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How Awareness and Prevention of Child Abuse may be leading to Parental Abuse

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As the eldest daughter of six girls with there being sixteen years difference between myself and my 15 year old twin sisters, I am repeatedly shocked and amazed at the actions of my youngest sisters. They get away with things now that I wouldn't have even thought of considering when I was there age for fear of literally not being able to sit down for a week or worse. Most recently they were caught shop lifting from a major department store… but that is simply the tip of the iceberg… they have been stealing for years from my mother, my home, convenience stores, etc. They steal change, make-up, perfume… basically anything not nailed down. At this point, my mother refuses to even buy herself make-up, perfume, or jewelry due to the twins taking it out of her room even though it has been made perfectly clear that they are not allowed to take, use, or "borrow" anything that is not theirs. I myself have on more than one occasion caught them stealing from my house also… my stash of quarters, my make-up, even my crest whitening strips!


They also lie almost pathologically… it is beyond frustrating, especially as our mother's health has markedly declined in the last year and her doctor's cite stress as one of the main contributing factors. The twins at this point are now both bigger and stronger than my mother, she is raising them on her own… it is quite literally impossible for my mother to enforce any type of punishment when they are deserving of one. Often she tells them to go to their room, and they refuse… flat out refuse. If my mother physically attempts to make them go to their room by taking them by the arm, they start screaming abuse… not just to her, but by running out of the house in hysterics claiming they are being hurt. I have witnessed this more times than I can even count… to the point it is ridiculous. I have witnessed them standing over her screaming that they WOULD NOT do as they have been told and she can't make them. And the sad part is that they are right.


Not only have they done this to my mother, but they have also done it to me, my husband, and other older family members who have tried to back up my mother when the twins are being punished. For the longest time their big threat was they were going to call the police or child welfare if my mother spanked them. The only reason that ended was several months ago when the threat was once again put out their, my mother simply handed them the phone and told them to do it, because she would rather sit a night in jail than to have to put up with what they were putting her through. So then when they were given a chore they didn't want to do or they were being punished, they simply walked out of the house… the last time one of them went to a friend's house complaining they were in danger… I was with my mother when we drove up on my sister and she was told to get in the car. As she got into the car she stated that she left the house because she felt she was in danger of bodily harm… which, as a witness to the entire event, was complete nonsense – they often site what seems to me is their convenient take on what schools and other guardians have been teaching them in order to protect themselves in situations where they truly are in danger. Any one thing in and of itself really isn't that big of a deal, but they have fined tuned the art of barrage. Everything from throwing dishes away because they don't want to wash them to breaking vacuum cleaners to get out of sweeping the carpet. They have no respect for their immediate elders or anybody's possessions, including their own and they seem completely incapable of understanding that my mother lives and runs the house on a very tight budget. They go through a months worth of groceries in less than a week – again after having been explained to that there is a limit to the amount of money… more than once they have had to (along with my mother) eat ramon noodles for weeks, because they have already eaten everything else. They get a new pair of jeans, and within the first week they are ripped or written on… their favorite explanation for rips are that they were snagged on a fence. Now my mother refuses to purchase them new clothes, from now on they are getting their clothes from the thrift store. After they misused their washer machine until it broke… the third one in three years… my mother refused to buy a new one, she said they could go to the laundry mat or hand wash their clothes… the list just goes on and on.


