Sunday, May 24, 2015

4 Things To Know About Child Sexual Offenders + Resources for Parents of Juvenile Sexual Offenders

I wasn't going to write on this topic again, but alas, it appears that a post that covers juvenile sexual offenders would be helpful to the general public. I'm glad people are eager for this information, because there is a lot of misinformation going around right now. I hope that the information and resources here will put minds at rest and abate some fears, as well as bring hope for a future without abuse.

  1. Being a sexual offender is not the same as being sexually curious or sexually acting out. Curiosity is normal, sexually acting out is a result of something else (it can even be a result of violence, other abuse or neglect, etc.), and sexually offending means you are repeatedly doing this, knowing that it's wrong (these aren't the scientific definitions--look them up to learn the differences).
  2. Children who offend are different than adults who offend. The police, courts, and programs understand this. You don't need to worry that by seeking out legal or professional help, that your child is going to be sent to prison. That's not how it works. (See "Understanding Juvenile Sexual Offending...")
  3. There are treatment programs available for child offenders to help them act safely in the community and at home. These aren't "jails". They are programs, and precautions are taken to make sure your child isn't going to "learn" from another offender. Again, this isn't prison. In fact, the research shows that a community/home based approach is effective (
  4. Many child sexual offenders will not continue to offend. Hallelujah! Again, they aren't little adults. (See "Understanding Juvenile Sexual Offending...")

If your child, or a child you know, is acting in a sexually abusive way towards others, you need to take action and get help for that child (and also the victims). Here are some resources to get you started:

  1. Understanding Juvenile Sexual Offending Behavior: Emerging Research, Treatment Approaches and Management Practices This article explains the characteristics, typology, treatment research, justice trends, intervention research and models, abuser assessment, treatment, and recommendations for practice (READ THE RECOMMENDATIONS).
  2. Sex Offender Treatment Services PASS Program: This is for youth, and is done while they are at home or in therapeutic foster care. It works with the youth, the families, and others involved. It's a treatment team approach, which all treatment is in these situations.
  3. The Marsh Foundation has an example of a inpatient treatment program for male child/teenage offenders. Even though the child stays on site for generally 6-12 months to complete the program, the family must take part in the program and completion is influenced by the home and family environment.
  4. Your local social service/law enforcement agency are who will have the resources you need. They are not going to look at your child with disgust, but instead will be compassionate and will understand your outcry for help. Your child has to be brave enough to receive treatment, and you have to be brave enough to get it for them. Check for local support groups for parents of juvenile sexual offenders, and check out this Handbook for Parents and Caregivers of juvenile sexual offenders. 
Above all else, remember that there is always, always hope. The best days are yet to come.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

For The Girls (a response to Josh Duggar's abuse scandal)

The media is blowing up right now. Facebook. News sites. Blogs. Twitter. Most of what I'm reading is about how we should all not judge Josh Duggar because we all made mistakes when we were 14, too, and that Jesus said that "he who is without sin should cast the first stone." The other 1/3 of what I see is about how Josh Duggar should lose everything and no be allowed around people and so on.

But did you notice something?

It's all about Josh Duggar.

Do I have thoughts about him? Yes. Do I think that the opinions that are carelessly using the Bible and disrespectfully implying that the heart of God loves forgiveness more than He hates sin are wrong? Yes. And am I going to let all of that go right now? Yes.

I'm letting it go because none of this should be about Josh Duggar. In our outrage, shock (or for some of us, not so much shock), and need to try to make sense of all of this, society has focused on Josh. And they shouldn't. Because Josh will reap the consequences of his own actions, as is normal and as he should. But there are at least five other people out there, plus all of his family, who will also suffer. And no one is talking about them. When did we become a society that became so moved by Hitler that we forgot about the Jews? An abuser is no one without his or her victims, and every time that you get into a discussion that leaves the victims out, you have become focused on the wrong person.

I get that we need to make sense of this. I get that everyone is clawing for a reason--what was missed? How could this have been prevented? Would the outcome or anything be different if it had been handled any differently? All of these questions should be considered, and it's important, oh so important, to understand that these things do happen and to understand how they should be handled (as if there is a one-size-fits-all answer to that). Except that to ask those questions right now puts the focus on me, and my need to somehow make this work in my head and my heart. But it's not about me. And it's not about you.

