Gun violence in America has reached epidemic proportions. The evening news is inundated with tragic stories of children, youth, and adults that have lost their lives to gun violence across our nation. Whether on the streets of Baltimore or in the privacy of their homes, gun violence has taken the lives of far too many children, youth, and adults in our cities.
Currently, felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill and even wanted terrorists – in most states can visit a gun show or a website today and buy weapons from unlicensed sellers, no questions asked. Legitimate gun stores already require background checks, which do not violate the Second Amendment. Every day, 282 Americans are shot with a gun – including 50 children. Countless lives could be saved if all gun sellers were required by law to conduct background checks on every person seeking to purchase a gun prior to sale.
In the week following the Newtown massacre, there were at least a dozen gun homicides in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis alone. In a period of highly publicized mass shootings, inner-city neighborhoods that are plagued by gun violence have continued to be neglected and ignored. According to the Centers for Disease Control, large metropolitan areas account for more than two-thirds of deaths by gun violence each year, with inner cities most affected.
The majority of the victims are young, ranging in age from their early teens to mid-20s, and are black. The leading cause of death among Black teens ages 15 to 19 in 2008 and 2009 was gun homicide. For White teens 15 to 19 it was motor vehicle accidents followed by gun homicide in 2008 and gun suicide in 2009. The most recent analysis of data from twenty-three (23) industrialized nations shows that eighty-seven (87) percent of the children under age fifteen (15) killed by guns in these nations lived in the United States.
With that said, Congress has no excuse for not acting. Please ask your members of Congress to support gun safety legislation that will save the lives of countless children, youth, and adults. In partnership with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, advocacy organizations are working to pass a comprehensive gun violence prevention package with a background check provision.
Help keep the pressure on our Senators to reconsider critical gun safety legislation. Recently, in the House of Representatives legislation was recently introduced to expand background checks.
The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2013 (H.R. 1565),
This piece of legislation introduced by Congressmen Peter King (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), mirrors the bipartisan Manchin/Toomey compromise background check measure that was narrowly defeated in the Senate last month. While the Senate bill fell five (5) votes short of passage last month due to a procedural hurdle, Senators promise to have another vote soon. With that said, if we hope to have gun safety legislation this year, it is time to work with our House of Representatives members.
Due to loopholes in current law, people are easily able to obtain firearms through private sales and transfers, even though they should be prohibited from doing so under federal law. Research indicates that in excess of six million guns are transferred each year through private transfer. When there is a sale of private guns or there are transfers of weapons, these transactions are not subject to background checks.
The King/Thompson bill would save countless lives each year by helping to keep guns out of the hands of the violent people. Currently, this important piece of legislation has over 160 co-sponsors. This potentially lifesaving legislation needs more support in Congress. With that said, we need to demand prompt action from Congress on the King/Thompson bill. Toward that goal, I am asking that you take at least one of the following action steps:
1. Call your Congress person.
1. Email your Congress person.
2. Post a message on your Facebook Page
4. Sign the Petition circulating on the Internet
For more information, fact sheets, press coverage, support letters and updates visit http://www.demandaction.org.
Source: NCADV Action Alert, May 17, 2013.
Former skinhead, Byron Widner, illustrated his hate through a series of derogatory tattoos all over his body. However, with the assistance of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), he was able to “leave the white power movement” and get rid of his inked imprints as said by the SPLC. The Southern Poverty Law Center monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout theUnited States as well as exposes their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media, and the public.
MSNBC ran a documentary entitled “Erasing Hate” which detailed Byron Widner’s road to redemption. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, this film provides viewers with an account of “his life within the white power movement, the decision that led him and his wife to leave it, and the procedures he received [ to remove the hate speech from his body].”
Research indicates that thousands of people every year are victims of hate crime. For every reported case of hate violence, there are countless unreported incidents of hate based violence. The hate crime phenomenon presents complex and agonizing problems to communities nationwide. The problem has become more visible as federal and state officials increasingly track hate violence.
American communities have learned that failure to address bias crimes can cause an isolated incident to result in widespread tension. Hate crimes are unique because they have a special emotional and physical impact that extends beyond the original victim. Bias crimes intimidate others in the victim’s community, causing them to feel isolated, vulnerable, and unprotected by the legal system. By making members of a specific group fearful, angry and suspicious, these crimes polarize cities and damage the very fabric of our society.
While hate violence makes headlines, the positive actions of people across the country are creating a different story. These people include but are not limited to a movement called Not In Our Town. Like other groups battling hate based violence, Not In Our Town highlights communities working together to stop hate. Not In Our Town videos and broadcasts highlight and celebrate people who have developed creative anti-bias programs and responses. The stories chronicled by Not In Our Town have served to motivate many others to develop their own innovative initiatives which overpower the hateful actions and voices in their communities.
