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Date: Fri Dec 14 2001 - 13:04:31 EST

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Good People,

This message contains your FEEDBACK to several of our past messages.
We normally reply to mail and this time we decided to include portions
of our answers.  The incoming message has the ">".  Let us know what
you think.  If you are new to the list and want to see the recent
messages check: http://www.AKidsRight.Org/archive/archive2001

1. General Feedback - some comments on our overall goals.
2. Experiment in NonViolence - your suggestions and remarks.

1.  General Feedback
We ask you to take a look at these first two messages.  They are sincere
and present difficult questions.  They love their children and want
the best -- and part of that (they feel), is limiting time with the
other parent.  How would you reply?

------ Jamie - - RE: The site...

> Dear Kids rights org..... I am sorry to say reading your site makes me
> want to puke! Its never about kids rights or what's best for them. Its
> about who has the money and the knows who knows who that wins.

 I think we are pretty clear.  For the right of parents to
have an equal relationship with their kids and that the government
doesn't have a "right" to step in and decide what it wants to do --
unless the parent is a real threat to the child.

 Really, the present system, in EVERY state, says it is
for the "best interest of the child" and it is a disaster...

> Take my
> case, never married to the father, he abandoned me each time I became
> pregnant. Demanded me to get abortions each time. Was physically
> violent, and mentally abusive towards me during my pregnancies. He was
> NEVER around for the raising of either of my 2 little girls. But as soon
> as the state decides they want to threaten me with taking away my
> welfare support, so that I will give them  his name so they can get
> there reimbursement for DSHS..... they give him visitation with my
> oldest. He takes her on every other weekend visits from the age of 4 to
> 5 1/2.... at which time she begins displaying all the signs of
> ritualistic and sexual abuse..( she then discloses). he finds a judge to
> buddy up with ( a possible known pedophile/deviant on the bench as well,
> who by the way, was later removed from the bench for sexual misconduct
> and found dead 10 days later) and

 I'm sorry to hear what happened and I wouldn't want to
see my son like that, but I guess there just needs to be "proof"
that would convince a jury -- or what else can we do?

> He now gets custody and I
> am not allowed to even see them or speak to them. I haven't seen my
> children in over 2 years, or even know where they are or if they are
> even still alive. I am threatened to stay away or go to jail!

 I'm VERY sorry to hear that.  Again, I assume he must have
made some bizarre allegation about you (which also did not have to
proved) -- and the judge and officials can do whatever they want. It
is an awful thing and an awful system! -- that is why we are trying to
get a Family Rights Act passed and limit the power of single Judges
to control your entire Family Life.   I'm amazed you can't see your
kids at all -- what a terrible thing.  I don't know how you do it.

 Please consider NonViolent Action, and make a positive
Faith filled statement for reform.

----- Cindy - - RE: Children's Rights

> I believe that children should have a right to have some say in what kind of
> life they have with their parents.There definitely need to be guidelines to
> go by.  You have one parent who lies to the child, and the child knows it.
> They are called non-positive names.  They are borderline physically
> intimidated.  The child is manipulated.  When these things can be proved with
> a counselor and the child is so unhappy because of this treatment or any
> negative treatment, then there should be guidelines of what kind of reduced
> time that parent has with them.  That parent should be made to take some kind
> of classes that can improve how they treat a child and their time with this
> child should remain limited until such time as the child feels safer with
> them and no longer has to worry about  what that parent might say or do
> to them when they are in trouble.  When this particular parent has been
> reprimanded previously for the same things and already has gone through
> supervised visitation and counseling, then obviously something is wrong
> somewhere when the behavior continues and how can this be good for this
> child.  Does this child get to grow up believing that they have no rights and
> nobody cares about how they are treated.  And then what happens to the
> relationships they get into when they become adult.  Same type of stuff as
> when they were children?!  There need to be guidelines for the in between
> severe behavior to children and the behavior that stops short of-oh I will
> keep this toned down because they know if they go one step further it could
> be construed as child abuse.