So this post, this blog, this lady whose heart wishes there were never stories like this, is for the girls.

Dear Girls,

I'm sorry. I'm sorry it happened. I'm sorry it was your brother. I'm sorry he had to continue living with you. I'm sorry that now instead of being who you are, society just sees you as a victim right now. I'm sorry that society is focused on him. I'm sorry that you have no voice right now.

I'm proud of you for telling. I'm proud of you for not being afraid. I'm proud of you for not forgetting. I'm proud of your for your willingness to forgive, though I hope that you have also been able to make peace with things and that you do truly understand what happened had nothing to do with you or your actions. I'm proud that you haven't let this define who you are.

I hope that you are able to experience your emotions and not just shut them down. I hope that you are able to say what you need to say, regardless of which spectrum it lies on. I hope that you have been able to, or will be able to, have correct and truthful thinking and understanding regarding sexuality, male roles, and what God really thinks about abuse.

You are worthy. Your identity has nothing to do with this. You will move on from this media outburst, it will get better, and you will be fine. Hold your head up, let yourself feel what you need to feel, do what you need to do, and know that your best days are still yet to come. You are enough, and our God is not a God who condones abuse. Ever. He didn't want that to happen to you, and He will be your Jehovah Nicci, your banner, as you shelter in the shadow of His wings.

I know that you know that you're going to be ok. I know that I don't know the details of your recovery or any of your thoughts on the matter. I just want you to know that it's ok to feel whatever you're feeling, and that you aren't forgotten.

You are not forgotten. I will not forget you, and I will stand for you.

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--> Please see our next post on 4 things to know about child sexual offenders & resources for parents of juvenile sexual offenders to better understand how you can help fight this within your own home. <-- font="">

Note: the original title of this article is changed because I realized after the fact that it was the same as another similar article posted here:!This-Ones-for-the-Girls-A-Duggar-Response/cupf/555f43a90cf23d0164b4313b . I had previously read that article and must have really resonated with the title of it, haha! Please also check out the article here that I just linked, as it's beautiful and needs to be read. So much love to her and the other many boys and girls who have been victims of sexual abuse.

Note #2: PLEASE feel free to leave your responses to this article here and not just on Facebook as it makes it circulations. This way, others who have been affected, and maybe even the girls it's written to may read it and be encouraged and embraced. I don't ever censor comments, but I do withhold the right to do so about this post as this is to be only a safe space concerning this issue. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Family Camping Packing Checklist *FREE DOWNLOAD*

We've put together a fantastic checklist of everything you'll need when camping with your family (and just by yourself, if that's a thing for you). Specific to tent camping, you can easily adapt this to RV camping or backpacking, and it includes space for you to add your own items, as well! It was written by combining my experience leading wilderness backpacking trips, camping across the US on road trips, and having three young children of my own now.

Best of's FREE!

Download the nice printable version from DropBox by clicking here

Family Tent Camping Equipment Checklist
Camp Setup
 Medical First Aid Kit
 Herbal First Aid Kit (including essential oils, herbs, and homeopathy)
 2-3 large tarps
 2 long, thin ropes (clothesline type)
 Clothespins
 Tent, fly, footprint
 Extra tent stakes
 Shammy (for wet tent)
 Hand floor brush and dustpan (small, for sweeping tent floor)
 Tent light
 Battery operated lantern
 Extra batteries
 Bear spray
 Dishwashing buckets- 2
 Biodegradable dish soap
 Water
 Food
 Cooking dishes
 Eating dishes, cups, and utensils (one mess kit per person)
 Camp stove
 Grill for fire
 Foil
 Ziploc bags
 Paper towels
 Day packs
 Playing cards, small games
 Guitar, instruments
 Duct Tape
 Pillows (because you’re car camping so you can!)
 Camping chairs (1 pp) (optional)
 Fold up table (optional, depending on campsite)
 Lightweight hammock (optional)
 Bear containers or the like (optional for car camping)

