Letter to Editor Regarding Last Week's Cover Story Comments on Stories, posted by Margery, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2008 at 1:16 pm
I just read a letter to the editor by Kristin McAfee regarding last week's cover story on two girls who were molested and are trying to help other victims. Children who are molested feel ashamed. This shame keeps them from telling people about the abuse. The shame isolates molestation victims and makes relationships difficult. The shame damages an innocent child's self-esteem. The shame that keeps them from 'telling' also enables the adult criminal to continue molesting other kids. That kid could be your kid.
These two Pleasanton girls are incredibly courageous. They are trying to break a horrible pattern that has been going on for many years before they were born. It is obviously extremely hard for them to do this, look at the cover photo, take a look at their faces and their body language. It's clear that this is extremely painful for them. How many adults in Pleasanton have been molested and would publicize it for the benefit of children suffering today? Molestation victims need to break out of the shame that isolates them, and these two Pleasanton girls are trying to help them to that. They need our support, for the benefit of our children. How many Pleasanton residents are going to write a letter to the editor to support them?
I am beyond proud that I live in the same community as these girls.
Kristin McAfee thinks Pleasanton should be ashamed of that cover. I think it's the best cover the Pleasanton Weekly has ever done and probably will ever do.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Jul 19, 2008 at 9:06 pm
The thread above puzzled me. What was this letter about that caused Jed to write what he wrote. What did Kristin McAfee write that produced the reaction written by Margery?
To find the answer you have to read the paper copy of the PW or the pdf copy. PW does not reproduce the Letters to the Editor in html format, so you cannot quickly reference them. Wonder why not? I suppose they have some feeling that they must make it harder for us to reference them when you desire to respond to the words written by the authors. Strange thinkers.
So, after looking at the cover of last week's PW of two young girls and reading this week's letter, I found, in my opinion, two repugnant statements. The first deals with packing for a family vacation and wanting to take the PW to snap a family picture holding the paper, but not wanting her three children holding the paper (I suppose because these two young girls were molested and therefore ugh...! how terrible if the picture were to ever be published.) The second involves visiting friends who did not find the cover page "very welcoming", but thanks to the existence of Concerts In The Park, they left Pleasanton with a much better feeling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I'm glad they left - hope they stay that way.)
Now I understand Jed's comment. But let me go a little bit further and tie Cholo's and David's comments into this. Simply saying how you will kill the perps does not stop them. They are not stopped because they know that there are many, many Kristin's out there that will bury the ugly facts, sweep it under the rug, hide these things from their children and thus make their children more vulnerable because so many do not want to elevate these things to a proper level of visibility. The perps get away with it because the victims are ostracized by the Kristin's of our society. And they keep silent.
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Jul 20, 2008 at 12:33 pm
I hear what you are saying and I appreciate your comments. However, as a SNAP volunteer,I know many survivor's of clergy abuse. The harm to the survivor's/families outweighs any mercy or compassion that I might otherwise feel. Many Snapster's have forgiven their perps and they do not support the death penalty. Rather, some prefer life in prison without parole.
Posted by Margery, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2008 at 4:23 pm
Frank, Cholo and others, will you please write a letter to the editor in support of the two girls on the cover? I believe their names are Courteny and Alexa. After the letter by Kristin McAfee, these girls need our support. A minimum of 25% of the adults who reside in Pleasanton were molested as children. How many are as brave as Courtney and Alexa? How many will write a letter to support them and their work?
Posted by Karen, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2008 at 4:41 pm
Frank, what you have said is so true. Sometimes the children who have been molested are ostracized by their own families. Yes, in the year 2008 and in the United States of America. We're not talking about Afghanistan here.
One of the girls (not one of the two on the cover) molested by this creep, said in an interview that her father now treated her differently. I can't even express in words how cruel that is. She, a little girl, is violated by an adult male, and another adult male, the most influential one in her life, her own father, blames her, sees her as 'bad'.
This child's path to adulthood has been paved by these two men. It is a path of shame, guilt. fear and distrust.
