10 Facts About Sex They Dont Cover in Sex Ed, but Really Should

Ah, sex education in America. It’s really not the best, is it? Sex Ed teaches you the basic facts, very cut and dry, but it definitely doesn’t teach all the strange, wacky facts about sex you definitely should know. Here are 10 of the best ones.

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Read more: http://twentytwowords.com/facts-about-sex-they-dont-cover-in-sex-ed-but-really-should/

59 Percent of Millennials Raised in a Church Have Dropped OutAnd Theyre Trying to Tell Us Why

By Sam Eaton

Millennials and church don’t seem to mix. The truth is no one has asked me why millennials don’t like church. Luckily, as a public school teacher, I am highly skilled at answering questions before they’re asked. It’s a gift really.

From the depths of my heart, I want to love church.

I want to be head-over-heals for church like the unshakable Ned Flanders.

I want to send global, sky-writing airplanes telling the life-change that happens beneath a steeple. I want to install a police microphone on top of my car and cruise the streets screaming to the masses about the magical Utopian community of believers waiting for them just down the street.

I desperately want to feel this way about church, but I don’t. Not even a little bit. In fact, like much of my generation, I feel the complete opposite.

Turns out I identify more with Maria from The Sound of Music staring out the abbey window, longing to be free.

It seems all-too-often our churches are actually causing more damage than good, and the statistics are showing a staggering number of millennials have taken note.

According to this study (and many others like it) church attendance and impressions of the church are the lowest in recent history, and most drastic among millennials described as 22- to 35-year-olds.

  • Only 2 in 10 Americans under 30 believe attending a church is important or worthwhile (an all-time low).
  • 59 percent of millennials raised in a church have dropped out.
  • 35 percent of millennials have an anti-church stance, believing the church does more harm than good.
  • Millennials are the least likely age group of anyone to attend church (by far).

As I sat in our large church’s annual meeting last month, I looked around for anyone in my age bracket. It was a little like a Titanic search party…

IS ANYONE ALIVE OUT THERE? CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME?

Tuning in and out of the 90-minute state-of-the-church address, I kept wondering to myself, where are my people? And then the scarier question, why I am still here?

A deep-seated dissatisfaction has been growing in me and, despite my greatest attempts to whack-a-mole it back down, no matter what I do it continues to rise out of my wiry frame.

[To follow my publicly-chronicled church struggles, check out my other posts The How Can I Help Project and 50 Ways to Serve the Least of These.]

Despite the steep drop-off in millennials, most churches seem to be continuing on with business as usual. Sure, maybe they add a food truck here or a bowling night there, but no one seems to be reacting with any level of concern that matches these STAGGERING statistics.

Where is the task-force searching for the lost generation? Where is the introspective reflection necessary when 1/3 of a generation is ANTI-CHURCH?

So, at the risk of being excommunicated, here is the metaphorical nailing of my own 12 theses to the wooden door of the American, Millennial-less Church.

1. Nobody’s Listening to Us

Millennials value voice and receptivity above all else. When a church forges ahead without ever asking for our input we get the message loud and clear: Nobody cares what we think. Why then, should we blindly serve an institution that we cannot change or shape?

Solution:

  • Create regular outlets (forums, surveys, meetings) to discover the needs of young adults both inside AND outside the church.
  • Invite millennials to serve on leadership teams or advisory boards where they can make a difference.
  • Hire a young adults pastor who has the desire and skill-set to connect with millennials.

2. We’re Sick of Hearing About Values & Mission Statements

Sweet Moses people, give it a rest.

Of course, as an organization, it’s important to be moving in the same direction, but that should easier for Christians than anyone because we already have a leader to follow. Jesus was insanely clear about our purpose on earth:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

“Love God. Love Others.” Task completed.

Why does every church need its own mission statement anyway? Aren’t we all one body of Christ, serving one God? What would happen if the entire American Church came together in our commonalities and used the same, concise mission statement?

Solution:

  • Stop wasting time on the religious mambo jambo and get back to the heart of the gospel. If you have to explain your mission and values to the church, it’s overly-religious and much too complicated.
  • We’re not impressed with the hours you brag about spending behind closed doors wrestling with Christianese words on a paper. We’re impressed with actions and service.

3. Helping the Poor Isn’t a Priority

My heart is broken for how radically self-centered and utterly American our institution has become.

Let’s clock the number of hours the average church attender [attendee] spends in “church-type” activities. Bible studies, meetings, groups, social functions, book clubs, planning meetings, talking about building community, discussing a new mission statement…

Now let’s clock the number of hours spent serving the least of these. Oooooo, awkward.

If the numbers are not equal please check your Bible for better comprehension (or revisit the universal church mission statement stated above).

“If our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to wonder if Christ is in us at all.” –Radical, David Platt

Solutions:

  • Stop creating more Bible studies and Christian activity. Community happens best in service with a shared purpose.
  • Survey your members asking them what injustice or cause God has placed on their hearts. Then connect people who share similar passions. Create space for them to meet and brainstorm and then sit back and watch what God brings to life.
  • Create group serve dates once a month where anyone can show up and make a difference (and, oh yeah, they’ll also meet new people).

4. We’re Tired of You Blaming the Culture

From Elvis’ hips to rap music, from Footloose to “twerking,” every older generation comes to the same conclusion: The world is going to pot faster than the state of Colorado. We’re aware of the downfalls of the culture — believe it or not, we are actually living in it too.

Perhaps it’s easier to focus on how terrible the world is out there than actually address the mess within.

Solution:

  • Put the end times rhetoric to rest and focus on real solutions and real impact in our immediate community.
  • Explicitly teach us how our lives should differ from the culture. (If this teaching isn’t happening in your life, check out the book Weird: Because Normal Isn’t Working by Craig Groeschel)

5. The “You Can’t Sit With Us” Affect

There is this life-changing movie all humans must see, regardless of gender. The film is, of course, the 2004 classic Mean Girls.

In the film, the most popular girl in school forgets to wear pink on a Wednesday (a cardinal sin), to which Gretchen Weiners screams, “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US!”

Today, my mom said to me, “Church has always felt exclusive and ‘cliquey,’ like high school.” With sadness in her voice she continued, “and I’ve never been good at that game so I stopped playing.”

The truth is, I share her experience. As do thousands of others.

Until the church finds a way to be radically kinder and more compassionate than the world at large, we tell outsiders they’re better off on their own. And the truth is, many times they are.

Solutions:

  • Create authentic communities with a shared purpose centered around service.
  • Create and train a team of CONNECT people whose purpose is to seek out the outliers on Sunday mornings or during other events. Explicitly teach people these skills as they do not come naturally to most of the population.
  • Stop placing blame on individuals who struggle to get connected. For some people, especially those that are shy or struggle with anxiety, putting yourself out there even just once might be an overwhelming task. We have to find ways to bridge that gap.

6. Distrust & Misallocation of Resources

Over and over we’ve been told to “tithe” and give 10 percent of our incomes to the church, but where does that money actually go? Millennials, more than any other generation, don’t trust institutions, for we have witnessed over and over how corrupt and self-serving they can be.

