Posts Tagged ‘children’

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I am proud to have my good friend and colleague Eric G. Young, who is a retired California attorney, as my guest blogger on this personally important subject.  Eric formerly handled family law matters and is a tech/social media enthusiast.  

An Event Of Significance – Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By:  Eric G. Young, Guest Blogger

These days, every month – if not every week or even every day – has one or more events associated with it.  Although they are not holidays in the traditional sense, these events include national or state-recognized advocacy events, commemorative or historical celebrations, and annual education or fund-raising efforts. Some are recognized by special legislation; others are just quirky, highly individualized events (of every kind and type) devoted to a group’s interest.

October is “Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” so this month is no exception.  Sponsored by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence Awareness Month had its origins in 1981 as a “Day of Unity,” to organize and empower abused women and their children.  Subsequently, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed in 1987.  In 1989, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month Commemorative Legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress. The “Day of Unity” is celebrated on the first Monday in October.

Because so many annual events are recognized, one might find himself or herself anesthetized to yet another commemorative event.  Unfortunately, this may be particularly true when the event highlights something we would all rather not talk about, or from which we would rather look away.

When we consider an event focusing on eradicating violence, however, we are considering something entirely unique.  Violence against a spouse, children, parents, significant other or even companion animals are criminal acts that shatter families.  As a childhood survivor of domestic abuse, I can attest, first-hand, that such acts thrive in the shadows of secrecy, humiliation and fear.

Events like October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month seek to dispel these shadows, enlighten society and empower victims.  For that reason, it is not just another event.  Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an event of significance we can all agree is worth marking and remembering, speaking out and writing about, listening to and advocating for.  Domestic violence will continue to exist if and only if we convince ourselves not to talk about it, divert our eyes and ears, or let others bully us into submission.

Because of its potential to reach even the most remote parts of our globe – coupled with an ease of using a variety of media in its approach – social media continues to play a prominent – if not pivotal – role in combating domestic violence.  For example, CopyRanter recently ran an article that graphically – and provocatively – illustrated social media’s ability to educate and empower.

Here are a few clips from the article.  We strongly encourage readers to check out the full article here, however, as each of the entries are well worth taking a look.

I recently read an article posted by Stephan Futeral, a South Carolina attorney, with some great information about children and divorce and what parents can do to assist their children during this time.

Per the article, “Divorcing parents can decrease the impact on their children by following guidelines with their children, by avoiding conflict with the other parent, and by maintaining their own well-being.”  Sounds easy, but he listed several ways to deal with your children.  Some of those are listed below:

  • Don’t treat your children as adults – Some parents believe that their children must “grow up” quicker because of the divorce. Unfortunately, just because some parents treat their children like adults does not mean that their children are emotionally or intellectually equipped to deal with adult issues.  Let children be children.
  • Don’t rely on your children for your emotional support – Although it may seem natural to turn to your children for comfort during an emotional time, you are likely to cause greater instability and more pressure on the children. Some children begin to feel responsible for their parent’s emotional well-being, whereas some children suffer other emotional side-effects such as increased anger or depression. If you need emotional support, turn to another family member or a friend instead.
  • Don’t talk about the “divorce” or other grown up stuff – This issue ties in with not treating your children as adults.
  • Don’t block visitation or prevent your children from speaking to the other parent – There are many psychological studies illustrating the benefits children reap from spending time with both parents. No matter how you feel about your former spouse, don’t deprive your children of having a healthy relationship with the other parent.
  • Don’t ask your children to spy on the other parent or report back to you – Children in divorce already may be experiencing conflict in their loyalties and feelings toward both parents. Asking children to spy or to report places the children in an extremely awkward and emotionally stressful position of pleasing one parent while betraying another.
  • Don’t ask your children to keep secrets from the other parent – Dividing a child’s loyalty between parents’ places them under extreme stress. Further, the child is learning to become manipulative and may later play one parent against the other using lies and secrets.
  • Allow your children to take items such as their toys back and forth between homes as long as they can carry them – Oftentimes parents are reluctant to allow toys, books, and other items to go to the other parent’s home because these items may not be returned. Think of these items as the children’s things, not yours, and let your children have a sense of continuity by taking familiar and comforting items such as toys back and forth between homes.

