Archive for the ‘AA’ Category

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Can Be Too Costly

March 16, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Saint Patrick’s Day

When graded by your local police, Saint Patrick’s Day is a more troublesome day for alcohol abuse than even New Year’s Eve.  In fact, except for Super Bowl Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day is the number one “holiday” for arrests, citations and emergency room admissions. 
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All because we Americans sometimes think it is OK to drink and over-drink until we are drunk.  On these three holidays and others, including Independence Day on July 4th we act as if we had a license to drink – a mandate from God to allow drunkenness and bad behavior.

Saint Patrick

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA),alcohol abuse and its related problems cost society many billions of dollars each year.

Estimates of the economic costs of alcohol abuse attempt to assess in monetary terms the damage that results from the misuse of alcohol. These costs include expenditures on alcohol-related problems and opportunities that are lost because of alcohol.

This Alcohol Alert addresses issues pertaining to estimates of the costs of alcohol abuse, focusing on the types of costs considered and on the various problems associated with their estimation.

While many difficulties in cost estimation are common to cost-of-illness studies in other health fields, two problems are particularly relevant to the case of alcohol abuse. First, researchers attempt to identify costs that are caused by, and not merely associated with, alcohol abuse, yet it is often hard to establish causation. Second, many costs resulting from alcohol abuse cannot be measured directly. This is especially true of costs that involve placing a dollar value on lost productivity. Researchers use mathematical and statistical methods to estimate such costs, yet recognize that this is imprecise. Moreover, costs of pain and suffering of both people who abuse alcohol and people affected by them cannot be estimated in any reliable way, and are therefore not considered in most cost studies.

These difficulties underscore the fact that although the economic cost of alcohol abuse can be estimated, it cannot be measured precisely. Nevertheless, estimates of the cost give us an idea of the dimensions of the problem, and the breakdown of costs suggests to us which categories are most costly. In the most recent cost study, Rice and co-workers estimated that the cost to society of alcohol abuse was $70.3 billion in 1985; a previous study by Harwood and colleagues estimated that the cost for 1980 was $89 billion.

By adjusting cost estimates for the effects of inflation and the growth of the population over time, Rice projected that the total cost of alcohol abuse in 1988 was $85.9 billion, and Harwood projected that the cost in 1983 was $116 billion.

Some clinicians, working closely with economy analysts, today estimate the total cost of alcohol abuse in America as in excess of $300 billion annually.

Although these figures are staggering, they have little deterrent impact on a drinker headed out for a night on the town.

So let’s just bottom line this beast alcohol right now.Attend any Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting and you are likely to hear a story of how alcohol lead someone to total professional and personal ruin.  Many successful men and women succumb to the disease of alcoholism.  They can tell stories about losing their spouse, kids, job, fortune, house (or houses) and car (or cars). 

I personally know people who, after being highly successful and relatively wealthy, ended up living in shopping carts.  I even have a friend that was thrown out of a bridge overpass and his “home” in a cardboard box.  It seems his excessive drinking was too much for his wino “roommates – who asked him to leave.

And every reader (just about) who has made it this far will say: “I am not an alcoholic.  I just drink.”

Everyone says this at first.  AA calls it “denial.”  Honest self assessment and a desire to be sober are essential to AA – and are in fact the only entry ticket you need to go to any AA meeting.

Related:
Why Americans love the Irish (St. Patrick’s Day in Monday)

U.S. Economy In Recession (Or Very Close)

March 12, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
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The United States is in a recession and economic storm clouds loom in Asia. 

U.S. homeowners have more debt than ownership (equity) causing many to “bail out” on their mortgages.  Banks now own more and more houses.  To make it easier to buy, the Federal Reserve has lowered interest rates over and over again.  The Fed may lower rates again next week.

The dollar is way down compared to the euro — and just about all other reputable currency — and oil prices are up because of this, high world-wide demand and limited refining capacity.

A US banknote is reflected on a euro coin. The dollar found ...

A US banknote is reflected on a euro coin. The dollar found some support Monday, gaining ground on the euro on warnings against excessive exchange rate volatility from European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet.(AFP/File/Joel Saget)
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In China, where banks hold over a trillion dollars in foreign exchange reserves, a sell-off of dollars could also depress the dollar further.  Fear of such an action alone is enough to make economists wary of pressuring China.

