#thatsnotlove, warning signs every parent should be aware of

Now that February 14th is almost here we have to think about our children’s relationships, is hard to perceive any kind of abuse if there is no communication, but even if the proper channels are not open to have a talk with them, there are warning signs every parent must be aware of.

Have you ever seen your teenage “sweetheart”:

  1. • Try to stop him/her from seeing or talking to family or friends?
  2. • Called him/her derogatory nicknames, put him/her down, or made fun of him/her?
  3. • Threaten or scare him/her?
  4. • Bite, slap, push, hit or kick him/her?
  5. • Pressure or force him/her to do something sexual when is clear he/she doesn’t want to?
  6. • Humiliate him/her when  alone or in front of others?
  7. • Control him/her on what to wear, or what to do?

Well, those are signs of dating violence, and you should seek advice or help from a school counselor, doctor, therapist or family pediatrician.

Did you know that nearly 1.5 million high school students in the United States reported that they have been emotionally or psychologically mistreated, harmed, stalked, manipulated, or pressured in some way by their dating partner?

And guess what? Many teens do not report it because they are afraid to tell friends and family. “A 2017 CDC Report[PDF 4.32MB] found that approximately 7% of women and 4% of men who ever experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner first experienced some form of partner violence by that partner before 18 years of age.”

Unhealthy, abusive, or violent relationships can have severe consequences on a developing teen. Youth who experience dating violence are more likely to experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, thoughts about suicide and are at risk for victimization during college years.

I want to share with you the following video form One Love Foundation, an organization honoring the memory of Yeardly Love, a college student beaten to death by her ex boyfriend.


Yeardley Love was killed and her death was avoidable if anyone in her life had truly understood the unhealthy and increasingly dangerous relationship behaviors they were seeing



Dating violence can be prevented, talk to your teenagers about it.

Where to seek help

Everyone deserves a relationship that is positive, healthy and free from violence. If you have concerns about your relationship or your teenage relationship, Hotline advocates are available to help 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 or via live chat from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Central time.


National Dating Abuse Helpline

1-866-331-9474 1-866-331-8453 (TTY) www.loveisrespect.org

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network

(RAINN) Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) www.rainn.org

National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) www.ndvh.org

School Violence and Bullying

Bullying is a type of school violence, the constant and persistent harassment towards an individual, it is an intended behavior and never an isolated event.

This type of violence could include verbal abuse, isolation, harassment, physical, psychological and cyber abuse.

Bullying is the repetitive intentional behavior to hurt, harm, isolate and humiliate  a person, this person in most of the cases is a school age child who is different from the general population because of some sort of disabilities, ethnicity, culture, gender role expectations, personality, immigration status, gender stereotypes, economic situations, political values, and the list just goes on.

Bullying differs from conflict.

  • Conflict is a disagreement or argument in which both sides express their views.
  • Bullying is negative behavior directed by someone exerting power and control over another person.

In general terms, bullying is perpetrated by students against other students, however when we as adults fail to identify those involved in bullying (victim and victimizer) we become part of the problem.

Teachers and school staff are involved too, as stand-by-viewers, adults grant power to bullies and indirectly approve their behavior.

On this topic, in 2016 Unicef made a poll and found “that 30% of those who had been bullied did not tell anyone, 30% told an adult and more than 30% told a friend or sibling; less than 10% told a teacher. Reasons for not telling anyone included being afraid or ashamed, not knowing who to tell and thinking that bullying is normal.” 

What is worst, “children and adolescents who are victims of bullying are not always willing to report these incidents to parents, teachers or other adults either because of fear of retaliation.

Did you know?

32% of 12-18-year-old students in the United States were bullied in the 2007-2008 school year.

