The subject of domestic violence is constantly present in the newspaper lately, ranging from professional athletes to high-profile child-abuse cases. We often read the headlines, skim the articles, and shake our head at the injustice of it all, but do we really know about the domestic violence and abuse happening daily in our states, cities, and local communities? Awareness is the first step in helping people, and we hope this blog will increase your awareness of the terrible effects and wide reach of domestic violence. Here are some stories, statistics, and general information about domestic abuse that we hope will inspire you to take action.
*Certain details of this story may be upsetting to some; the content may not be appropriate for young readers*
The following is an excerpt from a recent article about domestic abuse in the Huffington Post:
Police rescued the little girl from a Mesa apartment on Monday after a tipster alerted them of her condition. Responding officers reported finding the child inside a closet. According to the probable cause statement, the child, who was wearing a diaper and T-shirt, was bound, gagged and “inside a black trash bag with only the top of her head exposed. The victim was covered in human feces.”
Authorities’ attempts to interview the child have been unsuccessful. “It is unknown at this time if she is unable to speak or will not speak due to the emotional and physical trauma she has sustained,” reads the probable cause statement. 7
Fortunately, authorities were able to save this little girl from her abusive situation. But the physiological and psychological effects of abuse can last a lifetime, and we need to be aware of what is happening in our communities in order to help those who need it.
(To read the full story, click here)
Some facts and statistics about domestic violence in Los Angeles and around the country:
- By age 12, 83% of homeless children have been exposed to at least one serious violent event and nearly 25% have witnessed acts of violence within their families. 2
- Reported cases of domestic violence are up 5%, according to the LAPD 1
- Victimization rates were highest among the youngest population of children, birth to 3 years, at a rate of 16.5 per 1,000 children (USDHHS, 2007). 3
- For FFY (federal fiscal year) 2013, there were a nationally estimated 679,000 victims of abuse and neglect, resulting in a rate of 9.1 victims per 1,000 children in the population 8
- In 2012, an estimated 1,640 children died from child maltreatment (rate of 2.2 per 100,000 children) 4
- Domestic violence occurs in all cultures, races, income levels, and ages. In fact, approximately one-third of the men counseled (for battering) are professional men who are well respected in their jobs and their communities. These have included doctors, psychologists, lawyers, ministers, and business executives. 6
- Nationally, 50% of all homeless women and children are on the streets because of violence in the home 6
- There are nearly three times as many animal shelters in the United States as there are shelters for battered women and their children 6
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between ages 15 and 44 in the United States 6
- 63% of the young men between the ages of 11 and 20 who are serving time for homicide have killed their mother’s abuser 6
- Victims of domestic violence often have to leave abruptly and quickly, and are unable to gather and pack their belongings. As a result, their children likely don’t have basic necessities when they arrive at a shelter
Statistics are often not enough to understand the full picture of a situation. These victim’s stories need to be told and understood in order to help them and raise awareness about their lives.
My Stuff Bags Foundation is working to remedy one part of this problem: the fact that children arrive at crisis shelters without any personal belongings, such as toiletries, clothing, or a stuffed animal. To learn more about My Stuff Bags’ effort to help these children, explore our website.
Behind the glamour of Hollywood, the warm days at the beach and the overcrowded highways lies a disturbing and nearly invisible problem: Los Angeles ranks among the highest in the nation in numbers of children in foster care, many due to abuse or neglect. Furthermore, in 2012 and 2013 over 60 children in Los Angeles were killed due to abuse or neglect suffered at the hands of their caretakers. For years, one Los Angeles Times writer has been tirelessly working to expose systematic problems that put children in danger, and we are beginning to see some results and changes. This year, child deaths due to neglect or maltreatment in Los Angeles County were nearly cut in half.
Garrett Therolf has been writing for the Los Angeles Times since 2006, and has covered everything from crime to the Egyptian Revolution. His specialty, however, is child welfare. Over the years, Therolf has dedicated much of his work to exposing problems within the Los Angeles County Child Welfare System. He has taken County policies to task over issues ranging from unsafe family reunifications to unfit foster parents. His reports have put the plight of abused and neglected children on the map in Los Angeles County, and have been helpful in igniting the fires of change within the department. Just this year, the Department of Child and Family Services in Los Angeles added 750 new social workers, implemented new training policies to help workers identify child abuse and put in place a stricter policy regarding family reunification.