 Your story has been posted to the site. Please review and let
us know if there are any corrections, http://www.AKidsRight.Org/shame.htm

 I read your story again and also your other message on children's
rights which may be shared with the groups members.  I'm sure you are
concerned and many people would agree with what you say.  We all want
to do the "right" thing.  Strangely enough, the present system of Family
Law has all the flexibility you want.  You have not won in Court, but in
other courts parents similar to you have won, and perhaps with even less
"abusive" behavior by the other spouse.   Many people would agree with
what you say (I'm sure many of your friends).  Please excuse me if I
take an opposing view.

 I think you know the group stands for two parent involvement in
a child's life -- that is their "right".  Children do not have a right
to "pick" their parents, you did that for them, for better for worse.
The "state" can step in to deny a parent contact, but only if there is
very convincing proof of intent to cause serious harm to the child. Which
does not appear to be the case here.  Perhaps your former spouse is more
of a disciplinarian and has conservative beliefs, but they are within
the range of what people are doing and have done in the past.

 If I read between the lines, what is disturbing is you may not
be telling your daughter, that when she is with Dad, his are the rules,
that's how it is (I'm sure you would want the same).  We see it here so
many times, especially with teens, that they can play one parent off against
the other.  It is unfortunate.  Clearly you do not value his worth as
a parent and as a person -- and he may not value yours -- that is a poison.

 You seek to relocate, that your daughter doesn't want to be
around dad anymore.  I can only ask you this question, and look forward
to your reply.  This is something we also see happen.  Given your exact
situation, let us say your daughter suddenly has a change of heart regarding
her father and this move to Kansas, and also about you.  She says some
things about you that aren't "nice", and may be real or exaggerated flaws
in your parenting.  She does not want to see you anymore or have you
involved in her life for the perceived "emotional" abuse.

 Given your stand, I would assume you would gracefully "bow out"
of your daughters life?   I would hope not.  But the frightening reality
is -- that decision would not be yours to make.  Your daughter and
former spouse just have to "convince" a Judge, and you are written out
of her life.  What a tragedy.

 You have a lot to offer her.  She also has a lot offer you.
As you and she grow together you work tremendous changes on each other,
it is not a static relationship.  I think you know we are a group based
on Faith, that we are brothers and sisters. We all have the potential to
grow and change (for better or worse).  I hope you would extend that
same courtesy to your former spouse -- that is family.

 You can't change him or your daughter, only yourself and
your attitudes.  But if you do that, good things will happen.

------ Walter - - RE: The Arrest of School Teachers

> Walter -
> Pardon me for going off on a tangent.  I hope that I can make myself clear
> as to why I do that. You identified that teachers are willing to go to jail
> over a labor dispute, but it is not clear where you stand on the merits of
> a teachers' strike.
> It seems to me that even at present and historic levels of pay, US teachers
> contributed largely to the decline of the quality of the education available
> in American schools.  No amount of money given to teachers improved their
> performance in the past.  To the contrary, it seems that the more money
> teachers received, the worse the performance of the education system became.
> To assess where the American education system is in relation to that of
> other countries, have a look at the results of the latest test results from
> PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment, at
> (about 500 kB)).....

 Thanks for your message. Yes, the point of the article was
not to lend support for the Teacher's cause -- but just to use them
as a pointed example of people taking action for what they believe in.

 You take someone's "healthcare" and they line up for jail.
You take their "child", they file a few court papers, get mad, and
then go home and sulk....

 Just doesn't make any sense?  Perhaps it is because so far
parents just see themselves as individuals, not part of a "union".
Perhaps when they see a Civil Rights movement -- parents will be
willing to take dramatic action?

2. The EXPERIMENT in NonViolent Action

------ Kathy -    RE: Be more positive, part of the system.

> When Dom comes to visit for those 10 days you have to take him into the courthouse
> with you so everyone will see how excited and happy he is to be with you. All you have
> to do is have your picture taken with Dom's and put it in one of those X-mas cards that
> hold pictures on the front. Don't carry any pictures of parents on this day. Give the
> X-Mas cards to the offices you are petitioning with a very creative blessing for the
> holidays and New Year. Maybe just walk in and drop off some special cookies or candy
> with the card at the offices and very quietly leave....

