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The Hidden Horrors

October 2, 2012

Although slavery is illegal throughout the world, it is not uncommon for countries to participate in this outrageous practice. The capturing of human beings is not an issue of the past; rather, it is an issue hidden away from the public eye. Unfortunately, an estimated 27 million human beings still live as slaves throughout the world.

When I initially began conducting my research on modern day slavery, I assumed slaves only lived in other parts of the world. However, I was amazed to find that there are slaves everywhere, with many of them living in close proximity to every day Americans. Every waking moment of the day, slaves are in America, blending in with the average citizen. A slave is not an African American picking cotton back in the 1800s. Even though lots of Americans picture slaves as the hard workers on the field, slaves today are hard workers in common jobs. Many of them don’t look like a “typical” slave. By definition from The Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a slave is a person who is compelled into service by another

Under U.S. law, the term slave has the same definition as a trafficked person or trafficking victim. A person who works for no pay can also be defined as a slave. There are many others who work in factories, mines, or single-family homes without any pay. A slave can be born, sold, tricked, coerced, or beaten into his or her position. I thought the ratification of the 13th amendment in 1865 supposedly ended slavery in America, but I was incredibly mistaken. While the average person is living comfortably in America, many innocent human beings are being enslaved and forced to live in their capturer’s quarters, which usually, is filthy and not suitable to live in. Regardless of the cruelty that results from the issue of slavery in America, the average citizen doesn’t even stop to think about it.

As sad and heartbreaking as it is, slaves don’t have any way to escape and Americans are not there to help. A slave is forced to work, threatened with violence if he or she tries to leave, and is not given any compensation beyond the food and clothes they need to survive and continue to work. Today, slavery is rarely state-sponsored, meaning; states do not want to get involved with the issue. Human trafficking often involves organized crime groups who make tons of money at the expense of trafficking victims. It doesn’t register with a typical American citizen that a slave could be someone who is overworked at home, having to do physical labor from sun rise to sun set.

There have not been many efforts to end modern day slavery from people in authority. President Bush said, “America will not pretend that the jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies”. Yet, for millions of people entrapped each year in vicious schemes of labor and sex trafficking, freedom is denied. These trafficking victims are deprived of their most basic human rights and fall into modern-day slavery. There are only 30 to 40 slavery specialists in American law enforcement yet there are 17,000 both murdered and trafficked into the US every year. To emphasize, slavery is something still happening today, in our country. Traffickers may assert psychological control and dependence through fear, acts of violence, confiscate identification or travel documents, cut off a victim’s contact with family and friends, or may threaten a slave with deportation. The government and US citizens need to become more aware of their surroundings and the influence slavery still has on people today. Right now, thousands are feeling trapped with nowhere to escape. We need to become more informed and alert about slavery. To join the fight against slavery, visit . Slavery is thriving in America and it’s an issue that should not be avoided.


Cens*rsh*p *n Sch**ls

October 2, 2012

Caroline Silverman

Professor Johnson

ENG 101-P04


Cens*rsh*p *n Sch**ls

“Freedom [is] to be a round peg in a square hole.” Ironically, those words- written by Aldous Huxley in 1932’s Brave New Word- while most definitely true, come from the same source as one of the literary works most cited today as one of the best portrayals of the confinements of today’s society.

For hundreds of years, censorship of the press, government, judicial, religious and educational systems has been prevalent throughout history. In fact, most people today consider censorship (beyond that of explicit content, that is)  to be a thing of the past- especially here in America. The truth of the matter however, is that censorship continues to be extremely prevalent in everyday life. On a national level for example, the covers of the popular news rag TIME Magazine have had numerous covers run specifically for the United States, while the rest of the global receivers of the publication receive a separate (and unified) cover. Source

So how is it that these notions of censorship continue on national media levels without most of the country giving the topic any conscious thought? Because from a young age, censorship in schools has continued to mentally adhere us to the idea of restricted sources, images and actions by administrative bodies. My blog will discuss on censorship in schools with a specific focus on its various media, the effects on students and how to resolve the issue of censorship.

