See what other CASA volunteers are doing – send us your stories and blogs (we are building a CASA blogs sidebar-include yours).
Kids at Risk Action (KARA) – Children's Rights Advocacy Network
This KARA page tracks current murdered, tortured, and gravely injured, children bringing attention to and accountability for these most neglected and abused American citizens. Compilation of information and writing on this page is the hard work of Blaz Zlate, a Century Student Volunteer (Thanks Blaz and thank you Century College). Note to readers; articles are arranged from the most current to the oldest. For most recent stories; Click Here
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As a longtime CASA guardian ad-Litem volunteer, Mike shares powerful stories about children, America’s institutions, and the path ahead. Add your comments on this site (and read some of the 1000 comments that have been submitted).
3 million cases of child abuse (6 million children) are reported to child protection services in the U.S. each year (without allowing children that have watched their mothers being beaten or raped to be reported).
Only a fraction of these children receive the help they need to lead productive lives.
Before our schools can work again or communities become safe again, all of us need to know more and all of us need to speak out in support of abused & neglected children.
Let’s make 2013 a better year for children;
Inspire your campus or organization by motivating them to stand up for at risk children with Mike’s Invisible Children keynote talk.
Motivate your posse to fully appreciate the value of their efforts & commitment & give them tools to make better things happen for children in your community.
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The data from almost all quality of life indices shows clearly that children in northern European nations are healthier, live longer, and are happier than American youth. This article shines a light into a mundane but meaningful difference in the way the U.S. deals with childbirth. Continue reading ‘From Finland; Babies In Boxes’
Mike Tikkanen with Sam Ashkar – Invisible Children
Mike Tikkanen is a leading author and speaker for generating awareness, exposing facts that many are afraid, or unable to bring to the attention of the American public.
Working with abused and neglected children as a volunteer county guardian ad-litem, Mike speaks directly about the financial and physical disaster happening daily to children, schools, and neighborhoods because of poor public policy and the dysfunction of well- meaning people and institutions.
Dear Friends of CASA Minnesota:
We are proud to announce that, for the second year in a row, CASA Minnesota is a participating charity in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on October 6, 2013. We are reaching out to runners and supporters to fundraise for Team CASA Minnesota. Our goal is to raise more than $8,000 and we need your help!
CASA Minnesota is a local nonprofit whose mission is to support and promote volunteer advocates to ensure that every abused and neglected child in Minnesota has a safe, stable and permanent family. Our advocates are everyday citizens who become extraordinary volunteers.
Why should you join our fundraising team?
If you have not already registered for the marathon, you can receive a code entitling you to FREE race registration if you commit to raising at least $350! Even if you are already registered, everyone who joins Team CASA Minnesota can earn free stuff!
How do I sign up?
Not a runner? You can still help!
Please forward this email to your runner friends and family, or consider making a donation to our team at
Please contact Kelly Hudick at email@example.com or 612-382-6402.
As a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I have come to know a good many GLBT youth and identify with the exclusion and cruelty they face on an all too regular basis.
This report from the Center for Disease Control delivers a clear picture of the extent to which GLBT issues are overwhelming millions of children in our nation today.
Not being accepted by society is it’s own kind of perpetual torture and a whole lot of innocent children suffer to the point that they want to die. San Francisco is a relatively progressive community. If it is this bad there, what’s it like in Texas, or Alabama?
In April, 8 month old Kent Schailble died of treatable pneumonia because his parent’s fanatical religion demanded it. Kent’s 2 year old brother Brandon died for the same reason in the same home just a few years earlier (he was also denied medical treatment for a completely treatable disease).
The parents minister said the children died because of a lack of faith by the parents.
This family was not being monitored by child-welfare workers.
As a CASA guardian ad-Litem, I witnessed 49 police calls to the same home where a seven year old had been prostituted and the only reason the children (girls 4 and 7) were removed from the home on the 49th call, was that the 7 year old tried to kill the 4 year old in the presence of police officers (it was a child’s cry for help).
Somewhere in this conversation we need to discuss child protection and the civil rights of children.
We all know that it is a terrible offense to prostitute or murder someone else’s 2 or 7 year old, but these two cases (and I have others) prompt me to ask if parents in America can prostitute and murder their own children (at least in some states). Continue reading ‘Religious Freedom In Philadelphia Kills 2 Young children (4 years apart, same home)’
Join us for coffee and treats and an enlightening conversation about improving the lives of at risk children and the quality of life in our community.
When:Sat, June 8, 8:00am – 9:30am
Where: Gardens of Salonica, 19 5th St NE, Minneapolis, MN (map)
Watch (4 minute) Short Speaking Video
Please share this link with your friends and contacts and help KARA continue the conversation for improving schools, communities, and the quality of life in our nation.
Today’s Star Tribune article by Christina Roegies explains how mentally ill people can lead amazing and fulfilling lives.
Long ago I listened to a mental health expert tell his psychologist audience not to think themselves too different from the people they saw daily for treatment. His logic was that we all have idiosyncracies and periods of our lives when our coping skills are low and we act in nutsey/irrational ways.
