Snarky Blog Title # 1704

10 12 2012

There are things we see over and over again in our work. They’re bad, but we get used to them. You got so frustrated that you beat your kid with a chancla? Yawn. You don’t have an involved dad? Um, who does?! Obviously, jerks, I’m being facetious. These things are never ok, or no big deal. You just grow somewhat accustomed to them. If we were shocked every time something like this happened, ninety percent of social workers would be dead of a heart attack within their first year on the job.

There’s one thing that comes up, time and time again, though, that’s different.

Sexual abuse.

Sometimes, it’s the reason a family is referred to us. This isn’t ideal, as there are agencies that deal specifically with sexual abuse and are really better suited to this work. But there aren’t that many of them, there are long waiting lists, so you get what you get.

Yes, that is how seeking help works if you don’t have money. But I digress.

Very often, it’s not in the referral. Rather, it comes up later. It’s not the main issue. That would be truancy, or the kid having an attitude, or getting into fights, or excessive corporal punishment. The abuse comes out later.

When it comes up, we’re supposed to address it. So I do. Part of this involves asking the kid how they’d like to handle it. Would you like to try sexual abuse counseling? Do you want to talk about it?

A surprising amount of the time, they do. Kids often know what they need, and if they’ve been wanting counseling, they’re relieved to have it offered. Sometimes they don’t want it, though, and I respect this.

Apparently, this is very bad.

Not long ago, a family was referred to me, and on their laundry list of issues was that their teenage daughter had been molested by a family friend. She was very upfront with me. Ever since this incident came to light, it was all anyone had talked about. This child had to talk about it to a guidance counselor, to her parents, to an ACS worker, to the police, to a sexual abuse investigator. She was done talking about it.

Her parents accepted this. They went out of their way to make sure she wasn’t withdrawing from the family, as they knew this was what she turned to, and let her know she could talk about it if she wanted to. But the court insisted she seek counseling. Actually, she was told, “If this child doesn’t get sexual abuse counseling, all of the kids will be removed.”

Or, as she heard it, “If this happens again, keep it to yourself, because it’s going to lead to all of these problems.”

(For the record, she went to the sexual abuse counseling agency, where it was recommended that the family keep doing what they were doing and bring her back for counseling in the future, when she was ready. In other words, in your face, Your Honor.)

Sometimes, when a child is sexually abused, we forget that they’re still a person. They become Sexual Abuse Victim #23489542. Everything is about the abuse.

I’ve gotten numerous referrals for girls who are being “promiscuous” or “acting out sexually.” Victims of sexual abuse most certainly do this. But there’s no technical definition for “promiscuous,” and I can’t always tell the difference between “acting out sexually” and “having sex.” Most troubling, we never get that concern for a boy.

Actually, we got it once. The boy in question was gay. Apparently, if you’re having sex with boys, it’s to be pathologized.

It reminds me of how some people justify “abortion is bad.” They have a friend who had an abortion and has been a total wreck ever since, she just never got over it. You know who else had an abortion? One in three women. They’re not all a disaster beyond repair.

I realize I left myself open for some “heh heh, is that why women are such bitches, amirite bros?” Stop now, you’re better than that.

We notice the squeaky wheels, is the point. But plenty of kids are ok. Overall, kids are resilient. We’re not supposed to say that, because supposedly this denies that sexual abuse is awful and inexcusable. It is awful, it is inexcusable. I have a hard time coming up with reasons why people who even think this might maybe be an ok thing to do shouldn’t, at the very least, be sent to a remote island to live out the rest of their days. (There aren’t that many remote islands, they might figure out how to make a boat…)

But acknowledging that children are resilient is much better than going on and on about how victims’ lives are destroyed. You sound like a real asshole when you do that.

Some kids are ready for counseling. Some aren’t. They might be later. Forcing a kid into it is terrible and can be retraumatizing. Sometimes, a parent or other caring adult believing, supporting, and appropriately protecting a child, assuring them that nothing was their fault, can be sufficient.

Sexual abuse, more than almost anything we face in our work, brings up our own issues. It horrifies and disgusts us, and it makes us feel protective, and it makes parents feel guilty. We need to be sure that we’re addressing what’s best for the child, not what makes us feel better.





College football–what could possibly go wrong?