Several issue we all find annoyances with in school include internet restrictions and

dress code. Beyond the normal confines of “the dollar bill rule” and “no tank tops” are more serious and political restriction such as in the case of Tinker v. Des Moines. In 1968 three public school  students in Iowa were suspended for wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam war, despite the fact that there were no disturbances being caused by these students. This issue  sparked national controversy and was taken to the Supreme Court  later in the year, ultimately resulting in a decision that while coinciding with the fourteenth amendment on paper is easily overcome by school boards.  In addition to clothing restrictions, many school students also face limitations within classroom learning and even the content of the news being shown in class, depending on the personal views of the teacher in question. Educationally, teachers are often restricted by the school district in charge to steer clear of many topics within teaching- a prime example of this being creationism v. evolution being discussed in science classes. This restriction, presumably in place to avoid offense or disrespect to any one student while intended well is really more of a hindrance than a help. The fact of the matter is that in the “real world”  beyond school, things that some individuals might find offensive will not simply be omitted from everyday life. Especially something as pertinent as the theory of evolution in a science class. Similarly, many of the news broadcasts shown in classrooms often show a diluted and considerably less controversial headlines in the news. While it is understood that as a school program the broadcast is a considerably shorter length, there is relevance to the fact that several important national and global topics are often left out despite the importance they may have.

In addition to many of these more modern notions, controversial books have been causing a stir since the middle ages. With the concept of banned books being introduced by the Catholic Church several hundred years ago, the list of books to have received the tag have only become more varied in time. From children’s novels such as the Harry Potter series to more conceptually controversial works like the earlier mentioned Brave New World the interest of said books seems to have only increased after the banning, unfortunately for those advocating the book restrictions.Source

The effects of these actions however, is possibly more detrimental than any other factor associated with these restrictions. As stated by Supreme Court Justice William Douglas “Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us”. Much of the banned content of these novels, for example, is extremely common in everyday life. Profanity, sexual content, religious intoleration, racial slurs, drug use, violence, homosexual activity are all cited as common reasons to restrict books in the public secondary school system. I however, would argue that once the individual reaches the secondary school level that it would be important for them to be exposed to these ideas if they had not prior, before entering into an environment that will not prevent them from exposure to these things. Especially more frightening is the lack of importance or even recognition of this issue that most teens in the nation seem to have in regard to this watered down version of their education.

    As for what can be done to resolve this national issue, some might wonder the most prevalent method would be thought for change. This coupled with a greater thirst for knowledge and exploration into the daily news and literature of the past would be the most successful method. If you want more information on the fight of censorship, feel free to visit here.

While every second hand piece of information is censored in some way it is the conscious decision to restrict the information being given to the future generations is the most unsettling part of this issue. Despite this truth, each individual can overcome the issues of censorship independently, if not within a classroom setting.