Farmers in the Midwest of America are delighted by high corn prices – much attributable to demand for corn-made ethanol.  But the high price of corn is a burden to those trying to feed livestock.

The good news is that it is so expensive to feed cattle right now that the farmers are slaughtering beef at a better than average rate.  Beef is cheep just now (but watch out next year).

The price of wheat per bushel has doubled in the last few months.  This means bread, pizza and bagels are going up in price.  Beer too!

Because of the low dollar, screwy farm prices and high gasoline prices, pretty much everything in the grocery store is costing more.

Retail sales are way down and applications for unemployment are way up.

But recession has a real definition and this, plus politics, has prevented the White House from using “The ‘R’ Word” much.

In macroeconomics, a recession is a decline in a country’s gross domestic product gross domestic (GDP), or negative real economic growth, for two or more successive quarters of a year.

For the U.S., the judgment of the business-cycle dating committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research regarding the exact dating of recessions is generally accepted. The NBER has a more general framework for judging recessions:
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A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.
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A recession begins just after the economy reaches a peak of activity and ends as the economy reaches its trough. Between trough and peak, the economy is in an expansion. Expansion is the normal state of the economy; most recessions are brief and they have been rare in recent decades.
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So, we at Peace and Freedom believe we Americans are in a recession and we see dark economic clouds world-wide, especially in Asia.

China’s high January and February readings for inflation have increased the pressure on the government to take action to counter price rises.  In China, annual consumer inflation jumped to 8.7 percent in February after hitting 7.1 percent in January, the worst in more than 11 years.

But much of the current economic turbulence in China, the communist government says, is attributable to the largest winter snowfall in 100 years.  China says their economy will quickly rebound.

A staff counts Chinese Renminbi currency at a bank in Baokang, ... 

Confidence among Australian consumers weakened sharply in March to its lowest level since 1993, according to data released Wednesday, sparking economists’ predictions that the central bank is unlikely to continue a run of interest rate hikes.

The International Monetary Fund has warned Vietnam that its fast-growing economy is overheating. It has advised Hanoi to adopt a more flexible exchange rate regime and to tackle imprudent lending practices by commercial banks, in order to help control inflation.
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Vietnam’s Communist authorities are battling to curb inflation, which, driven by higher food and energy prices, hit 15.7 per cent in February and has fuelled labor unrest, especially among factory workers who say they cannot make ends meet.

Japan’s economy has so far shown resiliency, but experts on the world’s second largest economy worry that Japan’s export-led recovery could stall if US economic troubles deepen.

At the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the leadership has confidence that the U.S. economy will rebound in the next quarter.

The U.S. economy is going through a rough patch but, thanks to a government fiscal package worth some $150 billion, should start recovering as soon as the second quarter, a senior Treasury official said on Tuesday.

“The booster shot that’s been given to the U.S. economy is going to boost consumer spending, is going to boost business investment — that will lead to both higher growth and higher job creation,” Robert Kimmitt, Deputy Treasury Secretary told Sky News in the UK.

“Many economists predict, and we agree, that we will see that upturn in the second quarter,” he said.

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We’ll have to wait and see.

Our advice is to pay off your credit card debt, reduce spending and hunker down.

The U.S. Treasury building designed by Ammi Burnham Young
The U.S. Treasury building

A Few Ways I Can Tell We Are In A Recession
(These may or may not apply to your neighborhood….)

1.  The AA clubhouse starts charging for matches and coffee — and is considering a ‘no smoking’ policy just so the gang can save money.
2.  The church no longer supplies a pen near the pile of the collection envelops.
3.  People actually born in America are eating at the Peruvian Pollo Chicken restaurant.
4.  The neighborhood restaurant no longer has music.  Now you do karaoke.
5.  You no longer know the pizza man’s name.
6.  You’re going to have to use our IRS refund for gas instead of a vacation.
7. A resident of the shelter is wearing a tie and a lapel pin from a bank.
8. A bunch of realtors joined the prayer group.
9. The number of Spanish speaking illegals standing on your street looking for work has doubled.
10.  You’re looking for a lock for your gas cap….

Lindsay Lohan Finds Her Way In A.A., Drinks Life From the Bottle

January 5, 2008

Peace and Freedom Note: We have decided to read more about the “media people” who influence our children and our culture.  Most of them are not worthy of anyone’s attention….