The non-profit sector offers information, education, and activism against hate violence. This list contains a few of the organizations that offer resources or help communities respond to hate activities. Many of the national organizations have local chapters. A brief list of national organizations battling hate based include but is not limited to:
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Combats media stereotyping, defamation, and discrimination against Americans of Arab descent through legal action and education.
American Jewish Committee
Published, What to Do When the Militia Comes to Town
Combats anti-semitism and racial supremacist ideology, published Hate Crimes Laws: A Comprehensive Guide.
Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund
Community education, legal counseling and advocacy on behalf of victims of anti-Asian violence.
Center For Democratic Renewal
Published When Hate Groups Come to Town: A Handbook of Effective Community Responses.
Center for New Community
Publishes special reports on anti-immigrant groups.
Choosing to Participate
Traveling exhibition featuring events in time when individuals and communities made decisions affecting the course of history.
Points of Light Foundation
Sponsors national “Join Hands Day”
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Published, Law Enforcement Official’s Guide to the Muslim Community.
Combats racisms and fights for civil rights.
National Council of Churches
Organized nationally to rebuild burnt churches in 1996.
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
Fights hate crime; monitors attacks on civil liberties.
The National Urban League
Increasing civil rights, educational and financial opportunities for African Americans through programs and research.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
Support for families of Gays and Lesbians with hundreds of local chapters.
Political Research Associates
Think-tank monitoring the full spectrum of hate organizations.
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Legal assistance and educational outreach for Sikh Americans. Civil rights advocacy.
Southern Poverty Law Center
Reports on hate crime and advances the legal rights of victims of injustice. Home of Klanwatch.)
Helps communities and organizations begin small democratic, discussion groups that can make significant progress on difficult issues including race.)
100 Black Men of America
Helps young African Americans to overcome financial and cultural obstacles through mentoring, anti-violence, education and economic development programs.
Source(s): Southern Poverty Law Center; American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; American Jewish Committee; Anti-Defamation League; Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund; Center For Democratic Renewal; Not In Our Town; Center for New Community; Choosing to Participate; Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); NAACP; National Gay & Lesbian Task Force; The National Urban League; Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Study Circles Resource Center; 100 Black Men of America.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Each year, on May 12th, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, nurses are celebrated on International Nurses Day. This day was established to recognize the contribution nurses make to the health and well-being of our society. Inspired by nurses like Florence Nightingale and Elizabeth Fry, the International Council of Nurses started this annual event forty-six (46) years ago. Every year, there is a different theme for the day.
On International Nurses Day, we honor the life-saving abilities of nurses around the world. Whether by putting you at ease while you wait for your doctor or taking your health history, the variety of critical health related services nurses provide is seemingly endless. Every day, nurses take care of countless patients. Each May 12th, we can demonstrate our support and appreciation for nurses world-wide by acknowledging their important work.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Source(s): International Council of Nurses.
In 2013, National Teachers Day will be May 7. Every day, teachers make a meaningful difference in the lives of countless students across the world. For some students, many of their fondest memories were made at school. Teaching is a daunting job that is often overlooked but very critical in a person’s intellectual as well as emotional development.
In 2014, National Teacher’s Day will be held on May 6, 2014. The overarching goal of National Teacher’s Day is to recognize educators for their dedication to ensuring that every student receives a quality education. The work of teachers should be celebrated by students, parents, and the community as a whole not simply on National Teacher Day but every day. For ideas on how to recognize the important and necessary work undertaken by teachers, consider visiting the National Educators Association (NEA) website at http://www.nea.org.
Source(s): National Educators Association
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Mothers Day 2013 is fast approaching. In the United States, Mother’s Day has been celebrated on the second Sunday of May for almost eighty years. This wildly popular annual holiday seeks to recognize the positive contributions that mothers have made and continue to make in the lives of their children. Not only is Mother’s Day celebrated in the United States, it is also a national holiday in several other countries including but to limited to: Mexico, Canada, South America, Japan, and China.
Every year, children and adults in countless countries seek ways to honor their mother for giving them life, direction, hope, and love. According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant. Like dining out, the giving of cards, flowers, and other gifts are also very popular methods for honoring your mother on Mother’s Day.
An emerging trend on Mother’s Day is to give your time or financial support to nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life for indigent children, youth, and adults. In this particularly challenging financial period in our nation’s history, nonprofits are called upon to serve an ever increasing number of families in crisis. This Mother’s Day, in honor of your mother, please consider providing much needed support to nonprofits serving indigent children, youth, and families in crisis. Very Happy Mother’s Day!
Sources: Wikipedia. National Restaurant Association.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Every year since 1963, May has been a month to appreciate and celebrate the vitality and aspirations of older adults and their contributions to our communities. The theme for Older Americans Month 2013, Unleash the Power of Age, has never been more fitting. Older Americans are productive, active, and influential members of society, sharing essential talents, wisdom, and life experience with their families, friends, and neighbors.
