Hands Off, Inc

"We are a community made up of people determine to intercede for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children and young women, through training, raising awareness, and safe dwelling. "


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Young Black Homeless and At Risk

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On my way home but this time taking an unusual route. I noticed an African American girl standing outside a store…I recognized the look that said, “I’m homeless and hungry but too proud to ask for help” Of course I pulled off the road and passed her walking into the store. I came out and offered her a Beef Patty and a drink, which she accepted. We walked around the side of the store and sat down. Bonnie is her name; she told me she is 18 yrs of age, of course to deflect me for calling Child Services or 911. We talked for a few hours, and finally getting to the root of her situation.

Bonnie was sold to a family friend at the age of 10 and suffered continued abuse throughout her adolescent years in foster care. She was able to go to school where she said, “no one saw her the abuse didn’t show” the internal pain she was enduring crippled her from speaking up. And in her mind it was better to deal with the predictable abuse rather than the unknown. Finally she ran away and has been running since. I offered to take her to a shelter she refused because she was afraid to go to a Shelter, so I paid her Hotel Stay for a few nights. Then what I thought, how can I get her of the streets? She has faced numerous amounts of prejudice being Young Black and Homeless just like the LGBTQ Community, which makes it harder to get help. As I was leaving Bonnie I gave her my business card and prayed with her.

We have hundreds of Bonnie’s right here in Central Florida that are not counted for in any statics. Their on the run, living in bushes making make-shift tents and trying to survive. We pass them in the streets everyday and automatically they are prejudged as reckless, felons, prostitutes and drug users. The percentage of homeless students in Orange County is alarming, and they are the ones likely to end up on the streets.The Haitian and Caribbean teen girls are especially vulnerable due to deportation threats and language barriers. The possibility of losing their children become very real and  it keeps them from getting the help they need. They live in cars with small children and even babies. Homeless and at risk teen girls are more likely to be forced in Sex Trafficking which at least 35% of them we have worked with have already been exposed to some type of sexual abuse in Foster Care. The Sunshine State is so bad that Florida is regarded by human trafficking experts as one of the most active states in the country. These girls are in survival mode so of course the best choices aren’t made, so before we judge them lets help them. Remember everyone has a story.

To find out how you can help us continue to provide safe housing go to www.youngseeds.org.

Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 to: Get help, report a tip, or learn more.

During the 2012-2013 school year, the Florida school districts identified 70,215 children and youth who were homeless. This is a 10% increase from 2011-2012. Of those identified, 6,658 (9%) were “unaccompanied youth.” An “unaccompanied youth” is defined as one who is not in physical custody of a parent or guardian. The majority, 52,673 (75%) were reported as homeless and temporarily sharing the housing of other persons due to the loss of their housing or economic hardship; a one percent increase from the previous school year.

Homeless Students Reported in Florida Public School

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Children’s Home Society of Florida

  • Almost 300,000 American youth are at risk for trafficking into the sex industry.
  • Youth in foster care are especially vulnerable to predators. Girls in foster care have been recruited by predators at school, in malls and through social media.

Emphasis on “normalcy” for children in foster care encourages child-serving providers to keep youth in their communities and to allow youth to have cell phones. While this allows them to maintain their social network, it also significantly increases their risk of becoming victimized through commercial sexual exploitation. (which proves to be dangerous)

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What’s Killing Your Teenager?

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October is National Bullying Awareness month so what better time to address the deadly effects of it. I felt the need and importance to write this piece on Teen Suicide in the desire to help and bring awareness to this critical crisis facing our young people. First we need to identify Adolescent Suicide for what is…which is trying to fix a temporary problem with a permanent solution!

4 American teenagers per day between the ages of 13-19 commit suicide daily, alarming…yes! Can we change these numbers? yes. Many teenagers commit suicide on impulse for reasons such as a relationship ends, low self-esteem, peer pressure but the number one cause is “BULLYING.”

Bullying is not only physical but physiological torment as well, those are the scars that cut the deepest and are not always visible. When teens make the decision to commit suicide they are not thinking about the loved ones left behind, they are not in a rational state of mind, they are just trying to find away to end the pain at that moment. Parents may view a breakup or bullying as a passing event “kids will be kids it will make them stronger, I went through that too etc..etc..blah, blah” Guess what parents they don’t think like you, nor do they react like you. They have their own identity, feelings, emotions, impulses, and the tolerance level is not the same.

When your young person comes to you for help, never diminish their feelings with a pat on the back. Take everything your youngsters says seriously, especially when they are brave enough to open up to you. Please remember you are what they identify as safe, a place of refuge where they can cry without judgement. The world around them is already tearing them down, it is your job to build them up.