By Allison Moore
HD Diva

Washington, D.C. (January 5, 2008) — Hollywood hottie Lindsay Lohan was caught taking a swig from a champagne bottle on New Year’s Eve during her licentious tour of Capri, Italy.

That would be just fine — hey, do as the Romans do, huh? — but Lohan is supposedly recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. She pled guilty to drunken driving and cocaine possession last year in Los Angeles.

The Associated Press reports that her attorney claims the New Year’s misstep was just a one-time thingy.

Swear.

“After being handed a champagne bottle while on a dance floor in Italy on New Year’s Eve and drinking from it, the good news is that Lindsay immediately stopped, called her sponsor, and got herself back on track,” said the attorney, the alliterative Blair Berk.

We hear that she didn’t inhale, either.

Lindsay Lohan

Lohan dressed for church.

Berk’s statement might be believable — if Lindsay wasn’t also seen in Italy this week making out with three different men over a 24-our period.

“Unfortunately, Lindsay has to share her ‘one day at a time’ with the entire world,” Berk said.

One day at a time. Or, one man at a time?

Related:

Teen Media Idols: Drunk, Naked, Pregnant, Unashamed (We Have Pictures!)

Alcohol, Drugs, Bizarre Behavior: Pop Star Spears In Trouble

Our Holiday Season: A Good Time To Discuss Drugs and Alcohol in America

December 27, 2007

By John E. Carey
The Washington Times
December 27, 2007

Garber, Oklahoma — John and Mike wait a lonely vigil at the Oklahoma City airport just after midnight. They are there to meet a man they have never seen before. The man is addicted to physician prescribed medications and he is seeking help.

There is a crisis of addicts and alcoholics seeking help overwhelming America’s medical system and privately run treatment centers. Between October and January 1st, many alcoholics and drug addicts – people already on the perilous verge of self destruction even on the best days, start to come apart at the seams.

There is more than anecdotal evidence of this phenomena: one only need ask a member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA); a member of the community of caregivers, physicians, nurses, counselors and advisors who perform the lonely, often desperate work; or one of the ministers and priest who preach the word of the “Higher Power” to these broken people.

Trying to provide alternatives to alcohol and drugs, especially during the holidays, means teaching detoxification, rehabilitation, hope, prayer and recovery.

Peter arrives in Oklahoma and is greeted by John and Mike. Peter’s face speaks loudly of his agony, fatalism and addiction. He looks like he has been tortured – and he has. He has lost his wife, his business is near collapse and his eight year old daughter urged him to quit. He is here for detoxification and recovery.

Alcohol and dugs are equal opportunity scourges. As a young congressional staff member, I remember Wilbur Mills, then chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and one of the steepest falls from power in congressional history. Alcohol obviously impaired his judgment: and one of the most powerful men in Washington faced the scandal that involved a stripper with the stage name Fanne Foxe or “the Argentine Firecracker,” and an early morning romp in the tidal basin.

It was not a pretty sight – and it never is.

Michael is an alcoholic who suffers from diabetes who has been told by his doctors that he will be blind before long. At about the time of Mr. Mills’ troubles, Michael was practically a national hero. He held a world record in his athletic specialty and a gold medal from the Olympics. Today he suffers the agony of addiction and participates in daily AA meetings: sessions he calls his “lifeline.”

We came to Garber, Oklahoma, to see for ourselves one of the more respected, small and personal drug and alcohol treatment facilities. William (Bill) Alexander owns and manages The Manor House – a place of learning, solace, counseling and serenity for recovering addicts of all kinds.

“A drug is a drug, is a drug,” says Bill. “The addicted person doesn’t care much what substance he used once he makes a commitment to recovery. Once he or she makes the decision to admit that real help is needed and there is a strong desire to make the effort to recover, we provide him or her the tools to do so.”

“Drug use continues to be a serious public health crisis that affects every aspect of our society,” said Charles Curie of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “We must refuse to give up on people who have handed over their aspirations and their futures to drug use. People need to know help is available, treatment is effective and recovery is possible.”