Assistant Commissioner of MN Department of Human Services, Dr Read Sulik’s “ability to cope” definition of children’s mental health is the most understandable and meaningful definition I have heard.
1) being able to engage and relate to others
2) being able to soothe oneself when stressed or upset, and
3) being able to explore and learn from the world around them.
Dr Sulik’s statement that “As adults, it is our responsibility to stand up for the children who cannot ask for help”.
This is the heart of all that ails our schools, public safety issues (high crime & massive prison populations with ridiculous recidivism rates) and quality of life in our communities.
Crisis nurseries, subsidized daycare, and more support for effective mental health services available through schools and public health make a big improvement in all aspects of our lives individually and as a community.
Relying on psychotropic medications and ignoring the larger conversation on mental health has diminished the quality of life for a huge percentage of our nation.
The very real costs of crime, incarceration, troubled schools, and loss of quality of life when compared to the rest of the industrial nations is a mental health issue and it makes America look pretty nutsey – let’s talk about it.
Hats off to Essex County high school students bringing a voice to abused and neglected children through a coordinated effort for CASA advocacy & community awareness.
In support of all the children living without a safe and permanent home, Essex County schools pitched tens and slept outdoors Friday night (May 3rd). The County family court Judge Thomas Zampino visited them and gave them an overview of the life of a a child in foster care.
CASA volunteers created the Camp Out For CASA concept to promote child welfare and a more active community.
If your CASA organization has done great and interesting things, send them to me that we can show the rest of the country (we also have readers all over the world). Continue reading ‘Camp Out For Essex County CASA’
This 90 minute talk is a powerful and comprehensive talk I had with Bill and his panel about our institutions and what needs to change to make our children and communities happier and safer: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bill-murray/2013/05/16/stop-child-abuse-now-scan.mp3 (move the arrow a little bit to skip the music if you wish to start at the conversation).
Mother Earth News this month includes weapons manufacturers marketing materials aimed at very young children. It is disturbing. It was just last week a five year old Kentucky boy killed his two year old sister with his “Crickett” “my first” rifle. You can buy them in hot pink for little girls:
“The Crickett rifle is ideally sized for children four to ten years old and comes in a …Arms manufactures the following youth rifles: Crickett .22WMR Youth Rifles“
Mom was outside & said she did not know the gun was loaded. Gun marketing pictures from the Crickett marketing page (the site was down today when I went to include the link – it will be interesting to see if it has been changed) http://www.crickett.com/
Why not cars, tobacco, & alcohol (they would after all, be safer)
photo courtesy of Richard Ross www.juvenile-in-justice.com
A second Pennsylvania judge (Michael Conahan) has plead guilty for receiving commissions for each child sent to privately held detention facilities (PA Childcare and Western PA Childcare) .
2.6 million dollars in fees were paid for between one and two thousand children sentenced for things they did not do. Judge Mark Ciavarella was identified some months ago as the primary offender in this case.
This adds a sorrowful twist to Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz statements that ”90% of the youth in juvenile justice have passed through child protection” & “”The difference between that poor child and a felon, is about 8 years”.
In Pennsylvania 90% just isn’t filling privately held facilities with enough human prison fodder. I know how hard life is for at risk children and find this kind of crime to be a hanging offense for both the owners of the privately held facilities as well as the corrupters of our legal system.
It is one thing to steal money from people that have it, entirely another to steal childhoods from at risk children for money.
Please join me in speaking out and voting against privately held juvenile and criminal incarceration in America. It is wrong in so many ways.
Please pass this on (the nation needs to have this discussion). Buy our book or donate Watch Our Video Continue reading ‘Judges Jailing Children For Money In America (yes it happens)’
It has been pointed out to me that in some instances my writing leads readers to think that CASA guardian ad-Litems are part of child protective service when in fact (and I know this inside and out) CASA is child advocacy within the institution of child protection. Forgive me for this error and please appreciate that CASA/GAL is all about child advocacy. For more information about:
State Falls Behind In Abuse Inquiries (today’s Star Trib headlines)
The sentence seems harmless unless you are a five year old child tied to a bed, left alone for days without food, beaten and sodomized, prostituted as a 7 year old, or left alone in a crib for days without contact.
These were my first experience with child abuse as a volunteer Hennepin County guardian ad-Litem.
The current backlog of 724 cases (double what it was 18 months ago) means that children will wait for their sexual abuse, beatings, and neglect to be investigated.
The average duration of sexual abuse of the oldest family child in this nation is 4 years. There are 6 million children reported to child protection in the U.S. each year.
Out of the 50 children I advocated for removal from toxic homes as a CASA volunteer, half of them had been sexually abused.
The World Health Organization’s definition of torture is “Extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.
Every child in my caseload suffered from “Extended exposure to violence and deprivation”. Prozac does not fix this.
