Pray for The Exploited Children

homepageadMy Facebook status box asked, “What’s on your mind?” I had planned my day very differently and thinking or writing about child exploitation was not on my list.

But then I  received an email from Innocents at Risksharing the good news that 245 perverts and exploiters of children had been arrested.  Great good news for a change. But so many are still missing and being exploited. I’d rather not know this.  I’d rather think about something else.  I’d rather turn away, but that won’t make this problem go away. The picture above from the ‘Innocents at Risk’ website reveals the horrid reality. Nobody wants to see a child hurt, but it is the turning away that allows it to continue. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people!”

Please don’t turn away because this is painful.  You can help in so many way!  “The sexual abuse of young children, often at the hands of people they trust, is a particular wrong,” said ICE Director John Morton in the ICE report. These exploited children have had their innocence stolen. I’m reminded of a stanza in Courtni Webbs poem about victimization and innocence.  Courtni was suspended from school from writing a poem that included these lines.

They want to hold me back
I run but they attack

My innocence I want back
I used to smile

Awareness and prevention are paramount.  It’s impossible to totally restore these children to wholeness and innocence. Many exploited children will turn to drugs, exploiting other children, or end up in jail or the morgue. Storing up the hatred for their perpetrators (and the silent by-standers) for a lifetime of victimization can cause these kids to act out. You have probably noticed kids that seem a “bit off” and probably ignored it.  You might be their savior. Keep your eyes and your heart open to hurting children.

So, what’s on your mind today? Today and everyday we have a choice of what to think about, care about, and pray about. DID YOU KNOW THAT BABIES AS YOUNG AS 3 ARE BEING EXPLOITED FOR THE SEX TRADE?  These atrocities are happening in our own back yard, in our own country. Your daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, cousins, sisters, brothers, neighbors, church members, and students are potentially at risk.  Trafficking is a 32 billion dollar industry and no group, gender, or class is immune.

110 victims were just rescued in 19 of our United States. Victims were as young as 3, with 35 were under the age of nine!  Both young boys and girls are victims. Please don’t ignore this! Unfortunately, we tend to LIKE catchy sound bites, but ignore the serious issues unless they affect us personally.  Please people pray for the children, especially those exploited or about to be exploited. If another mothers babies are unsafe, it’s my issue too.  Everyone CAN do something, even if it is to educate others and PRAY! Please LIKE if you’re going to PRAY, COMMENT, OR SHARE.  Those are ACTIONS.

Don’t just look out for the weird-do or the stranger.  People you know could be exploiting children right under your nose. NCMEC CEO John Ryan. “They could be your neighbors’ children, your child’s classmate, or even your own child. We thank Director Morton and everyone at ICE for their strong commitment to rescuing the most vulnerable of victims.”  You can read the entire article at the ICE website but here is an excerpt.

“HSI and partner law enforcement agencies arrested 245 individuals during the operation, which took place Nov. 1 to Dec. 7. Of the 123 victims, 110 were identified in 19 U.S. states.  Of the 123 victims identified during Operation Sunflower: five were under the age of 3, nine were ages 4 to 6; 21 were ages 7 to 9; 11 were ages 10 to 12; 38 were ages 13 to 15; and 15 were ages 16 to 17. Twenty-four of the victims identified are now adults who were victimized as children. Seventy were female and 53 were male.”

Check out ICE’s facebook page to keep abreast of what they are doing and how you can help.  They regularly post pictures of the innocent and those who are perpetrators.  Also the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  offers training on how you can help.

I’m Barbara Talley, the poet who speaks and inspires.  To find out more about me check out my promo sheet or visit  my website.

Uncivil Rights to Write: Backlash on Courtni the Poet

The  headline read, ‘Courtni Webb, San Francisco High School Senior, Suspended For Writing Poem About Sandy Hook Shooting.’  I don’t know if I picked up on the headline because I’m a mother, a poet, or just a human being trying to understand those senseless shootings of those babies in Connecticut like everyone else. At first, only a few lines of her poem were being broadcasted around the country and judged. Some thought that while she had the right, her timing and words were insensitive and that her words were ‘dark’.