These are just a few of Mr. Futeral’s suggestions and I believe they are very informative.  As a child of divorced parents, I can tell you that I wished my parents would have taken these suggestions to heart.   It would have made things much easier on us children.  When I went through my own divorce years ago, I did my best to make sure my children did not go through what my sister, brother and I went through as children.

There were also suggestions on how to deal with the other parent, which were thought provoking.  Some of them are listed below:

  • Don’t ignore the other parent or sit on the opposite side of the room during special events involving your children such as athletic matches, school plays, etc. – As emotionally difficult as it may be for you to be that close to the other parent, it is more difficult for your children to see parents distance themselves at these times. Overall, it is a small sacrifice to make for your children’s emotional wellbeing.
  • Ignore (rather than arguing back) when the other parent tries to tell you how to parent – This argument is one that no one can win.
  • Accept that there is more than one “right way” to parent and support different parenting styles– Even if you had not divorced, chances are that you and your former spouse may have or would have parented in your unique styles. If you can accept and deal with the difference in parenting styles during marriage, then you can accept these differences in divorce too.

And finally, taking care of yourself is important.  Talk to friends, family, or whoever you need to, and stay busy.  You will adjust, your children will adjust and life will go on and you will enjoy the new path your life is going.  I know I did, and I love my life.  I have two great grown sons, lots of grandchildren and they are all a part of my life.  To read the full article by Mr. Futeral, you may find it here.


Sperm donors beware in Kansas!  According to the article below in the JD Journal recently, a sperm donor is being sued for child support by the State of Kansas because the lesbian couple that he donated his sperm to, used the state’s resources for upkeep of the child.  They are also requesting he pay for the birth of the child.  For more information on this case, see the link below.

Sperm Donor Fighting Against Petition for Child Support – JD Journal | JD Journal.



Senate Bill 1476 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, crossed its last legislative hurdle Wednesday, when the Senate approved it on a concurrence vote of 21-13.  Under SB 1476, a judge could split custody, child support or visitation rights among three or more people who had acted as parents to the child.  To read my previous blog on the bill, here is the link.

It has now gone to Governor Brown for signature, after approval by the Assembly on August 27, 2012 and the Senate on August 29, 2012.  To read the bill waiting for signature, go to the link here.


In an article in the JD Journal today, it was reported that the SB 1476 Bill proposed in California by Senator Mark Leno, offers the chance of radical social engineering and reform. The modifications sought in Family law and proposed, wants the statute to establish that a child may legally have more than two parents – thus altering prevailing notions of a family. Leno told the Sacramento Bee “The bill brings California into the 21st century.”

This bill is to amend Sections 3040, 7601, and 7612 of, and to add Section 4052.5 to, the Family Code, relating to parentage.   In existing law, a man is conclusively presumed to be the father of a child if he was married to and cohabiting with the child’ s mother, except as specified. Existing law also provides that if a man signs a voluntary declaration of paternity, it has the force and effect of a judgment of paternity, subject to certain exceptions.

This bill would authorize a court to find that a child has 2 presumed parents notwithstanding the statutory presumption of parentage of the child by another man. The bill would authorize the court to make this finding if doing so would serve the best interest of the child based on the nature, duration, and quality of the presumed or claimed parents’ relationships with the child and the benefit or detriment to the child of continuing those relationships.

The Uniform Parentage Act defines the parent and child relationship as the legal relationship existing between a child and the child’s parents, including the mother and child relationship and the father and child relationship, and governs proceedings to establish that relationship.  This bill would provide that a child may have a parent and child relationship with more than 2 parents.

Existing law establishes an order of preference for allocating child custody and directs the court to choose a parenting plan that is in the child’s best interest.   This bill would, in the case of a child with more than 2 legal parents, require the court to allocate custody and visitation among the parents based on the best interest of the child, including stability for the child.