We want pain-staking transparency. We want to see on the church homepage a document where we can track every dollar.

Why should thousands of our hard-earned dollars go toward a mortgage on a multi-million dollar building that isn’t being utilized to serve the community, or to pay for another celebratory bouncy castle when that same cash-money could provide food, clean water and shelter for someone in need?

Solution:

  • Go out of your way to make all financial records readily accessible. Earn our trust so we can give with confidence.
  • Create an environment of frugality.
  • Move to zero-based budgeting where departments aren’t allocated certain dollar amounts but are asked to justify each purchase.
  • Challenge church staff to think about the opportunity cost. Could these dollars be used to better serve the kingdom?

7. We Want to Be Mentored, Not Preached At

Preaching just doesn’t reach our generation like our parents and grandparents. See: millennial church attendance. We have millions of podcasts and Youtube videos of pastors the world over at our fingertips.

For that reason, the currency of good preaching is at its lowest value in history.

Millennials crave relationship, to have someone walking beside them through the muck. We are the generation with the highest ever percentage of fatherless homes.

We’re looking for mentors who are authentically invested in our lives and our future. If we don’t have real people who actually care about us, why not just listen to a sermon from [on] the couch (with the ecstasy of donuts and sweatpants)?

Solutions:

  • Create a database of adult mentors and young adults looking for someone to walk with them.
  • Ask the older generation to be intentional with the millennials in your church.

8. We Want to Feel Valued

Churches tend to rely heavily on their young adults to serve. You’re single, what else do you have to do? In fact, we’re tapped incessantly to help out. And, at its worst extreme, spiritually manipulated with the cringe-worthy words “you’re letting your church down.”

Millennials are told by this world from the second we wake up to the second we take a sleeping pill that we aren’t good enough.

We desperately need the church to tell us we are enough, exactly the way we are. No conditions or expectations.

We need a church that sees us and believes in us, that cheers us on and encourages us to chase our big crazy dreams.

Solutions:

  • Return to point #1: listening.
  • Go out of your way to thank the people who are giving so much of their life to the church.

9. We Want You to Talk to Us About Controversial Issues (Because No One Is)

People in their 20s and 30s are making the biggest decisions of their entire lives: career, education, relationships, marriage, sex, finances, children, purpose, chemicals, body image.

We need someone consistently speaking truth into every single one of those areas.

No, I don’t think a sermon-series on sex is appropriate for a sanctuary full of families, but we have to create a place where someone older is showing us a better way because these topics are the teaching millennials are starving for. We don’t like how the world is telling us to live, but we never hear from our church either.

Solutions:

  • Create real and relevant space for young adults to learn, grow and be vulnerable.
  • Create an opportunity for young adults to find and connect with mentors.
  • Create a young adults program that transitions high school youth through late adulthood rather than abandoning them in their time of greatest need.
  • Intentionally train young adults in how to live a godly life instead of leaving them to fend for themselves.

10. The Public Perception

It’s time to focus on changing the public perception of the church within the community. The neighbors, the city and the people around our church buildings should be audibly thankful the congregation is part of their neighborhood. We should be serving the crap out of them.

We desperately need to be calling the schools and the city, knocking on doors, asking everyone around us how we can make their world better. When the public opinion shows 1/3 millennials are ANTI-CHURCH, we are outright failing at being the aroma of Christ.

Solutions:

  • Call the local government and schools to ask what their needs are. (See: Service Day from #3)
  • Find ways to connect with neighbors within the community.
  • Make your presence known and felt at city events.

11. Stop Talking About Us (Unless You’re Actually Going to Do Something)

Words without follow-up are far worse than ignoring us completely. Despite the stereotypes about us, we are listening to phrases being spoken in our general direction. Lip service, however, doesn’t cut it. We are scrutinizing every action that follows what you say (because we’re sick of being ignored and listening to broken promises).

Solutions:

  • Stop speaking in abstract sound bites and make a tangible plan for how to reach millennials.
  • If you want the respect of our generation, under-promise and over-deliver.

12. You’re Failing to Adapt

Here’s the bottom line, church — you aren’t reaching millennials. Enough with the excuses and the blame; we need to accept reality and intentionally move toward this generation that is terrifyingly anti-church.

“The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.” —Bill Clinton
“The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” —Kakuzo Okakaura
“Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” – H.G. Wells

Solution:

  • Look at the data and take a risk for goodness sake. We can’t keep trying the same things and just wish that millennials magically wander through the door.
  • Admit that you’re out of your element with this generation and talk to the millennials you already have before they ask themselves, what I am still doing here.

You see, church leaders, our generation just isn’t interested in playing church anymore, and there are real, possible solutions to filling our congregations with young adults. It’s obvious you’re not understanding the gravity of the problem at hand and aren’t nearly as alarmed as you should be about the crossroads we’re at.

You’re complacent, irrelevant and approaching extinction. A smattering of mostly older people, doing mostly the same things they’ve always done, isn’t going to turn to the tide.

Feel free to write to me off as just another angry, selfy-addicted millennial. Believe me, at this point I’m beyond used to being abandoned and ignored.

The truth is, church, it’s your move.

Decide if millennials actually matter to you and let us know. In the meantime, we’ll be over here in our sweatpants listening to podcasts, serving the poor and agreeing with public opinion that perhaps church isn’t as important or worthwhile as our parents have lead us to believe.

About the Author: Sam Eaton is a writer, speaker, and in-progress author who’s in love with all things Jesus, laughter, adventure, hilarious dance parties and vulnerability. Sam is also the founder of Recklessly Alive Ministries, a mental health and suicide-prevention ministry sprinting towards a world with zero deaths from suicide. Come hang out with him at RecklesslyAlive.com.

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Read more: https://faithit.com/12-reasons-millennials-over-church-sam-eaton/

Parkland student stuffs bag with tampons in response to new transparent backpack rule

When the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School returned to campus after the March for Our Lives and their week-long spring break, they were less than thrilled with having to wear transparent backpacks.

After the mass shooting that killed 17 people on Feb. 14th, new security measures were put in place on Monday that are aimed at preventing future violence at the school.

Many students expressed their disappointment with the policy on social media, stating the bags are a violation of privacy and won’t really help all that much. 

But Cameron Kasky, one of the student leaders at the forefront of the #NeverAgain movement, decided to take a different approach.

On Tuesday morning, Kasky tweeted a picture of his clear backpack, filled with tampons.

What may seem like just teen shenanigans at first, actually has a much deeper meaning. Kasky followed up with a tweet clarifying his intentions.

In addition to being an activist for gun control reform, Kasky is educating himself about women’s health issues and is now advocating for easier access to menstrual products. 

Just when you think these teens can’t get any more powerful, they do

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/04/03/parkland-activist-backpack-tampons/

Parkland students offer 7 great ideas about gun control plus a ridiculous one.

In the lead-up to the March for Our Lives, The Guardian turned its pages over to the editors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s student paper.