  Yes, I actually did do that this summer at the Federal Building and took
 him to meet Senator Schumer's staff.  It is a good idea and helps folks see us as
 real people.
> Stop trying to petition the court and try to find out if you can run to get on
> the Board of Commissioners-they are not all attorneys. I know one that spoke to me
 was a pharmacist who owned a pharmacy. How much does he know about law? Nothing! That
> was why the Board of Commissioners were caught voting and rejecting federal laws in MI
> in Oakland County. The Finance Committee is responsible for overseeing the FOC and the
> Citizens Advisory Committee has parents on it. Parents are allowed to speak on the
> record at these public hearings. You need to find out how to get involved in the
> court system so you will be taken more seriously and allowed a voice for the
> parents-Murray Davis is on the Child Support Council in MI. Maybe ask some of
> the court officials or senators what positions are available in the court system for
> interested parents in New York. You need to become a part of the court system-Advocate
> for parents-the court should allow parents to have an advocate in the system. Truly
> sacrifice yourself by requesting to give your time to a court committee-show your
> willingness and eagerness to help make positive changes by working "with" the
> system-not just asking for or hoping to "get" their attention. Become a committee
> member and be proactive.
  What you are saying is a good approach and a lot of people are working
in that area as you say.  But if the lesson of history and other Civil Rights movement
is examined, you must have people willing to make large personal sacrifices, loss of
freedom, home, ....  All these actions together feed off each other, the people arrested
make "news", which gets the general public involved, which makes it easier for the
people working with legislators to make progress...   I think I am being about as
"proactive" as I can.  I think we are saying the same thing, but with different focus.

----- Linda  -  RE: Try to get celebrities involved.

> Let me first say that I am sincerely in agreement in
> reforming the Children's court system and Departments
> of Children's and Family Services.  My family is also a
> victim of this soulless evil organization.
> I am here in California, so I do not know how to help
> you there where you are.  I do have a suggestion and
> if you think about it- it could be very beneficial to
> your goal.  Try using actors and actresses to initiate
> and assist in initiating/sponsoring the Family Rights
> Act and let them state their concerns for the Family
> Rights act to progress to congress.  It may be a way
> in the door.  Submit a petition to other parents,
> endorsed by an actor(s) or actress(s)- then when
> January gets here be fully loaded with parents, actors
> and actresses to walk the halls.  Inform media before
> and be very clear as to what the intent is.  Let the
> people put it on the ballot for vote.  However you
> intend to do what ever you have to do, keep in mind
> that even though I am in California I am maneuvering
> ways of getting to legislatures.  I, like you, am
> alone in this issue and am seeking support teams to
> assist.  We need not just California, but every state
> to be included.  Also, there is an 800 number for our
> President- I think its called suggestion line.  A
> letter campaign may not hurt either.  Thousands of
> letters from Family Rights Act/Organization.  There is
>  alot of options, I am trying to convey the importance
> of the message here in California.  I cannot stand to
> see millions of families torn apart because of a
> corrupt entity and government.  I will help with what
> I can.

 Yes, it would be great to get the support of a public
figure, but unfortunately we don't have any direct contacts. Often
times the public figures will respond when they see a newspaper/TV
account of something that strikes them as an injustice.  Having
a group of loving parents arrested/jailed could probably do that,
BUT, it requires some tremendous sacrifice.

------ Peter -   RE: On the WRONG track.

> I've supported you when you first lost the fight with Dominic, you are still
> in my prayers, I wish the both of you the best, I'm not going to receive any
> more of your spiritual writings, I think that you have gone off the deep end
> and grabbing short straws or smoking premium pot. You have lost your run
> way, sorry you can't land but if you refuel with the right stuff write back,
> your sights are way off and sorry to tell you but from the good of divorced
> fathers you need to get back on track......wishing you the best Peter Tonkin

 I appreciate your feedback and at times I wonder about those
same things myself -- and you may be quite right.  But that is what
the group is about, the Faith side of it.  The only two significant
NonViolent action movements in the recent past were what occurred in India
by Gandhi, and the effort by King that broke the back of Segregation. They
were both Spiritual (and maybe smoke some really premium stuff).  But
that is history and fact.