14 11 2011

You’d have to be living under a rock (I’m looking in your direction, Ashton Kutcher) to be blissfully unaware of what’s going on at Penn State. It’s referred to frequently as a scandal, which doesn’t quite seem right. Scandal implies something salacious and consensual, which, obviously, the sexual abuse and cover-up of/turning a blind eye to said sexual abuse was not.

Many people are at fault. Number one, of course is Sandusky. The child molester. The actual monster. The one who involved himself with a children’s charity for the express purpose of having access to young boys to abuse. The one who repeatedly raped children and exploited their trust.

But it goes beyond that. We have the bystanders. Many, many bystanders in this case.

Graduate assistant turned assistant coach Mike McQueary, and Jim Calhoun, a janitor, on separate occasions, each walked in on Sandusky raping a child. Mike McQueary (who moved up and up the ranks at Penn State in the nine years following this incident) saw Sandusky, a man he knew, holding a child he estimated to be ten years old to a wall and anally raping him. He quietly left the room. The janitor reacted in similar fashion when he walked in on a similar incident in the locker room, only in that scenario, Sandusky was performing oral sex on a little boy.

But don’t worry. They were both really upset about what they saw.

They both left the room. Essentially letting Sandusky finish. Allowing him to continue hurting a child so horrifically.

I don’t usually imagine myself to be much of a hero. (OK, I imagine it all the time, but I don’t trick myself into thinking that I actually am one.) I try to recognize that one never knows how one will react to a traumatic instance. But I honestly cannot imagine walking in on something like that and quietly backing out of the room.

If you aren’t going to go all vigilante and throw Sandusky to the ground prior to kicking his ass, could you at least make your presence known with a “What the fuck are you doing?!” Not even call 911? Just report it to your boss, and ignore it when it goes nowhere.

Apparently, in the incident McQueary observed, the victim heard him come in. Can you imagine that little boy, thinking he was saved, that finally there was an adult there to rescue him, and then realizing that adult was not going to do a thing?

This brings us to our first social work issue–we are all madated reporters. As are teachers, dentists, doctors, schoolstaff, and pretty much anyone else who comes in contact with children.

You have to tell someone. This doesn’t always equate to doing the right thing. We’ve all heard it said that the people in this scenarion told someone. They went to their bosses, or to people higher up the football ladder. When nothing was done, they (especially McQueary, who remained in the organization) did not object further.

Your duty to protect children doesn’t end with making that phone call or mentioning the rape you saw to your boss that one time. Protecting children, as I’ve said before, is a sacred responsibility. Feel free to follow up. Those hotlines and a chain of command to work one’s way up are put in place to make it easier to report abuse. They’re not there to absolve you of responsibility, because you’re afraid of losing your job or making some asshole look bad. It’s not so that you can pass it on and forget what you know.

When a five year old is told to apologize  for tripping a classmate, they often whine and say, “But it was an accident!” We still make them apologize, because they need to learn to admit if they were wrong, and to take responsibility for their actions. The mandated reporter, or non-mandated bystander, saying “But I told my boss!” displays no moral development from this kindergartener.

Think of what you would have wanted done, if you were the child being victimized.

It probably wouldn’t make you feel any better if you knew that the red-headed grad assistant was sleeping better, because he let the big boss know.

I think Nazi comparisons are way overused (Glenn Beck, I’m looking in your direction) but if you’re going to say you ignored it because you were just doing your job, you’re really asking for it.

Calhoun, as many of us have heard, is now suffering from dementia and not competent to testify at Sandusky’s trial. It was finally announced on Friday that McQueary would not be coaching the team’s final home game, out of concerns for his safety. (So glad they’re finally concerned about someone’s safety.) Ultimately, it was determined that he would no longer be the receiver’s coach.

Joe Paterno, a much beloved coach who was considered one of the good guys of college football, as well as athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary Schulz were made aware of what Sandusky was using Penn State facilities, and his access to children, for.

None of them did anything.

Well, that’s not fair. They didn’t do “nothing.” The most disturbing part of all of this (not really, it’s all too disturbing to keep an accurate list) is that the action that was taken was to prohibit Sandusky from bringing children on campus after these incidents.

The message there is clear–do whatever you’re going to do, just don’t do it here. We care about this school, we don’t care about those children.

