Forum, March 10: Safeline increasing outreach efforts

Published: 3/9/2021 10:00:14 PM
Modified: 3/9/2021 10:00:13 PM
Safeline increasing outreach efforts

The good news is that more people than ever before understand that the stay-at-home order to address COVID-19 is dangerous for anyone living with an abuser. When COVID-19 hit, Safeline’s phones were suddenly quiet. Victims could not call us for help with their abuser watching them. What people might not have recognized is how staying at home with an abuser affected children. Children were not in school, where their teachers, counselors, school nurses and other mandated reporters could see the effects of violence in the child’s home.

We all are still in a state of uncertainty. What we do know is that with ongoing stresses of unemployment, social distancing from friends, and other factors, the need for Safeline’s services are vital for anyone experiencing domestic violence and sexual abuse. Throughout the past year, Safeline’s hotline (1-800-639-7233/NEW-SAFE) was available 24/7 for listening, referring and guiding survivors.

The most difficult part of the past year for Safeline’s advocates was not being able to work with survivors face-to-face. Although services continued through Orange County Court and the Orange County Special Investigative Unit/Child Advocacy Center, advocates could not meet one-to-one as they always had in the past.

The isolation that victims suffer when they cannot visit family and neighbors is apparent to Safeline’s advocates. Because domestic violence has not been dealt with in its earlier stages, the violence and control has increased. This makes victims’ situations more complicated and complex. Safeline’s staff increased their outreach efforts so that community members continue to be aware that services are available for them. They made protection order forms easier to access on Safeline’s website ( and added domestic violence information to

We will continue our new outreach efforts for informing people about domestic violence and sexual abuse, and we will continue helping survivors create safety plans in any way that is safe.



The writer is executive director of Safeline.

Child care, economic crises are linked

New Hampshire is in a child care crisis. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 39% of working-class families didn’t have access to child care, according to a University of New Hampshire study. The pandemic has only exacerbated this crisis, with lower enrollment and higher costs resulting in widespread closings.

A few weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the American Rescue Plan, a pandemic relief package that includes $39 billion in child care relief funding. This money will help, but it is not enough. In his proposed 2022-2023 budget, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu plans to cut funding for child care and education — specifically, the Child Care Scholarship Program, which gives low-income families access to child care. If we act now, there is still a chance for our state lawmakers to restore this crucial funding.

The child care crisis and the economic crisis are inextricably linked. As of this summer, 13% of working parents lost their job or reduced their hours because they didn’t have access to a child care center. Without accessible and affordable high-quality child care, New Hampshire’s parents cannot get back to work. Furthermore, many children have already missed out on a year of schooling since the initial lockdowns last spring. Kids need high-quality child care as a foundation for their future success.

That’s why we must save the child care industry.

Join me and my fellow Save the Children Action Network advocates in urging our state representatives to support level-funding for our Child Care Scholarship program.

This not a partisan issue: saving child care is in the interest of every person in New Hampshire. By investing in child care, we prioritize kids, as well as our economic recovery. What could be more important?



Give children what they need and deserve

New Hampshire Right to Life President James Hennessey has posed the right question when he asks “what rights does a person deserve?” (“Providers question late-term abortion bill,” March 1).

I have held two newborns in my arms, both seconds old. My sons at birth could not have survived without my wife’s and my attention and care (with me playing the lesser role initially). Starting at birth and moving backward in time, it is impossible for me to pinpoint a moment when I might say, “Here Marty exists, and there he does not.” It should be obvious to everyone what is obvious to those opposed to abortion: Life begins at conception. That must be where Hennessey and House Majority Leader Jason Osborne are going, right?

Would that it were so easy.

It is often said that abortion opponents only care about unborn children while they are in the womb; once in the world, they’re are on their own. Clearly, the newly conceived need to start making better choices about their parents! Why do so many choose parents incapable of providing food, shelter and clothing for the next 18 years? Or parents who are substance abusers? Or parents who are abusive verbally, physically or sexually? Or parents who are unprepared to give them an upbringing that puts them on the path to a life of integrity and self-sufficiency?

I will start taking abortion opponents seriously when they do two things: First, propose legislation that mandates that the fathers of all fetuses and newborns be identified and required to meet their financial responsibility until the child reaches a legal age; and second, propose legislation that gives every child what they need and deserve: good health care from conception to death; free public education that sets them up to succeed in life; and an unpolluted, livable environment that sustains and nurtures them.

No one deserves a mean-spirited upbringing or a selfish community. Children — and the adults they become — deserve better than that. Less self-righteousness, please, more walking the talk.


White River Junction

Decentralize or perish

The once-famous journalist and Barnard resident Dorothy Thompson prepared a speech for the local Grange in 1943. The topic was “the future of America,” and particularly “the future of rural and small town America.” Thompson was discouraged by the “centralization of political and economic power,” which had “militated against small business, against political control by the people themselves, and against the rural community and the small town.”

When a critical mass of informed Americans understand how centralized money and power working hand-in-hand have taken over our political system and our culture, they will mobilize to shift power into decentralized nodes comprised of communities, municipalities and regions. It’s time to exercise the muscles of self-governance that have always been available to us and connect to the local officials, boards, commissions, committees, agencies and departments that undergird local and regional society.

Since we can no longer take for granted the integrity and stability of our political and financial systems, not to mention the natural environment itself, we should be building new networks of cooperation and resilience in increasingly localized economies, gradually replacing an outdated bipolar political system held captive by overlapping economic interests for far too long.

“What is needed,” Thompson wrote, “is widespread education and the creation of a political program … to bring about the realization of the America that could be. Nothing but decentralization can, in the long run, save American Democracy.”



Wake up and smell the downside of coffee

It was disappointing to read Willem Lange’s column extolling his joy of drinking coffee (“Waking up to the joy of joe,” March 3). People drink coffee for the caffeine content, and caffeine is a drug. So if you can’t go through the day without drinking coffee, you’re addicted to caffeine.

In my view, it’s the largest unregulated drug in society, and it’s so prevalent it’s ignored, as are the consequences of its use.

Think of all the irritable and ill-mannered people we run into in our daily lives; the people who can’t perform their jobs without a cup of coffee at their elbow; all the incidents of road rage and what I would term “shopping rage” with impatient people. All the vehicle accidents from people falling asleep or losing attention. I believe these are largely because people have lost control of their lives to caffeine. They can’t function without caffeine throughout the day, then they can’t relax without using a depressant such as alcohol or pills.

I gave up coffee 20 years ago, and I found that the body will tell you what it needs, if you listen to it. I go to bed when I’m tired, sleep easily, and never need an alarm clock. I’m alert when I awake, and if I should need to get up before getting a full sleep, a short nap when it’s convenient cures that. I drink decaffeinated beverages, and eat when I’m hungry rather than at designated times. My health is good, and I’m rarely impatient with people. I’ve had a heart ultrasound with no problems indicated.

So I would suggest more research into whether it’s really in the public’s interest to extol the use of coffee. However, I would caution that many of the researchers studying it are likely moderate to heavy coffee drinkers, in which case their findings may be biased.



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