About a quarter of Minnesota’s 5000 neglect and abuse reports are investigated. In my experience, only the worst of the worst get investigated as the system is already overworked and under- resourced.
If legislators realized that the future costs of leaving vulnerable children at the mercy of caregivers capable of the violence and deprivation I have witnessed, they would see the wisdom of funding child friendly legislation. Leaving children to suffer longer in toxic homes lasts forever and costs a fortune (in money and humanity). ”What we do to our children, they will do to our society” Pliny, 2500 years ago.
Good legislation should solve real problems, not avoid or exacerbate them. Continue reading ‘State of MN Falls Behind In Abuse Inquiries’
This extensive article from the New Republic clearly defines the nightmare that is child daycare for so many American children and infants. Not only is this unregulated field filled with underpaid, under-trained service providers, but poor people (about one third of U.S. families) can’t afford or can barely afford day care for their children.
Almost half of America’s 8.2 million children under five spend part of their week in care outside the home.
America’s weakest and most vulnerable citizens are too often left in the care of drunk uncles and worse because low wage parents just don’t earn enough to pay for daycare.
The only time we read about the pain caused by inadequate daycare is when a baby chokes to death on a condom or has its brains dashed out on a wall.
Subsidized day care not only creates a safe place for the child, but a smarter citizen, and a happier and more productive family living in a better community.
The rest of the industrialized world spends more, cares more, and have come to realize the value of healthy children and many would argue, healthier children clearly results in happier and safer societies. “What we do to our children, they will do to society” Pliny The Elder 2500 years ago.
Day care providers in advanced nations are regulated and resourced and meet standards that lead to better conditions and better results. Instead, we send our children to school knowing which ones will always read below grade level and never graduate. Our prisons are filled with the sad stories of children with lives dashed because of a community much more willing to spend money on criminal justice that early childhood programs. This is a public health issue. Continue reading ‘American Exceptionalism; Child Daycare’
Teachers that lived through the Bush era No Child Left Behind fiasco understand the impossibility of making students succeed and schools look good with inadequate resources and classrooms bulging with kids that can’t read, Prozac, and violence.
The “Texas education Miracle” that lead the NCLB’S deconstruction of America’s schools proved to be as wrong and dysfunctional as the erasures on thousands of test questions executed by hundreds (if not thousands) of teachers in Georgia and now DC (and there may well be other states – see Tennessee teacher test fraud ).
If you study the DC memos being made public you will see just how hard it is to identify and pursue this kind of criminal activity (if it weren’t for excellent journalists at the Atlanta Journal, none of this would have been discovered).
There is a strong chance that DC cheating will crawl back into the woodwork because of the political pressure to silence it.
I suggest that the issue is more common than we can imagine.
Beverly Hall of the Atlanta school system is about to be imprisoned for a long time for cheating 52,000 students (mostly poor black students) out of a meaningful education. Michele Rhee appears to be implicated in the DC scandal by recently discovered memos indicating a cover up. Her hard fought, tough as nails, “tiger mom” approach to life resonated well with a good share of people looking for an educational silver bullet these past few years.
Teachers have taken the brunt of the fallout from failing schools, from overpaid, to under-trained, and just lazy. Politicians build their careers on these kinds of statements.
America’s love affair with business and financial types has had an equal and opposite (if not hate, disrespect) effect with service providers like educators, day care workers, social workers.
When a baby is found in a dumpster, it is the social workers fault. When schools fail, it is the teachers fault.
It’s hard to look good where the problems are many times greater than staff and resources can manage (in any field – try being a cop in Flint MI).
Nationally, social workers & educators last in their positions about five years in most states before leaving the profession (until we measure the tough states, like Georgia, DC, and a good number of southern and eastern states where 2, 3, and 4 year tenure is common). Can you imagine training to be a teacher and leaving after 2 years? 2 years is not uncommon in education, social work, or women’s prison administration.
When I spoke at the UN a few years ago, social workers from New York and New Jersey were very open about the miserable conditions, lack of support, low pay, and huge caseloads that had forced them out the door, even though they had entered the system with great hopes and strong desire to make a difference.
That describes most court systems, social services providers, and schools in our nation today.
Top down cheating to “look good” is just one more manifestation of American institutions creating exactly what they were designed to stop.
We need to support the people doing the work. It should be a gross misdemeanor for politicians to make their careers on the backs of these people.
America’s problems are institutional and ought to be improved by our politics, not made worse. Speak out.
Does the nation need more disadvantaged youth in the criminal justice system? Texas thinks so.
Texas, the state eliminating higher order thinking from it’s schools & teaching that premarital sex has fatal consequences, and that getting plenty of rest and avoiding condoms saves one from sexually transmitted diseases (Texas leads all states and many third world nations in the incidence of STD’s among youth) now rests comfortably ahead of all states and the rest of the world in criminalizing students.
Texas also leads in Executions (including of the mentally ill – ignoring federal mandates), juvenile incarceration, uninsured children, child poverty (including food insecurity/starvation of children), preteen pregnancies (and the highest rates of repeat births to teen moms).