If I can’t be loved, no one can
If I can’t be happy, no one will
I understand the killings in conneticut

The reviews were mixed, some wanting zero tolerance in schools said that she should be suspended so that more tragedies like the one in Sandy Hook wouldn’t be repeated.  Some focused on her spelling and the fact that a high school senior couldn’t spell. Others thought the school had violated her rights since the poem was in her personal notebook and that the teacher had violated her rights when she went through Courtni’s personal notebook without her permission. Admittedly, the whole country is  still shocked about the shootings and so it seems so was a 17-year old girl, who wrote a poem about it and was suspended from school. So many people had asked about the poem that her mother posted the poem on Huff Post (San Francisco).   Her mother wrote: “My daughters poem…you all wanted to read…

They want to hold me back

I run but they attack
My innocence I want back
I use to smile
They took my kindness for weakness
The silence the world will never get
I understand the killings in conneticut
I know why he pulled the trigger
The government is a shame
Society never wants too take the blame
Society puts these thoughts in our head
Misery loves company
If I can’t be loved, no one can
If I can’t be happy, no one will
I understand the killings in conneticut
If every starts out the same, why don’t we have the same opportunities
Why are we oppressed by a community of haters and blamers
When you don’t feel loved you hate the world
When you hate the there’s no exceptions
Why should they have innocence, when ours is gone…

I want to thank her mother for posting the whole poem because it helps to put her daughter’s poem in perspective. While people are trying to understand the killer in the Sandy Hook slayings, why not someone affected by the killings, who didn’t do anything?  Courtni’s poem indicated that she wanted her innocence back.  Her poem spoke of being ‘attacked‘ as she was trying to run away.  Was she being attacked?  She spoke of how she ‘used to smile‘ and how her ‘kindness was taken for weakness.’ Courtni said she could understand, NOT that she wanted to do the same. I would suspect that the question, “What would make a person do something so heinous, had to go through many people’s minds.” Newcasters were asking the same questions!  Everyone was trying to understand!  How many would be fired or expelled by the same standards that were used against this girl (for trying to understand?) What if someone wrote a song, or play, or book (as they tend to do) about this tragedy? They would become rich, so what’s so different about what this young girl did?

This young poet answered the question of “Why or How could someone..?” through her poetry. Perhaps she was responding to,”Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his moccasins.” Courtni spoke of injustice, “If every[one] starts out the same, why don’t we have the same opportunities?” She spoke of  not being loved as a possible reason why the killer could have done what he did.  And she challenges society to take some of the blame, “Society never wants too take the blame- Society puts these thoughts in our head.”  She felt that he was disconnected, unloved and unhappy AND perhaps that’s why he did it.  Perhaps it was a cry for help. Perhaps it was just her mind trying to make sense of such a senseless act. Perhaps it was a wake up call for society to understand that a violent warring society produces more of the same and it affects us here and not just our troops in war torn countries.

How much violence is there in some communities, on television, in games, in sports, in our children’s textbooks at school, and in America’s sordid history? Have you looked at the violence and bullying stats lately? According to National School Safety Center and reported on MBNBD, “90% of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of bullying!” First we create an environment of violence, then we as a society turn a blind eye to our children’s pain, THEN WE CENSOR them from communicating what they are thinking and feeling, and FINALLY when they EXPLODE we ask,”What’s wrong?” So, who’s to blame? Consider these facts from the Neilsen Ratings,

Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8,000—

Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000-

Percentage of Americans who believe TV violence helps precipitate real life mayhem: 79%.

And remember the young man who murdered the children in Connecticut had a mother who had weapons in the home which he had easy access to.  I’m not condoning what he did, I’m just saying society facilitates this disconnection in people.

As a poet and a mother of a daughter who is a poet. I am greatly disturbed by this young lady being suspended. When I was a child  a half century ago, I wrote about oppression and my daughter does the same today. Writing was my therapy and does the same for my daughter. I’ve never hurt anyone and neither has she. Some things we write we share and some don’t. We write what we feel in our own personal journals. Setting a precedence like this (of closing the one outlet a person has to reflect and communicate safely) is dangerous because it could potentially scare kids who might find healing in writing out their thoughts.  Courtni was just trying to understand our crazy, mixed up, and violent world. Perhaps we should spend a little more time trying to make sense of this world too! Too many adults have just stopped trying to understand.  Women are abused every few seconds. Human trafficking has become a 32 billion dollar annual industry. Over a million children are dropping out of school every year.

When people (young or old)  become insensitive and stop caring or trying to understand others, we call them cold, inhuman, and dysfunctional. I feel that Courtni was just trying to understand. If she were a musician, perhaps she would have written a song.  If she were an author, she’d have written a book.  But she was a poet, so she wrote a poem. While most thought, “Too bad, so sad,” and went back to their ‘regularly scheduled programs’, Courtni was still haunted by the killings.  Poets and sensitive people somehow need to try to make sense out of the senseless actions going on in our worlds. Poetry is an outlet and humanity’s conscience. How are her words any different than the music lyrics in some songs, or the ranting threats of some of our radio personalities? Some get paid; some get suspended. Poets have been gifted and tasked to capture humanity’s story and that was what she was trying to do.

I’m Barbara Talley, the poet who speaks and inspires.  To find out more about me check out my promo sheet or visit  my website.