Sara is not yet thirty years old. She attended nine high schools before her state declared her persona non grata. She had been repeatedly caught using and selling drugs in schools.“I have three felony convictions,” Sara told us. “Usually, when I talk to people, there isn’t even time to get into all the misdemeanors.  I was thrown out of a “crack house” for bad behavior. I needed help and I came to Garber to get it. When you reach ‘rock bottom’ sometimes you fear death and pain so much that you have to decide: do I want to live or will I soon die? I chose to live.”

In the most recent SAMHSA survey of drug and alcohol treatment facilities, nearly 13,800 facilities participated, reporting more than 1.1 million clients in treatment. Facilities operated by private non-profit organizations made up the bulk of treatment facilities (59 percent).  Private for-profit facilities made up 28 percent of these services in 2006, with the remaining facilities operated by local governments (7 percent), state governments (3 percent), the Federal government (2 percent) and tribal governments (1 percent).

The number of private for-profit facilities is growing each year. Many addicts, former addicts, and their families highly recommend the personal care, education and attention provided at these facilities. Some larger not for profit facilities we visited had four resident in one bedroom and classes of fifty or more addicts receiving recovery training.

At private facilities, the care is more personalized and tailored to the needs of the individual.

The “system” of treatment options is straining under the pressure of a growing number of addicts seeking recovery and sobriety. In a March 2006 survey of treatment facilities conducted by SAMHSA, ninety-one percent of all non-hospital residential beds and 90 percent of all hospital inpatient beds designated for substance abuse treatment were in use.

There are about 2 million Americans participating in AA meetings. The number of alcoholics and drug users not seeking treatment cannot be accurately measured but care givers put the number in the tens of millions.  Most experts believe about ten percent of America’s population of 300 million has a serious drug or alcohol problem: that’s 30 million Americans. 

This holiday season, treatment facilities and hospitals are at capacity. Trying to find hospital supervised detoxification in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas was next to impossible the week before Christmas. And this is not a regional problem. Shortages exist nation wide. We witnessed troubled addicts seeking help turned away and told to “make an appointment” for a later date: after the holidays or in the springtime.

Addicts in desperate need cannot keep some of those appointments because they die before the “system” can embrace them.

Despite all the blessings and wealth of American life, we still struggle to understand, provide treatment and hold out hope to a growing tidal wave of alcoholics and other addicts. The crisis is particularly explosive between Thanksgiving and New Years Day.

The holiday season is a good time to talk about addiction and treatment in America.

John E. Carey is a frequent contributor to The Washington Times, a former senior U.S. military officer and president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.

Christmas: Birth and Rebirth

December 25, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
December 25, 2007

Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. But in our real lives, what we see is sometimes not so blessed and sacred.

But then again, no.

I am fascinated by the “second chances” life (and God) gives to us. I know people who can recount so many second chances that they are tempted to declare they may actually be on their third or fourth chance!

Nadine is a stripper and prostitute. She has been at it for many years – and she would be a wealthy lady if she hadn’t squandered what she made on drugs and alcohol. She is scheduled for her third “boob job” but even casual observers can see; her body is mostly saggy, old and tired now. She may have to learn a new trade.

She told me the week before Christmas, “I am beginning to truly love God. He has never forsaken me despite my awful behavior.”

That’s a pretty good guy and a great God!

That’s my God too!

I recently met Peter at the airport. He said he wanted to stop drinking alcohol and get drugs out of his life.

As he deplaned, I could see in his face his own disappointment with the life he had been leading. Peter’s face speaks loudly of his agony, fatalism and addiction. He looks like he has been tortured – and he has. He has lost his wife, his business is near collapse and his eight year old daughter urged him to quit. He is here for detoxification and recovery.

Michael is an alcoholic who suffers from diabetes who has been told by his doctors that he will be blind before long. Michael was practically a national hero, some years ago. He held a world record in his athletic specialty and a gold medal from the Olympics.

Today he suffers the agony of addiction and participates in daily AA meetings: sessions he calls his “lifeline.”

Christmas to be celebrates God’s birth as man – but it is also a sign of our own human rebirth and salvation. Whatever we have done, whatever crimes we have committed, god understands because he was born man himself. Moreover, I believe that God is all forgiving. The bible tells me so.

So Merry Christmas to all near and far, no matter your faith, no matter your country or your beliefs. It is my firm commitment that the “Higher Power” loves, cherishes and forgives us ever evil.

Especially at Christmas time.