Isn’t it awful to think that children in Botswana, Mali, and Afghanistan are better informed about health care than Texas children?
In 2011, Representative Michael Villarreal proposed that sex education taught in public schools be medically accurate (the bill never made it out of committee). In its place Texas Republicans approved Corporal punishment, refusing millions of dollars in federal funding for schools, and denying pre-school and kindergarten programs, as a step forward for Texas children.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan believes that Texas has lowest graduation rate in the nation. For some years Texas has been last or near last in residents with high school diplomas & scoring on the SATs.
There is almost no access to prenatal care for the poor, birth control for youth, and family planning for all women is currently being devastated by the firestorm of right wing political leaders.
Let the Governor of Texas know that the rest of the nation is watching (pass this on and bring attention to the plight of poor children in Texas) :
Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/KidsAtRisk Share This Blog Continue reading ‘Texas Wins Again (Criminalizing 300,000 students / year)’
This compares to 1.2% in Israel, 1.4% in Germany, and .3% in the UK. My concern is mostly the giant percentage of foster care children being forced to take these drugs.
Side effects are real and there is little meaningful mental health therapy provided to coincide with the taking of these drugs. I would argue, that we use these drugs in place of therapy which leads to medicated kids never learning how to cope with their mental health issues (which is why we have so many preteen moms, adolescent felons, and unsafe neighborhoods).
The following TED talk, St Luke’s Health Initiatives brief, and Policy Lab Research of foster kids on psychotropic medications (Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia), describe what should be evidence enough to reconsider our definition of dangerous drugs.
Readers; please post related studies, stories, and information along with if it you mind being contacted.
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We live at a time where five year old children are forced to take psychotropic medications and the promise that big pharma can cure anything from sexual dysfunction to better grades. Having grown up in the 60′s/70′s and experienced my own illegal drug use I’m somewhat attuned to the disparity that exists between 9 year old’s on Ritalin and 29 year old’s on cocaine.
Ritalin is a Cocaine derivative and was banned in Sweden because of the suicides (in 1968). I’ve written about the 7 year old foster child who hung himself and left a note decrying how he was being forced to live on Prozac. I speak here of Ritalin and Prozac as metaphor for all psychotropics used on children. Instead of enhancing our coping skills, these drugs make us zombies and put us at the mercy of a host of side effects and the very real experience of hopelessness.
I have myself experienced suicidal ideation as a result of Topamax, an anti seizure medication forced on me by the Mayo clinic as an off label cure for migraine headache (it did not work in so many ways).
Teachers, social workers, justice workers, and parents today are forced to collude with big pharma to medicate children . Children are no more able to handle suicidal ideation than they could handle rape. If you know someone using psychotropics, ask them if they have had the experience of suicidal ideation. 1/3 of youth in Georgia’s foster care system take psychotropic medications (most other state’s have the same statistic).
The topic needs much more attention.
There is nothing like it. There is no good excuse for substituting mental health help for children with psychotropics (especially where five year old’s are concerned).
Have we come to trust our professionals beyond their capacities? Have they created the conditions necessary for mass murder and mass failure in our communities?
We should recognize that overfilled prisons, unsafe streets, and failing schools cannot be made better by upping the dosage of Magic Potions?
I write today from the pain of a fifth suicide in my circle these past 24 months.
After all, up until the 70′s these folks (and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness) classified Homosexuality as mental illness. Mistakes were made.
Catherine, Herbert Schaible’s second child dies after parents use prayer, no medicine
April 23, 2013. Philadelphia.
An 8-month-old boy passed away recently and the focus is now on his parents, who turned to prayer rather than medical attention to heal their son. The couple has been on probation since 2009 following the death of their other son who passed away due to bacterial pneumonia. In the 2009 case, the parents did not seek medical attention either, but instead turned to prayer alone.
Department of Children’s Services ordered to release information to media in 50 child death
April 17, 2013. Tennessee.
The DCS had been ordered to release the 50 most recent child death cases from May after the department’s failure to release adequate records of cases resulting in child deaths in a previous order. The DCS is restating that the release of identifying information in case reports may have consequences for the families affected by those reports.
Father of boy who died after cold bath says son was ill, disputes drowning as cause of death
April 22, 2013. Virginia.
The body of 15-month-old Prince was found cold, clammy, naked, and with blue lips. His body temperature was already 91 degrees when he was brought to the attention of medics. The father, Rams, allegedly was giving Prince a cold bath in an attempt to stop seizures induced by a fever; however, evidence is currently pointing towards drowning as the cause of death. The $500,000 in life insurance policies that had been taken out on Prince is also under investigation, of which Rams has declined to comment on.
Georgia Superintendent of Schools (Beverly Hall) is about to be imprisoned for a long time for ordering the massive cheating scandal that robbed about 52,000 poor (mostly African American elementary school children) of a meaningful education. Almost 200 teachers have resigned for their role in lying about test scores to make their schools “look better” to the public.
