What No Child Left Behind Should Really Mean
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James A. Baldwin once said, "It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have."
I have lived a large part of my life coming to understand this quote as an undeniable truth. It is now finally time to share my story and do the best that I can to alleviate some of the ignorance that leads to an overwhelming problem and injustice in today's society. To be honest, I am ashamed of myself for not writing this sooner. I think I was scared of what evil lies and backlash may be said about me in response. I was somehow afraid the people I am about to write about could somehow still hurt me. I do not write what I am about to share for attention, sympathy, or revenge. I write it so that those silenced can have a voice, so that the issue at hand can be heard, and so the people who read it can maybe have some needed information to make a change. Injustice is a problem for so many groups in today's world, but the group I choose to speak for in this post is children.
Children are among the very few people that are allowed to be innocent in this world. While that is lovely and magical for the most part, there are those sinister enough to take advantage of a child's innocence. There are those who would mistake a child's innocence for not having a valuable opinion. There are those who would willingly sacrifice the best interests of a child for selfish purposes, simply because the child can do nothing about it. What's truly horrifying is when one of those people who would do such terrible things...is the parent of that child. Unfortunately, this is something that I have encountered more than once in my lifetime.
My story begins with my biological father. He was a man who physically abused my mother, even while she was pregnant with me. My mother did all she could to protect us from him, and never said a bad word about him because she believed he was a good father, even if he hadn't been a good husband. I didn't see my father very often in the early years of my life, and don't have very many solid memories of him until I was about 10 years old. From there, I remember a dizzying array of courtroom battles in which my father did everything he could to avoid providing my mother with child support. My mother went without so I wouldn't have to, while he bought new homes and went on expensive cruise vacations. The worst came when my father's brother-in-law sexually harassed me. My father knew about this but lied in court to protect this young man who had violated my innocence. Because of my father's decision, I rarely spoke to him and never under good terms again. I was then 14, and we saw less and less child support payments until they eventually just stopped altogether. I talked to court mediators directly and indirectly over all the years, even as a teenager with sometimes too many opinions. They ignored me when I said I didn't want to visit him, forcing visitation rights on me. They ignored me when I said he wasn't helping to support me, never even altering the amount he was supposed to provide, let alone holding him accountable for all he hadn't done in the past. They ignored me when I said I had been sexually harassed in his home, and still expected me to go back. I had to burn a lot of bridges and do a lot of bad things in order to make it so my father never wanted me to return, and I never had to go back. My mother fought for me all those years, doing her best to protect and provide for her child. She was the only one who ever held my father accountable. His new wife, despite being a mother herself, was all too happy to indulge on money that should have gone to her husband's child. The justice system served only the dead beat dad, leaving the mother and child to fend for ourselves. Sadly, my story with being failed by the justice system and father figures didn't end there. My mother eventually re-married, and at the time we had no clue that the blows he would deal my family would make what my father did look like nothing.
Mark Bosch seemed like the guy who was everyone's friend. He was a surfer boy from Southern California, and seemed like an overgrown kid most of the time. He and my mother had two beautiful children, my siblings Kiera and Noah. Mark came into my life when I was about 10. I didn't really like him but that wasn't necessarily because of him. It was more due to resentment of any father figure due to my biological father, and because I didn't want to share my mom. We butted heads frequently because Mark went from being someone with no responsibilities to instantly having to be responsible for a very opinionated pre-teen. Kiera was born when I was 12, and Noah was born when I was 14. I don't know if Mark was a person who just couldn't handle responsibility or if something in him just snapped, but he grew to be a very cruel and vindictive person. His favorite victims were my small brother Noah, his niece who lived with us, and myself. Still, he treated anybody who didn't agree with him as if they were beneath him. I watched him make his mother cry and actually laugh at her in response. I watched him lose the respect of his father, who unfortunately died ashamed of the man Mark had become. I watched him call his niece every degrading thing a woman can be called, let alone a young girl. I watched him only refer to my brother as Norah, and make him feel like he wasn't a good boy because he liked things that Mark didn't. Noah often had full-out red handprints on his skin hours after a negative interaction with Mark. Mark often plotted against me, sometimes putting months of preparation into plans to cause fights between my mother and I. He called me every name in the book, and worse. He once chased me down the stairs, and when I fell over, he ripped my pants off of me as I struggled to crawl away in his furious attempt to hurt me. He was physically and verbally abusive to everyone in our house. Kiera usually avoided direct abuse, but I would never say she wasn't hurt by him too. She was a Daddy's girl, but that unfortunately became her own private hell as she watched her daddy torture everyone she loved and then expect and encourage her to hate them. No preschooler should be taught about hate and vindictive behavior. No toddler should have to try to understand why his father doesn't approve of him or why he would hit him over doing nothing wrong.