 There are people working for change now in a lot of ways, our
approach is one of them.  Will it be a "winner?"  Only time will tell.

------ Lloyd  -   RE: One Person can't make a difference.

> It's good that you have made such a definitive experiment. The results
> are clear: one person marching around is NOT ever going to change the
> situation for separated fathers and children. I'm glad that experiment
> is over.
> I hope you will not try marching with a couple of other people outside
> the politicians offices. As you clearly pointed out, this kind of issue
> does not work in that way. The experiments by Gandhi and Martin Luther
> King were not performed that way.

 I agree that one person alone will not have a rapid political
effect -- but with more people, and with the arrest of more people,
that would be "news" and would send a message to the legislators.

> Here is the lesson. You must not try to convince the politicians. As you
> have often pointed out politicians are part of the electoral system
> (that does equate to democracy) and they use electoral mechanisms to
> respond to and control its mechanisms. In fact, pressuring elected
> representatives is actually undemocratic. You must become part of the
> electoral system -- i.e., an issue in the eyes of the electorate. That
> means that you do NOT go to politicians, you get politicians to come to
> you.
> So, the goal is to get enough ex-fathers and supporters marching in the
> streets of Syracuse and around the Syracuse courthouse to get a
> politician to come to you.
> The next experiment is to find what it takes to get ex-fathers and their
> supporters to start marching in the streets of Syracuse.

 I think we are saying the same thing. Although just
protest marches with the proper permits, etc... are not going to
be as effective, because they just don't involve real sacrifice (other
than a few hours off from work).  I'd also think it is essential that
we be seen as "parents".  You get 5 parents arrested outside Senator
Hillary Clinton's office simply because she is not even responding to
their concerns -- and it could have a huge effect.

 I agree that marches are important and should be happening
also -- but what we are talking about here is NonViolent Action. A bit
of a different approach.

---- Carl -  RE: Face Reality

>  I've always applauded your efforts.  I believe you are doing much
> to raise awareness of the issues of the noncustodial parent.  They
> are an underclass as far as our legal system is concerned judging by
> the lopsided laws.  In some cases these harsh laws are required. But
> then, if a noncust wants to parent in a way not recognized by the
> law, as long as the children are cared for, what right has our
> government to interfere?  So you have done and continue to do good.
> Thank you.

 Well thank you.  You are right about government interfering
too much in some very personal family matters -- and not really improving
the situation.

>  But for today, and for your present situation I think you must work
> within the system as it is set up now.  You need your son and he
> needs you.  I'm sure you've read case and statutory law.  These are
> the only tools at your disposal now.  That's all you've got
> pal. Make the best use of them to remedy your individual situation.
> Take care of yourself with these and do your civil disobedience for
> the rest of us, for the future.  Your situation is under the control
> of today's laws.

 I guess I have to disagree.  We have the power to change the
laws and even the Constitution.  I'm quite sure that is what our
Founding Fathers would be saying to us now.  We are actually quite
fortunate to have Senator Clinton -- you have to start somewhere,
and whether we can get her to be for/against reform -- just getting
a position from her would be a powerful step forward.
 And yes, Dom needs me and I want to do the best by him.

----- Walter -   RE: A new approach

> As I see your dilemma, it appears to be that you can't decide which of the
> options for actions you listed will be most effective in irritating
> peacefully.

 Yes.  I really don't want to get "nailed."  I wish my Faith
was a little stronger, but the practical side of me likes to always
live a little "wiggle" room in what I do -- but even I have realized,
the time has come to stop just walking in the building....

> None of them appear to be sufficiently confrontational to raise more ire
> than the one you used up to now.  It seems that the extent of irritation
> than can be derived from any of the actions has been designed to be
> relatively safe.  I cannot determine whether that is due to your wish to be
> peaceful or whether it is because you want to limit your personal risk of
> being incarcerated.