Eagle Eye staff wrote or edited more than a dozen stories on the British media outlet’s U.S. website, complete with a number of great on-the-ground reports from the march itself. It was a really great idea, giving a large platform to some budding young journalists, and it was largely well-received.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez stands with other students during the Washington, D.C., March for Our Lives. Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

One story did inspire a bit of controversy: “Our manifesto to fix America’s gun laws” included a few clumsy goals mixed in with the good.

First, there’s the good: Eagle Eye editors propose banning semi-automatic weapons that can fire high-velocity rounds, writing, “Civilians shouldn’t have access to the same weapons that soldiers do. That’s a gross misuse of the second amendment.” Presumably, the students are referring to a renewed ban on so-called assault weapons, something that a recent Quinnipiac poll found was supported by around 67% of Americans.

They also call for a ban on bump stocks; the creation of a database for gun sales and elimination of background-check loopholes; a repeal of the Dickey Amendment, which prevents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting any research that results in a recommendation for more gun restrictions; and for the government to raise the purchase age requirement to 21.

Then there’s the not-so-good: “Dedicate more funds to mental health research and professionals,” reads one of the recommendations, noting, “Many of those who commit mass shootings suffer from [PTSD, depression, and other debilitating mental illnesses].”

The trouble with that recommendation isn’t in the actual policy itself — it’s true that increased funding for mental health research and professionals would be helpful, generally — but in its justification.

As it turns out, individuals with mental illness are actually less likely than those without mental illness to carry out a gun-related homicide. Where mental illness does play a big role in gun deaths is suicide. So by all means, we should dedicate those funds to mental health programs, just not for the reasons these students are suggesting.

Millions of people around the country attended March for Our Lives rallies on March 24, 2018. Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images.

Another less-than-ideal agenda item is a call to increase funding for school security. Marjory Stoneman Douglas had one armed school resource officer on campus the day of the shooting. Can one officer protect 3,000 students? Probably not. Is the answer to fill halls with armed guards and officers? Also probably not.

Yes, a school resource officer is responsible for taking down the gunman in the recent school shooting in Maryland. That is commendable, but there are unintended consequences of merging our schools with the police state: Time and again, school resource officers have been caught getting physically violent with students — especially students of color.

One idea in particular is worth another look: Allowing mental health providers to more freely speak with law enforcement about patients.

This may sound like a good idea, but it’s actually a call to relax privacy laws and likely will just make the entire situation a whole lot worse. It is worth considering the students’ context here, however:

“As seen in the tragedy at our school, poor communication between mental healthcare providers and law enforcement may have contributed to a disturbed person with murderous tendencies and intentions entering a school and gunning down 17 people in cold blood.

We must improve this channel of communication. To do so, privacy laws should be amended. That will allow us to prevent people who are a danger to themselves or to others from purchasing firearms. That could help prevent tragedies such as the Parkland massacre.”

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School staff members return to school on Feb. 23 after the shooting. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

To be sure, most people who’ve been following the story coming out of Parkland will be able to agree that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, fell through the law enforcement cracks. There were warning signs, but the real issue wasn’t that law enforcement didn’t know; it was that after school guidance counselor tried to have him involuntarily committed in 2016, a state agency determined that his “final level of risk is low.”

Basically, everyone involved was human — but still in touch with each other. That’s because the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) already allows health providers to communicate with law enforcement if they believe there is a “serious and imminent threat of harm to self or others.”

In fact, under HIPAA, providers have a duty to notify law enforcement in those situations. Further loosening those rules will only discourage people from seek help they need.

Also, law enforcement has an extremely sketchy history when it comes to responding to calls involving mental illness. A 2015 report found that nearly 1 in 4 fatal police encounters involved someone with mental illness, making mentally ill people an estimated 16 times more likely to be shot by police compared with the rest of the population — in part because not enough police officers are trained to deal with the mentally ill.

The general scope of the Parkland students’ goals appear well-intentioned and actually within reach. Still, it’s worth considering a few unintended consequences.

This is the starting point of a discussion, and the world is better because these students are speaking up for what they believe in. They may not get it totally right 100% of the time, and that’s OK.

People attend the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/parkland-students-offer-7-great-ideas-about-gun-control-plus-a-ridiculous-one

Millions Of Americans Go To Mexico When They Need Healthcare

How much does healthcare cost in the USA? Let’s put it this way: It’s often cheaper to fly to another goddamned country, get treatment there, and fly back. It turns out that Americans do this all the time, and their preferred destination is their constantly insulted neighbor to the immediate south …

5

Going To Mexico For Treatment Can Be Worth It — Even If You’re Already Insured

You probably already knew that healthcare is way more expensive in the USA than just about anywhere else. But you probably also know we got a big ol’ health care overhaul this past decade that was supposed to fix things (among other effects, it reduced the number of uninsured Americans by a significant amount). And yet even today, Americans find it worthwhile to leave the country when they need treatment. Looking only at California, a million medical tourists a year went across the border both before Obamacare and after Obamacare. “If anything, we’ve gotten more business since Obamacare,” says Jerry, who ferries medical tourists south in his shuttle bus. So what’s going on here?

“American health insurance is really strange,” says Dr. Juan, a Mexican dentist whose practice is a mile south of the border. “It can cover so much or so little.” Some of the American patients who come to Dr. Juan don’t have insurance, but most do, and they tell him it’s still cheaper to pay out of pocket in Mexico than to throw it to insurance in the U.S. Plans still generally leave you with a deductible to pay, and deductibles keep growing. Unless you qualify for subsidies, your out-of-pocket costs probably went up under the Affordable Care Act.

So cheap care in Mexico can look like one hell of a good alternative. Costs overall are said to be 40-65 percent less than in America — 70 percent or even more if we’re talking about dental work. When you’re facing a five-figure bill in the U.S., that means you can buy a plane ticket to Tijuana, book a hotel there, get healed, and then throw in another week of sightseeing and tequila on top of that, and you’ll still end up spending less than if you’d gotten the work done at home.

You might even save time, since these hospitals don’t make you wait for elective procedures. We should mention, though, that American wait times are hardly the worst in the world. “I get enough Americans complaining about waiting months,” says Jerry. “Canadians have to wait years.” So even some Canadians make the medical trip to Mexico, despite cost not really being an issue when you’ve got government healthcare. One recent Canuck passenger of Jerry’s needed leg surgery so she could walk properly. “She told me that the wait in Canada was five years,” he says. “I couldn’t believe it.” But she got fixed up five years sooner by heading south (or as we assume Canadians call it, “south-south”).

4

Some Tourists Like Mexican Healthcare While Still Being Racist Against Mexicans

You might imagine there’s something of an internal conflict for patients who screamed for a border wall to keep the filthy Mexicans out, only to themselves go south in their time of need. This is not representative of most people Jerry transports, but there are enough of them that he’s come to expect it.

Someone might refer to the “beaner doctor” they’re going to see. Or “wetback doctor,” which comes off as very ignorant both in the that’s racist sense and in that the speaker appears not to know what that slur literally means. “Wetback doctor would be working outside a Home Depot if it wasn’t for us,” said one passenger, according to Jerry, showing so many levels of misunderstanding that we don’t even know where to start.