Here at My Stuff Bags Foundation, we are happy to see writers like Mr. Therolf bringing the issues of domestic violence against children and child neglect into the public consciousness in Los Angeles. LA is our backyard and in fact we distribute more My Stuff Bags here than in any other county. While foundations like ours can help children who suffer these horrible circumstances, it will take an army of informed Angelenos for sweeping change to take place. We thank Mr. Therolf and all those at the LA Times for doing their part to better the plight of children in Los Angeles, and we can only hope that the situation will continue to improve!
Each year, nearly 300,000 children must be rescued from unimaginable abuse and neglect and enter foster care. Very frequently, these children arrive for care empty-handed and broken-hearted. Mend a Broken Heart Month is a yearly observance sponsored by the My Stuff Bags Foundation that encourages individuals and groups to support children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned.
We encourage you to support these children in need by donating the $25 cost per My Stuff Bag to provide the duffel, toiletries, production, and shipping. With your support, we can provide thousands of rescued children with the personal items that they need and deserve!
Connect your heart to theirs! Donate now!
Each year following Thanksgiving, millions of consumers flock to stores and websites to spend billions of dollars during the now infamous “shopping holidays,” Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To offset these consumer holidays, a group of people founded #GivingTuesday, an initiative based on the true spirit of the holiday season: giving back. The idea is simple: every Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Americans donate money to the charity of their choice, and charities promote the day through various channels of social media
The holiday season is an especially difficult time for children in foster and shelter care. Imagine the pain of a child waking up on Christmas morning in an unfamiliar place without a single gift or loving card to look forward to. Sadly, for thousands of children this will be a reality.
For #GivingTuesday, the My Stuff Bags Foundation is hoping to raise shipping funds to send out as many My Stuff Bags to these children as possible, and help brighten what could otherwise be a very dark holiday season. My Stuff Bags are individual duffels filled with childhood items of necessity and comfort, and while we distribute them year-round to foster agencies and crisis shelters nationwide, it is especially important that we deliver them during the holidays. So remember, after the family gatherings, turkey, stuffing and shopping this Thanksgiving; there are thousands of kids who will have nothing during the holidays. Please consider helping these children and donating to the My Stuff Bags Foundation for abused and neglected children this #GivingTuesday.
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The primary mission of the My Stuff Bags Foundation is to provide children entering foster care and crisis shelters with brand new belongings of comfort and necessity to help ease their transition into foster care. However, in cases of extraordinary circumstances or instances of disaster, our Foundation is prepared to answer the call.
In the late afternoon on Friday, October 4th, a fire tore through an Oxnard, CA neighborhood, destroying many residences in its path. The fire forced over 60 people onto the streets with nowhere to go. Thankfully, our friends at the Ventura County chapter of the American Red Cross stepped up and were able to provide shelter to these families in a school gymnasium. Red Cross volunteers have been working around the clock since the fire to make sure all of the displaced families have the food, shelter and comfort they need, but they wanted to do more to help the many children under the shelter’s roof. Some of these children lost all of their belongings in the fire, while those whose homes remained undamaged are prevented from returning to their neighborhood while an investigation is conducted. These children had nothing to help them get through the long days spent away from home.
The Red Cross called us up to see if we would be able to send them My Stuff Bags to help these children get through a difficult situation, and we gladly obliged! We decided that in this extreme case, we would put together especially personal bags for each child in the shelter, and sent over 40 bags, each with a very specific set of items based on the age and gender of each child in the shelter. We are happy to report that the bags arrived in the gymnasium, and were very well received by the children. We want to thank the Ventura County American Red Cross chapter for all they have done to help these families get through a difficult time, and we were happy to assist!