Teenagers are secretive and do hide a lot but as a parent/care taker the signs are the same!!! Unhealthy relationships are also controlling relationships/friendships “hey if you don’t go to the party I’m telling everyone that you did….” or if they are dating, are they constantly texting and having to answer their whereabouts to a boyfriend or girlfriend? ?are they being manipulated? “Stacey is not answering my calls.” The “silent treatment” is a power move used to gain control and manipulate. Teens become even more secretive when they are struggling with something, they lose their appetite “no I’m going to skip dinner, I’m going to bed instead I’m tired.” The start skipping classes and missing school “mom I’m not feeling well enough to go to school today.” ( See I’m an old school mom, so I will show up to the school and check things out)…

Parent’s you must speak with your teens daily. They may be reluctant but meet them in their own elements, go to the movies, take a trip together, do something they want to do and just start “HEARING” them. The signs are there but we take for granted we know what they are capable of, and that is furthest from the truth!!!!

Children who are abused abuse others, the cycle continues because the “BULLIER” is also hurting but does not know how to deal with it. They transfer that abuse because it makes them feel better, no longer alone. Aggression is a very visible sign that something is going on deeper below the surface. The “BULLIER” is not only aggressive but, manipulative, they flock to friendships weaker than themselves because they feel more in control, they are also very critical of others “look at this guy he is so stupid haha.” Many resources are available today from school counselors to youth organizations all in the business of helping young people gain a healthy control of their lives and environment.

Harbor House of Central Florida has an excellent program called Project Courage which engages youth in the communities from Pre-k to 12 grade students receive consistent messaging about healthy relationships and positive interaction for more info contact  www.harborhousefl.com.

Talk… Listen…. Love


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Don’t Allow Your Perecption to Deceive You!

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Over the last few weeks I have been working on a project. The vision was given by God to bring forth a much needed aide in the lives of young women. The task has been tedious, daunting, exhausting and still yet thrilling, fulfilling and enjoyable all at the same time. The doors that have closed in my face are too many to count ye the small narrow ones held the greatest influence. Then I started to learn first hand about the power of deceptive perceptions.

The power of influence has left me in awe of what perception can do to a person plan or idea, but influence can build, create and also tear down. When we have a plan or idea we become excited and full of energy, and ready to take the ‘bull by the horn’. Naturally we need strong people around us who we think can help bring the plans to life. I looked for people who I thought were important and fit my idea of who had great influence, I allowed my limited perception to take hold of the image I was creating. The deeper I glared at the perception I found it to be very hollow and filled with nothing. They looked right, dressed right, sound right the perception seemed right but it was an illusion. People have the “fake it till you make it” syndrome but often times they put so much work in faking it that they never really make it. And instead of looking for the substance we get caught in the illusion and say to ourselves  “no surely this person is successful they have 5000 friends on facebook and 15 thousand on Insta-lie oh sorry instagram, they even have pictures with famous people, wait they have pictures of them doing charity work.” Then we start to rationalize the perception. They have to keep up the charade, they spend more than they make because the image has to be maintained. Unfortunately I was bamboozled by some of these people, I expected more from them just based on the name they carried and the things I saw them do. Beloved it was all a show and God was teaching me a lesson I would never forget. The greatest lesson of my life.

Slowly I started to let go of the idea that people would catch on to my vision and help me work the plan. God was showing me that in me, was the influence I needed, my own perception of where I was and where I was going needed to be adjusted. The more I stopped focusing on the doors that closed and the people that closed them, I was able to see the narrow one that opened. Then I realized I had everything I already needed to walk through it, the few people with me fit and the others fell off. The people I perceived to be so great, were not great after all they were not equipped to even help me tie my show lace. So I could no longer expect anymore than they were qualified to give.

God gives us favor with man, our own influence is greater than we will ever know if we don’t use it wisely. We have to be careful not judge a book by it’s cover because the story maybe very different. The story about the subway man comes to mind. A man was sitting in a subway car to his destination, when a father with his children entered. The father sat down and closed his eyes and sat back while is children were loud and rambunctious bringing a lot of attention to them. The father seemed to validate the behavior by not tending to them. Finally the man said to him “sir can you shut up your children they are bothering everyone” and the father responded ” your right I should do something, we just came back from the hospital where their mother just died and hour ago, I guess I don’t know how to handle it and they don’t either” the man was filled with grief and compassion for the father and his children. The perception was the father was a bad father allowing his children to be unruly without discipline.

There are many forms of perception don’t allow what you see to deceive you. Self awareness will help to guide us in our own explanatory thoughts to not see people as objects or esteem them beyond their capabilities. Perhaps we should look a little closer ask questions, we can hear what’s going on in our neighbors house but we won’t really know unless we are in their.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Dangerous Words!!!

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I remember growing up how family and friends were quick to label me. The fact that they couldn’t easily understand me, in their mind it was a ticket to define what their limited perception allowed. I grew up thinking of myself in a way that I shouldn’t those voices that name called echoed in silent places. The voices that tried to stop me from my destiny rang loud every time I tried to take a step forward, but they pulled me back.