One large man got on the shuttle and announced to everyone, “I’m a Vietnam vet, and the VA can’t do shit about what I have.” It could be the first line of a moving tale of woe, but Jerry predicted merely by looking at him that the guy would be trouble. “He kept saying ‘spic with a scalpel,'” he tells us, “in place of ‘Mexican doctor’ — or, let’s be real here, ‘doctor.'” Jerry has light skin (plus a name tag that reads “Jerry”), so passengers seem to assume he’s cool with hearing slurs, not realizing he’s half-Mexican himself.

He usually doesn’t say anything, though in the case of the large Vietnam vet, he did tell the guy he should consider keeping that shit to himself once he’s off the bus.

3

It’s Hilarious How Mistaken Patients’ Idea Of Mexico Is

Jerry can generally guess how much a patient knows about Mexico based on where they’re from. He’ll get people from Texas or New Mexico or Arizona, and they know exactly what to expect from a major Mexican city, especially if they happen to be Latino. “And then we get people from way up north,” says Jerry — people who’d never visit Mexico but for this surgery of theirs. “They expect to see mariachi bands everywhere.”

Now, we totally recommend you check out some mariachi music next time you’re in Mexico, but not every place you go will look like a cheesy themed amusement park. Dr. Juan’s office, for example, looks like a dentist’s office anywhere else in the world, to the disappointment of many Americans with vague hopes of something exotic. A Mexican hospital is … a hospital, with no special ethnic flourishes. “Some people expect taco stands inside,” says Jerry. He’s not kidding; one Canadian patient gleefully pointed at a brochure that said “taco bar on premise,” thinking he could get pico and guac in the waiting room. Jerry had to explain that the brochure was for a hotel.

Other passengers complain to Jerry when a hospital lobby has English magazines set out by staff trying to cater to Americans. These patients want Spanish magazines so they can “see the culture” (even if they can’t read said magazines, since they don’t know Spanish). Some elderly patients, whose entire knowledge of Mexico appears to come from Westerns and footage of illegal border crossings, complain about never seeing the “real” Mexico, because the city they visit has sidewalks and paved roads.

2

Patients Make Whole Vacations Out Of Hospital Visits

Some medical tourists do take the opportunity to spend a little more time in the country they’re visiting. Jerry will be taking some busload to the hospital, and he’ll notice that hardly any of the talk behind him is about anything medical. Instead, passengers talk about relaxing by the pool later, or going horseback riding. “It sometimes feels like I’m taking them to a resort,” he says. The medical procedure is simply one day of a week-long vacation.

Good for them, but that’s the most surreal part of this whole thing. Medical costs force Americans into bankruptcy, leave others dead, and made these particular patients leave their country in search of treatment they can afford, but it can also be an excuse to spend a few days working on your tan. “An American said it was like being given a five-hour sales pitch on a timeshare for two nights free,” says Jerry. “The surgery is like the lecture, and the rest of the trip makes up for it.” And why not? They’re still saving money, even with all the extra stuff included. We’ll say it again: This is nuts.

And the towns they visit happily cater to this specific kind of traveler. Shuttles like Jerry’s are one part of the medical tourism industry, because no one wants to drive right after surgery (or bring their car to a country they’ve heard is full of crime). Clinics advertise these shuttles, which pick you up at an American airport or other spot north of the border and take you directly to an eager doctor swinging a stethoscope.

Many of these are standalone clinics, but others grab the all-inclusive / office park model to dive into the “tourism” part of medical tourism. “There will be restaurants, shops, spas,” says Jerry. The restaurants have rice and other soft foods, perfect for dental patients still sore from Dr. Juan’s probing. Pamphlets direct you to the spa from within the hospital itself. And when you walk out of an eye clinic, you’ll see hawkers selling something perfect for patients with dilating pupils as well as tourists of all kinds: sunglasses! Which might be genuine Ray-Bans, if you don’t look at the logo too carefully.

1

Even Medical Tourists Mistrust Foreign Doctors

Expensive means good, we’ve been taught. Cheap means bad. Cheap knockoffs are sure to be inferior, with cheap Mexican knockoffs definitely not an exception. So some Americans view lost-cost Mexican healthcare with the skepticism of, say, that tourist being handed $5 Ray-Bans.

Dr. Juan’s patients think they know more about mouths than he does, and insist on describing how their own dentists back home do things. Or they’ll ask if he knows what Novocain is. “Not if I’m going to use it,” he clarifies for us, “but if I know what it is.” (He does know what Novocain is. He also knows they probably mean lidocaine, because most dentists haven’t used Novocain for decades.)

His favorite line came from a patronizing New Yorker, who advised him before a procedure, “Be sure to use surgical gloves.” Other patients are surprised he has state-of-the-art equipment. One was surprised to see solid brick buildings.

Those attitudes seem ridiculous to Dr. Juan, but patient advocates do suggest that you research any foreign clinic and even check it out personally before agreeing to be treated. Sure, good doctors in Mexico may be as skilled as their counterparts in America, but that doesn’t mean you can trust just any building in a border village or resort town that swears it’s a hospital. Maybe you’ll find yourself operated on by a cosmetologist instead of a surgeon and needlessly end up dead. Or maybe the mistake will be less major, but you won’t have American courts protecting you afterward or getting you compensation. Medical tourism comes with risks. It’s a messy workaround that shouldn’t be necessary, not some awesome hack that beats the system.

Every so often, a patient of Dr. Juan’s will get up from the chair, still in severe pain, and leave. “Sorry,” they say, leaving their nonrefundable payment behind. “I can’t do this.” And at least once a month, Jerry takes some passenger like that back to the U.S., their procedure abandoned. One memorable guy made it as far as having his leg shaved in surgical prep before getting out of there, spooked at the last minute by hearing the doctors speaking Spanish. On the shuttle north, the other passengers talked about how well their own operations had gone, so after they crossed the border, he phoned the hospital, asking if he could do the surgery after all. They told him it was too late — to go forward with it, he’d have to pay the fee a second time.

Maybe he ended up doing that. Even paying twice, it would still be a bargain.

Evan V. Symon is a writer, interview finder and journalist for the Personal Experiences section at Cracked. Have an awesome job/experience you’d like to see up here? Then hit us up in the forums.

Interested in making a trip to Mexico? Check out Fodor’s Guide to San Diego and Tijuana.

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For more, check out A Zero B.S. Guide To American Healthcare and 5 Huge Problems Nobody Told You About American Healthcare.

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This Is What Marriages That Stay Together Have in Common

Marriage is a covenant. In the Bible, the word covenant means “to cut.” You don’t make a covenant, you cut a covenant. Every time a covenant appears in the Bible, blood is involved. Jesus said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28).

That means sacrifice is central to the idea of a covenant. It is a sacrificial, permanent relationship.

The wedding vows we take are covenant vows. When we say, “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health,” we are stating the vows of a sacrificial covenant relationship.