Hosted in Westlake Village, California, May 11th, 2012 marks My Stuff Bags Foundation’s 4th Annual Do-Good Stuff-a-Thon. Nearly 200 toy industry guests arrived, ready to stuff 5,000 duffel bags, filled with new toys, toiletries, blankets, and stuffed animals. A team of energetic Fed-Ex Cares employees picked-up hundreds of boxes, helping us reach more than 35 foster agencies and ultimately, placing thousands of bags in the hands of very needy children.
A big thanks to the Toy Industry Foundation and all our generous contributors: Activision Publishing, Bandai America Inc, Cloud B, Creative Teaching Press, Cryptozoic Entertainment, Custard N’ Jelly, Do-A-Dot Art, Educational Insights, EI Kids, Entertainment Earth, Funrise Toy Corporation, Grant & Bowman Inc, Hasbro Inc, Imperial Toy, Jakks Pacific Inc, Jungo Toys, Leapfrog Enterprise Inc, Mattel Inc, Mega Brands America, Pacific Play Tents/Stansport, Piggy Wiggies, Playmates Toys, Puzzled Inc, Razor USA, Seasons of Fairport, Spin Master LTC, Teeboo USA, The NPD Group, The Piggy Story, Toy Collection Catalog, Try Try a Game, Uncle Milton, Underground Toys LLC, Virtual Piggy, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, and Women in Toys (WIT). A big thanks to our tireless volunteers as well! We appreciate all that you do!
The My Stuff Bags Foundation meets with the LAUSD Homeless Education Program and discovers ways to help students in our own backyard.
As the sun ignites the Hollywood letters, Los Angeles is awakened by the bustling commuters and coffee cravers. Life unfolds and we’re often forgetful of the prevalent needs in our own backyard – needs of hope, needs of comfort, and needs of love. For a city of ritzy accomplishments and great fortune, 16,300 students have been identified homeless in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Many of them have few, if any, possessions. The numbers keep rising and few are doing something about it.
Westlake Village, California is home to an organization working hard to change this. Established in 1998, the My Stuff Bags Foundation began as a response to a cry for help from the very people who rescue and care for abused, neglected, and sometimes, homeless children. Caregivers describe children arriving at crisis shelters in just a dirty t-shirt, with nothing of their own. With agencies simply unable to provide any basic childhood necessities, the My Stuff Bags Foundation fills in the gaps to over 1,400 agencies and programs nationwide, supplying duffels of new belongings, filled with clothing, toiletries, a favorite toy, a cuddly stuffed animal, and the warmth of a treasured blanket. Volunteers serve year-round, donating items and stuffing bags.
Janeen Holmes, CEO of My Stuff Bags, is humbled by the community involvement and expresses her gratitude for all the people who support the Foundation.
“It’s a wonderful thing to see so many people care. What started around the kitchen table has grown into something we could have never imagined,” says Holmes.
The Foundation continues to give particular attention within its own community, serving the immense needs of Los Angeles. Holmes recently met with Stephan Blustajn, Los Angeles Unified School District Homeless Education Program counselor and advocate for Local District 3, along with seven passionate LAUSD counselors and social workers. Assisting in school enrollment, medical and housing referrals, and basic necessities, Blustajn and his team will be distributing 840 bags from the My Stuff Bags Foundation to LAUSD students in need.
Blustajn discusses the widespread need for My Stuff Bags and the affect they carry; allowing students to both connect with a counselor and experience the powerful ways a My Stuff Bag can decrease stress.
“A lot of kids are in school but they are not emotionally present. My Stuff Bags creates a connection between us (the school counselors) and the students, showing we care. The bags create stability in a child’s life,” says Blustajn.
Tammy Wood, Parent Resource Liaison for the Homeless Education Program, discusses the importance of networking with the My Stuff Bags Foundation.
“We need help providing students with clothing and supplies so that they find a sense of belonging in school and its one less thing to worry about,” says Wood.
LAUSD Homeless Education Program is one of the many agencies served by the My Stuff Bags Foundation, helping fulfill the unmet needs of children. But work is far from over. The crisis of child abuse, neglect and sometimes, homelessness is ongoing, and the Foundation continually needs donations of crucial funding as well as new children’s items to ensure the duffels be free of charge for the citywide and even larger, nationwide crisis.
We are still working on the blog section of our website. Please check back soon for more updates!