Posted by Margery, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2008 at 8:27 pm
Their names are Courtney and Alexa. Okay, Pleasanton, are you a community of people of character, or a bunch of Kristins? Please write a letter to the editor in support of the work Alexa and Courtney are doing. It will help children who are alone and afraid to tell. Take that issue with you on vacation and have your picture taken with it, then send it in to the weekly. Supporting Courtney and Alexa means you are reaching out to kids living with abuse.
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Jul 21, 2008 at 5:32 pm
Margery...I suggest that Courtney and Alexa contact SNAP. It is a wonderful group that works closely with survivors of sexual abuse. Go to the SNAP web page cited above and make contact. They respond quickly. SNAP will put you in contact with other survivors. Courtney & Alexa would benefit by being involved with a group of other survivors, male & female, and their families & friends.
Margery, consider backing off Plutonians, they might not know what to do. It might also be helpful for you to also attend a SNAP support group so that you can know that you will all receive the support that you need at this time. Here's a a great big hug...take care!
Posted by Grace, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Jul 21, 2008 at 6:18 pm
Actually, I think that both Margery and Cholo have some good points. As Cholo says, a support group for both abuse survivors and for those who want to know more about how to support someone who has experienced and lived through abuse is a very good idea.
Margery, though, has another good point and a nice, thoughtful challenge for the rest of the readers who support the idea of surviving sexual abuse, but who have not chimed in on the topic: take that issue of the PW with you on your travels, use it as your cover of choice for your group photo, perhaps even write "Thank you" or "We believe" in felt pen across the photo, then send it in as your submission. What is there to feel shamed about? For every girl who is abused by an adult acquaintance in a position of trust and who comes forward, there are scores of others who live in silence and feel the pain and shame the rest of their lives.
Margery is right; as a community of character, what better way to show it than by supporting young women who seek to end the secret cycle? It doesn't make us a less attractive community, it makes us all the more honest. This happens in EVERY town in America, so why not speak up to protect our most precious treasures?
Margery, the person that you want to contact via email is the National Outreach Director, Barbara Dorris. She will provide information and refer you to a SNAP person in your area. Click on the above and it will take you to her email address.
If anybody else want to make contact with SNAP, the Outreach Director is a very good place to start. Good Luck...you are not alone.
SNAP works with survivor's from many different faiths and those that follow no particular spiritual path.
Posted by Concerned Mom, a member of the Harvest Park Middle School community, on Jul 22, 2008 at 5:02 pm
I read the letter written by Kristin McAfee. I think the Pleasanton Weekly should not have printed that letter, Kristin seems more concerned with what her friends think of Pleasanton than with the well being of kids in Pleasanton (as a mom, I appreciate the story and the courage of both girls to go public).
Pleasanton is not the only place where sexual abuse has taken place...... many communities like Los Gatos, Palo Alto for instance have had their share of incidents, and they have been well publicized. I am kind of shocked that in Pleasanton, someone would actually complain about the information being made public for the benefit of the community. Who cares if Kristin's friends were upset about the Pleasanton Weekly cover? We do not need people like that to move into this town, so maybe they should go look elsewhere - and good luck finding a safer town than this!
Posted by MainStreetDiva, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Jul 22, 2008 at 5:31 pm
I am disappointed with the attitude of Kristin McAfee; as others have noted, she appears too worried about "what others will think" of our town, instead of applauding these brave girls in coming forward and publicly shining a revealing light on what is usually a dark, hidden topic.
Kristin's letter emphasizes the immaturity of her attitude as a sharp contrast against the bravery of the two young girls.
Posted by Margery, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jul 22, 2008 at 6:39 pm
Dear Concerned Mom and MainStreetDiva, would you consider writing a letter to the editor (you can do it via email on this site) in support of Alexa and Courtney? It would be nice to counter last week's effects. The girls have a website, www.achefoundation , where you can read posts by other children who have been molested. How these children are helping each other is beautiful.
25%, minimum, of all children are molested, and we adults tolerate ridiculously brief sentences (if they do prison time at all) given to convicted molesters. We pretend knowing where they live means something. "Stranger Danger?" We delude ourselves into believing strangers are the problem. 95% of children are molested by someone they know. Not one of the children who wrote to Alexa and Courney was molested by a stranger. As far as keeping children safe from child molesters, adults have failed children.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Jul 22, 2008 at 8:58 pm
I think the PW has elevated this topic by putting this thread on the front page of the web site. Maybe it will get some more attention in Friday's PW.