Unfortunately, our society has turned marriage from a covenant relationship into a contractual relationship. A sacrificial covenant says, “I surrender my rights and I assume responsibilities.” A contract says, “I protect my rights and I limit my responsibilities.”

In doing so, we act as if marriage doesn’t require sacrifice. We’re wrong.

A covenant marriage is built upon two individuals who roll up their sleeves and say, “I’ll do whatever it takes to make this marriage work.”

That’s why a sacrificial covenant mentality is central to building a lasting marriage. Whatever the issues are in the relationship, both individuals are staying. Both are dedicated to fixing it. Both will sacrifice to save it.

I like to compare this mentality to the difference between someone who owns a house and someone who merely rents one. If you’re renting and your house is discovered to have a serious foundation problem, you’re not going to shell out $40,000 to fix it. It’s too expensive. You’re going to move out. You’ll find something else.

But if you own the house — if it’s your family home, if all your memories are there — then you’ll probably pay that expense. You’re all in because you’re an owner. You value the home. You do whatever it takes to keep it secure.

A couple with a covenant marriage thanks God for the good times, but when the bad times hit, they’re still dedicated to protecting the “home.” They aren’t renting. They don’t have one foot out the door.

In one University of Chicago survey, a sociologist surveyed a group of self-described unhappy couples. They were miserable in their marriages. But five years later, she discovered that 85 percent of these couples were still married. So she studied what they had in common.

The first thing they shared was a strong work ethic. They didn’t mind putting in sustained effort to improve their marriage.

The second thing was the friendships they shared. They had friends who didn’t value divorce. Instead, their friends pushed them to improve their marriage.

The worst thing to have in your life when your marriage is struggling is a friendship with someone who talks you into strip clubs, or happy hours or letting go of your marriage. You need godly friends during bad times.

Marriage is a sacrifice. It’s hard work. It’s a sacrificial covenant vow that says, “During good times and bad, I’m all in. It may not be a walk in the park, but it’s worth it. I’m dedicated to serving you. I’m dedicated to making our marriage work.”

That covenant mindset is the secret to a lasting marriage.

Read Next On FaithIt
For 8 Yrs, Neighbors Think a Mom & 3 Men Live Here—Then They See Eyes Through Broken Glass

Read more: https://faithit.com/secret-marriages-stay-together-covenant-jimmy-evans/

Parkland students: our manifesto to change America’s gun laws | Editorial staff of the Eagle Eye

After the massacre at our high school, our lives have changed forever so were proposing these changes to halt mass shootings

As a student publication, the Eagle Eye works to tell the stories of those who do not have a voice. Today, we are the ones who feel our voice must be elevated.

In the wake of the tragedy that occurred at our school on 14 February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, our lives have changed beyond what we ever imagined. We, along with our publication, have been transformed. We will remain so for the rest of our lives.

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We have a unique platform not only as student journalists, but also as survivors of a mass shooting. We are firsthand witnesses to the kind of devastation that gross incompetence and political inaction can produce. We cannot stand idly by as the country continues to be infected by a plague of gun violence that seeps into community after community, and does irreparable damage to the hearts and minds of the American people.

Thats why the Eagle Eye has come together and proposed these following changes to gun policy. We believe federal and state governments must put these in place to ensure that mass shootings and gun violence cease to be a staple of American culture.

We will be marching this Saturday, 24 March, for those that we loved and lost, and we write this in the hope that no other community or publication will ever have to do the same.

The changes we propose:

Ban semi-automatic weapons that fire high-velocity rounds

Civilians shouldnt have access to the same weapons that soldiers do. Thats a gross misuse of the second amendment.

These weapons were designed for dealing death: not to animals or targets, but to other human beings. The fact that they can be bought by the public does not promote domestic tranquility. Rather, their availability puts us into the kind of danger faced by men and women trapped in war zones.

This situation reflects a failure of our government. It must be corrected to ensure the safety of those guaranteed the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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Madyson Kravitz, Dara Rosen Photograph: Ali Smith for the Guardian

Ban accessories that simulate automatic weapons

High-capacity magazines played a huge role in the shooting at our school. In only 10 minutes, 17 people were killed, and 17 others were injured. This is unacceptable.

Thats why we believe that bump stocks, high-capacity magazines and similar accessories that simulate the effect of military-grade automatic weapons should be banned.

In the 2017 shooting in Las Vegas, 58 people were killed and 851 others were injured. The gunmans use of bump stocks enabled vast numbers of people to be hurt while gathered in one of the most iconic cities in America. If it can happen there, it can happen anywhere. Thats why action must be taken to take these accessories off the market.

Establish a database of gun sales and universal background checks

We believe that there should be a database recording which guns are sold in the United States, to whom, and of what caliber and capacity they are.

Just as the department of motor vehicles has a database of license plates and car owners, the Department of Defense should have a database of gun serial numbers and gun owners. This data should be paired with infractions of gun laws, past criminal offenses and the status of the gun owners mental health and physical capability.

Together with universal background checks, this system would help law enforcement stop a potentially dangerous person before they commit a gun crime.

Change privacy laws to allow mental healthcare providers to communicate with law enforcement

As seen in the tragedy at our school, poor communication between mental healthcare providers and law enforcement may have contributed to a disturbed person with murderous tendencies and intentions entering a school and gunning down 17 people in cold blood.

We must improve this channel of communication. To do so, privacy laws should be amended. That will allow us to prevent people who are a danger to themselves or to others from purchasing firearms. That could help prevent tragedies such as the Parkland massacre.

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Taylor Yon, Leni Steinhardt, Emma Dowd Photograph: Ali Smith for the Guardian

Close gun show and secondhand sales loopholes

Thanks to loopholes, people who otherwise wouldnt be able to buy firearms are able to purchase them at gun shows and secondhand sales. The existence of these loopholes reflects the ineptitude of state and federal legislators.

If we are serious about preventing people from purchasing deadly weapons, we must monitor sales that take place at gun shows and on secondhand markets. This is especially urgent given the danger posed by mentally unstable and violent individuals armed with firearms.

Allow the CDC to make recommendations for gun reform

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be allowed to conduct research on the dangers of gun violence. The fact that they are currently prohibited from doing so undermines the first amendment. It also violates the rights of the American people.

It is hypocritical to rally people to protect the second amendment, while remaining silent on the ways that blocking research violates one of our most basic constitutional freedoms.

Raise the firearm purchase age to 21

In a few months from now, many of us will be turning 18. We will not be able to drink; we will not be able to rent a car. Most of us will still be living with our parents. We will not be able to purchase a handgun. And yet, we will be able to purchase an AR-15.

Why is it that we will be able to legally obtain a weapon that has the ability to fire over 150 rounds and kill 17 people in about six minutes? That is unacceptable. It makes no sense that to buy a handgun, you have to be 21, but a gun of mass destruction and devastation like the AR-15 can be purchased when one is just becoming an adult.

With the exception of those who are serving the United States in the military, the age to obtain any firearm must be raised to 21.