So what's my point? My point is, my sisters are wearing out everyone around them… and it seems they tag team whoever is their target at the time. The only apt analogy that comes to mind in Chinese water torture, and frankly I am of the opinion society as a whole has inadvertently empowered my sisters to openly and proudly show off what they can get away with. All it takes is a phone call, and CPS seems more than happy to demonize parents and force them to attend parenting classes – at least that has been what I have noticed. Your child can hit you, but you can't hit them… when I was growing up – it was made very clear to me that if I chose to hit someone then to expect to get hit back… and if I was so dumb as to hit someone who was bigger and stronger than me… then I deserved to be knocked on my * * *. Now days that is supposedly child abuse and I am struggling to understand why. Several years ago, my nephew got mad at me and bit me, I turned around and bit him back – he was shocked, and though it hurt him – I did not bite him hard enough to break the skin or bruise him, but I bit him back… as far as I know he never bit anyone ever again – certainly he never bit me again. He raised his hand to me once in a motion to hit… as I had done a couple of decades earlier to my mother – and I said to him the very same thing she said to me which was, "If I were you, I would think twice about hitting me – because I am a LOT bigger than you and I hit a lot harder too… and if you hit me, I will hit you back." I didn't hit my mother and my nephew didn't hit me… even at the tender age of three or four children GET that concept. Now certainly when I was young, that was completely acceptable… with my nephew that idea of hitting a child for any reason was growing out of favor, and now with my youngest sisters – it simply holds no power, because they run out the door screaming about being threatened with bodily harm.


It may sound as if I am exaggerating, but unfortunately I am not – if anything I am understating how they have twisted all the good intentions of society to prevent child abuse into their own little game of exploiting the flaws. Right now I am speaking of only my own family and our experiences, but it is hard for me to believe that this is an isolated incident. I think that their needs to be some serious evaluation as to how widespread this phenomena of children becoming abusive to their elders, because they feel – and often rightly so – that they are holding all the cards. I absolutely am not advocating child abuse and I feel that I need to make that perfectly clear, but it seems our society has become so abuse paranoid that parent's hands have been tied. Even when a child does something against the law, it is the parent who is forced to take off work, show up in court, and face the judge, pay fines, etc. Kids, or at least my sisters anyway are well aware of this, and blatantly stated that they shoplifted because they were mad at Mom, knowing full well that along with time off from work, court fines, and other fees associated with their shoplifting would fall square on her shoulders. They are purposely getting in trouble as a form of harassment towards my mother, because they are mad. My sisters' audacity just leaves me speechless… the very day after my mother had a significant seizure brought on again by stress, they sneak out of the house… a few days before her seizure is when they shoplifted from a local department store. Nothing seems to be working on them… I am convinced that they are prime candidates for one of those wilderness programs, but nobody in our family can afford to send them to one of those. Even the local cops have tried to use their authority to make an impression on them, but that has done absolutely nothing to deter their actions.


I would be more than happy to see a journalist take this issue on… because I feel there are other parents out there who may be going through the same thing, but are embarrassed to speak out or confused as to how to handle such a situation. Who wants to admit that their child has them under their thumb and/ or they feel completely powerless to stop the abuse, barrage, Chinese torture… whatever you want to call it.


Very good people with very good intentions have unwittingly enabled and empowered abusive children and I feel that their needs to be another option considered… I am not sure what exactly, but one that does protect people who are abused, truly abused – while also leaving parents and caregivers the necessary authority and backup needed to properly discipline their children. My husband will not even be alone with my younger sisters, due to their proven history of crying wolf, lying, and purposely manipulating civil servants of the city… it is not beyond any one of our imaginations that the twins would get upset at him and then punish him by accusing him of an indecent act. How is it that a 15 year old child has the power to ruin, or at the very least make life a living hell for someone by simply picking up the phone and making an accusation that is completely false?


Tomorrow morning – or actually now (01-07-2005) this morning at 10 am, my sisters will be punished for having stolen items from my home and for having been caught shoplifting from a local department store. They are going to walk up and down the Haggard block 100 times wearing sandwhich signs stating that they have stolen from a home in this neighborhood as well as a local department store. Many on this block will attend this "event" sitting on their front lawns eating doughnuts and drinking coffee. I am sure their will be naysayer's who will claim this is some form of child abuse, but after checking with the local police department, we have been told that it is not. My comments to those who believe this punishment is horrible… 1. What if it had been your home? 2. It seems my sisters believe it is sociably acceptable to steal, and that any legal consequences they suffer will be minimal. I think after tomorrow's walk, they will be pretty well aware, that at least in this neighborhood – we do not appreciate thievery, and it is NOT socially acceptable. Plus, I imagine they will be pretty damn tired and sore, as our block is fairly long. 3. The idea came from reading about the drunk driver's in TN that now have to work roadside crews picking up trash with the word's DRUNK DRIVER printed on their bright orange vest. 4. What else is there to do when nothing else has worked and parent's hands are tied?

