Arizona nonprofit: Here’s how to identify and report child abuse

Arizona nonprofit: Here’s how to identify and report child abuse

PHOENIX — In the wake of a shocking report of child abuse in Maricopa, one expert says it’s important to keep an eye out for children who may not be leading normal lives.

Last week, authorities in Arizona charged Machelle Hobson, 48, with abuse of her seven adopted children, accusing her of pepper spraying them, locking them in a closet and more if they did not perform well in YouTube videos.

She was booked into the Pinal County Jail last week on suspicion of molestation of a child, child abuse and unlawful imprisonment and child neglect.

The children had not attended school in years, police said.

“I think that one of the things that is particularly relevant today are situations where in a given neighborhood … people who live there, know that children who may live in a certain house or a certain location are simply not playing outside, are not attending school, are not doing what most kids do who live in neighborhoods with their families,” Rebecca Ruffner, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Arizona, told KTAR News 92.3 FM last week.

“And that is not in and of itself a sign of abuse or neglect, but … a person might want to reach out to those families and just see if there’s anything that they can do to help, or have a friendly chat at the mailbox, or whatever.”

The organization’s website also lists unexplained injuries, fear of touch, weather-inappropriate clothing, antisocial behavior, uncontrolled aggression, bad hygiene and untreated illness as possible signs of physical abuse, emotional abuse or neglect.

Anyone can report child abuse by calling 1-888-SOS-CHILD or 911 if a child is in immediate danger, according to the website.

Ruffner said regulating home schooling to include periodic visits from authorities is important, “so that we don’t have the kinds of situations that we’ve seen recently both in California and Arizona with large families who are actually maltreating their children at home and have that home-school protection.”

She said there’s no “rational explanation” for why some people abuse children, and it’s impossible to predict who will be a good parent and who will be an abuser.

“In those situations, what we often see is mental illness in the parents as well as criminality,” she said.

“A possible way to understand it is that the parents themselves have a history of severe maltreatment and they don’t have the skills and the resiliency to overcome that early trauma themselves.”

Ruffner said the Maricopa case shouldn’t affect how people view foster parents or parents who choose to home school, as Hobson was an “extreme outlier.”

“The vast majority of foster parents are good people going out of their way to try to protect and nurture children who can’t be with their parents,” she said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Amy Phol contributed to this report. 

A healthy dose of shame

A healthy dose of shame

THERE ARE many parents who think good parenting means anesthetising their children. They want to numb their children from the pain of life. They don’t want their children to scrape their knees or make any mistakes – like that is even possible. These are the parents who buy their children’s place in university as we noted recently when two actresses and a pack of parents paid someone to cheat for their children on college entrance exams and then paid off universities to accept those students on fake sports scholarships.

Lori Laughlin, the sweet-faced wife from Full House and face of goodness in Hallmark films, and Felicity Huffman, the whiny desperate housewife married in real life to William H Macy, are now the faces of those money-wielding parents who failed to see that not allowing their children to go through the real process of entering college is actually robbing them of worthwhile life experiences.

I hope you are watching this story unfold because it has invaluable lessons for every parent – not just those who have an obscene amount of money to buy their children’s way into college. What we are seeing is an epidemic of overprotective parents who try to shield their children from anything negative or difficult in this world.

Much of what I am trying to convey here is written in a fascinating book with a jolting message called Shame: Free Yourself, Find Joy, and Build True Self-Esteem by Joseph Burgo. I thought this would be the book for me to discover why I have always been such a guilt-ridden person.

The book was not what I expected. The author, a psychiatrist, took the opportunity to convey his feelings that most of us are not walking around feeling enough guilt. Of course, we’re not supposed to buy guilt wholesale. We’re not supposed to plummet to the depths of despair when someone guilts us unfairly or when someone uses guilt as a means of control to inflate their own warped sense of self.

Shaming people into guilt for hurtful reasons is wrong, but it does occur. The trick, Burgo says, is to recognise and recover from it as soon as possible. But this is only half the story of Burgo’s book.

More importantly, he says a good, healthy dose of shame is important for children to grown. He argues guilt is missing in too many people’s lives. Somewhere along the way, parents decided that children should only experience good feelings. They put pressure on schools to only give glowing reports. Every negative observation must be reworked to sound positive. Parents praise children for unpraiseworthy behaviour.

Students are no longer supposed to feel shame for not turning in their homework, not paying attention in school or being disruptive and disrespectful to others. Instead, the adults around them are supposed to rework the environment around children and coach them with praise – even when they do negative or irresponsible things.

This, Burgo says, is dangerous because it does not prepare children for real life. Teachers may be asked not to give 0s to students who don’t turn in homework or they may be asked to dummy down tests so children don’t feel like failures, but when these children become adults and enter the real world where they can’t meet their deadlines, they will face unexpected problems.

If they have reports to write and they are sent back endless times for revisions because those reports don’t demonstrate the necessary effort or meet the required standards, these employees will likely become depressed because they have had no experience in dealing with issues that should generate authentic, soul-searching, character-building shame.

