RECKLESS ABANDONMENT

SHE WAS ROBBED OF HER HEARING AT BIRTH. SHE WAS ROBBED OF A HOME LIFE BY AN INDEFFERENT MOTHER. SHE WA ROBBED OF HER VIRGINITY AT AGE 12, BECOMING A MOTHER AT AGE 14. AND DESPITE CLEAR EVIDENCE OF ABUSE, IT TOOK THE SYSTEM YEARS TO COME TO HER AID.

Meanwhile, Benita is preparing a speech she plans to deliver October 15 during a debate program at ASU. She gives a preview of the speech, which will express strong opinions formed from her personal experience.

"Parents should learn not to abuse their children," Benita says. "CPS should learn how to get off their ass and see who is being abused. The police should learn how to talk right to the deaf. Kids shouldn't be afraid of telling the truth."

But like most teenage girls, Benita Venegas would prefer to dwell on the matters of the heart.

"I want to date boys my own age," she says, pounding that fist into her chest again. "I know it's hard to find a good man. But I'm still a kid and I don't know how to.

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