Fight Poster-

Black band picture- Source

Life Before Your Time

October 2, 2012

Life Before Your Time
Alexis Lee

When someone catches wind of an elderly person developing health issues, it is always a somber time. Heart disease, stroke, arthritis are common health problems that senior citizens develop, but what happens when toddlers and young children develop these issues? This is a fatal disease that is called Progeria. There is still no cure for this horrific disease, but raising awareness on Progeria to fund testing could not only save young children’s lives that will be taken too soon, but also could possibly save millions of lives of the elderly.
Progeria or formally called Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (also called HGPS) is a rare, fatal genetic disease. It causes toddler and children to develop health issues that normally elderly people would have. Usually around eighteen to twenty-four months a child with Progeria will have growth failure, loss of body fat and hair, aged looking sign, stiffness of joints, hip dislocation, generalized atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and can possibly have a stroke. Children with progeria also have narrow faces, macrocephaly (large head for body size), micrographic or small jaw, and a limited range of motion. Children that have unfortunately developed Progeria die at an average age of thirteen years old from atherosclerosis or cardiovascular disease. Basically a child with progeria is an elderly person trapped in a child’s body.
More often times than not when I ask a person about progeria they give me a puzzled look. Many people are left in the dark about what this disease actually is. It could be that there are not that many children that are affected by this diease, but with no rhythm or reason behind who is infected with this disease it should add more fuel to the fire to spread awareness on it. Progeria is not passed through families, so any child can develop it. As of right now the Progeria Research Foundation is launching the first ever clinical drug trail for progeria. Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome was discovered in 1897, we are just now doing drug test for it.
Children with progeria die for natural causes that the elderly would die from. Not only could testing and finding a cure help Progeria patients, but could also help the elderly that are experiencing the same conditions that children with HGPS are too. Funding and testing for progeria could help find a cure for atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, help prevent stroke, and all things that could help save so many lives. Raising awareness on progeria and help getting people active on the war against progeria could help save so many lives. Not only funding for testing, but simply things like starting support groups for families that have a child with progeria could help these and families and kids beyond anyone’s measure.
Simply raising awareness and telling people about progeria could possibly help save lives. Donating a few dollars here and there, looking up fundraisers to attend that benefit children with progeria could help so much. With so much that is still unknown about this mysterious disease, any little thing could help these children, families, and the elderly so much. With an average lifespan of thirteen years, it is crucial that we must create funding for testing now because the time that a progeria patient has is dwindling away at the speed of light.

Someday I’ll Make a Movie That Will Change Lives

October 2, 2012

McCall Cannon

Professor Johnson

Eng 101


“I know how this feels: the tightening of the chest, the panic, the what-have-I-done-wait-I-was-kidding. Eating disorders linger so long undetected, eroding the body in silence, and then they strike. The secret is out. You’re dying” (Marya Hornbacher, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia). Bulimia Nervosa is a serious eating disorder that can wreak havoc on the body and is too common in today’s world. It takes girls, young and old, from their families, but one family has decided to fight back and inform the world about how deadly Bulimia can be.

This family is the Avrin family. They lost a wonderful daughter to this disorder and Judy Avrin decided that she would fulfill her daughter’s dream of making a film that made a difference in people’s lives. Today this family has helped create a web page and movie in honor of their daughter that is dedicated to helping people with bulimia.

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder. This disorder affects mostly women and is categorized by bingeing and purging. Bingeing is when bulimics eat excessive amounts of food in a short period of time. “People with bulimia eat huge quantities of food, sometimes up to 20,000 calories at a time.” (Health A-Z) Most of the time these are comfort foods; such as ice cream, candy, or food with high calories. Purging is when they get rid of that food by either vomiting, using laxatives, fasting, or extreme exercising. Most bulimics start bingeing and purging in their teens or early twenties. Most bulimics know that their eating habits are not normal, but they feel out of control. They are unable to control how much they eat and when they stop. All of these extreme measures are to control weight, although most bulimics are of normal weight or only slightly overweight.

The symptoms of this disease can be hard to detect. The symptoms are bingeing and purging, extreme concern about weight, irregular menstrual periods, and depression. (Jennifer Lamb) Other physical symptoms are swollen cheeks or glands, dental problems, heartburn and swelling of the stomach. There are many small dangers involved with bulimia, and in some cases there can even be potentially fatal health consequences. (Tish Davidson) Bingeing and purging are what cause most of the damage. “In rare cases bingeing can cause the stomach to break open.” (Bulimia nervosa sick! Diseases and disorders) Purging deprives the body of necessary nutrients, such as potassium, which can cause heart failure. Vomiting is also a problem because it brings up strong stomach acid, which can burn the digestive tract, the mouth, and the lips. Bulimia is not just a mental disease; it can cause major health issues too.
The diagnosis of bulimia can be difficult. People with bulimia normally hide their disorder and are in a normal weight range. They purge in private or leave the water running in the bathroom to prevent others from finding out. The first step to a diagnosis is to get a full body exam to check for the outward signs of bulimia. Next, the doctor can take blood tests that will show if purging has caused you to be dehydrated or depleted of electrolytes or other significant nutrients. Then, the doctor can perform a psychological test to determine if any other disorders are present. Finally, to truly be diagnosed with bulimia, a person has to have several eating binges at least twice a week for three months. (Harvard Children’s Health). The diagnoses is never clear-cut though and there is no test that can tell for sure if someone is bulimic, there are multiple things that have to be considered.