This is especially evidenced by the fact that the people who saw what happened, and the people they told, made no effort to seek out those children. Didn’t try to ensure that their parents or guardians knew what happened.

One of those victims, one of those little boys, has never been identified.  Nothing illustrates more perfectly how the children in this case have been forgotten.

This brings us to our next social work issue–why not? They were poor, they were underprivileged, many of them were in foster care. This is not to say that kids from middle class backgrounds are not abused as well. But they are better protected.

Some idiots have even been heard calling into sports and news radio shows (really, is there a lower form of person? Aside from YouTube commenters?) saying that because these were troubled children, they really aren’t to be believed.

So that’s it, kids. You’re fucked. Yes, you’re more likely to be victimized, as you’re emotionally vulnerable, looking for approval, and don’t have a consistent, caring adult in your life to protect you. Also, when you are victimized, you won’t be believed. We all know it, you and your kind lie.

Sandusky knew this. He could have just as easily offered his services at a football camp for wealthy children of football-dreaming parents, but he didn’t. He opted to go after kids in need. Kids we work with.

This is one of many things we’re up against.

Some current Penn State students saw Joe Paterno being fired as reason to riot. I’m sure they weren’t fans of the sexual abuse, but it didn’t bother them nearly as much as something tarnishing the football season. I know people who attended Penn State. People that I consider to be good. But even they are blinded by love of their school and their football team.

I don’t think they’re all terrible people. I do think they’re showing themselves to be spoiled, myopic, and selfish.

They seem to think that saying, “of course, if the allegations prove true, Sandusky should be punished to the fullest extent of the law” is sufficient. My goodness, what a brave statement! So you think the child rapist should be locked up? You’re against child abuse? Please consider writing a book, so that others may benefit from your strong moral compass.

Just like in our work, we need to keep the focus where it belongs–on the children who were hurt. No one else in this situation was a victim. Not those who witnessed something terrible, not the geriatric who has been napping on the sidelines for the past few seasons, and not the brats fretting over a game.

Everyone says that they care about children, but most only do so when it’s convenient.

These kids and their families need help. Changes need to be made to ensure that people stop covering up for pedophiles. Anyone who tries to take the focus off of those issues needs to know that it’s unacceptable.





One never knows

27 10 2011

If I’m writing at midnight, it’s almost never good.

I’ve mentioned before that I used to work in a youth center. I spent two years there before I ran screaming, leaving an SJ shaped hole in the front door. The job appealed to me because I knew I wanted to work in child welfare, but I wasn’t ready to jump straight into graduate school after college.

This place was a neighborhood center with pre-k classes, an afterschool program, and teen groups. I helped out in pre-k, and ran the afterschool program my second year. I was 22 and blown away by the amount of responsibility I was given. It was a massive struggle, but I learned a lot.

I also cried a lot. Ask my dad about those phone calls.

My organizational skills grew. (I still managed to lose a pair of pants this week, but still.) I learned to do more with less. (Twenty dollars to take fourteen kids ice skating? Done!) I developed my scary Teacher Voice. Most importantly, I took on the responsibilities of a supervisor. I helped hire new staff, all of whom had to be approved by the director, and managed them. I delegated not unlike a mofo.

There was one college kid who started volunteering for us as a freshman. We liked him. He was reliable and good with the kids. So we ended up hiring him. My coworker and I advocated strongly for this. (The program was essentially held together with Elmer’s glue, dried macaroni, and dreams, so hires were unusual.)

This was a rare student who wasn’t volunteering to fulfill a course requirement, or for community service hours following a particularly rowdy rugby initiation, or for credit for an internship. He just wanted to volunteer. I had volunteered plenty when I was in college, in similar programs, so this was something I understood.

Of course, when he was hired, he had to jump through all of the hoops. Fingerprinting. Background check.

Nothing came up. So he came on trips with us, helped out in pre-k, coached in the basketball tournament, brought disabled children to the bathroom, supervised swimming trips. All the responsibilities an employee might have.

After jumping through the necessary hoops.

I left over four years ago. I went to social work school and started working at Anonymous Agency. He stayed at the youth center until he graduated.

I got a call from that coworker, who advocated so strongly for this hire with me. She had gotten curious about this kid, after not hearing from him for a while and finding his Facebook page was shut down.