According to the National Voices for Equality, Education, and Enlightenment (NVEEE)

  1. Every 7 MINUTES a child is bullied.  Adult intervention – 4%. Peer intervention – 11%. No intervention – 85%.
  2. Biracial and multiracial youth are more likely to be victimized than youth who identify with a single race.
  3. Bullied students tend to grow up more socially anxious, with less self-esteem and require more mental health services throughout life.
  4. Only 7% of U.S. parents are worried about cyberbullying, yet 33% of teenagers have been victims of cyberbullying
  5. Kids who are obese, gay, or have disabilities are up to 63% more likely to be bullied than other children.
  6. 1 MILLION children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying during the past year.
  7. 86% of students said, “other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them” causes teenagers to turn to lethal violence in schools.
  8. It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. Source: National Education Association.
  9. American schools harbor approximately 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million of their victims. Dan Olweus, National School Safety Center.

Those who are bullied are also more likely to be depressed, lonely or anxious, to have low self-esteem, are prone to self-injuring and addictions, and to have suicidal thoughts or to attempt suicide.

The worst part is, that victims perceive they are not worthy of trust, or that they will not be taken seriously. The balance of power between victim and victimizer leans away from them, leaving an empty space to be filled solely with pain, despair, anger, resentment and a sense of “being broken”

“After so many years of being bullied, I feel so broken inside,

that every day I have to hot-glue myself to go to school.”

8th grader

Bullying is worldwide

Unicef collected data from 106 countries showing that the proportion of adolescents aged 13-15 who say they have recently experienced bullying ranged from 7% in Tajikistan to 74% in Samoa. In 14 of the 67 low- to middle- income countries with available data, more than half of this age group said they had recently experienced bullying.

In 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries,  students aged 10-14, a 51% overall reported experiencing some type of bullying in “the last month.” Being robbed was the most commonly reported experience, followed by being insulted or threatened.

No More Bullying

  • Start being part of the solution, listen to your child before is too late.
  • Effective communication with your child is essential to know if there is a problem at school, or home (bullying also happen there).
  • Trust your child, and do not judge.
  • Embark on straight forward discussions focusing on inclusion over exclusion.
  • Showing respect and kindness toward others, tolerance is the key word.
  • Raise awareness in your community, as many adults are unaware of the extent of the problem and of its negative impact on the well-being of children and adolescents.

Urgent action is needed to address the global problem of school violence and bullying to ensure that all children and adolescents have access to safe and non-violent learning environments.

2016 Gender Gap in the United States

The United States was ranked 45th in the 2016 Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum.

This places the United States far below most European and industrialized countries.

global gender gap 2016

The United States has enacted the following legislation to address issues of gender discrimination: the 1963 federal Equal Pay Act, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the passage of Title VII and IX of the Education Amendments in the early 1970s.

According to data by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.  In the 2009 Congress, women held 90 of the 535 seats; 17 in the Senate and 73 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. In the 2016 Presidential Election, women held 104 of the 535 seats; 21 in the Senate and 83 in the House of Representatives (Democrats most of them)

Only a 15.5% increase in seven  years.

USA and CEDAW: Not a believer?

The United States has never ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women , yes you read it right: never ratified.

Opponents have argued that ratification would relinquish too much power to the international community as treaty provisions would supersede United States law and would force the US to legalize prostitution, which is totally wrong, CEDAW defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.

The Convention provides the basis legal frame to ensure women’s equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political and public life — including the right to vote and to stand for election — as well as education, health and employment.

It is a commitment to take all appropriate measures, including legislation and temporary special measures, so that women can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Bush and Obama administrations stated that ratification is desirable and has received support from relevant government committees; however Senate is still a boy’s playground preventing any action.

Question is, will the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women has a chance to be ratified now that 21 Senators are women?


Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2016

“Trafficking for sexual exploitation and for forced labor remain the most prominently detected forms, but victims are also being trafficked to be used as beggars, for forced or sham marriages, benefit fraud, or production of pornography,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov in presenting the report.

2016 Global Report TIP2016  report includes a thematic chapter focusing on the connections between trafficking in persons, migration, and conflict.

Armed groups and criminal organizations often engage in trafficking in their territories of operation, coercing women and girls into marriages or sexual slavery, and pressing men and boys to act as forced labor or combatants.