I want to re-emphasize a point I made early on. These are children who are completely malleable, vulnerable, and believe whatever adults tell them. So, molestation occurs, most often we read from either family members or family acquaintenances. So, what happens? They feel guilty that it is their fault! I would suppose the perps reinforce this - after all, what would they say to the kid to keep them quiet - it's your fault, kid. So, along come people in our community who find it horrible that it should be publicized that these kids are victims!!! Why is this horrible? What message does this send to the kids? The perp was right after all. Be ashamed you are a victim.
I think the PW was correct in publishing the letter because they chose to run the original story and publish the front page, response to this issue occurred, and the two together define the problem we are facing in our society.
Adults create the problem and other adults unintentionally contribute to its sustenance with a "head in the sand" mentality.
Posted by Stella, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Jul 22, 2008 at 11:09 pm
I was watching a city council meeting recently (maybe in April or May?) on CTV in Pleasanton and a gentlemen trying to open up a business in Pleasanton was explaining to the city council how his arrest for child molestation of one of his students in Dublin was a false accusation. He was picking up kindergarten students to take them to an all day after school program.
I called our city the next day and found out that the city does not require background checks nor do they any sort of checking on the background of people to open a business where you are with children. You can just walk into City Hall and get approved.
I had no idea this was the case. Dublin does checks. This city does not.
I then called a friend about this who is a teacher with PUSD who knows all about businesses and opening businesses. She said that Ann Fox from one of the city commissions used to try to find out if businesses opening in Pleasanton related to children have operated in other cities, then got the records from those cities if she could. She would go and do a FOIA (Freedom of INformation Act) request to check out what had happened. It used to be that businesses trying to open up in the city related to children had to go through a city commission.
BUT she said the Mayor and City Council in Pleasanton changed the zoning rules last year so now the city commission (it is called the planning commission) has no idea these businesses are opening. Now anyone can go into the City Hall and open up a business related to children within 5 minutes with what is called an 'over the counter' on the spot approval. So the bottom line is that no one is doing checks anymore in Pleasanton.
The person in the article (Shawler) could walk into Pleasanton city hall tomorrow and open another gymnastics school right here in Pleasanton and Pleasanton, the parents and kids would never know.
Scary, but true.
I'll bet this is one of the reason the Weekly did the article and cover story. They probably know what is happening.
Posted by Stella, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Jul 23, 2008 at 11:54 am
For Brian in Foothill Farms, I am actually right, but it didn't used to be that way. You can get over the counter approvals for any type of children-related instruction or school or recreational facility or tutoring business in many zoned areas in Pleasanton since April 2007. Call city hall like I just did and they will tell you this is true. I found out it is actually called this--
PRZ-37, City of Pleasanton " Introduce an ordinance approving amendments to Chapter 18 of the Pleasanton Municipal Code to allow schools and tutoring and recreational facilities in various districts."
Posted by Brian, a resident of the Foothill Farms neighborhood, on Jul 23, 2008 at 12:52 pm
I stand corrected, though neither you nor I are completely right. You can only get over the counter approval for a tutoring or school facility with under 20 students, provided certain criteria are met. Pleasanton's hands are tied with regard to childcare facilities with less than 8 children - they must be approved per the state. Anything else related to children does not get over the counter approval.
PRZ-37 was the zoning amendment designation. Now the designation is PMC 18.44.090 Permitted and conditional uses.
Posted by Anne, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Jul 23, 2008 at 1:24 pm
This is my first posting on this site but I felt I needed to comment on this subject. I did read the letter that Kristin McAfee wrote in last Friday's PW and I was shocked (naive) that people still think that way. Pleasanton is a wonderful town to live in. I was at the concert in the park last Friday, and I did go home feeling thankful that I live here but please..... we are just like any other small or large town in America. We have our share of problems (look at the tragedies we have endured in the past year alone) and for people like Kristin to be in denial and bury her head in the sand is beyond me. Thankyou girls for coming forward with your story. God bless you and I will keep you both in my prayers.
The Chamber of Commerce pushed through the code changes for commercial businesses related to children in Pleasanton to eliminate review of these permits. I know because I was a friend of Juanita Haugen and she told me about it (and she was livid this was happening, by the way).