Because teachers lied about student achievement at the Parks Middle School in Georgia, federal and state aid (almost a million dollars) did not show up to help underachieving students (as their test scores had dishonestly been reported as too successful to qualify).
About a third of Georgia foster children are reported to be on psychotropic medications, the state spends almost 8 million dollars (according to Medicaid records).
Georgia needs more mental health services, subsidized day care, crisis nurseries for poor children, and more help for kids not performing in schools (instead of cheating teachers and psychotropic medications).
I think I know why Beverly Hall did what she did (it was a choice between $500,000 in performance bonus or guaranteed continued failure).
When I interviewed teachers for the book INVISIBLECHILDREN a few years ago, teacher after teacher told me what it’s like to manage under NCLB in a classroom with multiple Prozac children doing what really troubled children on psychotropic medications do during the course of a school day.
Fights and stabbings and other forms of violence by dangerously disturbed children are frightening and common occurrences even in grade schools.
No Child Left Behind left teachers feeling hopeless in many schools and the path of least resistance appears to be avoiding hard truths and cheating.
Lying, euphemisms, and cheating insures that core issues will never be dealt with and American children will continue to fail in school and on the streets. In Georgia Dr Hall ruled by fear, demanding principals meet testing goals within 3 years. She replaced 90% of her principals. How awful to be a teacher in Georgia.
Over the last 15 years, the lack of appreciation for mental health and education of this nation’s children is having a building and dramatic effect on our schools, communities, and justice systems. Lying, cheating, jail and Prozac won’t fix it.
Children that can’t read by the third grade don’t graduate and children that don’t graduate end up as preteen moms, infected with STD’s, and boys become part of the justice system leading dysfunctional lives for the majority of their time on this planet.
Mental health issues plague about 66% of the youth in the juvenile justice system and fully half that number suffer from serious, multiple, and chronic disorders. America now leads the world in youth with STD’s and crime.
We are seeing these results play out in the headlines of disintegrating communities suffering from unspeakable violence and a crime rate that the rest of the industrialized world does not envy (we are ten times more dangerous than most other industrialized nations).
As MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz has stated, “about 90% of the youth in juvenile justice have passed through the child protection system”, & ” the difference between that poor child and a felon is about 8 years”.
Programs for poor and under-performing children are far less expensive in the long run than letting illiterate third graders fail in a society that pretty much guarantees them a very expensive prison cell next to so many others just like them (and of course now, Beverly Hall).Please share this article and your comments.
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KARA board members Sam Ashkar and Mike Tikkanen accompanied Rich Gehrman and his Safe Passage For Children colleagues to support a bill at the state capital on thursday supporting child protection screening practices protecting children throughout MN. This bill SF 704 / HF 1106 gives simple guidelines, clarifies standards, and improves accountability for reporting and screening practices for abused children in terrible circumstances. It is the least we can do.
Please forward this to your friends and make a call to your state representative (and to State Senate Republican leader David Hann who is influential on this committee; 651-296-1749 )
American institutions are producing exactly that which they were designed to stop. Almost all the youth in juvenile justice have come through child protection programs. Virtually all criminal justice candidates have been juvenile offenders. 2/3′s of these people have mental health problems (fully half of this number have multiple, serious, and chronic conditions – these are the dangerous and dysfunctional folks that so often make the news).
Much of what I write and speak makes people angry. Imagine what it’s like to be child protection worker or volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem and meet a seven year old boy that’s been tied to a bed, left alone for days at a time, starved, sexually abused, and beaten to a pulp with bruises covering his body. Or come to know very young girl that was prostituted by her mother.
When the media makes the story public, when a baby is found in a dumpster, we blame the social worker, then the mother, then the system. None of that helps. No amount of hate and blaming will bring back the 7 year old foster child that hung himself and left a note about how he didn’t like Prozac or make life better for the little girl that was kicked so hard by her abuser that she went into convulsions. Continue reading ‘The State Of Child Protection In America Today’
Most of the families experiencing violence in the home also report child abuse. 77% of children in high violence families were abused over their lifetime. The effects last a lifetime.
Most children who witness domestic violence suffer from PTSD and go on to lead lives much like their parents taught them (unless they are lucky enough to have good daycare, crisis nursery access, and mentoring – fairly rare in America today).
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This petition could have real impact in making life better for at risk youth. Please review and sign; http://www.examiner.com/article/urgent-action-needed-congress-must-protect-children-the-justice-system?cid=db_articles
WASHINGTON, DC (March 13, 2013) – The National Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC) released its report and recommendations, “Promoting Safe Communities,” to congress.
In the 22-page report the organization is calling on congress to support effective systems of justice for our youth by focusing on the following five areas:
NJJDCP”s full report and recommendations can be viewed at:http://promotesafecommunities.org/images/pdfs/NJJDPC_RecstoCongress_03122013_web.pdf?utm_source=Copy+of+NJJDP+Report+-Congress&utm_campaign=WNR+2-8-2013&utm_medium=email
Zero Kids Waiting is the monthly eNewsletter of Minnesota Adoption Resource Network, a 33-year old organization that creates and supports lifelong nurturing families for children needing permanency. As an email subscriber to Zero Kids Waiting, you will receive a monthly update about what our organization and others are doing to promote adoption of Minnesota children and teens.