To Oprah and All Her Fans: Everything is Relative

November 5, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
November 5, 2007

Oprah Winfrey, “Who hasn’t had a bad day in her life,” according to celebrity disaster control and public relations consultant Peter Shankman of Manhattan, issued a teary-eyed apology to her South African school’s students and their parents after allegations of child sexual abuse by a matron were uncovered.

Ms. Winfrey, the highly regarded mega-millionaire, has invested some $40 million into an South African education center for about 150 young women, which is highly commendable. 

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah said whenever a child has the courage to come forward, adults should listen.

Oprah also said the revelation of the allegations had sparked “one of the most, if not the most devastating experience of my life.”

Now, child abuse and any sexual abuse is insidious, life-changing and often devastating.  It is not to be belittled.  But it is not death, cancer or the life that refugees face either.

Oprah Winfrey said, “This has shaken me to the core.”

This is as bad as Oprah’s life has ever gotten?  Or will ever get?
Talk Show host Oprah Winfrey smiles as she arrives for the Chicago premier of 'The Color Purple' in a  Thursday, May 3, 2007 photo. Winfrey has pulled a discredited children's book, Forrest Carter's 'The Education of Little Tree,' from a list of recommended titles on her Web site, blaming an archival 'error' for including a work considered the literary hoax of a white supremacist.  'The archived listing was posted in error and has been removed,' Winfrey spokeswoman Angela DePaul told The Associated Press on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007, adding that she did not know long 'Little Tree' had been on the site. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, file)

Oprah Winfrey

We think what really brought Oprah to tears was the revelation that Jay Leno wouldn’t be able to talk about her dilemma because his writers are on strike. We heard one PR queen say, “She cried like a baby when she heard the story broke on a night with only late night re-runs. Now THAT’S a TRAGEDY.”

And by emphasizing her own emotional distress, Oprah seemed to cover over the people really hurt and wronged.  The students.  Her students.  A PEOPLE Magazine editor we spoke to said, “Oprah is partly to blame.  She put her name on that school then didn’t ensure a safe environment.  She needs to step up.”

Even Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post wrote, “I did wince yesterday when she called allegations of sexual and physical abuse at the girls’ school she founded in South Africa ‘one of the most devastating, if not the most devastating experience of my life’ — seeming to make it all about her, not the alleged victims.”

On the November 6, 2007 TODAY show on NBC, feelings were expressed, but in very muted tones.

Oprah promised to love, cherish, comfort and care for her “little ones” and she handed out her cell phone number.

She told the media she was their “Mamma Bear.”

But when you are 5 or 6 time zones away and in a different culture and on a different continent, the amount of hugging and helping has to be done through accountants.

We believe, if a crime committed in Africa is the worst thing ever to happen to a Chicago-based multi-millionaire and TV personality; then life is just about as terrific as it can be. Oprah apparently has no clue about what is going on in cancer treatment centers, refugee camps and millions of other places filled with tragedy, crime, unlawful death, pain and agony.

Heck, in Thailand and Cambodia they just don’t abuse little girls, they sell them to predators first.  Try human trafficking as a real cause for celebrity interest.

Oh, Oprah has HEARD all the stories, and even visited some slums in her limo: but she is always free to travel home to her Ivory Tower.

Fifteen minutes in the slums of Bombay or Manila, we bet, would make Oprah lose her lunch.  She’d have no fluids left for tears.

We are tired of teary-eyed divas with few worries worth noting. 

Paris Hilton cried after she was sentenced to a Hollywood slammer for, what, 23 days? Ellen cried because she had to send a puppy (that she had already given away to someone else) back to the adoption agency.  

And Heather Mills cried, I guess, because she might only screw Paul McCartney out of $60 million: not the full $300 million she thinks she deserves.  And besides, says Heather, the newspapers have been “simply wicked.”
Photo

Well my heart is broken.

Lord Have Mercy! These are DISASTERS? Whoever is listening to this drivel and thinks these are real tragedies should run, not walk, to the nearest neighborhood AA meeting and hear an hours worth of real life problems. Heck, in Vegas there are guys that have lost more money gambling than Oprah has ever MADE. Now that’s a tragedy. And a fifteen minute visit to a communist prison in Vietnam or China, we’ll bet, would more than quadruple the trauma Oprah is experience because of sexual abouse 5,000 or more miles away.