Under existing law, the parents of a minor child are responsible for supporting the child.  Existing law establishes the statewide uniform guideline for calculating court-ordered child support. The guideline directs a court to consider the parents’ incomes, standard of living, and level of responsibility for the child.  This bill would, in the case of a child with more than 2 legal parents, direct authorize the court not to divide deviate from the statewide uniform guideline when dividing child support obligations among the parents using the statewide uniform guideline . The bill would instead direct the court to divide the child support obligations among the parents based on the income of each of the parents and the amount of time spent with the child by each parent, as specified. f a child with more than 2 legal parents, require the court to allocate custody and visitation among the parents based on the best interest of the child, including stability for the child.

According to Leno,  “Most children have at most two parents, but some children have more than two people in their lives who have been a child’s parent in every way.” And according to him confining parenthood only to two persons neglects the emotions and contributions of other persons who, in a modern world, should also be held in equal status with parents.

Not everyone is happy about this new two-and-more parent family concept and hold that parenthood in a family as a social unit is not amenable to “the more the merrier” concept.

I can see good and bad in this bill.  In reading the proposed new Family Code Section 4052.5, the court may deviate from the statewide uniform guideline and divide the child support obligations based on each parents income and the time spent with the child.  One of the biggest problems I see in this new section, is going to be the allocating of child support and the enforcement of the same.  Then again, this could be a good thing in both of the non-custodial parent’s views, as they will not be paying as much in their child support obligation as they would be if there was not another non-custodial parent in the picture.

This is one bill I will continue to watch, it will be interesting to see how it turns out.  What do you think about this proposed bill?

This is a sad end to a tragedy that began in 2009 when Susan Powell was reported missing.   Despite nonstop police and media scrutiny since then, Josh Powell insisted that his wife had left him, that he took her camping in the hours before her disappearance, and that “I would never even hurt her,” as the red-eyed father told CBS’s Early Show in August.

If there were any doubts about Powell having anything to do with his wife’s disappearance, that went away for Susan’s family when Powell sent a text to his attorney minutes before igniting the accelerant-fuled blaze saying “I’m sorry, goodbye.”   Police said Powell also attacked his sons with a hatchet or small ax, before igniting the house.

The reason for the murder suicide may have been Powell’s intent to silence a murderer’s only witnesses.  As his sons, 5-year-old Braden and 7-year-old Charles, have grown older, they’ve said some revealing things about their mom and dad and the day she disappeared.  It’s reported that the youngest son, Braden, drew a picture of him and his brother in the backseat of a car with mommy in the trunk.  It could be that Powell knew his days as a free man were numbered, but whatever reason he had, it seems that his taking his son’s lives and then his own, certainly points to his knowing more about Susan’s disappearance than he let on.

My thoughts go out to the grandparents of these little innocent boys, the parents of Susan and even Powell’s family, as they have lost their grandchildren too.

Below is a link to a video from Anderson Cooper speaking with the grandparents attorney about this tragedy.


If you have a family you might want to pay attention to some of the new laws in California beginning in 2012.

California Gay Bullying Law (Seth’s Law)

Combats bullying of gay and lesbian students in public schools by requiring school districts to have a uniform process for dealing with gay bullying complaints. Mandates that school personnel intervene if they witness gay bullying.  Law effective July 1, 2012.

LGBT Equality and Equal Access in Higher Education Law   

State universities and colleges must create and enforce campus policies protecting LGBTs from harassment and appoint employee contact persons to address on-campus LGBT matters. The law includes community colleges statewide.  Law effective 2012.

Domestic Partnership Equality Law

Corrects inequalities between domestic partnerships and heterosexual marriages, including domestic partner health benefits sharing.  Law effective 2012.

Protection of Parent-Child Relationships Law

Allows courts to consider the relationship between a child and a non-biological parent when considering child rights cases involving birth parents, adoptive parents, and gay or lesbian guardians.  Law effective 2012.

LGBT Equal Benefits Law

Requires an employer with a state contract worth more than $100,000 to have non-discrimination policies in place for LGBT workers and their partners.  Law effective 2012.

Gay Divorce Law

Provides that if a gay couple got married in California but lives in a state that won’t grant them a divorce, the California court will have jurisdiction to grant them a legal divorce. The case will be filed in the county where the gay couple got married.  Law effective January 1, 2012.