Equality for Women is progress for all

It is well known that entrepreneurship accelerates economic development, and economic development brings healthier societies, better education models, and peace. Unfortunately, social barriers, discrimination practices, and economic abuse hinder women’s ability to perform under the same circumstances than male entrepreneurs, restraining survival skills, taking away income-earning options; diminishing their role in the economy and social change.

What happens when the elders make girls and young women feel unsafe if they leave the house, go to school or try to find a job? When patriarchal protagonists constantly blame female “liberal conduct and female exposure” for sexual harassment at school or work?

The consequence of such social behavior is that women see themselves not suited for participating in economic activities, they feel undervalued and unsafe, afraid of becoming the next victim; restricting their possibility to contribute to the household economy and community development.

Economic inequality opens the possibility for women to become victims of domestic violence, exploitation, and trafficking;[1] because it establishes an imbalanced relation between spouses and family members (domestic violence is not solely related to spouses it is also among parents/children, siblings, elders etc.); and generates “patterns of coercive control”[2] against women, better known as economic abuse, a non-physical manifestation of domestic violence.

Equality is the cornerstone of progress, studies show that there is a link between economic empowerment and violence against women (VAW), noticing that the more consolidated economic independence is among women the lesser risk of VAW exists. What is more, when household decisions and economic independence is shared equality the risk of VAW is almost non-existent[3] supporting the thesis that gender equality deters violence against women.

Did you know?

  • Women continue to earn less pay for work of equal value.
  • Approximately 128 countries have laws that prevent women from participating fully in society.
  • Around 800 women die every day due to childbirth and pregnancy related situations.
  • 1 in 3 girls and women are victims of violence every day.
  • Over the next decade, 100 million girls will become child brides.

The fact is that when women and girls live their lives in an equal, peaceful, violence-free environment, they build better skills to actively participate in the economy and contribute to local development and progress.

That is why “Equality for Women is Progress for All”.

Want to know more?

“Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the MDG for Women and Girls” -UN Secretary General’s Commission on the Status of Women- 12/2013.


[1] Press Release WOM/1390 05/03/2003 http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2003/wom1390.doc.htm

[2] UK Study on DV costs.

[3] GSDRC helpdesk research report: VAW and political empowerment 2011 htto://www.grsdrc.org/docs/open/HD746.pdf

Child marriage in Iraq: The Jaafari law

In a pathetic and shameful electoral maneuver, Iraqi parliament is most likely to pass a new rule that could allow children under nine years old to be legally married and the girls-wives forced to comply with marital demands; a disgusting trickery of the governing coalition to gain the support of Shia Muslims in the next election (April 30th).

As reported in the British newspaper The Telegraph “The legislation has been approved by the governing coalition in an effort to attract support from Shia Muslims in the April 30 vote”.

Nowadays Iraqi law sets the legal age for marriage at 18 years old, and for girls living in rural states as young as 15 but only with a guardian’s approval. Supporters of the Jaafari Personal Status law –named after a Shiite Muslim school of jurisprudence- gutsy stated, “It simply regulates practices already existing in day-to-day life”.

What can be done? How can it be stopped? Human Rights Watch has already issued a plea for the Iraqi government to stop the legislation, highlighting the violations that the soon to be law presents to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and The Convention on Rights of the Child, ratified by Iraq in 1986 and 1994 respectively. But is it enough?

Activists have campaigned in care2 petition site, to share the alert and to sign petitions in an attempt to stop this law, if interested click here to go to the site and support the petition started by Walk Free a no for profit focused on ending modern slavery.

(http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/906/729/633/?z00m=21016989) But my question remains… is it enough? Is it on time?

I know that inaction and apathy are worse than the indomitable effort of human rights activists fighting to defend and preserve our humanity against all odds, and at any cost… Let us do our share and support as many non-for-profits as possible to prevent child marriage and violence against women.


For all those interested on the topic, The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) has a broad collection of documents available for download to understand more about child marriage and what can be done to prevent and eliminate such practice.

Child Marriage