A healthy dose of shame, Burgo says, is an essential ingredient in learning how to be happy. It is a tool to refine our personalities and our goals. If you only receive praise and you only have over-protective parents who try to ward off all negativity in your life, then you don’t get to experience the joy that comes from working your way through problems and dealing with difficulties caused by shame.

I feel sorry for the children in this college-cheating scandal. They are the extreme version of what Burgo is talking about, and where do they go from here? Their reputations have been tainted forever. They are the over-indulged, rich children who have been robbed of having the heady experience of finding their own way in the world, and I can only imagine how they are dealing with shame.

Expand Solo Parents’ Welfare Act

Expand Solo Parents’ Welfare Act

As a wife of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), I find good news in “‘Solo parent’ OFWs to benefit from bill” (3/18/19). My sentiment, I believe, is also shared by many other solo parents (estimated to number 3 million) whose families have been left behind by a working spouse abroad.

Working miles away for the benefit of loved ones in the Philippines is no easy feat. For all the sacrifices they do for the good of their respective families, and considering the dollar remittances they contribute to keep our economy afloat, our OFWs are indeed modern-day heroes, and the new measures being introduced by Sen. Risa Hontiveros would alleviate the plight of solo parents, like me, left in the country by OFW spouses.

Years back, I went to a Department of Social Welfare and Development office in Quezon City to apply for a solo parent card, but was denied outright. I was then just after the additional seven-day “leave credits” enjoyed by solo parents. I was honest enough to admit that I had regular contact with and financial support from my husband, but that disqualified me from being issued a card.

I am a solo parent in the real sense of the word, taking care of the needs of my girls, and physically raising a family alone. On top of a full-time job to keep, I am faced with the herculean task of meeting the growing-up requirements of my girls, from being present in school activities to maintaining a home — not a walk in the park. Despite all the predicaments I am in, I am not covered by Republic Act No. 8972, or the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act, when technically I am a solo parent. Every day is a struggle. And money is not all in raising a family.

Expanding the coverage of RA 8972 can offer great relief to struggling solo parents everywhere who are left with the gargantuan task of keeping the family together.


MoviePass parent’s CEO says its rebooted subscription service is already (sort of) profitable

MoviePass parent’s CEO says its rebooted subscription service is already (sort of) profitable

FILE- This Aug. 23, 2018, file photo shows Movie Pass debit cards and used movie tickets in New York. Streaming video services are starting to catch up on getting the latest movies quickly. Yet they are no match for the main attraction of movie theaters: no distractions from Facebook, online chats, household chores and what not. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Two days after MoviePass announced the return of the company’s unlimited ticket plan, Ted Farnsworth, CEO of its parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics, sat down with TechCrunch to offer insight into the state of the beleaguered service.

According to the executive, MoviePass Uncapped is already seeing positive results. While he didn’t share concrete numbers, he says that sign-ups have increased “well over 800 percent in the last few days. And that’s conservative.”

Asked what it would take to make the company’s subscription business profitable, Farnsworth says, “Well, it’s profitable right now.” As for when it turned the corner, he added, “I will tell you this, because it’s out there: MoviePass has actually paid Helios back money over the past several months, towards the loans that they have. So, that gives you an idea of when we really started focusing on getting rid of the 20 percent of the abusers.”

Important caveat: A Helios & Matheson spokesperson later clarified that Farnsworth meant MoviePass’ subscription business is profitable on a revenue-per-subscriber basis. In other words, it’s not losing money on subscriptions, but the business unit isn’t necessarily profitable when you take overhead and debt into account.

The plan marks a return to the initial unlimited model that helped turn MoviePass into a household name in the past year. But that success arrived with a massive price, as the service began hemorrhaging money. MoviePass withdrew the unlimited plan and began reworking its plans on what seemed to be a weekly basis.

In July, at the height of what was supposed to be the Summer of MoviePass, the service experienced an outage as it struggled to pay bills. Helios secured a $5 million loan from creditors Hudson Bay Capital Management in order to turn the lights back on.

Ted Farnsworth

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 24: Ted Farnsworth attends the 27th annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party sponsored by IMDb and Neuro Drinks celebrating EJAF and the 91st Academy Awards on February 24, 2019 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for EJAF)

“I think the big SNAFU there was the credit card company,” the executive explains. “When one company sold to the other, we had been doing business with them for four years. They decided it was too much credit for them and literally call the credit line on a Friday night and I do a personal guarantee on a Saturday.”

However things might have gone down on the back end, the optics of such a situation were clearly less than ideal. MoviePass’ struggles were very public from the beginning, as part of a publicly traded company. A literal shut down for the service appeared to be just the latest sign that the too good to be true service was exactly that.

And while Farnsworth admits that the company would have benefited from a bit more privacy, he claims that he never had any doubts about MoviePass’ future, even as he negotiated with creditors for a fresh cash injection.

“There were no moments in my mind where I thought it would go down. In my mind, I thought it was too big to fail,” he says. “You created a household name in less than a year. I think any time you have something like that, where you’re going to run into issues from sheer growth. Our investors did well investing along the way. The investors believed in us and they still do. We knew we had to slow it down to get in front of the fraud side because there were so many moving parts. It was moving so fast.”