In the United States, there has been a notable increase in the number of Americans over the age of sixty-five (65) and this trend is expected to continue. Research data indicates that there has been an increase of 4.3 million person increase in the number of Americans over the age of sixty-five (65) from 1999-2009. In recognition of the contributions that older Americans have made and continue to make in their families and communities, on April 29th, 2011, May was declared Older Americans Month by President Barack Obama. Let’s take a look at a profile of older Americans created by the United States Administration on Aging (AoA) from the most recent research data. The Administration on Aging’s profile on older Americans includes but is not limited to a breakdown of their: gender, average life expectancy, marital status, and income.
A Profile of Older Americans: 2010
• The older population (65+) numbered 39.6 million in 2009, an increase of 4.3 million or 12.5% since 1999.
• The number of Americans aged 45-64 – who will reach 65 over the next two decades – increased by 26% during this decade.
• Over one in every eight, or 12.9%, of the population is an older American.
• Persons reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 18.6 years (19.9 years for females and 17.2 years for males).
• Older women outnumber older men at 22.7 million older women to 16.8 million older men.
• In 2009, 19.9% of persons 65+ were minorities–8.3% were African-Americans.** Persons of Hispanic origin (who may be of any race) represented 7.0% of the older population. About 3.4% were Asian or Pacific Islander,** and less than 1% were American Indian or Native Alaskan.** In addition, 0.6% of persons 65+ identified themselves as being of two or more races.
• Older men were much more likely to be married than older women–72% of men vs. 42% of women (Figure 2). 42% older women in 2009 were widows.
• About 30% (11.3 million) of noninstitutionalized older persons live alone (8.3 million women, 3.0 million men).
• Half of older women (49%) age 75+ live alone.
• About 475,000 grandparents aged 65 or more had the primary responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them.
• The population 65 and over will increase from 35 million in 2000 to 40 million in 2010 (a 15% increase) and then to 55 million in 2020 (a 36% increase for that decade).
• The 85+ population is projected to increase from 4.2 million in 2000 to 5.7 million in 2010 (a 36% increase) and then to 6.6 million in 2020 (a 15% increase for that decade).
• Minority populations are projected to increase from 5.7 million in 2000 (16.3% of the elderly population) to 8.0 million in 2010 (20.1% of the elderly) and then to 12.9 million in 2020 (23.6% of the elderly).
• The median income of older persons in 2009 was $25,877 for males and $15,282 for females. Median money income (after adjusting for inflation) of all households headed by older people rose 5.8% (statistically significant) from 2008 to 2009. Households containing families headed by persons 65+ reported a median income in 2009 of $43,702.
• The major sources of income as reported by older persons in 2008 were Social Security (reported by 87% of older persons), income from assets (reported by 54%), private pensions (reported by 28%), government employee pensions (reported by 14%), and earnings (reported by 25%).
• Social Security constituted 90% or more of the income received by 34% of beneficiaries in 2008 (21% of married couples and 43% of non-married beneficiaries).
• Almost 3.4 million elderly persons (8.9%) were below the poverty level in 2009. This poverty rate is statistically different from the poverty rate in 2008 (9.7%).
• About 11% (3.7 million) of older Medicare enrollees received personal care from a paid or unpaid source in 1999.
Sources: United States Administration on Aging which obtained its data for the profile from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the Administration on Aging, the data included in the profile incorporates the latest data available but not all items are updated on an annual basis.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
When thinking of the month of May, for many it evokes thoughts of spring flowers, rain showers, and Mother’s Day. May and Mother’s Day also reminds some of the increasing number of children in foster care that are in need of the support of a caring adult. In 1988, at the urging of Senator Strom Thurmond and the National Foster Care Association, President Bush signed a proclamation designating May as National Foster Care Awareness Month.
Each May, National Foster Care Month provides an opportunity to not only raise the visibility of the experiences of the children and youth in the foster care system but also the urgent need for more foster and adoptive parents. Hopefully, this month long awareness campaign encourages citizens from every walk of life to get involved with the life of a child in the foster care system. You should consider becoming a foster or adoptive parent, volunteer, or mentor to a child. Every child deserves a safe, happy, and loving family. Children and youth in the foster care system especially need nurturing adults on their side because their own families are in crisis and unable to care for them.
For information on what you can do to help the children who are waiting for a foster family contact your local state agency. To obtain information about events being held in your area during National Foster Care Awareness Month, visit National Foster Care Awareness Month website at http://www.fostcaremonth.org. If you are considering providing a long-term home for an abused or neglected child, you may want to visit several of the adoption websites such as http://www.childwelfare.gov, http://www.adoption.com, and http://www.adoptuskids.org.