To opt out of receiving Zero Kids Waiting and other announcements from Minnesota Adoption Resource Network including MN ADOPT training emails for parents and professionals, please click SafeUnsubscribe at the bottom of this newsletter.
To learn more about Minnesota’s waiting children and our goal to reach Zero Kids Waiting visit State Adoption Exchange
We are limiting interviews to the Minneapolis, St. Paul area to begin with & hope to expand our reach in the future.
Send KARA a few sentences about your story; Mike@invisiblechildren.org
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First, it hurts me to see how negative the last few weeks of my writing and reporting have been. In my defense, the news has been terrible on a national scale.
While it is hard to find a balance of happy news on the topic of child abuse, there is some to find and I promise to dig deeper for better news starting today (don’t be afraid to send me positive stories).
Second, now and then readers ask me for verification of data without telling me what data you want verified. Please read the entire blog you are reviewing, and click on the links within that blog because most of the data come from article linked within the blog.
If that doesn’t work, do what I do; Google it. The art of search demands proper phrasing, so start with the most basic terms and refine your search with those key words as you read the results. Of course, my book has a bibliography and for 2.99 (on this site) you can download the ebook or, for a bit more, the printed version. The audio book can be listened to on this site for free, but the bibliography is not spoken.
Not much of what I write is new or different. Most of the data has been true for many years now. Several of you have stated that you are graduate students doing research in the field (I find that hard to believe, I’m sorry). Please don’t ask me to do your research for you. If you are serious about these topics I refer you to;
www.avahealth.org You can spend hours listening to the medical professionals address these topics on this site in a very straightforward manner. Their videos are powerful – in particular, study the ACES information.
www.juvenile-in-justice.com This site provides an overview of how our institutions are working together and paints the picture of how at risk children are aging through society today. While it does not speak directly to pre-teen pregnancy, and the many important young women’s issues, it will draw your attention to the racial and economic disparity that is destroying so much of our inner cities.
Google Art Rolnick, / Rob Grunewald Federal Reserve Bank Early Childhood Development. Study their report. It makes a statistical / financial argument for taking better care of American children.
This should give you a strong start for serious study. Best wishes and a promise to find more good news these next few weeks.
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About the size of Minnesota (6.4 to MN’s 5.3 million citizens), Tennessee appears to have about 4 times the child death rate of our state. Just a few years ago Tennessee ranked 43rd out of the 50 states in infant mortality.
What is most troubling to me (and I hope to all concerned citizens) is how hard Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services fought to keep information from the public.
Were it not for the Tennessean Newspaper’s reporting on child fatalities, no one would know how bad it is for abused and neglected children in the state.
Under-trained social workers with giant caseloads, children spending 6 months or more in temporary emergency shelters, and the Departments keeping the high numbers of child deaths from the public.
Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services needs an audit and genuine public support.
Join me in thanking the newspaper reporters at the Tennessean sticking up for abused and neglected children
Contact Anita Wadhwani at 615-259-8092 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
175 helpless children have been beaten, starved, suffocated and burned to death in Colorado these past 5 years. Colorado and Minnesota are almost the exact same population size and have very similar child death records.
Minnesota’s record compared to Colorado is about the same with 202 deaths and near-deaths
The big difference is the Denver Post’s reporting in Colorado has been so much more extensive and effective in bringing change to an overwhelmed child protection system. An audit of Colorado’s child protection system has been called for and it just may happen. As a long time volunteer guardian ad-Litem for my county, I can testify that the resources just are not there for the social workers, educators, and health workers to address the depth and scope of child abuse in our state. We blame the social worker when a baby is found in a dumpster, and teachers for failing to teach really troubled children, often on psychotropic medications. As of yet we haven’t blamed the police for the crimes committed by offenders in their squad cars.
This conversation is overdue. Join me in asking our media to do more (Like the Denver Post)
Most of these were seriously injured babies under 1 year old (58%). This is a new study (2012) from Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital & Dr John Leventhal, the first study of its kind to quantify the severity of abuse and hospitalization of at risk children. 300 babies died as a result of their abuse. Poor children covered by medicaid suffered six times more serious abuse than children not in poverty.
In my own experience as a guardian ad-Litem, poverty and homelessness are primary factors in child abuse. America now has the worst record for child abuse in the industrialized world. Some U.S. states score well below third world quality of life indices.
Listen to the INVISIBLE CHILDREN audiobook (free) Support Kids At Risk Action (KARA) Contact Mike For Speaking Continue reading ’4569 Children Hospitalized Due To Abuse In 2006 (Kids Inpatient Database)’
Photo Thanks to Richard Ross www.Juvenile-In-Justice.com
It’s becoming apparent to smart business types and savvy investors that the for profit prison industry is a powerful and long term growth prospect.
