Life, Love, and Dirty Diapers

A Look At Catherine Ferguson Academy

When I heard about Catherine Ferguson Academy (CFA), it really peaked my interest. I feel that this school meets a lot of needs all rolled into one.

 “We want our girls to know that becoming a mother in your teens does not mean you are doomed to a dead end life.” – Ms. Andrews

This (former public) school meets a critical need as it is an all-female school for pregnant teenagers or teenagers with children. It has also been teaching these girls to farm and market their produce, helping their struggling community (the school is located in Detroit, one of the areas that was hit the hardest by the recession). They have a small organic plot that includes fruit trees, some farm animals, and beehives.  90 percent of their girls graduate from high school and it is required that they enroll in college to gradaute, which is pretty remarkable when you considering that, according to my sources, 90 percent of pregnant girls and girls with children drop out of school and only half will have their high school degree by 22. It flips those numbers clear upside down. It teaches them all of the regular high school subjects but also teaches them about parenting and other life skills to make them independent and productive when they enter the adult world. They also partner with other agencies and groups to ensure that girls get not just an education, but the support they need (like counseling for example). Above and beyond that, they expect something of these girls, which is a very different message than society at large usually sends to them. Additionally, it has won the Breakthrough High School Award.

“Your life isn’t over because you are pregnant. There is still school for you….One of the requirements for graduation at Catherine Ferguson is you must get accepted to a college. Principal Andrews and her staff will hunt down a college for you to go to, and money for you to go there if you graduate.” – Rachel Maddow (video below)

However, the school has faced some troubles. It was supposed to close this summer because Detroit is trying to reduce it’s spending. It makes sense on the one hand, because they were hit badly by the recession since the automobile industries are there, but on the other hand, why close an award winning school that meets such a critical need? Not only that, but Detroit itself has an illiteracy rate that it almost 50 percent. Closing this school made sense to very little people. The students were very upset by this (which shows, in another way, how big of an impact this closing was having on them) and actually held a sit-in at their school building, to which the police were sent to arrest these girls and a teacher. May I remind you that most of these protestors were pregnant girls or girls with small children? And the police felt so threatened they arrested them! There are a few sources that I found that suggests that the officers also treated them inappropriately, with excessive force and harassment.

“The attitude of the teachers was really plain. It was we can find a job somewhere else, but these young women, they can’t replace this school. If we don’t stand and fight with them for their futures, then they don’t stand a chance.”  – Shanta Driver from By Any Means Necessary

It got so much news media and support from the community that it will be remaining open as a charter school. While not publicly owned anymore, they still will not turn anyone away. They’re working right now to reach what they count to be 5,000 unreached teen mothers in their county and their willing to open more schools to do so. They’ve also recently partnered with another organization to start designing and building homes – another learning opportunity for these girls.

“Our principal tells us ‘smart mothers make smart children.’”

“When people at my regular high school realized that I was pregnant, I was told my chances of being a success in life were over. At Catherine Ferguson, they told me they wouldn’t allow me to be anything but a success. I love CFA and I am prepared to fight to keep it open, not only for myself, but for all the girls who will come behind me.”

– Ashley Matthews

I think this is so important because having a kid is not the end of your life and it doesn’t have to be the end of your education. That 90 percent of pregnant girls and girls with children drop out of school? We are failing those girls by not giving them a way to continue their education. Schools like this help to give those pregnant teenagers that education and through that education, help to empower them. That education and empowerment helps people to rise above the poverty they face. I personally think if there were more options like this  available to girls that abortion wouldn’t be so prevalent. Pregnant teenagers need support, like ways to continue their education, not abortion. And the demand for these schools is there, I believe, and they would be greatly appreciated. As it stands, there are only four such schools in the nation like this.

I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s also featured in the Grown in Detroit documentary, if you want to check that out.

Sources Not Already Linked:

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The Sexualizing of Little Girls

I don’t usually link solely to other content (or don’t like to) and I wouldn’t usually link to this blog (because I don’t agree with everything they have to say) but awhile back there were a lot of articles out blaming parents for oversexualizing their kids. And to some extent, the blame should fall on parents who buy these (because it’s not like most 8 year olds have a lot of disposable income).

But as this post from Jezebel points out, the issues are deeper than that. Well said (this time).

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Botox for 8 Year Olds?

So, I previously brought you plastic surgery to prevent bullying and now I bring you sadly, more unfortunate news about what mothers will do to make their children “pretty” this time in the name of a pageant.