California Gay History Law

Governor Jerry Brown signed the Gay History Law, which mandates that school textbooks and social studies include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender accomplishments.  Law effective January 1, 2012. 

The following law goes into effect on January 1, 2012.  Many children are not going to be happy with this one!  Get ready parents to the whining and crying of those boys and girls who finally thought they were old enough to sit in the seat of the car like everyone else!  This one will cost a bit too, $475 for each child not secured and a point on your record.  Ouch!

Children *MUST* be secured in an appropriate child passenger restraint (safety seat or booster seat) IN THE BACK SEAT OF A VEHICLE until they are at least 8 YEARS OLD or 4′ 9″ in height.

These are just a few of the new laws you should all be aware of.  Happy New Year to all of you!  May it be a happy, healthy and prosperous one for each of you.

A group of parents demonstrating on Courthouse Square Friday morning across from the Lackawanna County Administration Building at 200 Adams Ave., Scranton, said they feel the county’s family court and guardian ad litem are the focus of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Olyphant resident Cherie Matassa said guardian ad litem Danielle Ross, who is supposed to represent her two children in a custody battle that began in March 2010, has not listened to their own wishes.  Ms. Matassa claims that Ms. Ross forced her to provide visitation for her children claiming that her ex works for the Lackawanna County government despite the children not wanting to visit with him.  The ages of the children were not stated.

Dawn Lewis of Scranton claimed that her father-in-law’s working relationship with a current county judge prevented her from keeping full custody of her now-7-year-old son after his father died from cancer in 2010.  Ms. Lewis claims that her son, age 5 at the time, was seen by Ms. Ross two times for a total of 22 minutes and then decided that her son should spend three out of five days with his grandparents.  She has been trying for over 18 months to get another court date.  She believes that the FBI is looking into the finances of family court and that it “is only the tip of the iceberg.

Another woman from Blakely also feels she was treated unfairly by the county’s family court system. She said Ross, her children’s court guardian, gave custody of her children to a man with whom she had a prior relationship.  That man was charged Sept. 28 with rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual assault of a child, indecent assault of a person under age 13, corruption of minors, and contact with minors involving sexual offenses, according to court records.

The FBI is not stating why the Family Court is being investigated.   It is not often that you hear of this happening.  Hopefully things will work out for these families.











As stated in Capital Weekly on August 17, 2011, the Marin-based Center for Judicial Excellence (CJE) has announced it will file a complaint with the State Bar of California demanding the disbarment of Sacramento attorney Nabil Samaan. The group says Samaan’s license should be taken away because of comments Samaan made to a reporter that, according to CJE, appear to support his brother’s decision to allegedly murder his own two-year-old daughter.

This is a sad case of a father taking his life and the life of his child in an alleged custody dispute with the mother.  The complete article is below.

Capitol Weekly: Complaint filed with State Bar against lawyer in AMBER Alert case.

I came across this interesting article today, not only about the objects that people have swallowed, but the interesting doctor who was a pioneer in endoscopy. As someone who has had her fair share of endoscopies due to medical issues, I am grateful for the eccentric doctors who have pioneered new procedures that have helped many, including me.

Amplify’d from

From brain tissue to gallstones, doctors have long preserved specimens from their patients — sometimes as trophies, sometimes as teaching tools, sometimes as curiosities or even art. But Dr. Chevalier Jackson went much further than most.

A laryngologist who worked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he preserved more than 2,000 objects that people had swallowed or inhaled: nails and bolts, miniature binoculars, a radiator key, a child’s perfect-attendance pin, a medallion that says “Carry me for good luck.”

Jackson retrieved these objects from people’s upper torsos, generally with little or no anesthesia. He was so intent on assembling his collection that he once refused to return a swallowed quarter, even when its owner threatened his life.

“He was a fetishist, no question,” said Mary Cappello, the author of “Swallow” (New Press), a new book about Jackson and his bizarre collection. “But his obsession had the effect of saving lives. That’s kind of amazing, and lucky for us that his madness made possible forms of rescue.”