A bit of googling led to her discovering that he’s in jail, convicted of being a part of an international child pornography ring. Further internet sleuthing informed us that he was active in this group while working for us.

This was a guy that we liked. Someone we took out for drinks on his 21st birthday. Who used to noogie me when I was calling for everyone’s attention at staff meeting. Someone who babysat my coworker’s children.

Usually when we hear things like this in the news, we wonder why no one did anything. After it comes out, people always say they had their suspicions. He gave off a creepy vibe, she was too interested in this one kid, he leaned in too close, tried to spend time alone with kids, whatever.

We had no idea. None.

It’s even scarier to think that this is possible. I don’t fancy myself to be some naive shrinking violet who would be oblivious to such signs. I grew up in the Catholic church–there were other people I thought I could trust, when it turned out I couldn’t. I’m not so meek that I would hesitate to go with my gut. I don’t take the safety of children lightly.

But I had no idea. Not even an inkling. He wasn’t creepy, he didn’t make weird comments, he wasn’t even too perfect. Looking back, I’m desperately searching for signs. Something I ignored, something that seemed like nothing at the time. But I can’t think of one thing. Neither can my coworker.

Now we’re trying to figure out if he hurt children we worked with. It seems unlikely, that there wouldn’t have been time, the center was always so open, there was always more than one adult with a child. But then, we never had any suspicions that he was even like this. What else did we miss?

This is all just reminding me of how precious our jobs are. We are trusted with other people’s children. For however long. They are in our care. It’s terrifying to think that we can fail them. That we might be fooled by a sweet nature, cute Joe College looks, a self-deprecating sense of humor, and an ability to fit in with the rest of the staff.

We never know. We never really know. I’ve always been very anti-hysteria, especially when the hysteria-of-choice seems to be directed at men who work with children. Because it isn’t fair.

But this has shaken me in a way I can’t describe. I’m not even entirely sure what the lesson is. At the moment, I feel like it’s “trust no one,” but I know that isn’t possible. We need support. Kids need caring adults in their lives.

But we never know.





My job would be easier if they all drove vans with tinted windows

22 08 2011

May-December romance. It’s a source for fine cinema (Harold & Maude is my nutty roommate’s favorite) as well as good comedy (see Daniel Tosh’s take on Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s marriage.) But then it also so often ventures away from the romance, into illegality, assault, and general creepiness. (Mary Kay and friends, grown men telling high school girls that they’re quite mature for their age.)

Such relationships are rather popular with the families we work with. Sometimes it’s clear cut that this is not going to work. Just a hint–if you are forty years old, and sleeping with a fifteen year old, perhaps don’t accompany that teen to her counseling session. You think it makes you look better, but you’re so wrong. And creepy neighborhood guy with a regular rotation of underage boys staying with him, after getting kicked out of their homes for being gay? No one is buying the humanitarian story.

There are also a good number of older women, with children, dating guys just over the age of eighteen. So far I haven’t had any with an underage boy, but they must be out there. Dating a nineteen year old, while caring for pre-teen children…maybe I’m not imaginative enough, but it sounds just dreadful. Whenever there’s a significant other in the home, we try to figure out what his established role is. Is he a father figure, does he provide discipline, is he contributing financially? Frequently in these situations, it sounds like the mom picked up another kid. The children love the boyfriend, because he knows tons of cheat codes for X-Box. Or they bicker and fight like siblings. I tried to figure this out with an old supervisor, who posited, “Maybe it’s just good sex?” We exchanged a look before she said, “Probably not.”

Sometimes, though, you’re at an in-between. A limbo of sexual impropriety. Technically, the relationship is illegal. But there’s a question as to whether or not to make a call.

In a girls group I helped to run, a 15 year old happily shared with us the tale of losing her virginity. To her 19 year old boyfriend. After I cleaned up the confetti I had shot out of a cannon, in celebration of the fact that they used a condom and checked the expiration date, my co-leader and I had to have a conversation.

Age of consent if a big topic in teen groups. People are often under the impression that it’s simply what it sounds like–an age, at which people can consent to sex. But it’s a bit more nuanced than that. Yes, in New York, the age is 17. However, there are degrees. What is considered abuse, misconduct, criminal sexual act, or rape? If the victim is between the ages of 15 and 17, and the perpetrator is under 21, there won’t be a charge of rape. If the victim is between 11 and 15, and the perpetrator is under 18, or less than four years older than the victim, there also won’t be a rape charge. If the victim is under 17, and the perpetrator is over 21, there can be rape charges filed. If what went on between that victim and perpetrator wasn’t what the hetero kids these days are calling “real sex” it gets dropped to a criminal sexual act.

