Empowered Birthing Childbirth Education - Growing Understanding, Trust, & Confidence
March 2012
Herstory Tells The Story
Women have been trying to control their fertility since the beginning of time. Some of the oldest contraception efforts include hollowing out lemons to serve as a diaphragm, packing the vagina with animal dung, and wearing animal parts around the neck.
Margaret Sanger began to fight for contraception education in the early 1900’s. As a nurse, Sanger would visit women who, because of many pregnancies and large families, were in ill health. Many did die. Why didn’t these women plan their pregnancies? Because their access to contraceptive information and devices was restricted by the Comstock Laws, passed in 1873.  This law made it illegal to send any "obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious" materials through the mail; contraceptive devices and information were seen as “obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious.” 
Margaret Sanger was imprisoned many times for breaking the Comstock Laws. She finally opened the first birth control clinic opened in 1916. The women came in droves: Sanger and her staff saw 460 women in the span of nine days. After nine days, the clinic was raided and closed. But Sanger did not give up. 
Famously declaring "No woman can call herself free who doesn't own and control her own body,” Margaret Sanger kept up her fight. In 1923 the first doctor-run birth control clinic was opened and by 1929 there were 54 birth control clinics in the United States.
Women continued their fight. In 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court case, Griswold v. Connecticut, found it unconstitutional for states to restrict contraception for married couples because of the U.S. Constitution’s implicit guarantee of the right to privacy. In 1972,Eisenstadt v Baird extended to right to privacy to single adults, stating “it would be unreasonable to make the birth of an unwanted child a punishment for fornication.” And finally, in 1977, with the Carey v Population Services International case the Supreme Court found that minors had the right to gain access to contraception.
It amazes me that as a nation we are still debating the right for women to control their own body, their own welfare, and the health of their children. The recent assault on women’s reproductive rights is wrong-headed. Contraception allows women to decide their family size and the spacing of their children. Contraception helps to keep population in check (that’s a whole ‘nother story). Being able to control fertility allows women to enjoy sex without the constant fear of unwanted pregnancy.  Sex is, after all, a vital part of life and love relationships; should anxiety and fear be part of a woman’s sexual life? Contraception also helps women who experience painful periods, endometriosis, irregular periods, severe acne, and other health concerns.
All the Republican presidential candidates are attempting to impose their will on women’s life and health when they promote limiting access to birth control. The answer is found in herstory. Our world is better because of the access women have to birth control.
Kelley J. Wolfe, Ph. D. Clinical Sexologist

Stewards of Children: Empowering people to prevent child sexual abuse

As a Clinical Sexologist, it is my goal to help people become more sexually healthy. In my practice I often work with women who have been sexually abused during their childhood and/or youth. The consequences of such abuse can be devastating and include addiction, eating disorders, teen pregnancy, mental health disorders, delinquency, and sexual problems. Sexual child abuse is prevalent in our society and this will not change until we as adults take overt action.
Research shows that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before their 18 birthdays. Only 10% of child sexual abuse cases are committed by strangers meaning 90% of these incidents involve an adult known by the child and/or the child’s family. This is a chilling statistic and cannot be ignored. As adults, it is our responsibility to protect the children in our community from sexual abuse so that they can grow up to lead healthy productive lives. They are our most precious resource.
Stewards of Children is a revolutionary, research-based sexual abuse prevention training program developed by the non-profit Darkness to Light. It educates adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to the epidemic of child sexual abuse. Adults who participate in Stewards of Children training will learn how sexual abuse affects our communities and about the long-term and often devastating effects that sexual abuse has on individuals. Most importantly, participants will leave with simple, proactive strategies for protecting children from sexual abuse.
The core philosophy of Stewards of Children includes:
  • Adult Responsibility
Adults are better equipped to prevent, recognize, and react responsibility because of their maturity and understanding of physical boundaries. Adults are also the author of public policy and practices that impact children. As adults, we need to hold others accountable and set standards of responsibility. If we model attitudes leading to the resolve of sexual child abuse, others will follow.
  • Community Interaction
Community interaction is essential to uprooting the social taboos that hold child sexual abuse in place. Sexual abuse if fueled by denial, fear, and secrecy. Talking, sharing experiences, and problem solving as a community will help dissolve that denial, fear, and secrecy. Stewards of Children creates an environment where child sexual abuse can be acknowledged and openly discussed, facilitating personal growth and action.
  • Action and Resolve
Knowing that child sexual abuse exists is not enough to protect children. Awareness without action does nothing for a child who is being abused and may reinforce to the child that he/she is alone in their experience. Protection requires action! We must take action through policy and practices that prevent child sexual abuse. People are valuable and people want to be a part of positive change, by working together we can create such change. However, we stay the course in the face of discomfort, uncertainty, or difficulty.
  • Consciousness
Consciousness is being aware and awake to what is going on and to the damage it causes. We must talk about sexuality publicly, we cannot keeping brushing these issues under the rug.
  • Choice
It was Mahatma Gandhi who said “we must become the change we want to see in the world,” this holds true for child sexual abuse. We choose denial, fear, and complacency or we choose action.
  • Personal Power
Personal power begins with the individual; the individual can make a difference. Personal power is the ability to trust ourselves and to act, even when is contrary to the norm of the group. Stewards of Children recognizes that a community’s health is interdependent with the personal power of its individuals. There is no collective growth without persons who are willing to stand-out and take risks.
First Congregational United Church of Christ in downtown Asheville is hosting Darkness to Light's Stewards of Children program on 2 Tuesday of every month from 8:30am – 11:30 am. The training is open to the public and is of specific interest among parents, youth sports organizations / coaches / camp counselors, youth service organizations, teachers / school personnel and faith centers.

Protecting Children From Sexual Child Abuse  

During the last month, WNC has seen a number of child sexual abuse cases reported in the newspaper. Child sexual abuse is not just a bad experience; it wrecks young lives. Child sexual abuse can result in addiction, eating disorders, teen pregnancy, mental health disorders, delinquency and/or sexual problems.  

Statistics say 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by age of 18. According to the US Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice report, in 90% of the incidents of child sexual abuse, the child knows the adult, or the child’s family knows the adult.  

As parent, we cannot let the statistics paralyze us. We must take action. Because adults are responsible for protecting children from sexual abuse it is our responsibility to educate ourselves and advocate for our children. During the three-hour training, Stewards of Children, participants learn how to prevent, recognize, and respond appropriately to child sexual abuse. Participants receive a 38-page workbook that reviews important information that follows up and reinforces what participants will learn in the workshop. The Stewards of Children prevention training program was developed by the non-profit Darkness to Light