The world of privatized incarceration holds great promise as a safe bet for long term earnings (a veritable safe haven for a long time to come – with little downside).
These last thirty years have shown remarkable profitability and terrific increases in prison and jail populations even in the hardest of economic times. What better place to put our capital and invest in America?
There is no end in sight. Drug Laws, The King Pin statutes, and Mandatory Minimum sentencing guarantee a resilient pool of repeat offenders for many years to come (over 2 million and counting with impressive recidivism rates).
At a low average of $33,000 per inmate per year = $60,000,000,000 each year is just the tip of the economic iceberg. That doesn’t count the billions spent on parole officers, juvenile justice, or the child protection systems necessary to feed our prison system.
In the words of MN former Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz, “90% of the youth in juvenile justice have passed through child protective services”. And most of us fully appreciate the job the juvenile justice system does in preparing our youth for a lifetime inside the criminal justice system.
(note, if there were even fewer resources available to the people doing the work inside the child protection & juvenile justice systems, our numbers and profitability could go up even more – ie, vote no for crisis nurseries, subsidized daycare, and early childhood programs) and join the prison lobby.
Unfortunately, every so often one of our privatized jail systems will get its fingers slapped for providing kickbacks to judges for incarcerating innocent youth or siphoning off millions for private use. But it is very difficult to discover and the fact that 25% of American juveniles are prosecuted as Adults mitigates those damages when compared financially.
Prison political lobbying strength has grown substantially these past few years, and with the promoting of cheap guns and mandatory minimum sentencing, the promise of more and even longer sentencing will move us a few percentage points higher on investment returns.
The only cloud on the horizon (and it is a very small cloud ) is the threat of a children’s lobby making a big deal about the correlation between children in child protection transitioning to juvenile justice and then into criminal justice. There isn’t one to date, but if it did appear, we could see a downturn in profitability.
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Children in protective services suffer from mental health issues at a far greater rate than the general population. A Hennepin County judge shared with me the psychotropic meds kids in her caseload were proscribed, some as young as 6 (they can’t argue). It was really eye opening.
In the states that measure and publish, about a third of the youth in child protection are proscribed psychotropic drugs. In juvenile justice, its almost double.
Aside from the horrors of suicidal ideation that often accompany these drugs, there is the grim fact that patients with psychiatric illness die up to 25 years before other patients*.
My first case visit to a 4 year old was at the suicide ward at Fairview hospital and I’ve never forgotten her. Traumatized children need a long term program of effective mental health treatments if they are ever to live a normal life.
That we continue to avoid serious and workable approaches to traumatized youth guarantees we will continue to fill prisons, classrooms, and streets with very troubled people.
Photo courtesy of Richard Ross – see his work here; http://www.juvenile-in-justice.com/
*Read the HCMC article about mental health here or below http://hcmcnews.org/2013/02/15/program-addresses-shortened-lifespan-of-the-mentally-ill/
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Without court appointed CASA guardian ad-Litems, America’s at risk children have no voice in the homes they are raised in or during the years they live as state wards in foster care.
Some states (Virginia most recently) are moving toward forcing children back into homes where they have been sexually abused and tortured. The World Health Organization defines torture as “Extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.
Every child in my child protection caseload as a CASA volunteer was tortured (most of them for two to four years). My CASA children had been tied to a bed, left alone for days (four years old), prostituted & sexually abused (as young as 2 years old), beaten and starved.
CASA guardian ad-Litems can be (the only) a voice for a child in a toxic home.
Learn more about how you can reach out in your community to help troubled children. If the program doesn’t exist where you live, contact national CASA and find out how to start one.
Continue reading the collection of recent articles on and about the guardian ad-Litem program around the nation. Feel free to submit your own stories as comments.
Because so many Americans are firmly set against more advanced policies to educate, vaccinate, cloth, and feed our youngest citizens, a more agreeable approach to these important issues insuring equality and fairness among babies and three year olds might just be to reset the bar of achievement to the lowest common denominator (rather than the current mediocre middling bar we have been losing support for these past twenty years).
Lowering standards would solve many ongoing sticky problems and make life much less argumentative within our political system, allowing legislators to concentrate on the important matters of state like war and defense (which have always captured the hearts and minds of our media and citizens).
By most estimates, cutting a 40% share of education, health, and welfare of children might add as much as two or three percent to our underfunded navy, air force, army, and marines.
The military could afford new stealth air craft, or even another fine aircraft carrier for it to land on.
The possibilities are exciting.
Here are sound ideas for arriving at a national consensus and achieving the new and necessary military might that America needs;
1) By simply lowering the wages of day care workers (already the lowest paid people in the nation next to food service employees) we could be manufacturing more bullets/rockets and other costly war necessities. This would improve our reputation and status around the world.
2) By providing less training and resources to child protection workers, we might fund some small percentage of our next invasion of a mid-east nation. The added cost to a growing prison system would be minor (and for profit prisons are becoming real growth engines for our economy – like the military).