Got it? OK.

These kids already have a lot on their minds when contemplating having sex. Am I ready to do this, will my parents find out, why do I have the voice of that crazy social worker ringing in my ear about not keeping condoms in my wallet? Trying to remember all of these different rules and regulations, writing them out until they resemble a calculus problem, tends not to make it any easier.

But back to that 15 year old. This incident happened when I was an intern, but there have been many since then. The law is clear (I guess) but our best response isn’t always.

You might think being a mandated reporter makes this easier. We don’t have a choice, we just report! But really, it’s more complex. (Of course.) If the parent allowed it to happen, you can report child abuse. Otherwise, you can call the police. Which is, in all likelihood, going to go nowhere.

In the girls group case I mentioned above, the girl’s worker spoke with her supervisor. It turned out that the girl’s mother knew about the relationship, but not the sex. The supervisor told my coworker that she either needed to not discuss this any further, or get all the information she could to go to the police. By the time my coworker got over her internal crisis, (Is reporting a violation of her confidence? Will reporting it protect her or drive her to run away with him? If I turn the boyfriend in, will the girl run from services?) the relationship had fizzled.

We had another girl in that same group who was constantly having sex with men significantly older than her–she was 15, they were in their 20s or 30s. But calling it in never came up, because these guys were randoms, so to speak. There was never a steady boyfriend. We couldn’t get the information on them, because not even the girl who was sleeping with them had it.

In which case, I guess the lesson for creepster guys is to be as much of an asshole as possible, and don’t even friend her on Facebook?

In general, of course, there’s not even a debate here. Sex with someone underage is a terrible, disgusting, dangerous idea, and if you disagree, you really need to take a good look at yourself. And don’t try the tired predator line “Age is nothing but a number.” Yes, it is indeed a number. It is a number that states how many years you have had on this planet, and therefore, how much time you’ve had to accumulate knowledge and experience. So it’s a pretty important number. Try this with the IRS. “Your honor, I know they said I owed $15,000. But income taxes are just numbers!”

At the same time, my first boyfriend was 19 when I was 16. (If my mom asks, he was 18 though. Cool?) Many of my friends and cousins were in similar situations. So I can see how those questionable age differences come about. When you were in high school at the same time, things can be blurry.

Calling the case in doesn’t always fix things. I think back on that 15 year old with the 19 year old boyfriend. They lost interest in one another fairly quickly. I’m fairly certain that Romeo & Juliet style drama would have forced her to realize that he was her one true love. After all, what’s more attractive than an ankle monitor?

Once again, we’re back to using our social work powers– judgment. Hard line regulations are nice, because we can all throw our hands up and say, “Sorry, it’s policy!” But these are situations that supervisors are very often hesitant to get involved in, and frequently throw it back to the worker. “Well, just be careful. Use your judgment.” The admonishment is often that less talk is better, because we don’t want to know, because then we have to do something, is not, I think, the healthiest way to deal with a difficult issue.

I hope that we can at least talk to each other. If for no other reason than those laws are damn confusing.





Social Workers Like Us

26 05 2011

It’s three a.m., and I am blogging. This is not how I planned out my evening.

Dr. Mom attended The New York Women’s Foundation “Celebrating Women Breakfast” this past weekend. She gave me a book that she got there: “Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself.” It was written by Rachel Lloyd, a survivor of commercial sexual exploitation, who founded Girls Education and Mentoring Services (GEMS.)

It would seem that this book affected me emotionally. By that I mean it ripped my heart out, stomped all over it, and showed it to me while I was still alive. Did I mention it left me wanting more?

So I decided to watch a movie, Very Young Girls (available on Netflix Instant Watch), which is a documentary about the girls GEMS works with, and the work that they do. Guess what? Sleep continues to evade me.

But I still highly recommend both, especially to my fellow social workers. Unless you work for an organization like GEMS, where the mission is specifically geared towards working with this population, you might forget what a serious problem it is. And the fact that it likely affects people we work with.