I am not claiming that this IS the answer – but it may very well be a step in the right direction. This is an issue that really does need some light shed on it so that solutions can be worked toward.


The only concern of mine (for today's punishment) is what if, as they have done so many times before, the twins simply refuse to put on the signs and do their walk? Then once again, my mother's hands will be tied – and once again, the twins will have had to suffer no consequences for their behavior while all at the same time reaffirming in their own minds that they are untouchable.

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Rebellion is a form of crying out for help and angry actions is an outgrowth of sadness. When people are truly made to turn and look at the actions that they do take, not just be scolded or scorned, only then do they see. When you see them for who they are, your problem with them will fade and a non-blaming solution will be at hand.


People do bad things because they are going through something bad: insecurity, peer pressure, neglect... if you face them kindly with understanding, then only with love will they hear your message and only with so will they feel ashamed and humiliated: when they know you see them for who they are... on the deeper levels, on the more human levels.


There is always a way to reach everyone and that should be the priority. You can only reach hearts when you learn to love them unconditionally. You can only heighten your bond with someone when you truly care about their emotional well-being.


You can never just look to someone else to make YOUR situtation better. Blame causes more acts of anger. In the end, it's really saying, "No! It's something that YOU'RE doing/not doing! It's something that YOU ARE!"

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I think it is very important for you to keep your cool. Every time you get upset, you are letting them know that you are giving them power over you.


Have you had a serious discussion with your mom about this? I think you/your mom should find something you absolutely have power over, and work out more of a rewards thing than a punishment thing. For instance, maybe instead of trying to punish them, give them an allowance, but warn them that if they abuse their priviledges (i.e. taking something from you) they will not receive their allowance. Always follow through with what you say.


Remember, you are an adult. Do not yell - yelling is a sign you feel you are losing control.


In regards to your intended punishment, I do not feel it will be productive. I think it degrades them as a people..that will definitely not help you. Find qualities about them that are good, and tell them you approve of that characterisitic. (For example: Good grades? Do they have a special talent? Are they good with people?)


I hope I helped some. Be patient, and good luck!

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I agree with Moxie. Dont let them know that you are mad, be calm ....but firm! It sounds like your mom has given up They really need to be put in the system for Juvenile delinquents. I know that sounds really bad ....but....its really not. Just the police talking to them is not going to cut it , at all. They need to be aressted and put on probation, were they have a curfew and have to do community service, they need to be made responsible for there own actions. Thats the problem...they have never been made too! I know that your mom is not in the best of health,but maybe you older siblings need to step in...wether your mom likes it or not. But dont do it because you didnt get away with things when you were that age. Do it to really help your sisters out,to become better human beings and to give your mom peace of mind. There are Boot Camps for kids . Depending on what stae you are in the national guard has one that is really good, but again they really have to be in the system. Next time they raise a hand to anyone, or break curfew,destrys anyones things etc.....They need to know that you mean bussiness. Boot Camp should be the last resort. And of course counseling. I know all this because I have a daughter who is sixteen (now) that went threw all that plus drugs and alcohol, its hard to admit that your children have problems, but we as parents are to go beyond no matter how much it hurts US. In the long run you will see an angry mislead teen turn into a better person. My teen is drug free respectfull, its just amazing what tuff love can do. Please feel free to pm me Iand good luck! Dont give up on them we are all thay have they are crying for help threw thier actions.keep me posted

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