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Brianna Fisher, Zoe Gordon Photograph: Ali Smith for the Guardian

Dedicate more funds to mental health research and professionals

Federal and state government should earmark more funds specifically for mental health services. Those with mental health issues, especially those who express aggressive, violent, suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts should have the opportunity to receive the help they need regardless of their economic status.

Schools specifically should receive more funds in order to hire more psychologists and guidance counselors who can aid students suffering from PTSD, depression and other debilitating mental illnesses.

Many of those who commit mass shootings suffer from these kinds of illnesses. It is essential that more funds be dedicated to mental health research.

Increase funding for school security

We believe that schools should be given sufficient funds for school security and resource officers to protect and secure the entire campus. As a school of over 3,000 students, teachers and faculty, Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school was only supplied funds to hire one on-campus armed resource officer by the state.

Without backup, this officers hesitation proved to be disastrous and allowed for the senseless deaths of people who were killed on the third floor of the 1200 building.

Though this idea has been proposed in the past, these funds should not be appropriated from the already scarce funding for public education. Governments should find resources to secure the millions of children that attend public schools without taking away from the quality of education that is offered at these institutions.

The Eagle Eye is the newspaper of Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. Editorial staff: Madyson Kravitz, Dara Rosen, Taylor Yon, Leni Steinhardt, Emma Dowd, Brianna Fisher, Zoe Gordon, Kyra Parrow, Carly Novell, Rebecca Schneid, Kevin Trejos, Suzanna Barna, Nikhita Nookala, Richard Doan, and Christy Ma

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2018/mar/23/parkland-students-manifesto-americas-gun-laws

5 Surprising Ways The World Is Secretly Looking Out For You

Very few professions are out there actively trying to keep you alive. Firefighters, doctors, uh … erotic bakers? What even is life without a good dong cake? But that’s pretty much it, right? Nope. We’ve told you before how some famously “good” organizations are secretly doing awful things. Now let us restore some of that lost faith in humanity by showing you the other side of the coin …

5

Illinois Is Training Hairdressers To Recognize Domestic Violence

When you’re stuck making awkward chitchat with your hairdresser for extended periods of time, some secrets are bound to slip out. That was more or less the thinking behind a recent state ruling in Illinois, which now requires salon workers be trained to recognize signs of domestic abuse and sexual assault. It’s not as easy as saying, “So, uh, has the hubby punched you lately?” and reporting it to the authorities. In fact, calling 9-1-1 yourself is a big no-no. Instead, salon workers are taught to 1) encourage their clients open up on their own speed, 2) listen compassionately, and 3) provide support and information about professional resources.

While this is not a new idea, Illinois is the first state to actually require cosmetologists to go through the one-hour training class every two years if they want to renew their licenses. Now 14 other states, including New York and Wyoming, are working on similar laws and initiatives. Sometimes, asking for frosted tips is a cry for help, and salon workers are here to answer it.

4

One UK City Recruited Plumbers And Handymen To Spot Child Abuse

Plumbers are used to dealing with problems most of us wouldn’t touch with several ten-foot poles stuck together. It’s appropriate, then, that the city of Lincoln, England recruited them (along with repair men, electricians, and housing officers) to spot and report child abuse and neglect. Since it can take a while to fix a sink or unclog a toilet, the city trained contractors to keep an eye out for signs that the children of the household might be in danger. For instance, if a kid is wearing long sleeves on a really hot day, that might be less about making a fashion statement and more about hiding bruises. Things like scalds and cigarette burns are dead giveaways for physical abuse, but the checklist includes other signs of trouble, like unexplained mood changes, avoidance of certain family members, or … well … pregnancy.

Yeah …

Hey, here’s a puppy being perplexed by a mirror:

3

Facebook Uses Their Creepy Algorithms To Fight Suicide

Facebook is simultaneously one of the most popular things to have ever existed and one of the most criticized, for many, many reasons. But while the amount of information Facebook has on each of us will never not be creepy, they’re doing at least one positive thing with all those fancy algorithms: helping spot suicidal users in real time. Basically, Facebook’s giant decentralized brain pores through billions of posts, trying to find patterns that correlate to suicidal thoughts, in the hope that maybe they can save a few lives. When a user is flagged as suicidal, a Facebook moderator can immediately get in touch and send them helpful resources, or even contact local first responders. Oh, and this is where all those “friends” come in handy, since health experts claim that hearing from a bud is one of the best ways to prevent a suicide. The moderator can make that happen, too.

Facebook

FacebookThe “Talk to someone” option really needs a “(Not that racist guy from high school)” disclaimer, though.

Within one month of testing, Facebook says they’ve initiated over 100 wellness checks, helping first responders reach troubled users before they did anything rash. Considering the disturbing trend of teens committing suicide via livestreaming services (like Facebook’s own), and the fact that suicide is the second-leading cause of death for people aged 15-24, an idea like this could have a real impact on young people. Why, it almost makes up for the sin of inventing Facebook in the first place.

2

Tattoo Artists And Beauticians Are Being Taught To Watch Out For Skin Cancer

Both tattoo artists and beauticians have to look at your greasy, pockmarked skin for extended periods of time. Why not make the most of it? Specialists have started training them to identify signs of skin cancer on their customers, so people might receive earlier treatment and thus have better chances of survival. On the beautician side, researchers from the University of Southern California and the University of Colorado Denver collaborated on this training video designed to teach hairdressers about melanoma and how to recognize lesions.

University of Southern California and University of Colorado DenverIf you don’t have melanoma, but also don’t have a face, definitely talk to a doctor anyway.

Meanwhile, tattoo artists have gone from hindering melanoma detection (because a lot of people specifically ask to cover up ugly moles) to presenting a great opportunity to raise awareness of the subject. The artist doesn’t have to be an expert on skin cancer; they just have to know the basic warning signs and pass that information on to the public. And it’s working! From the U.S. to Australia to Brazil, multiple referrals, diagnoses, and successful treatments have resulted from hairdressers and tattoo artists being like, “Uh … this black thing consuming your face might not be normal.”

1

Cab Drivers, Flight Attendants, Bankers, And UPS Are All Fighting Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a subject most of us don’t even like thinking about, but people far braver than us are tackling the problem head-on. And it’s not who you might expect.

First up, cabbies. Taxi drivers are being trained by authorities in New York, London, Houston, and Canada to spot victims of sexual exploitation. They’re looking out for certain telltale signs in their passengers: young people travelling long distances and paying high fees in cash, requesting collections from house parties, hotels, or B&Bs, and travelling with just huge, huuuge jerks. Even Uber, that trash bag of a company, decided to start educating their drivers about this issue after one of them saved a soon-to-be-trafficked underage girl in California in 2016.

Next up on unlikely sources of help: bankers. The European Bankers Alliance recently released a toolkit that searches for red flags indicating that slavery is involved in a financial transaction. But we know what you’re thinking: What about UPS drivers? Yep, them too. In a program started in January 2017, UPS freight drivers all over the country undergo training to recognize signs of human trafficking, with help from the Truckers Against Trafficking organization. (Oh right, truckers help too!)