It’s that “fraud” that was at the center of MoviePass’ woes, says Farnsworth. MoviePass’ initial downfall, he believes, was the product of too many users “gaming the system.” He believes the total number of users that fall into that category to have been around 20 percent of the overall subscriber base.

It was a minority, certainly, but still a sizable figure, given that, by June of last year, that total figure had exceeded three million. By that point, the service also comprised around five percent of U.S. box office receipts. Much of the past year has been spent attempting to plug holes in the subscription service as the MoviePass boat began rapidly taking on water.

To be clear, “gaming the system” doesn’t just mean watching a lot of movies — Farnsworth says he’s happy to have “hardcore” users, even if they’re buying way more than $9.95 or $14.95 worth of tickets. Instead, his concern is users who are doing things like sharing their subscription or just using a MoviePass ticket to use the theater’s restroom — something surprisingly common in places like Times Square, where public bathrooms are hard to come by.

One of the primary fixes, Farnsworth says, is utilizing mobile tracking to ensure that subscribers are, in fact, using the service as intended, and looking for “red flags” like constantly changing the device using the app. Users are already required to enable location-based tracking in order to enable ticket purchase. This will utilize that to ping the ticket purchaser’s location, in order to make sure that they’re actually attending the movies for which they’ve purchased tickets.

HMNY moviepass parent chart

“For instance, another issue is where people would go to the theater, they’ll pick up the ticket, they’ll hand their ticket to the kid or their child or their friend or whatever it is … and the person that’s paying the subscription goes back home or whatever they do,” he says. The new strategy: “When the movie starts, 30 minutes later [we’re] able to ping them inside the theater, just to make sure they still are at that theater.”

Looking ahead, Farnsworth says that the days of constantly changing pricing and restrictions are over, and that the company is committed to the unlimited plan. In fact, in his telling, the goal was always to get back to the unlimited plan — it was just that MoviePass had to figure out how to cut down on fraud to make the plan work.

At the same time, he says MoviePass’ film studio will also be an important part of the business. It has been overshadowed by the headlines about the company’s subscription struggles, but MoviePass Films has titles starring Bruce Willis, Al Pacino and Sylvester Stallone scheduled for this year.

MoviePass also invested in “Gotti,” and although the film was reviled by critics and only grossed $4.3 million at the box office, Farnsworth doesn’t see it as a failure.

“We never looked at Gotti as a money-maker” he says. “They only projected that it would do a $1.3 million in the box office here. Because then, when we pushed it with MoviePass, we took that up to five million. So, I mean, when you can take a movie — I gotta be careful here, but when you take a movie that might not be that great or perfect, and you can move that needle, [that] was always our theory of subscription.”

Check back later for our full interview with Farnsworth. Also, this post has been updated to reflect that MoviePass recently saw 800 percent growth in sign-ups (not subscribers), and to clarify Farnsworth’s remarks about profitability.

‘Snowploughing’ is the worrying new trend that sees parents remove difficulties from their child’s life – and it can do more harm than good

‘Snowploughing’ is the worrying new trend that sees parents remove difficulties from their child’s life – and it can do more harm than good

SNOWPLOUGHING is the latest worrying parent trend to emerge – and no matter what age your children are you could be guilty of it.

Following on from pushy parenting, helicopter and tiger mums, the snowplough parent is a powerful force clearing all of life’s obstacles out of their child’s way.

No matter what your child’s age is, you could be a snowplough parent

This type of parenting could begin as soon as the child is born, as mums and dads get their children’s names onto waiting lists for elite schools.

But the trend seems to continue throughout schooling and into university, and sometimes into the workplace.

The New York Times reported this rising trend in parents who will stop at nothing to make sure their child doesn’t have to experience failure.

Mums will call their teachers about grades, or employers about work and internships, they’ll organise their food, homework and even friendships.

Snowplough parents will remove all obstacles on their child’s road to success

Madeline Levine, psychologist and the author of Teach Your Children Well: Why Values and Coping Skills Matter More Than Grades, Trophies or ‘Fat Envelopes’, says: “They’ve cleared everything out of their kids’ way.

“Here are parents who have spent 18 years grooming their kids with what they perceive as advantages, but they’re not.”

It leaves youngsters unequipped to deal with adult life, and they constantly need their parents help to navigate daily obstacles.

Fellow author Julie Lythcott-Haims, of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, said: “The point is to prepare the kid for the road, instead of preparing the road for the kid.

This type of parenting leaves children without the skills to cope in the adult world

“You have manufactured a role for yourself of always being there to handle things for your child, so it gets worse because your young adult is ill-equipped to manage the basic tasks of life.”

These parents are so determined for their child to succeed they end up doing everything for them, never letting them experience failure.

And when they get into the real world and discover it’s a lot tougher without mummy on hand to fix every little problem, the snowploughed kids can’t cope.

Some mums do know best, and they’ve shared their top beauty and life tips – including investing in a decent bra.

If you want to celebrate your mum this Mother’s Day, why not grab a pair of matching pyjamas (and there’s some for nan too).

Plus take a look through this advert for a live-in nanny – who must permanently dress as a Disney princess.