Nov 30, 2012

Mommy, a boy tried to pull down my pants

What would you do if your six-year-old daughter comes home crying from school and tells you that a boy tried to pull down her pants? Would you be calm on hearing the news? Would you be mad at the boy? Would you be afraid that your daughter might have been compromised? What would you do and how would you go about it? 

No malicious intent

The answers would very much depend on WHAT EXACTLY the boy did, whether he had malicious intent, whether he was forced to do it as part of the game, or a number of other reasons. There are many running games for kids to play – one of them called tag – where you have to run after the kids and catch them. Was this something innocent like that? Six-year-old kids can be naughty, but calling them malicious is hardly fair. Accidents happen. You can chase a boy and catch him by his belt and the pants come off, or you want to frighten a girl by pulling on her pants. It is not good manners, for sure, and not polite but it does not warrant a harsh sentence. The answer would be deep down in the boy’s brain, but is he even old enough to understand what this means?

Asking the right questions after an incident of suspected abuse

·         I would ask my daughter to tell me what happened, and not to leave out important details.
·         I would call the police and tell them what happened.
·         I would contact a social worker to tell me my rights and also to talk to my daughter.
·         I would not rush out to the boy's family home and create a scene.
·         I would ask for contact details of bystanders and witnesses and give it to the police.
·         I would get in touch with Child Services and speak to a social worker to see if my child has been abused.
·         I would ask a doctor to meet with my daughter to determine that she is fine and whether the incident is serious enough to warrant therapy.
·         The most important question I would want to have answered, however, is whether my child has been touched in an inappropriate way or not so as the appropriate measures can be taken and life can go on.

Nov 29, 2012

Felonies and misdemeanors

In certain states in America a misdemeanor in laymen’s terms is stealing a cookie out of the jar. A felony is eating the cookie. That’s the concept. An infraction is a traffic fine. When you speed on the highway it is a misdemeanor, you pay the fine and that’s that. When you speed on the highway and someone is killed as a result of your reckless driving it is vehicular assault and you spend time in jail; it’s a felony. Got it? The functional difference between the two rests with the penalty and the ‘power of imprisonment’. It is not whether someone convicted of a particular crime must be punished by a specific time in jail, but whether the person may be punished for a certain length of time or in a specific type of prison. 


In certain states all crimes punishable by death are felonies. In States such as New York, Rhode Island and New Hampshire a crime is a felony if it is punishable by more than a year in jail. In Arizona and Wisconsin a crime is a felony punishable by imprisonment in a state prison or penitentiary.  A misdemeanor is usually a crime punishable for a year or less in prison or only in a county jail.

Possession of a small quantity of weed a misdemeanor

There is also a wobbler. Some states also have alternative felony/misdemeanor crimes. A wobbler is a crime that can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor based on circumstances and can be reduced to misdemeanor by a sentencing court. For instance, if you are found with a small bit of marijuana it might be a misdemeanor, but being in possession of a kilo of weed might lead to felony charges based on the volume of the drug.

In the procedural prosecution of felonies and misdemeanors there are not many differences. The government brings some sort of formal charges against you and accord you due process of law. The state follows more formal procedures to prosecute for a felony.

Lose the right to vote

Being convicted of a felony can have serious repercussions. You get a longer sentence, you lose the right to possess a firearm and hunting or fishing licenses. In some states you also lose the right to vote. You also have to disclose your status when applying for a job. A repeat felon faces much harder punishments especially where three-strike laws are in place. Go online for more information on felonies and misdemeanors in the United States.

Is there a link between genius and mental illness?

Is there a link between genius and mental illness?

There definitely is. A good example of this are artists who are brave and daring in their ideas and are made up of individuals who have the audacity to express themselves mentally in full regalia. Axel Rose in his mega-crowd performances for instance becomes almost manic as he loses control and just throws himself into the crowd – Janis Joplin the rock ‘n roll singer who succumbed to drugs at the age of 27 – Freddy Mercury of Queen who became a legend – Jimi Hendrix with his alpha guitar. These are but a handful of musicians and artists who suffered from their own mix of talent and genius and ended up taking drugs. Drugs took the pain away, it made them forget.

The heyday of the Sixties
In the old days artists were called drug addicts but there are many writers, singers, comedians and others who suffer from a bipolar disorder. People do not like the word ‘mental’ but it is a mental disease – a mood disorder that includes manic, depressed and mixed episodes. It is the most common of all mental disorders because of the occurrence rate of depression. Here is what you should know about mood, manic, and depressed episodes:

·         A mood disorder characterized by disturbances in physical, emotional and behavioural patterns which can range from elation to extreme depression with a potential for suicide.