Of course, some traffickers prefer to move their “cargo” through more luxurious means … and that’s where flight attendants come in. Since 2009, Airline Ambassadors International has been training flight attendants to look out for common signs of human trafficking, and their efforts quickly paid off. In 2011, a flight attendant on a flight to California noticed a disheveled teenage girl flying with a well-dressed older man and left a note in the bathroom for her to find. She did, and rescue swiftly followed. According to an ABC report …

86 children were freed from a sex ring in Boston after the trafficker and two crying victims were noticed on a flight.

Yep, kids crying on a plane saved the day. Forgive us as we reconsider everything we know about life.

Nathan Kamal lives in Oregon and writes. He co-founded Asymmetry Fiction for all your fiction needs. S.S.A is also on TopBuzz. Check him out here. Look out for more mind-blowing facts on Markos’ Twitter.

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How A Trailer Park Becomes A Secret Haven For Sex Offenders

“Sex Offender Trailer Park” sounds like either a great horror movie, a middling rock band, or a horrible sitcom. In real life, neighborhoods like that do exist, because of a problem society has no goddamned idea how to solve. In many cities, laws keep registered sex offenders from living anywhere near where children gather, which means there are only tiny areas where they can live. We talked to James, who owned a trailer park that became known as a haven for the people society would prefer not to deal with at all.

5

Laws Against Sex Offenders Have Created An Unexpected, Stupid Problem

Most of you probably don’t disagree with states banning people on sex offender registries from living anywhere children hang out (and if you do, you probably don’t say so in public). Those laws are in theory reserved for those supposedly most likely to reoffend, including violent sex offenders and child molesters, while a bunch of caveats and sub-clauses spare people who aren’t as much of a threat to society, like 18-year-olds who dated 16-year-olds. The laws leave a bunch of parents sleeping easier. But how do they work in practice?

Well, when you keep offenders from living 1,000 feet (or 2,000 feet) from playgrounds, schools, public parks, and even bus stops, you block off a whole lot of space. One programmer had a go at mapping what areas of Detroit are off-limits:

James says that one of his residents showed him a map like that for his city. “The only areas the rings didn’t encompass,” he says, “were really rich areas he couldn’t afford, really poor areas where he was afraid he might die, and the ocean.” It’s actually worse in Milwaukee, a city of half a million people in which the entire map is blacked out save for 55 addresses. In Denver, a judge struck down these laws when it turned out they left effectively no livable space at all.

Offenders look to the few areas they’re allowed to choose, and when landlords realize sex offenders are eyeing them, they generally respond by releasing the hounds. It’s not legal to discriminate that way, but it’s easy to vet potential tenants by looking at your state registry and then rejecting anyone whose name is there. “They can claim ‘poor credit,'” says James, “‘not good references,’ ‘we already rented it,’ or another excuse.” Out of options, maybe they could flee the urban center altogether for some distant county (states have been accused of making rural areas a dumping ground for sex offenders), but unless there’s a job waiting for them elsewhere, they aren’t leaving.

So what then? Do they simply go homeless? Yeah, that happens, and on a large scale. And as much as some people might relish the thought of people like this having no roof over their heads, the whole point of the registry is to keep tabs on them, so thousands of transient roaming sex offenders should be the absolute last thing anyone wants. There’s got to be some other solution. That’s where people like James come in.

4

Sex Offenders Turn The Trailer Parks That Accept Them Into Safe Havens

James inherited his trailer park from his father, and before he owned it, he’d had no idea a huge chunk of the residents were sex offenders. As soon as he learned the truth, he set about researching the quickest and easiest way to kick them all out. “But then I met one who gave the rent check and thanked me for letting them stay there,” he says. “Without the park, he said, he would have literally nowhere else to live nearby. And by ‘nearby,’ he meant 20 miles.” James previously had vague plans of helping the less fortunate, but nobody was going to make an inspirational movie about this shit.

Plus, he says, keeping them on had a bonus: “Sex offenders always pay on time.” That’s not a joke. They’re required to find jobs as part of their release conditions, which makes them a surer bet than a lot of other people in the trailer community. Sex offenders also made the neighborhood safer, ironically enough. Police knew how many high-risk people lived there, and responded by prioritizing the area when it came time for patrols. Oh yeah — police were totally aware that James was running a sex offender commune. They welcomed the idea, and whenever they released a new inmate, someone in the department would unofficially suggest the trailer park as a possible place to live. Rental agencies knew too. So thanks to the grapevine, word got around, even without James putting up a neon sign saying “Sex offenders welcome!” Every time a vacancy opened in the park, there was a renter with a record eager to move in.

That’s the thing: Everyone involved with the system knows that these people need a place to live, and that it’s to everyone’s benefit that they find one (including their victims!). But solutions must come under the table, unless you want to be seen as aiding predators. We have a long history of creating a broken system and then declaring the dysfunction to be part of the punishment. That’s not how laws work! Or how they’re supposed to work, at least.

3

Running The Park Had Complications — Like Keeping Kids Out

So while there was no flashing sign in front of the park that said “Sex Offender Paradise. Free WiFi!” there was one that said “No Children Allowed.” This wasn’t a matter of law. The law says offenders can’t live near specific public areas where children congregate, not that they can’t be near any kid anywhere at any time. James put the rule in as a precaution. “It could have tempted them,” he says. “No way was I allowing that.”

Nonetheless, every so often, kids would come by on their bikes. They would get down and approach the park, because while the sign kept most families away, it was an absolute magnet for unsupervised Bart Simpson types. If James was around, he’d tell them to leave while most residents stayed huddled in their trailers. Then James would return and hear a bunch of nervous sex offenders asking, “Are the kids gone yet?” They were convinced that any contact whatsoever with kids could be used to send them back to prison.

But not everyone in the park was a fan of the child ban, because not everyone in the park was a sex offender. In fact, more than half of the population were regular folks, a good portion of whom were elderly and really wanted their grandchildren to come visit. “It couldn’t happen,” says James. “Having a sleepover at Grandma’s could have turned into a huge deal very quickly.”

James rented to people who weren’t sex offenders because some of the trailers were too expensive for your average ex-con. He let all new renters know exactly what the situation was in the place, and incredibly, he found plenty of non-criminals OK with living there. Sometimes, even families with kids wanted to move in (we guess the park had an absolute killer location), and James would have to find an excuse to reject them. He says he never had to really push the issue; as we mentioned earlier, there are usually legit reasons to reject an applicant.

2

The Way We Treat Offenders Post-Release Helps No One

Though James sees many of his residents as people who made one mistake and should now be forgiven, we’re guessing a lot of you aren’t too broken up over the pains experienced by sex criminals. These people did evil stuff. They deserve to be punished.

But here’s what you have to remember: Restrictions on sex offenders aren’t designed to be a punishment. The Supreme Court actually ruled on this. If registries were a punishment, they would be unconstitutional (and when they’re judged to be punitive, courts keep striking them down). The offenders already got the full punishment that we decided they deserved when they went to jail. Everything afterward is in theory put in place to make them live in normal society without assaulting anybody.