In San Fransisco, there is an 8 year old girl whose mother injects her with botox to get rid of her “wrinkles.” Not only that, but she is getting pubic hair waxes (called virgin waxes) in order to “keep her from growing any pubic hair.” All I can keep asking myself is why? Why do we allow mothers to treat their children this way? Thankfully, they are investigating, but this isn’t going to stop here I’m afraid. If it isn’t this mother, it will be some other mother. It boils down to this fact. We, as a society, value beauty. And the advertising industry and the media have made a very clear picture of what it means to be beautiful. As I have said before on this blog, beauty should not be what we value so much that people go to such extremes to get it. This girl was perfectly beautiful before she got botox and even if she hadn’t been, she still shouldn’t have gotten botox. This child is going to be messed up for life, always trying to get on the next big thing until she is “pretty enough,” but more likely until she dies of a botched plastic surgery or a botox injection gone wrong. Instead of teaching this little girl that she is beautiful no matter what and that she is valuable for so much more than her looks, this mom choose to give her 8 year old botox.

Oh and just like I showed you with plastic surgery, these are the risks of botox, (from Mayo Clinic)

Pain and bruising at the injection site
Redness
Itching
Headache
Nausea
Temporary muscle weakness
Increased body sweat
Although very unlikely, there is a possibility that the effect of botulinum toxin may spread to other parts of the body and cause botulism-like signs and symptoms.

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these effects hours to weeks after receiving Botox:

Muscle weakness all over the body
Vision problems
Trouble speaking or swallowing
Trouble breathing
Loss of bladder control
Other serious but very uncommon side effects to watch out for include:

Allergic reaction (itching, hives, swelling, chest tightness, trouble breathing)
Eye pain, bleeding or bruising around your eye
Blistering, peeling of your skin or severe rash
Chest pain, shortness of breath or uneven heart rate
Flu-like symptoms
Face or neck pain
Seizures

Okay, personally, I would try to avoid anything that might happen to give my child those possible side effects, especially in the name of cosmetics. Child services is investigating and I hope something is done. I’m including three videos below so you can see how the child’s self-esteem is going to be ruined for life.

Interview with mom and girl:

Discussion on it, mentioning virgin waxes:

On the follow up:

It is a shame that we live in a country where a mom even considers doing this to her child.

Going to take a quick poll below.

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Plastic Surgery to Prevent Bullying?

So plastic surgery. I get it – it’s a woman decision, despite overwhelming evidence that it is dangerous. After watching the documentary America the Beautiful, I learned that since a Supreme Court ruling, you can be any kind of MD and practice plastic surgery. On top of that, here are some potential risks of plastic surgery under general anesthesia.

Abnormal heart rhythm
Blood Clots—Blood Clots can be fatal and are difficult to predict. To lower the risk, patients should not stay in any one position too long. Flexing the feet often helps too.
Airway Obstruction—Anesthesia may irritate air passages, which causes the spasms of the vocal cords. This can block the airway.
Brain Damage—Brain Damage may occur if blood circulation drops to a dangerous level.
Heart Attack
Malignant Hyperthermia—A rare but real complication when blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature rise to a dangerous level. If not diagnosed and treated promptly, death may occur.
Stroke
Nerve Damage
Death
Source

Like I said, I feel women should have a choice about it. But what about plastic surgery for our little girls? To help them avoid bullying?

Check out this video:

The doctor claims it was for medical reasons, but there are no other proofs in the video that it was to the contrary. The reason this video upsets me is because is this the message we are sending to our little girls, our future women? That if there’s something “wrong” with the way they look  and people are teasing them to just fix it with some plastic surgery? What happened to teaching our little girls that they are beautiful, no matter how they look? I think that things like this keep women from being empowered because instead of teaching our future women that they have reason to think they are beautiful no matter how they look, we are teaching them that their beauty and worth is in what other people think of them. Women all over the world struggle with this. In Korea, when I was there, plastic surgery is so popular – I saw people my own age who had already had it. You could see butt inserts to make your butt bigger in the stores. And the US is just the same – breast implants, plastic surgery, media discussing women’s looks. We keep women down by constantly telling them they aren’t good enough

And now we are starting young. Teaching tomorrow’s women that they must keep this cycle going, keep themselves down, by women (mothers) telling girls (daughters) that they aren’t good enough.

Oh, in case you’re curious, here’s the foundation the video talked about. Little Baby Face Foundation. Granted, it looks like they do a lot of good work. In fact, I know they do. In the subject of full disclosure, my sister had plastic surgery when she was young.

But there is a difference between these two girls. You see, my sister was born with a cleft palate. And that my friends, is truly a medical problem. Why? Well, if you have a cleft palate, it means you have a hole in the roof of your mouth. You can’t eat properly. My mom had to put the milk in a little tube and put it down my sister’s throat to make sure it bypassed the hole. That was truly a medical problem.

But this? This is just continuing a cycle that uses the ideal and esteem of beauty to keep women down.

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