Parents we must bridle our tongue when we are angered with our young people. WE must be careful not to call them “stupid, silly, loose, shy, fat, ridiculous and much more. The name we call them are seeds, they are seeds that take root over the years. They will hear your voice no matter how many “I’m sorry” you sing. Words are powerful that’s why God says life and death are in the power of our tongues. Mom and dad you have the power to speak life and blessings over your youth. Of course they will do the dumbest things on earth and they will make some absolutely horrendous decisions, but we have to be patient.

Be careful!!!  one wrong word of hurt or your disappointment in them, can push them to a place you won’t be able to save them from. They maybe going through so much more than they can speak, they are probably making poor choices because of peer pressure. The worst thing you can do is push them away by the things you say. Tough love means making hard decisions which is the betterment for their future, not speaking to them in a degrading or insulting manner.

When you feel your temperature rising,  your blood is boiling and that one nerve you had left jumps off the cliff… breathe…. Inhale and exhale. Calm down get your words together and don’t allow your anger or disappointment to lead you in throwing up words you can’t eat.

“Don’t give them a label that doesn’t belong to them”


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Too Young to Date

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When I look at this photo I become afraid for our youth, I become worried about this upcoming generation, I think about all the teen pregnancies and insufficient care for the babies, the diseases with no cures. This picture makes me question “where on earth are their parents”?. Guess what? the most troubling thing is the parents allowed it! Yes I said “allowed it”. Way too frequently you see these adolescent ‘hook ups’. Parents are allowing their daughters, baby teens (13, 14,15,16) to have boyfriends… EXCUSE ME???. Have you lost your natural mind? When did it become ok at such a young age to give this type of responsibility to a child? My fellow parents when you open the “dating door” You must understand that the door can never be closed again, and a lot of things and situations are about to enter though that door.

Let me guess “everybody is doing it”? you got to together with your ‘moms group’ and you all agreed it was ok’ now you take tuns with the foolishness of dropping off and picking up your baby!  WAKE UP…Raising a teen is hard enough but when you throw your precious daughter to the wolves you better be ready for what is coming home with her. Peer pressure is real! mom you know, you allowed your baby teen to talk you into having a boyfriend. Who is the parent you are the child? Stop trying to be friends. They don’t want to be your friend! that’s just an excuse they use to manipulate you. And please don’t say they will do it anyway, because a 13-16 girl should not have any say what so ever about what she will do and not do. We are the parents we enforce the rules, we are supposed to protect our daughters, we should be teaching them self-respect and high moral standards, and the importance of higher education.

When you open the dating door at such a tender age it is DANGEROUS. Your daughter may get all A’s, cleans her room, she may be very respectful and responsible. But hear me when I tell you she is NOT ready to date. Her precious mind is marred when she dates, she now has to live up to the girlfriend status, she now becomes more conscious of her appearance which leads to self-esteem issues, she is now reading adult magazines on dating, social media is blowing her mind with images and thoughts, she now becomes a high risk for teen pregnancy, that one kiss can turn her healthy life upside down with diseases, she is now facing the green-eyed demon called jealousy, and the list goes on.. Mom dad, your daughter is precious you must protect her and not give her up to a life she is not ready for. Her education and mental stability is crucial to her healthy growth. Once you open the “dating door” there is an attitude that comes with it, and you must be willing to hold yourself accountable.

“Pet a dog you don’t know, and it may bite you”

 


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Mom Dad Please Listen To Me

473217_10201134506109855_801365329_o-1“Mom, dad you’re not listening to me” ..”You don’t get it”… “You don’t understand me”.. “things are not the same as when you were younger”. Do these phrases sound familiar? Yep I’m sure they do. This is the sound of every beckoning cry when you’re talking with your teenager “you just don’t understand me you never let me talk”. Guess what parents, in most cases they are right. This day and age is not the same as your youthful days. Nowadays we have social media galore, this is the age of information at your finger tips, microwave solutions, fake it till you make mantras, peer pressure and so much more. Designers now make young women’s clothes as if there is a shortage on fabric, times have changed mom and dad. Mom dad, it’s time to listen to what your young person is trying to communicate. This generation wants and needs to be heard, listen with the intent to understand not respond. Take your teen to a sit down dinner, just get somewhere quiet and comfortable. Open the lines of communication not a dictatorship because they will not respond to you, they will shut down and rebel harder and longer. Allow them to express themselves (respectfully of course) without feeling they have no identity or common sense. There are gifts and talents in your young person that you may or may not recognize. Those gifts and talents need to be nurtured, encouraged and protected, even if you don’t understand their choices it’s their choice. Help them blossom into their God-given talents by loosening the chains and listening to what they have to say. Surprisingly enough they are much more receptive when they feel they have a voice.