It’s so easy to make light of this situation. I’ve been guilty of it myself.

What’s that, you say? No one would mock exploited children. What the hell is wrong with you, SocialJerk? The thing is, we do it all the time.

People like victims. Nice, neat, wrapped up in a bow, no blame could conceivably be placed on their shoulders victims. If a suburban girl is kidnapped, beaten, raped, forced to do drugs, and sold against her will, then clearly, she is a victim. If a woman living under an opppressive, totalitarian government is promised a better life in America, and then sold into slavery, we can agree that she’s been victimized. We can all feel like good guys by writing letters to the editor, saying that the thugs that did this (they were black, right?) should be creatively killed in public (I’m the only one with the guts to say it!) and we should take up a collection to help this girl (hey, it’s the thought that counts.)

Actual scenarios are usually much messier. Was she taken and held against her will? Yes. Physically? Not always. Does she do drugs? Does she swear a lot? Does she seem like she doesn’t even want help? Does she keep running back to her pimp?

It’s harder to feel sympathy for girls who, though they’re only 13, don’t look 13. They certainly don’t act like it, y’knowwhatimsayin’? They’re prostitutes. OK, their lives were tough, but things were tough for a lot of people, and they don’t sell themselves on a street corner. Plus pimps wear those hilarious clothes! And I like rap music!

I worked with one girl, back when I was an intern, who broke my heart on a regular basis. Her mother was a drug addict and had a pimp. That man owned her mother. So when my girl was born, the pimp wound up on the birth certificate, though no one seemed to think he was really the father.

The mother drifted in and out of this girl’s life, until she was eventually murdered. My girl spent the majority of her life being raised by her grandmother.

But her mother’s pimp? His name on the birth certificate gave him legal rights. So he took this girl to visit him from the age of five, which is when he started selling her for sex. It was a long time before her grandmother could prove to the courts that seeing this piece of shit (I’m going to let that one ride) was not in this child’s best interests.

This girl wanted nothing more than to please others. She would bring ice cream for the other girls in group. She accompanied one girl to a doctor’s appointment when the father wasn’t willing to go. Once she came in with a good report card, smiling from ear to ear. Her grandmother certainly loved her, but she had a very difficult time showing it. When she brought that report card home, grandma had patted this 15 year old on the arm, and told her she was proud.

When this girl was 12, she began to realize that she had developed into a rather beautiful young girl, with a body that made her look about 16. Guys who had known her mother showed an interest in her. She had never experienced healthy love from a man, never had any kind of father figure. So when guys wanted to spend time with her, which turned into them wanting sex, she went along with it.

When one man, who had always looked out for her, told her that he would bring her to a party, she was thrilled. Then he asked if she would dance, make some money for them both, so she did it. She wanted the money, but she really wanted to please this guy. There were more parties, more dancing, and the line of what she wouldn’t do kept getting blurred, until she ended up having sex for money.

What would you have done, if you were her? How would you have avoided it?

She wasn’t the only one. Two of the eight girls in that group had been sexually exploited at some point. Angelica, who I wrote about a while back, saw prostitution as her only viable source of income, and planned to enter the life when she got out of the hospital. Other girls in group considered it. They all talked about “zoning out,” playing a song in their heads–dissociating, to those of us in the know.

It’s a bleak picture. But Girls Like Us and Very Young Girls gives us exactly what we need as social workers, or at least, what I need. Ebony, who is hilarious and talented, but can’t seem to stay out of the life. She knows what she wants, and what she needs to do to get it, but she’s just not ready. Girls like Carolina and Kim, who are on the road to improving their lives.

And then there is Dominique, who is adorable and wears her heart on her sleeve. You hear her story, which is more than any child should have to deal with, and get to see what she’s up to now–marrying a guy she describes as “beautiful inside and out,” realizing she deserves to be loved, working at GEMS and raising her daughter, conscious that she wants a different life for her child.

She’s only 20, but she seems to be one of those rare success stories that keeps us all going.

You start to feel bad for people who don’t get to see how lovable these girls are. Gossiping about mutual acquaintances, hamming it up and dancing for the camera, talking about their little sisters, doing each other’s hair. To look at them and see broken, used children, teen prostitutes, too far gone to be helped…it really is the loss of everyone who doesn’t give these girls a chance.