Yet the public keeps taking it upon themselves to go after released sex offenders, which rarely results in anything good. Trailer parks like James’ see nightly vandalism, with everything from spray-painted messages to sacks of dead rats stuck in a clothes dryer. James recalls one resident who received regular verbal abuse from others in town. After he fled one store to get away from the people hounding him, his tormentors tailed him by car, yelling curses until he lost them by steering into a random side street. The guy then drove back to his trailer and didn’t leave for a month.

“He had other people buy him groceries,” says James. “He quit his job.” He didn’t get another job for six months, and then he never went outside, other than commuting there and back. “He had several mental health issues, and that day pushed him over the edge,” says James. “It broke him.” You can hate the crime all you want, but after the criminal’s been punished, you’ve got to reintegrate them back into the world. “Because if you don’t, and take it to the extreme, you can destroy someone who was trying to become right again.”

Or maybe you’re fine with destroying criminals, so long as it keeps them from offending again. Certainly, any future victim would suffer way more than what these guys are going through. The question is: Do any of the measures protect people? We haven’t specifically studied the effects of hot spinning dryer rodents, but from what we have studied, it doesn’t look good.

The basic requirement that offenders check in with police does reduce their chance of reoffending, says the data. But state sex offender registries, along with the associated restrictions, don’t appear to lower the chances at all. Public notification through mailers or the internet — which leads to stuff like landlords discriminating and vigilante car chases — appears to increase recidivism. The theory is that when you make a sex offender a pariah and make their life suck in general, they’re more likely to reoffend because they have nothing to lose.

1

Yes, Some Of Them Relapse

One of James’ residents, a child molester, was pretty much always drunk. He came home one time after being stopped by police, bragging to the rest of the park about how he’d escaped a DUI: “I demanded a blood test, and they let me go!” When police called the park about the resident sometime later, James figured the guy’s drinking had finally landed him a violation. But then the police demanded a key to the man’s trailer, saying they had a warrant. “All of this over a DUI?” asked James. No, said the policewoman. The resident had assaulted another kid. Later, it happened again, with another resident.

Overall, you can expect 13-35 percent of sex offenders to get caught breaking a law within 15 years of release, depending on what sort of sex crime they originally did. That’s a big number. Still, it’s nowhere as high as people think. People assume that most sex offenders will rape again, basing this “knowledge” on the villains seen in every episode of Law & Order: SVU. You can argue that maybe far more could be offending without getting caught, and of course that’s impossible to know, but also remember how closely they’re being monitored.

Reoffending hurts everyone, says James, even beyond the obvious effects on the new victim. “The other non-offender residents think less of everyone as a whole now … The other offenders get mad at him or worry that it might happen to them and call in for more treatment. And of course the town used it both times as a crusade to ‘Get them all out.'” After that second relapse, someone ran for city council promising to pass a law to kick the sex offender residents out. He won.

In the end, no law was necessary. After two years in charge, James sold the park. The relapses and the overall hassle had gotten to him. The final straw was when another family applied to move in and James couldn’t bring himself to dig up an excuse to turn them down and keep the place running.

“The park’s gone now,” he says. “They tore it down some years ago.” In its spot is a supermarket, and the residents have all gone elsewhere. “I can’t tell you where they went. But I hope they found another haven.”

Evan V. Symon is a journalist and interview finder guy for the Personal Experiences section at Cracked. Have an awesome job or experience you’d like to see in an article? Then post us up here or here!

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JPMorgan Brings Amazons Alexa to Wall Street Trading Floors

  • Voice-activated assistant can now send reports from analysts
  • Other firms such as New York Life using it to help employees

“Alexa, ask JPMorgan what the price target for Apple is.”

It’s a request that JPMorgan Chase & Co. institutional clients can now get quickly answered through Amazon.com Inc.’s ubiquitous voice-activated assistant. The bank and the e-commerce giant have partnered to provide JPMorgan’s Wall Street users with another way to access its research. Alexa is able to send analysts’ reports and related queries, and the bank is testing other features, like providing prices on bonds or swaps, according to David Hudson, global head of markets execution for the New York-based bank.

Voice assistants are “clearly becoming something people are habituated to in their lives,” Hudson said. “It’s about taking information that’s somewhere in the bank, that someone has to generally go and look for, or which is time-consuming or requires authentication to get, and putting that to you in another channel.”

As clients’ habits evolve, firms have been finding ways to adapt popular retail technologies for the business world. While JPMorgan is one of the first to push the Alexa virtual assistant to institutional shops, other banks have been using the service in their consumer operations. And New York Life Insurance Co. is among financial companies building programs that use Alexa as a tool for employees.

12,000 Agents

Customers are becoming increasingly willing to use voice assistants to monitor accounts, according to a survey conducted last year by Bain & Co. While 6 percent of U.S. respondents now use the technology, 27 percent are open to it, according to the consultant.

Capital One Financial Corp. was the first bank to allow customers to manage credit card and bank accounts through the voice assistant, and the lender has slowly expanded its Alexa service, allowing people to ask questions like how much they spent on Amazon last week.

New York Life will start rolling out Alexa features to its 12,000 agents later this year to help them get quick details on policies and prepare for meetings, said Mark Madgett, who leads the insurer’s field force of agents. That means the agents can ask Alexa to figure out how much life insurance a customer has or the value of those policies, or to catch them up on the latest products the firm is offering, he said.

“This is a very complicated business,” Madgett said. “When I started 32 years ago, I had five products that I could help solve problems with. Today there are thousands of permutations around financial solutions.”

New ’Skill’

JPMorgan’s automated service, known in Amazon verbiage as a “skill,” is the latest shared project for the biggest U.S. bank and the world’s largest online retailer. Amazon already leases cloud-computing power to JPMorgan and has asked the bank to compete in creating new products including a small-business credit card for its customers. The companies are also collaborating on a health-care venture.

Read more: JPMorgan-Amazon health venture goes beyond squeezing middlemen

JPMorgan’s Alexa project started last year as part of an internal competition to foster innovation. The bank first opened up data in its research group and added feeds from other departments, including banking and custody and fund services — capabilities now being tested internally. If the automated service takes off, it should free the firm’s salespeople from having to answer routine queries.

JPMorgan has seen that clients are open to new ways of interacting with technology. Not long after the bank created mobile apps for its trading business, it was recording large trades, including a $400 million currency bet last year. So allowing Alexa users to access JPMorgan data from wherever they choose to work — home, office or on the go — makes sense.

The next step is enabling institutional clients to act on the information they’re getting. In the not-so-distant future, Wall Street traders could routinely use Alexa to execute trades, according to Hudson. But the bank needs to do more work on client authentication and other security measures to prevent errant trades before that happens, he said.

“In the open-office environment, if you leave an Alexa on your desk plugged into an Amazon account, you might find a TV delivered tomorrow as a practical joke,” Hudson said.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-26/jpmorgan-brings-amazon-s-alexa-to-wall-street-trading-floors