I was sent this heartbreaking article about Jessica Mojica Estrada, who’s been missing for a year. Her mother believes she was forced into prostitution. Jessica was 13 when she disappeared and had been having problems for a long time:
When she was as young as 11 or 12, Jessica dated heavily tattooed older gang members and snuck out at night with them to parties as far away as Mattawa, Mojica said. The girl told her mother some of them gave her marijuana and that she often threatened to beat up her younger brother Alexis, now 10, if he told on her.
The single mother lost count of how many times her daughter ran away.
Once, the mother received a menacing phone call in which a male voice said something to the effect of, “We have your daughter but you’ll never see her again if you call the police.”
Scared, Mojica complied that time, but has worked with the police over the years. She tried grounding, yelling and even left Jessica overnight in jail one time. She has since attended counseling and parenting classes.
Sometimes, even in the best families, something goes terribly wrong with the children. I’m not sure why — and no one else is either.
Kid wise, you can only do what you can do. I was a step grandma before I hit thirty. They start young where my huzzy and his ex come from. All you can do is deal the best you can and hope you don’t end up a story on the news. I’ve actually sat my other kids down and showed them this site and even E True Hollywood stories about how shit goes wrong. I want them to be safe and not stupid, but……I just hope they live long enough to appreciate my advice!!!
Really good movie that can help explain this phenomenon and some police department’s failure to intervene is “Very Young Girls.” It also helped me understand how some teenage girls never get listed as missing.
From the GEMS website (www.gems-girls.org/veryyounggirls.html), “Very Young Girls is an expose of human trafficking that follows thirteen and fourteen year old American girls as they are seduced, abused, and sold on New York’s streets by pimps, and treated as adult criminals by police.”
I agree with the recommendation of “Very Young Girls”. I viewed it about a year ago, and have recommended it to several other people who work with at risk children and adolescents.
sad story, but it sounds like this wasn’t a case of ‘the best family’ but a teenage mother who was overwhelmed, undereducated, unskilled at parenting. There has to be something that can be done for families who are so obviously in crisis!
It’s not merely a case of a “teenage mother who was overwhelmed, undereducated, unskilled at parenting”. I have one cousin who became a teenaged mom and one of her daughters also became a teenaged mom, but neither this daughter nor her sister have gotten into any serious trouble. They may be decidedly wild with their piercings and tattoos (though tattoos run in their family), but the daughter with the child is also the kindest teenager and tries to instill good values in her own daughter. Example: When we were over at that branch of the family’s for Christmas, this young girl sat her little toddler down and made her watch the commercial featuring Alyssa Milano where she talks about sponsoring an impoverished child. The goal was to make this little toddler aware of how many starving children there were and to not be so picky or ungrateful for what she has. I liked that and will always remember that as an example of good parenting.
I think the general key here is to be as old school with one’s approach to parenting as possible. Like my parents — they were very strict with me, but I wasn’t aware of it at the time because all of the other parents in my (blue collar, almost completely Latino) neighborhood were exactly like that. I thought I just had a regular mom and dad until I became aware of other cultures and other families where the parents are passive doormats and the children rule the roost. My parents would have never allowed for that. In addition, my mom was exceptionally good at sniffing out any potential for trouble. I could never go behind her back to do anything against her/my dad’s rules because I knew she’d find out about it. Granted, the only time I was tempted to go against it was when I was really curious about what smoking was like, but even if I’d been a wilder child, she’d have tamed me in a near-instant.
Yet another thing that insured my childhood was one as a “good girl” was the fact that I attended academically rigorous schools where I was encouraged to develop my mind and given a heavy work load for homework, particularly at the high school level where I averaged six hours of homework per week night and twelve hours of homework per weekend. Added to that was my high school’s insistence on community service hours in order to graduate (atop the community service hours required to be in the NHS) and I had absolutely zero room to misbehave as a high schooler. I didn’t have the time or energy for it! By the time summer rolled around, the only thing I was interested in doing was eating simple meals such as cereal and canned soup, sleeping or lazing around for most of the day, and watching TV. Partying was the furthest thing from my mind. I’m sure those people who were serious juvenile athletes or performing artists could say the same thing about their own childhoods. Essentially, the point is to keep the child so busy throughout most of the year that making trouble is the ultimate last thing they’d ever want to do.
Anyway, sorry for making this a little screed here. The ultimate point to make is that it’s not the age of the parent that determines things here (though it does put the parent at a disadvantage if they become parents at a rather young age) — it’s the quality of their parenting.
Being an under-educated teenage parent doesn’t guarantee anything. My own sister was a teenage mother and as far as I know just as “unskilled at parenting” as any other new parent. Her son has never had any problems, graduated high school with good grades and is now in college, and is a wonderful young man. When I speak of “best families” I mean the most loving ones.
Sad story but so predictable. It’s like there’s realy almost no other way it could of turned out.
Mama lost Jessica a loooong time before Jessica left home for the last time. It’s good she took parenting classes and whatnot, but how much better if she took them before Jessica went wild?
Why do you say that? Not everyone — not even most people — who grow up in poor single-parent families develop the kind of problems Jessica had. Her mother sounds like she loves her daughter very much.
Ooh, “poor single parent families” hits close to home because that’s how my dad was raised. He was raised by someone who was biologically his paternal grandmother but realistically his REAL mom, because his bio mom was a careless wench who was useless and… ugh, I hate her so much. I always called that wench by her first name when she was alive because she didn’t deserve to be called “Grandma”. But Dad’s real mom was my grandma and she did a superb job raising my dad to be a kind, thoughtful man who did “woman’s work” such as cooking and cleaning and didn’t find that at all conflicting with his persona as a strong, touch, macho, blue collar kind of guy. And he was raised as poor as poor can be. His “bedroom” while growing up was essentially the hot water heater closet and he used an exposed pipe for his “closet”. He put himself through Catholic HS and began working when he was 12.
*sigh* Having said that, I really, really miss him. This July will be the 9th anniversary of his passing and it still feels like it was just yesterday that I lost him. Ahem. Sorry.
I never said her mother didn’t love her. I’m sure she did, but love only goes so far. You can love a child all you want but if you don’t also teach them right from wrong and make rules and stick with them and generally act like the adult, this kind of thing is much more likely to happen.
An 11yo doesn’t just suddenly out of the blue start screwing around with older men and sneaking out to parties. That kind of thing builds up over time.
My husband is a teacher and he says you can tell by about the third or fourth grade which kids are going to go down the wrong road, and you can tell by the way the parents act too. The parents whose kids go seriously wrong are almost always the young uneducated ones that don’t know how to be grown ups and try to be their kids’ friend instead of a parent.
My own guess would be that Jessica was sexually abused at some point when she was little. Sexual abuse in childhood sometimes leads to promiscuity at a very young age.
I think with things like this, there’s got to be more than one cause. I look at my own family. There’s me, and then there’s my one brother, who was openly and relentlessly cruel to me for the first quarter-century of my life, who terrorized me so badly I was afraid he was going to kill me, who stalked me on the internet after I went away to college, who nearly flunked out of high school and got into serious trouble with the law as an adult. I’ve got three other brothers living, and a sister, and none of them are like he was either in their treatment of me or in their own lives. He and I were raised in the same house, same parents, same school and so on.
She was never raped because she is my best friend and she trustees noone els than me or my brother and I’m sick of all these lies
According to your updates page, she was located safe in January 2013. I wonder what has happened to her since then.