We all suffered in silence a lot of the time because nobody wanted to believe that Mark was capable of the things he did at first. Mark was very good at putting on the nice guy mask. When people got closer to us and Mark would eventually let his guard down just enough to go off in front of an audience, those people would try to help my mom in her attempts to fix things and then eventually leave him. At first, we tried different versions of family and individual counseling. Mark refused to change, never taking accountability and only placing blame on anyone and everyone...his mother, his mother-in-law, my mother, and any or all of us children. Counselors finally stopped trying to heal our broken family, and instead helped my mother to find a way out. We finally were able to flee after my mom got a job in another location in which she knew she could support us on her own. She knew Mark wouldn't help financially once we were gone, and she was right. Over those years of living in that house, I can't tell you how many mediators, police officers, and counselors came into our lives. Somehow, Mark was the only one who got away unscathed.
My mom has spent all of her years as a mother giving all she had to her children and then more, when their fathers didn't come through. The most basic part of our suffering was facing financial hardship over all the years, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. Kiera, Noah, his niece Theresa, and I all needed intensive therapy. Kiera and Noah basically have different degrees of post-traumatic stress disorder. I suffered from depression and anxiety, and still struggle sometimes with the latter. I did some pretty horrible things in my teenage years as a means of escape, and/or finding love in all the wrong places. His niece Theresa contemplated suicide, but instead took a much darker turn and continued the cycle of dark behavior. She accused many different people, even family members, of sexually abusing her when in fact they did nothing. She would always let it get further and further each time, as she played her dangerous game. The first time, she let the police be called. The second, she allowed a restraining order to be filed and served. The third, she let get all the way to the court room lobby before admitting she had cried wolf once again. This last time, she let it go all the way through a trial. Luckily, the truth came out and an innocent man wasn't convicted as a sex offender for no reason whatsoever. Theresa then somehow became gullible enough to accept Mark's bribery to work against my mother who only ever tried to help her and rescue her from a very dangerous path. Theresa and Mark concocted a plan that involved saying that the children had been abused by the last person that Theresa tried to pull her usual stunts on. This involved CPS conducting an investigation that temporarily separated my siblings from my mom which was a horrible ordeal for all of them. Kiera also had to receive a medical evaluation that was invasive and led to her being traumatized by almost any medical treatment she receives to this day. When this plan backfired, they viciously and vindictively arranged for my siblings to have to leave their beloved schools. My mother was in the process of finding in-district housing when the school district was notified by Theresa on Mark's behalf that the children were currently living out of district. They were forced to leave their classes in the middle of the year and attend a new school that neither of them enjoyed. Mark's mother Linda also fell into the cycle and has somehow been brainwashed into Mark's twisted blaming of my mother. She now actually helps him in his offenses against my mother and siblings...her own grandchildren. With all of the pain that Theresa and Linda have helped to inflict on Kiera and Noah, it is hard for me to remember that they too were victims of a man I truly consider to be evil. Understand here, I have summed up about 23 years of abuse and miscarriages of the justice system in a few short paragraphs. Even still, I am not done with the story.