And ladies of America, if you have sympathy for these hugely rich people with bad nail and manicure tragedies: go find someone with real heartache and lend a hand. Don’t stew for one second over these charlatans.

Remember “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”?  The song about the tragedy of Evita Peron? Well, she slept herself into South American stardom and didn’t deserve one tear drop.

At least Marie Osmond figured out that tears had been shed over, and over, and over again.  So she fainted!

Evita and Marie deserve no tears.

And neither do any of the above mentioned show people of dubious intentions and questionable tragedies.

Related:
Rich, Good Looking Doesn’t Make You Happy: So Crying on TV Gets Attention?
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Oprah the Avenger

By Eugene Robinson
The Washington Post
November 6, 2007

I  can’t summon any schadenfreude for Oprah Winfrey, just sympathy — both for her good intentions and her determination to live up to them. And I pity anyone foolish enough to stand in her way.

I did wince yesterday when she called allegations of sexual and physical abuse at the girls’ school she founded in South Africa “one of the most devastating, if not the most devastating experience of my life” — seeming to make it all about her, not the alleged victims. Still, my heart refused to harden.

I recalled that when Winfrey opened the $40 million school in January, I criticized her dismissal of inner-city kids here in the United States as only interested in “an iPod or some sneakers.”

I thought that insult was gratuitous and wrong. But I couldn’t argue with her basic point that South Africa has desperate poverty and a rudimentary educational infrastructure, and I applauded her attempt to give a few special girls an opportunity beyond their wildest dreams.

Now that the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls is back in the news, but for all the wrong reasons, I’ve got to applaud the way Winfrey is handling the situation. I have the sense that she wouldn’t hesitate to do a little “enhanced interrogation” of some staff members if that was what it took to get to the bottom of what really happened.

A now-fired dormitory matron at the school, Virginia Mokgobo, 27, was arrested last week. She pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of assault, indecent assault and soliciting underage girls to perform indecent acts and was released on bail.

Police said that at least seven students had submitted statements in support of the allegations, but it was not known how many were alleged victims of abuse and how many were witnesses.

“When I first heard about it, I spent about a half-hour going around my house crying,” Winfrey told South African journalists yesterday, speaking from Chicago in a video news conference.

All about Oprah? Not a fair question, when you recall that Winfrey has disclosed that she was the victim of sexual abuse as a young girl. There’s every reason to believe that the allegations of abuse at the school have, as Winfrey said, “shaken me to my core” — not her celebrity core, but her real core.

Since first hearing of the allegations in early October, she has flown to South Africa twice. She put the school’s headmistress on administrative leave and has since said that she will not renew the woman’s contract — the first step in what she described at her news conference yesterday as “cleaning house from top to bottom.”

She apologized personally to angry parents, telling them, “I’ve disappointed you. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” She has hired her own investigative team to assist South African authorities, and if someone is found guilty of the charges, I wouldn’t be surprised if Winfrey offered to build a new prison.

Of course, we don’t yet know if any abuse actually took place. The magistrate who released Mokgobo on bail told her, “These kind of offenses are very prevalent in this court” — an acknowledgment that sexual abuse of girls, usually by male teachers, is far too common in South African schools. But in the case of Winfrey’s school, we don’t yet know the specific allegations, much less whether there is evidence to support them.

We know that students complained months ago about not being allowed to eat junk food — hardly a red flag. But we also know that some parents began complaining in March, just two months after the Leadership Academy opened, that the school was too strict in limiting visits, telephone calls and e-mail contact with their children. In retrospect, that might have been an important warning.

Winfrey’s school — lavishly appointed, with state-of-the-art science labs and a yoga studio — is meant to be an island of unlimited possibility. But isolating the school’s 450 students so thoroughly from negative influences may also have kept out needed sunlight — and may have allowed problems to fester in the dark. As Winfrey cleans house, I think she might want to restructure the model and allow more of an organic relationship between the school and its community.

She gave the students her private phone number and e-mail address so they can contact her immediately with problems and concerns. Winfrey may not be an expert on running a school — yet — but I’m confident she understands the most important thing: There is no more sacred trust than caring for other people’s children.

The writer will answer questions at 1 p.m. today here. His e-mail address is eugenerobinson@washpost.com.