How Much Is A Black Youth Worth?

black youthI want to bring your attention to three recent tragedies that seem to have three things in common, their race, age, and gender. They were all young, African-American males, who were attacked because of their race.  Most recently seventeen year old, Jordan Russell was killed by a white man in Florida because he was playing his music too loud.  Ironically another seventeen year old unarmed Trevon Martin was shot dead in February in Florida holding nothing but a can of iced tea and a pack of Skittles.

Twenty-one year old, Chavis Carter was shot in the head with his hands handcuffed behind him while in the back of a police car in Arkansas in August.  While the police say that he committed suicide, the evidence does not support how the left-handed Chavis shot himself with his right hand while handcuffed.  He was with two friends when the police apprehended him. They were let go. They just happened to be white. He was arrested for giving a false name and reports say he had  $1o worth of marijuana on him.  Some states have now made that legal, but too late for this young man is dead.

How much is the life of a black child worth? These stories are not isolated cases.  There are others.  But it seems the frequency or severity of these types of atrocities do not faze people anymore. They just shake their heads and go back to their regularly scheduled programming.  Few will even comment and show that they care or feel anything.  I empathize with the mothers who are mourning their children today.  Today I think about those lives changed forever or snuffed out entirely and I try to make sense out of senseless brutality, hatred, and cruelty.  I appease my own conscience by shining the light on these cruel injustices so that their pain was not in vain and that they are not forgotten.  After that, I too shake my head and think, what now?

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

(Quote by Martin Niemoller)

I’m Barbara Talley, The Poet who speaks and inspires.   To find more about me, check out my promo sheet or visit  my website.

Who’s to Blame for The Violence?

What is it about specific tragedies that capture the attention, concern, and indignation of “good” folks?

Last week the nation was in shock because of another senseless killing spree in Arizona.  Everyone was looking for someone to blame.  Some  were blaming Palin; others were blaming Obama.  Some were blaming the lack of gun control and then there were those who blamed all of society for refusing to notice the obvious mental illness in the young man.  Bob Herbert in a New York Times article, A Flood of Murder wrote an extremely thought-provoking piece on not only the recent violence but our increasing violence.

He shared a conversation he’d had with the late Marian Wright Edelman, (who at the time was the president of the Children’s Defense Fund), a few days after the Virginia Tech tragedy. “She shook her head at the senseless loss of so many students and teachers, then told me: “We’re losing eight children and teenagers a day to gun violence. As far as young people are concerned, we lose the equivalent of the massacre at Virginia Tech about every four days.””  Herbert doesn’t believe we really care as a country, ” For whatever reasons, neither the public nor the politicians seem to really care how many Americans are murdered — unless it’s in a terror attack by foreigners. The two most common responses to violence in the U.S. are to ignore it or be entertained by it.”

What do you think?  Do you agree or disagree?

I’m Barbara Talley, the poet who speaks and inspires.  To find out more about me check out my promo sheet or visit  my website.

Are We Getting More Violent?

We are living in a world that we collectively helped create, either by our conscious moral  involvement or by our apathetic silence. If I only watched the news, I’d become depressed about our world and feel helpless and hopeless.  But I understand the power of our thoughts to create a more peaceful and loving humanity. Our beliefs and perceptions don’t merely record our history, but they collectively help create it.  What we think, what we believe, what we expect, is what we create.

We Need to Ask the Right Questions

I haven’t seen the statistics for 2010 yet, but violent crimes declined in 2009 according to the FBI. Periodically murders get national focus, when they are horrific, scandalous, or when the victims include someone in the public eye (like the Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords).   The media highlights it; we think about it, and within a few days we forget.   Meanwhile the environment, politics,  and climate that creates these atrocities continue. Everyone still wants to be able to have their own gun, even high-capacity magazines capable of executing such tragedies.  We need to ask the right questions if we are to get the right answers.  Why are atrocities like the one in Arizona, Virginia Tech and Columbine with young people as the executioners continuing to happen?  According to Gary Null’s  video, The Drugging or Our Children, the number of psychotropic drugs given to our children between 1995-2000 doubled.  Some say they are safe.  Others say they are not.  Do your own research.

Are We Getting Worse?

The repetitive showing of a single incident makes you think that we are getting worse as a society.   Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t.  At the very least it makes us more fearful and when in fear we are more likely to give away our rights or make brash statements or decisions.  Did you know that the murders in the US have been declining steadily between 2000-2009, dropping from 17,300 to 15,241?   Washington DC gets the rap for being a very violent city, but did you know that between 1991 and 2010 homicides in DC have dropped from 479 annually to 131 in 2010?   There is a lot I don’t know.  What I know for sure is that fear is used to control and what we believe becomes our reality.   So, what do you know for sure?  What is your truth?  Before you pass on information or contribute to mass fear and hysteria, check it out.

I’m Barbara Talley, The Poet who speaks and inspires.   To find more about me, check out my promo sheet or visit  my website.