·         A manic episode characterized by an unusual elevated mood or one of extreme agitation. The person has grandiose ideas about his importance and power. He may jump from topic to topic and make everyone around him crazy. The person is jacked up and speaks rapidly and in severe cases may see or hear things others do not.

·         Sadness, thoughts of worthlessness, feeling empty, crying all the time, difficult concentration and an inability to sleep; they are unable to socialize with others and is obsessed with thoughts of death and dying. Feeling sad and depressed all the time is not good and should be treated. According to one sufferer having a bipolar disorder is like an endless roller coaster.

Treating bipolar disorder
Seek treatment right away. The earlier you start the process, the better. Effective bipolar treatment relieves symptoms, reduces the frequency and intensity of mood swings and you need not suffer discomfort. Having said that, go online and learn all you can about the disorder and appropriate treatment. Follow the doctor’s instructions. Your best bet for bipolar treatment is a psychiatrist who is qualified and can recommend medication. 

Nov 28, 2012

Being jilted might be your best wedding present

It is bad enough when someone breaks up with you after a long courtship but what about that relationship where the couple decides to get married, saves up for years, spends three hundred thousand on an African themed destination wedding and on the day of the nuptials the bride stands with her toes in the sand and her heart in her shoes crying for the groom who never arrives? This kind of rejection probably ranks as one of the most painful and embarrassing things that can happen. There is no pill for it, only the one that is hard to swallow. Nothing can take away the hurt; nothing. The act begs so many questions: why did it happen? – wasn’t she good enough? – wasn’t she exciting enough? Was he drunk when he made the proposal? What was she going to do now?

Hard pill to swallow
As hard, humiliating and unbelievable as this may sound you may not have been ready for marriage and God intervened and is giving you more time to think. You are finding out stuff now rather than later and have been spared a life of uncertainty.  You can unravel the threads that held the relationship together and make better choices. This is a chance for you to think – that maybe this was not the right relationship for you and while you may suffer the brunt of gossip for a while, in the long run you will benefit and find the right man. Perhaps, deep down inside you, you knew the relationship had a loose thread or two, but dismissed it. 

Warning voice
We all know that warning voice and do nothing about it. Maybe the benefit for you will be the act of forgiveness, where you learn your life lessons and eventually forgive him. And maybe he is not the right man for you to marry but the right man for a friend. Good friends are as hard to find as good marriage material. To end off, God works in strange ways. He may use a beggar to bring a rich man to your door, or bring a rich man who is poor and eventually marries your daughter. God is the Master Planner and the Architect of our lives. Lessons come to us in many different ways. We just have to be open to receive them. Being jilted is not the end of the world, but a sure way to jolt you back to life and do what you do best; live and learn.   

Nov 27, 2012

Adopting a child in South Africa

Adopting a child can be a long and tedious process but once you know the requirements it will be easy if you do things in the correct way. There is a process to follow and no short-cuts to adoption. The first thing to understand is that it is illegal to become a child’s permanent parent in any other way than through adoption – meaning that if you are not related to the child in any way, you cannot adopt. Becoming a foster parent involves a different process.

Adoption can only take place legally

·         When it is in the best interest of the child,
·         If the child is adoptable,
·         The child has been abandoned,
·         The child is an orphan and has no guardian,
·         The whereabouts of the child’s parents are unknown,
·         The parent or the guardian has abused the child,
·         The child is in need of permanent alternative placement.

Maintaining their roots and culture
An open adoption means the identities of all parties are known. A closed adoption means the parties are not known to each other from the start of the process. The parties work with a social worker who is involved in the process and may advise that the parties share their identities with each other in the best interest of the child. An example of this would be where it is encouraged that the children maintain contact with their roots and culture. 

Who is eligible to adopt?
·         A husband and wife can jointly adopt a child
·         Permanent partners and same-sex couples can jointly adopt a child
·         A widow or a widower or an unmarried person
·         Persons sharing a household and forming a permanent family unit
·         A biological father of the child who does not have guardianship in terms of Chapter 3 of the Children's Act 38/2005, or the foster parent of a child has the right to be considered as a prospective adoptive parent when the child becomes available.

Starting adoption proceedings
Adoption proceedings are handled by social workers at accredited and designated child protection organisations and accredited private adoption social workers accredited and designated Child Protection Organisations providing adoptions services are: ACVV, Badisa, Cape Town Child Welfare, Child Welfare South Africa, AFM Abba Adoptions and the Department of Social Development. Some of the above organisations may charge a fee.