3) The elimination of crisis nursery centers would be a blip on the problems faced by poor people in troubled neighborhoods at this time in our society (they have other things to worry about, like minimum wage jobs and insuring their children). These dollars can go to the national guard to control the riots that will eventually engulf our nation.
4) By using Texas standards and textbooks in our schools, eliminating “higher order thinking”, sex education, all pre-school and kindergarten programs, and of course all federal education funding, the American military could afford another two or three percent growth in its annual budget.
5) Replacing national mental health initiatives with Texas recent “corporal punishment” (recent only in education, as Texas has generally ignored federal mandates and executed juveniles and the *mentally challenged), the savings would be immense. For those who don’t respond well to prison the obvious answer is enforced psychotropic medication. Currently, only 25% of America’s youth are charged as adults in the justice system. Juvenile justices is far more costly than the criminal justice system (the savings incurred by charging 50 or 80 percent more youth in the criminal justice system would be fantastic). *66% of youth in our juvenile justice system suffer from mental health problems/fully half that number suffer from multiple, chronic, and severe mental illness.
Some argue that these measures are harsh and unfair, but I assure you that it would be a more equitable system than we now have today, as school performance, incarceration & crime, infant mortality, child health, child death, teen and preteen pregnancy, STD’s, child abuse and child abuse deaths are all presently skewed about 90 – 10 and 80 -20 respectively, when measured against income and race (the poor or “leeches as referred to in the last election / & the job creators and Caucasian people / People of Color).
President Obama’s State Of The Union call for high quality preschool is doomed to failure, just as are initiatives for crisis nurseries, day long kindergarten, paying daycare workers a living wage or requiring standards for daycare workers, the wholesale vaccination or prenatal caring for America’s babies.
My suggestions will put an end to educators being blamed for failed schools, social workers for babies found in dumpsters, and stopping the charges against police for being responsible for those terrible people in the squad cars. This really is a win win for all of us.
Just yesterday a tea party fellow I know (RW) was telling me about the wisdom in former MN Governor Tim Pawlenty’s words, “children that are victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem, nor are they the problem of the state of Minnesota”. Solid Christians both of them, so they must be right. Although I’m still having trouble finding the religion that abandons children.
So, let’s all jump on the Texas bandwagon of lowering standards for America’s children (after all, many have already; Texas is not that different from Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana, New Mexico, Florida, Alaska, West Virginia, Indiana, and s few other states at the bottom of the child well-being barrel).
Let your legislators know that taking care of America’s children is just a terrific waste of time and money, that could be better spent dominating the world with bigger armies, and more wars.
David McCollum was an emergency room doctor that came to the realization that almost all the injured and seriously ill patients passing through his hospital emergency room doors had been abused as children. These people were leading dangerous lifestyles, often suffered from chronic illness, and met early death.
When I met him, he spoke passionately about the Academy on Violence and Abuse www.avahealth.org and all the work being done by medical professionals to identify the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on human beings throughout their lives.
Dr McCollum’s observations mirrored my own experience as a CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem for Hennepin County, as so many of the *tortured children I removed from horrible circumstances went on to lead painful, dysfunctional lives.
Interviewing people for my book INVISIBLE CHILDREN I came to know professionals in many different fields that agree with the Academy’s findings.
Educators have a hard time teaching (or managing) abused or neglected children, the juvenile justice system is filled with youth that have suffered through violent and toxic home lives**, and our criminal justice system is now the greatest in the industrialized world if measured by violent crime statistics or the fact that we have more of our citizens incarcerated per capita (and in sheer numbers) than any other industrialized nation in the world.
The medical community correctly points out that this is a giant public health issue that needs resolution if this nation is ever to regain its higher order ranking in the quality of life indices that we have lost over the decades.
This short powerful article from the Huffington Post, clearly articulates the depth and scope of the work done by the Academy on Violence and Abuse and will change the way most people view how their community should reach out to at risk children. This short video gives a snapshot of the ACE study.
*The World Health Organization defines torture as “Extended exposure to violence and deprivation”. Every child I worked with as a CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem suffered from Extended Exposure To Violence and Deprivation.
** Former MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz has stated that “90% of the youth in the juvenile justice system have passed through child protective services” and that the “difference between that poor child and a felon, is about eight years’.
States and counties around the nation are debating what services to provide & how much money should be spent on their youngest citizens. This snapshot review does not include Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, or Texas (where conditions are much worse).
Arizona has experienced a huge uptick in abused and neglected becoming state wards. Due to the hundreds of millions of dollars cut from child friendly programs these past few years, caseloads for social workers are at 2 to 3 times their acceptable level (over 14,000 children in the foster care system).
Positives; Ensuring adoptive parents who return children to CPS to get mental -health treatment don’t have to relinquish parental rights.
Negatives; Is $2.50 per day a reasonable stipend for grandparents and great grandparents who step forward to keep their troubled kin (often special needs children) out of the foster care system?
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