Getting to Know Ourselves through Pumpkinology

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

This article is included in a newsletter that included a few links about child abuse. If you are reading it somewhere else, it’s very easy to find lots of terrible statistics and information about how badly kids are treated in our country.

If you didn’t click on the links or go searching for the horrible stats, I don’t blame ya. It’s awful to think about. Some parents might not look because they feel that it doesn’t apply to them, some because it hits too close to home. But here’s a small example of how the statistics around how children are hurt in the United States are very grim. One in four little girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18. One in six little boys. And those are just cases that are reported! It’s reasonable to assume that if it isn’t happening to our own children, it’s happening to some of the other kids in their classrooms or on their soccer teams. The U.S. has a higher percentage of child deaths due to abuse than any other industrialized country. How did we get this way? Why do have such an epidemic?

It’s my belief that we should know who we are, not only individually, but collectively as well. All parents (all people!) deserve to have a safe place to reflect about themselves so they can be more mindful about their own practices. We need to take the time to reflect on our culture at large as well. This isn’t just about figuring out who hits their kids and getting them to stop. It’s about exploring how we as a society have created an unsafe environment for children to grow, one in which cycles of violence are supported. It’s about how a parent without support can easily cross boundaries with their children that have lasting, even generational impact.

How do we change this? It’s such a huge and scary problem, and it’s going to take a long time to change. We can begin by working hard on our own “coherent narratives.” That’s doing the challenging work of reflecting on our own lives carefully and thoroughly to allow us to make the best choices for our kids. We need to acknowledge our own pain and/or trauma that we may have experienced as children, and recognize that our development was deeply affected by our circumstances. We also can make some intentional decisions about building safe and connected communities. Surrounding ourselves with supportive, kind, empathetic families won’t eliminate violence. But it’s a step in the right direction.

In that spirit, we’ll be gathering as a community on Saturday. Dozens of families will be carving pumpkins, celebrating peace, and connecting with one another at 4pm in Echo Park. It’s called Pumpkins For Peace, and it’s a part of a very real effort to join together in the movement to make the world better for kids. It’s much more than just your own seeds and gloppy pumpkin stuff that you scoop out of your jack o’lantern. It’s making intentional community that helps all of our children learn that there are safe, loving adults, and that they can have a clear, strong voice when things don’t seem right to them.

Come on Saturday and join the movement. Scoop some glop. Eat and paint and carve a pumpkin for peace. See you all there!

-Brian Joseph,
Director of Programming

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