Is your child really who he or she says?

One aspect of childhood that we adults often miss most is the ability to go about our days blissfully free of financial stresses or obligations.
But a recent analysis of cybercrime indicates that children, not adults, have become the No. 1 victims of identity theft. Children have clean credit histories, which often go unchecked for many years, making their information extremely valuable to cybercriminals.
In Sacramento, I serve as Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Cybersecurity. In committee hearings and in private meetings with constituents, I have heard first hand testimony of the damage that child identity theft can cause. Young adults have been forced to delay going to college or purchasing their first homes because criminals had driven their credit into the ground. Parents of victims reported receiving dozens of unpaid bills addressed to their child and even warrants for their child’s arrest due to thousands of dollars of unpaid debt in their name. The consequences of child identity theft are devastating to victims and families alike, and current laws do not equip parents with the tools to protect their kids.
Leaving our children vulnerable to these crooks is unacceptable and swift action must be taken. Earlier this month, I introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1553, which would allow parents or guardians to create a new credit report for a minor child for the purpose of placing a security freeze on the child’s credit.
Requested through one of the three credit bureaus, a credit freeze prevents anyone from opening lines of credit on a particular social security number until the owner releases it by “thawing” their report. While an extremely effective method to prevent identity theft for adults, to date it is nearly impossible for minors.
Credit agencies, however, do not currently allow a parent or guardian to freeze a credit report, and out of the three major credit reporting agencies, only Equifax allows for a minor’s credit report to be frozen in all 50 states.
To have someone using your child’s identity and be unable to put a stop to it is something that no parent should have to endure. Law enforcement has also reported many incidents in which estranged or abusive parents use their access to exploit their own child’s account. In a situation like this, AB 1553 would allow a minor to freeze their account or remove a freeze placed on their account by a parent or guardian.
Long gone are the days when “information security” meant keeping your children’s social security cards and birth certificates tucked away in a file box in the hall closet.
In the era of information sharing and cybercrime, parents are forced to re-evaluate how they think about protecting a child’s financial well-being, and the ability to monitor and freeze a minor child’s credit score is the logical next step. Similar policies have been enacted in 19 other states and I am calling on my colleagues in the Legislature and concerned parents and citizens to support passage of AB 1553.
Becoming a fiscally responsible adult is challenging enough, our kids deserve the chance to pursue their dreams with a clean slate.

State Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin
Thousand Oaks

I feel safer

Your account of purchasing and shooting a firearm for the first time is akin to putting the keys to a Porsche with a manual transmission in the hands of a person (adult or teenager) in driver’s training, and telling them to take it out for a spin.
A 9 mm handgun is a powerful weapon; your initial choice of a .22 rifle would have been more appropriate for a first-time gun owner. I too was afraid of guns, but when I made the decision to became the owner of a firearm, I made it a point to take a gun safety class, a class which was offered at the same range where you went shooting for the first time. I even went further and took an all-day class sponsored by, dare I mention, the Nation Rifle Association that was very heavy on gun safety and included the afternoon shooting our firearms at the Ojai gun range under the watchful eye of our instructors. I no longer am afraid of guns; I am afraid of the damage they can do in untrained hands. I have the utmost respect for a firearm. And yes, especially in light of the recent prison escape in Orange County; as a woman, I do feel safer in my home.

Cathy Keating

Adopt a dog and a goat this Valentine’s Day

Ever wondered where the love-day came from and what you should really be doing on that day? Well, truth be told, you should adopt a dog and a goat if you can and here’s why …

Today, we celebrate Valentine’s Day with chocolates, roses and scanty pieces of lingerie, but that wasn’t always the case. Before we could enjoy the luxurious rituals of strawberries and champagne between fine dinners and warm Jacuzzi dates, we had to abolish a pagan fertility festival. In order to scrap Lupercalia, the fertility festival, we had to replace the void of that with a substitute. We had to introduce the mythos of an obscure Saint Valentine to do just that.

The middle of February was always associated with the mating season of birds and hence connected to the idea of romantic engagement, but there were no chocolates given before the implementation of the Gregorian calendar, no roses before the Julian calendar and no scanty pieces of lingerie before the Roman one. When you step back in time to the celebration of Lupercalia, the day that preceded Saint Valentine’s Day, we see that the minds of that time were taking sex rituals to a whole other level of seriousness.

During Lupercalia, the mother of the dead forefathers of Rome, a she-wolf named Lupa, was offered sacrificial dog and goat blood as an offering. Later, village women who wanted to become fertile were clouted with a cloth dipped in the remnants of this blood. There are many variations in the descriptions of these festivals, some involving half-naked men wearing only bits of goatskin while running through the streets, and others the importance of laughing young men whose faces were wiped with the animal-slaughtering knife. The tales suggest that while this was primarily a fertility festival, it was actually a dedication to the male god Faunus, the horned god of agriculture. Sex, food and death were all depicted in these rituals as they formed the simmered-down essence of life.

Initially, the dog blood and goat men were accepted by the Christians but when Pope Gelasius had his say in the fifth century, the middle of February became considerably duller. Saint Valentine erased the seductive whispers of Lupercalia in a broad sweep of a couple of hundred years but not without his own gift of sexual fulfillment first. There are several martyrs recognized by the Catholic Church with the name Valentine but I suspect that the pope who implemented Saint Valentine’s fame was referring to one man, a priest who was said to have been put to death by the ruler of Rome, Claudius. This priest, a man said to harbor sick and wounded animals, rebelled against Claudius in many ways. Ultimately, he married off young men after he was forbidden to do so. Claudius forbade young men to marry because he believed he needed better fighters and married men were tainted by the gentle nature of women. Saint Valentine, the priest, liked all living creatures, especially women, and risking his life, he defied the ruler.

On that note, Valentine’s Day might be a good day to consider making up for some of that dog and goat slaughtering karma by doing something to heal the human narrative. We could ask ourselves, “What would St. Valentine do?”

He’d adopt creatures that would otherwise go neglected or be euthanized. He’d help heal the future from the terrible things that have been done in the past in the name of fertility, or agriculture, or survival in the past.  He’d rescue animals and humans alike from any awful fate that awaited them if he didn’t. He’d even marry you to a beautiful woman under risk of death. Valentine was a man of virtue.

In conclusion, among the hundreds of other reasons to do so, adopting a dog will probably be good for your marriage and your family.  If you have the space, adopting a goat won’t be, well, ba-a-d either.

Kerry Elkins