I don't understand why commercial businesses for children aren't required to go through any screening anymore. I'm also looking at the city web pages and Fox on the Planning Commission is the only one to vote against this change. She wanted to keep the current screening process in place. Unless I'm missing something, everyone else voted to eliminate screening including at the city council level.
I'm a member of the Chamber and it's time to cancel my membership.
Sacrificing our kids and endangering their safety in order for a misguided goal to make it really easy for commercial businesses related to children to open within Pleasanton is nonsense.
Posted by Jamie, a resident of the Foxborough Estates neighborhood, on Jul 23, 2008 at 3:30 pm
Evan, I'm sorry to say that your age doesn't mean anything. If you read facts about child molestation, there are many instances of a teenager molesting a younger child. In my own family, when my mother was a child she was molested by a male teenage neighbor. My cousin, who was about 6 at the time, was molested by her teenage stepbrother. In Goldie Hawn's autobiography, she writes about being molested as a little girl by a teenager who entered her bedroom during a party at her house.
Posted by Concerned Mom, a member of the Harvest Park Middle School community, on Jul 25, 2008 at 11:11 pm
I thought about this, and I just do not want my name on the PW about this.... not a selfish move, but there is a sex offender in my neighborhood, and yes, I did contact the Pleasanton Police and the Alameda County Sheriff about it (yes, I gave my real name and phone number) .... I see this creep almost on a daily basis.. Response from the Police and County: nothing they can do, no law the guy is breaking....... Anyway, I do not want my name published, since I do have kids and do worry about their safety, especially when the police tells me there is nothing they can do... the creeps have rights.
So I will not write a letter to the editor, but please know that I am greatful to these girls for coming forward, and I hope the PW continues to do right by our community and publish all relevant information, even if the Kristin's out there complain.
As for Kristin and all those who may agree with her: be real, and realize that those of us with young children are more concerned with the safety of our kids than with keeping up appeareances. And please, write a letter to your representatives in Sacramento, and tell them just how important it is to: 1) keep prop. 83, AND 2) enforce it in a retroactive way
Posted by Doo Doo, a resident of the Valley Trails neighborhood, on Jul 28, 2008 at 12:02 pm
I have a question for the Concerned Mom. As a parent of two and a happy Pleasanton resident, I'm with you when it comes to hating the sex offenders. Anyways, my question is...what were you looking for, from the police and the sheriff?? What was this man going to be arrested or taken away for? Was your plan...to have him hauled off for having a criminal HISTORY... really? As a protective parent, I can kinda see where your concern comes from, but your detachment from reality concerns me...After prison, they pretty much have the same rights as a real human being. Same as murders and rapist(yes, they do get released too.)
Just because you found his face and profile on a web-site doesn't mean that he's the only one around you. Most of these perverts don't get documented. You gotta assume that anyone can be a threat. Its up to US parents to watch over our own children. Make a vow to your kids to protect them...then DO IT. Talk to them, teach them to "stay close to you" and "don't talk to stangers" and never trust anyone 100% ...if that person isn't you...
Some can say I'm over doing it.... but I KNOW my kids are safe right know, and I'm preparing them to protect themselves in the future... there's peace of mind in that....you know.
Posted by Concerned Mom, a member of the Harvest Park Middle School community, on Jul 28, 2008 at 10:58 pm
Thanks Margery. I appreciate it.
Doo Doo: my concern is that a sex offender lives less than 1/4 mile from an elementary school and walks a dog on school grounds. We are on break right now, but school resumes soon. The county said that being on school grounds was an arrestable offense, but that they could not enforce it, that the Pleasanton Police needed to do so. The Pleasanton Police said it was not an arrestable offense (that it depends on the specifics of each case which they are not allowed to discuss with the public).
You ask about my plan: I had none (other than lobby hard to keep existing laws like prop. 83, to lobby to make it retroactive, and lobby to have a better way to deal with sex offenders - like life in prison)...as far as the police: I only wanted them to make sex offenders STAY AWAY from the elementary school (especially those sex offenders convicted of crimes against minors, who may be in the habit of hanging around the school on a regular basis), so that they cannot be in close contact with little kids, that is not too much to ask. No registered sex offender should be allowed to freely hang around SCHOOL GROUNDS.