In the last two years alone, Mark went from paying little and infrequently to nothing at all. He and his new wife (again, a mother...which is truly disgusting to me) have enjoyed money that should have gone toward the bare necessities of my siblings. They vacation, eat out regularly, and even treated themselves to an extra beautiful wedding complete with centerpieces that alone cost hundreds of dollars. They joked and bragged about this on social media for all to see. Mark manipulated his medical insurance to make Noah suffer through a period of croup without needed medication, despite Kiera calling and begging him to help while in tears. He did this as an attack on my mother, knowing that she would find a way to help him...not caring that his own son was a casualty. His mother and him have each sent incredibly manipulative and/or vindictive cards, letters, and gifts. The one time he did see the children in this time frame included so much manipulation and game playing that they have decided they never again want to see him. This was an especially difficult decision for Kiera. She refuses to use her last name wherever possible because she is so ashamed of her father. For example, her cheer team received team jackets. Hers was the only one to have a first name. Actually, both Kiera and Noah have made the decision to shed Mark's name as soon as legally possible because they do not even want to be associated with him to that extent. I truly understand this decision as I deleted my father's name legally at the first chance I had...my eighteenth birthday.
Kiera, Noah, and I have been lucky enough to have a wonderful mother who did and does do her very best for us. Still, the invisible scars left on us by our fathers and the people who stood by and did nothing and/or assisted to some degree in our neglect and abuse will never go away. Yet, each time my mother has attempted to get justice not even for herself but on behalf of her children, the only people the court has inevitably catered to is the deadbeat dads and the atrocious accomplices surrounding them. I am not saying that these mediators, counselors, witnesses, and so on were all intentionally causing us harm. I don't believe that. I'm saying that the system itself in many states, including California, New York, and Washington, is so flawed in its approach to negotiating children's rights and child support that it is too often the mothers and children that get screwed while the so-called fathers get away with hiding in the cracks. Washington's practices concerning this part of the law are so disgustingly difficult that Mark has been able to hide behind them for all these years, 12 to be exact. California helped my father get away with what he did for twenty four years as the standard is for child support to be provided throughout all years of education, including those spent at a university in the early stages of adulthood. That is the problem though. There is no standard that is actually followed. Any precedent is ignored. Instead, the overwhelmed justice systems of each state do what they do best...and that is whatever is easiest so that they can move on down the never-ending pile of cases. Unfortunately, what is easiest is to allow mothers to suffer for the sake of their children, children's innocence to be taken advantage of and their opinions and even pleas to be ignored, and fathers to get away with zero accountability and zero responsibility.
I am calling for a federal standard concerning child abuse, including verbal abuse, and child support regulations. There needs to be a simplified and streamlined process that actually serves the mothers who work too hard and the children who try to learn to get by. The system needs to be made so that it holds accountable every father for the safety and necessities of their children, no matter what state they live in. How can we expect any child to understand the principle of accountability when too many adults find a way to take the easy way out? Furthermore, we must not allow for children to be abused in any form, behind closed doors or not. If we witness, we must report. If we know something, we must do something about it. As adults well-seasoned in the wrongs of this world, it is our duty to protect the children in it. A child's innocence should be preserved for as long as possible. Children should not suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and worse. No parent should be allowed to verbally or physically abuse their child, and certainly not without consequence. However, what good can reporting do if the system has more cracks to slip through than solid ground to stand on? While each citizen of this Earth has a responsibility to stand up for the children they interact with, the system itself must be saved and redeemed into something that actually will work the way it is meant to. The spirit of the laws protecting children can not be fulfilled if the letter of the law is over-complicated, too varied from state to state, and not specifically and plainly laid out. No child left behind should mean no child goes through what my siblings and I did, or worse, and then becomes further victimized when they seek help from the justice system meant to protect them.
Frederick Douglass once said, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." Help build strong children that can heal from the scars of those broken men. How? Report child neglect and abuse of any degree or type. Do not participate in it by any means. If you were victimized by people or by the system, seek help rather than allowing yourself to be caught in destructive cycles and harming those children you could love and fight for instead. Sign my petition for a national system to ensure child support is doled fairly and child abuse is prevented and/or heavily prosecuted. Reach out to your local leaders,and the national decisionmakers.
Thank you for reading my story, and the story of my siblings. Please share. Please act.
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