesus is out but not with the stable. His figurine is lingering above among the shadow boxed saints’ statues I made earlier this year. He won’t descend to the stable until Christmas morning.

Ah, apartment living, what close quarters you are! No piney boughs real or fake will find vertical space to occupy. I like it that way.

Do I bake? Do I bake?!? Babydoll, I made a pumpkin pie cheesecake this weekend along with a batch of pumpkin-cranberry-pecan cookies AND pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Come, here. Ask that question again.

I’m single, in an apartment. Holiday dinners get eaten elsewhere. Tasty dinners in the past consisted of roast pork, black beans and white rice on Christmas Eve; camarones with white rice on Christmas Day. Mom complains about the amount of work involved. I don’t know what she’ll serve this year.

Parish & employer runs food drives, clothing drives, toy drives. So does my quilt guild.

 

I am “mourning the loss” of my vocation. In August 2015, when I went on a weekend retreat with the Carmelite sisters of the Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, I was told that I would not be accepted to their order, and that I have a “gift” for working with families and “helping them heal”. I was also told that I should consider a vocation to matrimony because “you’re full of life”. Which of course my sarcasm picked up on, later. I felt completely called to their order, made peace with the little things I disliked. I was in; so I thought.

Once I was denied entrance I did not have the chance to process the loss or to even consider what would be next for me. I had the financial concerns of not high enough income to meet my basic needs, leading to several job interviews, low-balled salary offers, and my employer giving me a raise 6 months after the fact. In short, financially, I had been living 10% below COLA. Which doesn’t sound like much until I compared my $47k (pre-tax) salary with my $51, 172 annual costs. These costs were not based off of going out every week, clubbing, none of that: oil changes, rent, LADWP, car insurance and loan, student loans, and health bills all added up to more that I could earn in a single year.

Last year’s ordeal ended with a raise just before the holidays, but not before I had learned to can jams and jellies for family and friends for Christmas – taking 10$ for food and $10 for supplies. My sister and her then-fiancé gifted my parents great things, I, jam. Beautiful Cran-raspberry jam. Anyone who returned the jars over time has gotten new jellies and jams: blueberry-Lemonade, watermelon, raspberry.

Fast forward to December 2016, I have my license, making me an LCSW. I hope to move at the end of my lease to a different area and cleaner, more spacious apartment. I will begin looking for new work. As usual, I’m making quilts and playing with my 2 hamsters in the evenings.  This fall I made apple-pomegranate jam. I enjoy it for giving treats, but not as a solitary Christmas gift which I was forced into last year.

Have a blessed Advent.