Children should come first, and school grounds SHOULD BE OFF LIMITS to these creeps.
Do I teach my kids how to be safe? Of course, but unlike you, I do not assume that it will make it all better - at any time, any child can become a victim - they are, after all, little kids, and not as strong as an adult who
1) weighs quite a bit more than they do
2) who already has a criminal history and has been successful
subjecting a child to sexual abuse.
Sex offenders should NOT BE ALLOWED to be near children, because no child should be put at risk, and there is no guarantee that a sex offender will not hurt someone again. Again, the safety of children should be first, and laws need to protect the kids and the victims, not the sex offenders.
Posted by Margery, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jul 29, 2008 at 10:14 am
By the way, I wasn't referring to Concerned Mom's efforts to keep this creep off school grounds, just the general 'let them return to society but we'll keep an eye on them' crap that passes for protecting our children from predators.
Life in prison without possibility of parole is what they deserve.
Posted by Doo Doo, a resident of the Valley Trails neighborhood, on Jul 29, 2008 at 10:37 am
WOW.... Somebody has awakened the BEAST.... all those CAPITAL letters ...Look, it just wasn't clear in your previous note which read only "not a selfish move, but there is a sex offender in my neighborhood, and yes, I did contact the Pleasanton Police and the Alameda County Sheriff about it." You sounded a bit irrational, thats all. Now...now.. you went and made yourself look like an angry person. But, be honest with yourself, you did get set off a easy huh? I mean , am I the enemy? I'm a loving devoted father of two who is very active in my childrens development ... and now I'm sitting here defending my parenting skills to...to...YOU? I don't want to be your on-line "adversary", and have you beat me up with your CAPITAL letters and such. And thanks for yelling my point back at me, wasn't it me who first said "anyone can be a threat"?...Well, This has already went off course, so I'll just apologize for writing on your own personal community forum "Concerned Mom".... Thanks for making Pleasanton feel nice and welcoming ..
Posted by Beatrice, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jul 29, 2008 at 4:24 pm
Jeez, you have issues, as anyone who would choose such a moniker would. Concerned Mom's anger is with the situation she is in per this child molesting criminal. It is clear that's where her anger lies, and it is justified. That you would take it personally, as if she's angry at you and yelling at you, is strange. I hope Concerned Mom doesn't even bother to reply to that strange rant.
Posted by Doo Doo, a resident of the Valley Trails neighborhood, on Jul 29, 2008 at 5:54 pm
I HAVE ISSUES? Thats really interesting... Are you telling me that she had no amimosity towards me? Are you being serious, or are you being a smart ass....I can't tell. (Damn, ..and your calling ME strange.)
So, let me get this straight... Beatrice, if that IS your real name? You read my thoughts above and you literally couldn't stop yourself from responding to me. I must have a way with words....or a way with bitter housewives....(I can't tell yet)
I have to say...I feel attacked in here...I think the attitude coming from you guys is alittle uncalled for....I just wanted to clarify with 'concerned mom" about a previous call to the police. She answered me intelligently ...AND NOW... I have her bodygaurd mocking my name and telling her to ignore me? I'm not sure why your interested in things that don't concern you...
Look if it will make you girls feel any better...I'll find this guy and have a little "talk" with him and make sure he CAN"T walk down that street...I'm a man and maybe nobody has ever told him that he's not wanted in this town......
LOOK I'm just as disqusted as you guys on the subject... but your bitterness towards me is misplaced....And I'll leave you with these words of advice... "where ever you go......there you are"...
PS..I'll have you know that DOO DOO is my Christian name, and I'll appriciate if you don't make fun of it....
Posted by Can't believe it, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Jul 29, 2008 at 10:21 pm
This thread is about two brave young ladies who are trying to help others that may be in a similar situation! My hat is off to them. Why don't we get back to the young ladies, and not use the thread to attack each other. I admire and respect them for what they have done, Additionally, too many Pleasanton parents bury their head. This is not Disneyland. Our community is part of the real world. Lots of "things" happen, and what these young ladies have done amazes me. Many of whom who wrote in this thread need to focus on real issues. Why do so many people use the PW forums to complain about everything????