Survival Kit
 Compass
 Maps of area
 Flashlight (with extra batteries and bulb)
 Paper and pencil
 Extra waterproof matches
 All weather fire starter
 Whistle*
 Strong nylon cord
 Toilet paper
 Vaseline
 Salt Tablets
 Copper Wire
 Water purifier tablets
 Solar cell phone charger
 Emergency radio

Pocket necessities
 Leatherman
 Windproof/waterproof matches
 Compass
 Watch
 Refillable water bottle
 Carabineer

Toilet articles
 Toilet paper
 Biodegradable soap
 Small towel/washcloth
 Unscented lip balm*
 Unscented hand cream*
 Small shovel
 Garbage bag for pack out areas
 Tootbrush/paste*
 Contact solution and case/glasses*
 Feminine hygiene articles*
 Diapers and wipes for babies
 Hairbrush and hair ties*
 Solar water heater bag for showers

Pack necessities
 Sleeping bags
 Sleeping pads
 Headlamps
 Sunglasses
 Water bottles
 Clothing
 Swim suit
 Towel or Shammy
 Mirror
 Medications
 Map
 Compass
 Cash
 ID
 Sunscreen
 Sun hat
 Bug spray & itch cream
 Baby wipes
 Bandaids/hand sanitizer/etc.
 Raingear (for pack, as well)


*Designates something that you may prefer to put in your personal pack

The checklist conveniently divides everything you'll need for a successful camping trip into these categories: camp setup, pocket necessities, survival kit, pack necessities, and other. It's free for you and all of your friends to download and use, just please link back to this original page if you share it with anyone! Download your free copy today and enjoy the outdoors!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Family Camping Basics

Before children, I spent many summers backpacking, road tripping, and even leading high adventure wilderness trips in the Adirondack Mountains. The wilderness is a love of mine, and I have been patiently waiting until my children were old enough to share that love with me. That time has finally arrived, and though we won't be backpacking, we are planning our first car camping trip next weekend, and a few more over the rest of the summer!

Tent camping takes a lot of forethought to begin with, and more so when you have young children (one still in diapers, for us!) as well. While our first trip will be to a campground, we are planning some state forest camping this summer, as well. The biggest difference between the two are what you can leave out at night and what you need to put back in your car to avoid bear and animal infestation, as well as if you are able to throw your garbage out and get fresh water (at a campground)  or if you need to secure your garbage and pack in your water (forest). Either way should be completely doable with young children if you have the correct planning and, for us at least, plan to "car camp" (i.e. you can drive your vehicle into your campsite or at least very close, so you can bring more things with you instead of only what you can carry on your back).

Here are some general guidelines to help your family camping experience go smoothly:

  1. Use a packing checklist (get your free copy here)
  2. Use a food packing checklist (we'll be uploading one of those later this week, too!)
  3. Pack your camp supplies and food in 5-gallon buckets and a cooler. They'll double as seats, the lids will provide fire fanning tools, and the 5-gallon buckets are fairly secure.
  4. Label those buckets and always put things back where they were.
  5. Teach your kids wilderness, camp, and trail etiquette. Don't litter, follow pottying rules (100' away from a trail, 200' away from a water source; mix your waste with some dirt/leaves, cover, and leave a small stick standing up so others know not to use that spot!), walk in the center of trails, don't burn things that shouldn't be burnt, etc.
  6. Keep your shoes outside the tent. Trust me, you'll be thankful for a clean floor when you try to sleep.
  7.  Find a level tent spot--remove every twig you see, and roll around on the floor after the tent is up but before you finalize your spot. You may realize it's not level after all! Better to change now than in the middle of the night.
  8. Use a tent that you can reasonably put up considering your situation. Do you need two adults? If so, where will the kids be? We chose an easy-up family sized tent because then one adult can keep the kids safe while the other handles the tent.
  9. Always sign in to trails and give your itinerary to someone before you leave for your trip.
  10. Relax! The more organized and prepared you are, the easier it will be to focus on the purpose of your trip--new experiences, memory building, relaxation, and fun.
Good luck on your family camping endeavors! We'd love to hear about your experiences and other tips and tricks you've used to help things go smoothly. We can't WAIT to cook around a fire, snuggle up in a sleeping bag, and drink hot cocoa while watching the sun rise!

Next: Family Camping Packing Checklist