Bulimia is a complex disorder that has many different causes. There are social, psychological, hereditary, and biological factors involved. (Bulimia nervosa mai tran). There are studies that show heredity can be a factor in having bulimia. This factor is very small, but having a family member that had bulimia, such as a mother or sister, does increase a person’s chance of having bulimia. In addition, if there is a family history of depression, alcoholism, or obesity, it can heighten the chances of developing the disorder. (Relay Clinical Education) Another factor in developing bulimia is biological makeup. There has been evidence that low serotonin levels in the brain can contribute to bulimia because serotonin helps the brain know when a person is full and needs to stop eating. Neurotransmitter problems can also cause depression, which is linked with bulimia. Psychological factors can also affect if a person develops bulimia. Research has shown that certain personality types are more susceptible to bulimia. Bulimics tend to have poor impulse control and get involved in risky things. They often have low self-esteem and need the approval of others to feel good about themselves. Most feel ashamed after bingeing and purging and swear they will quit, until the next time they have the impulse to binge and purge. Social factors are also a big contributor to bulimia. The families of bulimics normally have a lot of conflict and disorder. There is often something stressful that triggers the need to start bingeing and purging, it could be a family member teasing about weight, how a person eats, comparing them to someone thin; or a life event like moving, starting a new school, or breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. The media is also a major problem because it projects it’s ideals that you have to be thin to be beautiful and successful and that fat people are ugly and failures in life.

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that plagues many young women and men in the United States. It’s symptoms are sometimes hard to detect making it even more of a danger, but there are people who are trying to raise awareness of this deadly disorder. The Avrin family is just one example of this. If just one person is helped by the Avrin’s efforts, then their hard work will not be in vain.

Animals Are People Too!

October 2, 2012

He was once outside with his family, playing catch, running for the ball and rolling around in the front yard. Then he was moved to another home where life wasn’t that good for him. He was beaten, starved, and left outside in the heat and cold. He didn’t understand why or who could do such a thing, he was just a little puppy. It took months and months till someone finally realized what was going on. It was almost too late but he finally got out of his home that wasn’t a home to him. He was scared from head to toe, with ticks crawling all over him, biting at what was left of his skin. All he wanted was the love that he had before and he couldn’t understand what he did to deserve what he received. Luck never used the restroom inside, never tore up the house, and still didn’t understand why his family gave him up. But now he is out of the cruel home that he was in and hoping to be put back together and find another loving home.

My Heart Beats Just like Yours
In the United States animal abuse is a major problem that vets, animal rescue, and states are trying to put a stop to. ASPCA released statistics dealing with the amount of animal problems in the United States.  In 2011, over 5,000 dogs and cats have been involved in an abusive home and most of them never made it out alive. In the state of South Carolina last year the animal rescue took 254 dogs out of homes. One of the cases they came upon, a lady had 35 dogs and 54 cats that weren’t fed in over a week, never had their shots, and never had the attention an animal needs. Even though animal abuse is a major problem and effects more people then realized, there are no major laws to helping save animals. Most time animal rescue gives the owner a warning first, instead of removing the animal, and if nothing is done then the animal(s) are removed. The owner can receive jail time but it only depends on how bad the case is. The women in South Carolina with all the animals never received jail time just a $1000 ticket. In the United States you can hit an animal and nothing will happen to you but if you hit a human you will be in jail. Animals have a heart, a brain, legs, and feelings just like humans but people still think they are just animals. Animal abuse is no different than child abuse. If affects the animal’s life more the owners realized.