Jackson was an artisan and a mechanical prodigy, a humanist and an ascetic whom colleagues sometimes described as aloof or cold. He spent hundreds of hours crushing peanuts with forceps to learn exactly how much pressure to exert. He experimented extensively on mannequins and dogs.

In those days surgery was associated with high mortality, and few physicians were willing or able to peer into the air and food passages, let alone remove objects like open safety pins. Yet Ms. Cappello writes that the survival rate among patients from whom he removed objects was better than 95 percent.

Jackson viewed the world as a precarious place. Small and bookish as a child, he endured intense torment and bullying; at one point other children blindfolded him and threw him into a coal pit, and he was rescued only after a dog happened to find him unconscious.

So in a sense, Ms. Cappello said, when Jackson became a physician — first in Pittsburgh, then Philadelphia — he “was saving lives, yes, but he was also saving himself.” He grew to be a pioneer of the upper body, developing new endoscopic techniques for peering into dark recesses.

He attached a tiny light called a mignon lamp to the end of a rod that he inserted into his scopes. (Previously, physicians who used endoscopes had worked mainly with light held outside the body.)

If it had been up to him, Ms. Cappello said, “parents who fed peanuts to children without molars would be drawn and quartered.” Chew everything thoroughly, he exhorted the public: “Chew your milk!”

And he lobbied for passage of the Federal Caustic Poison Act of 1927, which required manufacturers to place warning labels on poisonous substances like lye, which burns the esophagus and causes severe scarring that can make it impossible to swallow.

Children often ingested lye because it was present in many households (where it was used to make soap) and because it looked like sugar. A 7-year-old girl who could not swallow even a drop of water was taken to Dr. Jackson, who fed an endoscope into her esophagus and removed a grayish mass — perhaps food, perhaps dead tissue — with a forceps. Afterward, one of his assistants gave the child a glass of water.

“She took a small sip expecting it to choke her and come back up,” Jackson recalled in his 1938 autobiography. “It went slowly down; she took another sip, and it went down. Then she gently moved aside the glass of water in the nurse’s hand, took hold of my hand and kissed it.”

Jackson also developed a technique for dilating the esophagus in children with scarring. He taught them to swallow a long tube and to do so regularly for an extended period. He suggested they might think of themselves as sword swallowers and imagine that the feat “inspires awe in other children.” This eventually helped many of them to eat and drink again normally.

To remove objects like keys and coins and pins, Jackson would insert a long, rigid tube into his patients — usually children, and usually awake, though his assistants did help to hold them still. “He must have had an exquisite gentleness and ability to calm people,” Ms. Cappello said. He also treated many poor children without pay.

Still, his eccentricities marked him. “Some people might have painted him as a socially phobic, friendless loner,” she added. “He was not a warm and fuzzy doctor.”

Nor would he compromise when it came to his collection. In the case of that swallowed quarter, he told the patient’s infuriated father that “all foreign bodies removed from the air and food passages were put into a scientific collection where they would be available to physicians working on the problems of relieving little children.”

The father had beaten the boy as punishment, and when he didn’t get the coin back he apparently beat him again, so viciously he broke his son’s arm.

At that point Jackson gave the family a half dollar. But he did not return the swallowed coin.

The Jackson collection is now owned by the Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, which is refurbishing it for an exhibition that is to open Feb. 18. Ms. Cappello will help curate the exhibition; Anna Dhody, the museum’s curator, called her work a substantial contribution that “we’re very lucky to have.”

Dr. V. Alin Botoman, a gastroenterologist at the University of Miami who has also done scholarly work on Jackson, called him “truly a renaissance man who made so many contributions to medicine and has been all but forgotten.” Until now. In October, Ms. Cappello gave a lecture on Jackson at the Observatory, an art and events space in Brooklyn. She also presented black-and-white films from Jackson’s family that had never been seen in public.

In a series of clips, Jackson is shown on a small boat, looking out at the sky. He is riding in the back of a pickup truck, writing intently.

His granddaughter, then a toddler, wobbles across a lawn holding a stuffed animal and a flower. She looks at the camera, shakes the flower and puts it in her mouth.