 Yes, see above!
> Before you can determine what action to take, you may have to expand the
> scope of your objectives.  What is truly your goal?  Do you want to get
> media attention?  If that is the case you have to consider what you can
> muster to work with and then design the action that will get you the most
> attention.
> I can't see that being incarcerated will help you much, because when in jail
> you are also out of the public eye.

 Well, I would agree.  Except that in a past "experiment" I did
get a couple of in jail TV interviews -- it is very hard to predict.

> For example, consider a sit-down strike and chaining yourself and others to
> some objects.  For that you would have to use chains that are almost
> impossible to cut with bolt cutters.  That, in conjunction with the options
> you listed, might raise the stakes a bit.  If you calculate the risk of
> going to jail, then you might as well make it far more difficult to get you
> there.  In combination with having a reporter on hand to observe the efforts
> to cut your chains, that should get you into the evening news. Footage
> showing the sparks from an angle grinder that might have to be used to cut
> your chains would be most attractive.

 Well, I will give that some thought.  There is some "novelty"
to the idea and it isn't hurting or threatening anyone.  With me alone,
I think getting a reporter will be tough.  Local media seems to want
more people involved before covering the story again...  Now, if there
was a group of parents watching -- that might do it....

----- Roy -    RE: Try to get church support

> We are film makers, and only peripherally involved in the necessity for
> family law reform (through filming the Lapp family in Chautauqua County)
> but, you asked for comments ( re "what next?")  ..

 Yes, I have gotten to know Barbara Lynn pretty well and been
out to the farm.  I admire her soft spoken manner, but she has real
determination!  I also enjoyed her book.

> We just returned from filming the 10,000-person strong demonstration against
> the School of Americas, Ft. Benning, GA  [see ]
> Syracuse's social justice churches had a strong representation there
> (November 17-18).

 Yes, I remember a day last year when I was walking out of
the Federal Building (after walking inside for a couple of hours),
and there was church group outside.  I introduced myself and told
them they could "march on the inside."  Never did hear much.  I
actually wrote to a number of groups and the Syracuse Catholic Diocese,
but just heard nothing....

> One suggestion -- for you/us -- is to take your/our case to the churches.
> There's tremendous potential in the non-fundamentalist Christian church, as
> shown by the very successful demonstration [in this era of Ashcroft] against
> the US' use of terrorism.    There were people from all across the country
> who were/are committed to social and economic justice, from teens to people
> in their 90s...  You're probably familiar with all this.

 Glad to hear things are happening.  I will keep trying with
the church (but I guess there is a pretty strong tradition that they
are not proactive with social movements). But I think the help will come.

------ Courtney -      RE: Make Friends

> The most important thing is to make friends with the aides.  Going around
> picketing their offices, I don't think is getting anyone too, far.
> I spoke to an aide in Clinton's office, who was very nice.  I've dealt with
> some aides down in NJ, and I deal with Kerry's and Olver's office on a
> regular basis.  Kerry's office is very good.

> On a state level, you may want to cut and paste it and ship it around your
> local state reps.  I did that in this area.  It's under review, right now, on
> a state level, in addition to Kerry's office.
> Try to get some media attention, too.  I do know the TV stations in the
> Albany area are gun-shy of custody issues, but you never know.

 Sorry for the delay. We may be on different tracks here?  The
activity we are trying to promote is not "picketing", but the readiness
of parents to demonstrate personal sacrifice to emphasize the violation
of their most basic rights and the need for reform.

 I have a quite friendly relationships with the Aids of Senator
Schumer, we chat in the hall as I "walk" outside their offices.  They
were frank in explaining the reason no real follow up action is taken
on these items is that they are not seen as a "priority."   We need
more publicity and more people involved to move them...

 The purpose of NonViolent action is to get positive attention
and hopefully more folks involved.  Certainly there are people working
with our representatives through more conventional means and that is
necessary and useful.   AKidsRight.Org is an experiment in using
NonViolent Action.

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