I Want To Be Lying In a Soft Bed
If an animal comes into a vets office it normally takes months to get the animal back into the animal it once was and not being so scared and to trust again. And once the dog or cats are put back together they don’t just go into a new loving home. It takes time and months that they might spend in shelters. Human societies are like a jail but with animals instead of humans. With the rate of abuse, animal shelters are becoming overcrowded and don’t have the supplies for all the animals they receive. In the end animals are punished more than anything and they did nothing to deserve the life they have to live. Shelters are small cages, with a little thin towel, small amounts of food, and receive hardly any love like they should Instead of playing out in a big field, running for the ball, swimming in the lake the animals are stuck in this small cage day in and day out. Then when animals don’t get adopted out, the place gets overcrowded and the shelter had a hard time supplying for so many and ask the public for help. They wouldn’t have to ask for help if they would make a bigger deal about animal abuse.

Saving More Animals
If the awareness about animal abuse was broader and had more of an effect if you are caught harming an animal I believe the rate of animal abuse would go down. No animal should ever have to live getting beat, starve, and stuck in a shelter. People freak out when they hear children are being harmed but don’t seem to care when they hear about an animal dealing with the same thing but sometimes worse. Animal abuse will always be a problem but limiting the number would not only help animals but the shelters and the communities. If the rate keeps rising then more animals will begin dying and possibly losing certain types of animals. Its time animals are treated right and PETA is helping people understand how animlas need our help and how we can help. Every animal can be a smart, loving, family animal but it all depends on how people raise them and show them respect. It kills me seeing animals hurt and ache for a place they can call their home and if I had the money I would adopt every animal is the world. A dog can become a human’s best friend, someone that will always be there for you, cuddly with you, and always keep your secrets. The only difference with animals and humans are that animals bark or meow but that is there language of talking like English is our language of speaking. All animals want are loving homes and humans can help that happen.

Teen Suicide-You’re Not Alone

October 2, 2012

Allison Dunsford
ENG 101
Alyssa Johnson
Teen Suicide-You’re Not Alone

Understanding why someone would want to take their own life is always very hard. Until you have been someone who has attempted suicide, thought about suicide, or have dealt with the loss of someone through suicide, you will never fully understand its effects

Teenagers today have a completely different perspective of suicide based on the alarming rate of teen suicides that continues to rise. For instance:

*Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in 15-24 year olds.
*60 percent of all suicides in the US are committed with a gun
*at least 25 attempts are made for every completed suicide
*Girls think and attempt suicide twice as often as boys usually through cutting or overdose, but boys die four times as often by using more lethal forms of suicide attempt such as hanging, jumping, or using firearms.
*Most teens who have attempted suicide sat that it was because they wanted to escape from a situation that seemed impossible to deal with, such as sexual orientation, unplanned pregnancy, or the death of a loved one.
*For more information on risk factors, prevention, and causes for teen suicide, go to

For Bill Clayton, sexual orientation was the situation that seemed impossible to deal with. Dealing with bisexuality from a young age caused him grief in high school. After being a victim of sexual abuse at the age of 14, Bill’s suicidal thoughts begun. Through counseling and support of his family, he slowly started to get over the assault. Then Bill was involved in a hate crime that severely bruised and beat him and his best friend up over his bisexuality. This crime only worsened his suicidal feelings. After spending ten days in the hospital, his doctors felt that he had gotten over his suicidal thoughts. Bill then took a massive overdose which he could not be saved from.

Bill’s family is still dealing with the aftermath of his suicide, but have created a website about Bill’s story that will hopefully be able to give others hope, and be a remembrance for their son.

Many organizations have formed based on the topic of teen suicide. One organization in particular is “To Write Love on Her Arms.” Their focus and vision is “To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.” TWLOHA not only offers hope, but many different forms of suicidal help as well as a clothing store that uses its profits to help those suffering from suicide and depression.

It is evident that teen suicide is not only very real, but a part of an alarmingly growing statistic. Teen suicide is 100 percent preventable with the appropriate help. Depression and suicidal thoughts are also preventable and curable through counseling and treatment.

As a society, it is then our job to let others know they are not alone in order to prevent others from the same feelings thousands of families have already been forced to deal with.

“Did you really want to die?”
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?”
“Because they want to stop the pain.”
―Tiffanie DeBratolo, How to Kill a Rock Star

No one wants to die, so give them something to live for!

Anatomical Philanthropy

October 2, 2012

“Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him.”

              ~Albert Schweitzer

The ever growing need for organ donation is a continuous struggle for life.  Many people are confused on the subject of “anatomical philanthropy.”  Before I decided to research this topic, I was one to ignore the subject and pretend that it didn’t exist.  Wikipedia describes organ donation as “the donation of biological tissue or an organ of the human body, from a living or dead person to a living recipient in need of transplantation” (Organ donor).  So what’s the issue?  Shouldn’t it be a quick, no strings attached process?  This is where people struggle to understand the problems at hand.

Clooney in “The Descendants”

When working with organ donation, there’s one big problem that always comes into play.  The questions surrounding determination of death always seems to be a dilemma.  When a person dies, the whole body doesn’t always die.  There’s a huge difference between brain death and cardiac death.  I can remember an accurate representation of this from the film The Descendants.  In the film, starring George Clooney, the main character faces the painful situation of removing his wife from life support.  The doctor tells him that he has to “get the ball rolling on organ donations.”  As Clooney hears the news, he begins to weep.  Although this is Hollywood’s representation, it’s an exact situation of the controversy surrounding organ donation.  Another interesting cinematic take on the subject is that of the film Seven Pounds.  In this strangely interesting piece, Will Smith plays a character burdened by the consequences of a fatal car accident.  While sending a text message at the wheel, Smith’s character crashed the automobile, killing his fiancee and six strangers.  Because of this, Smith goes on a secret journey to save the lives of seven other people.  Through seven separate donations, Smith successfully ends his life while securing his organs for transplantation.  This is a strange outlook on the topic; but, it’s definitely a nice take on the moral obligation to organ donation.

It’s also refreshing to take a brief look into how the process works.  Each state has its own donation programs.  Most of them work in the same way.  One of South Carolina’s donation services is called Donate Life South Carolina.  The agreement made through these organizations essentially causes one’s organs to be donated immediately after death.  Depending on the health of the individual, one person can save or improve up to ten lives.  The eligible organs include the heart, kidneys  and lungs.  Other tissues include corneas, heart valves, and bones.  The websites make donation out to be a very appealing process.  They include elements like statistics and testimonials to tug on peoples heart strings (pun intended).

It’s sad either way you look at it.  How is it really fair to guilt people into organ donation?  These organizations create a powerful moral obligation, which after registration, becomes a powerful legal obligation.  I remember the first time that I was filling out an application for my learner’s permit.  I thought, “Why wouldn’t I be an organ donor?”‘, so I marked a check in the box.  I’m not quite sure if I really agree with organ donation.  Most people argue that the quality of life after brain death is so low that it’s really not worth keeping the patient alive.  the truth of the matter is that we don’t really know what goes on in the mind of a patient within a comma.  I know that medical evidence proves that the brain lacks any sort of thought process; but, how can we really know?

Honestly, I don’t really know that I have an opinion with one side or the other; but, I do believe in giving people the opportunity to make these decisions themselves.  The websites and charities strongly support organ donation and encourage the process.  I understand this just fine; but, what’s the right thing to do in this situation?  Do you continue to give people the puppy-dog effect and make them think they’re a superhero, or do you get down to the cold hard facts and be honest?  I’m sure that I will one day face the reality of situations like these.  It could be my life; it could be the life of another.  Only time will tell.  Maybe I’ll turn to find someone who needs me.