Among the 24 industrialized nations in the world, the U.S. stands out with its history of no positive public federal policy for children. The only protective federal child policy in America is its Imminent Harm Doctrine, which allows courts to remove children whose lives are endangered by their parents.

Child protection systems in the U.S. are under resourced, poorly coordinated, with no meaningful studies or outcome based measurements to track success or failure.

Absent coordinated positive (1*) public policy for the care of children, America is now at the confluence of misaligned and mistaken public policies that are overwhelming its schools, mental health services, child protection services, juvenile justice services, and criminal justice systems. Failing schools, unsafe communities, and absurdly high rates of incarceration are just the tip of the iceberg.

Many Americans (including a significant proportion of legislators) see the tip of this iceberg and assume that they understand the deeper problem, which they will fix by lowering taxes, criticizing civil servants, harsh sentencing, limited juvenile or criminal justice rehabilitation, and a move towards privatizing prisons (and building more of them).

What many people are not seeing, and what is undermining the critical underpinnings of our civil society, is the correlation between healthy children and healthy citizens. Or, perhaps stated more directly, we are ignoring a thirty year explosion of traumatized, abused and neglected children growing up with serious mental health issues, unable to cope with school & work, or get by in their own community without intervention (incarceration), or services.

These children are graduating into their own new dysfunctional families, which are being followed by the next generation, and the next generation (exponential growth in this sector).

Dr. Bruce Perry gives credible argument to his research that if this is not addressed strongly and in a timely fashion, within 30 years, 25% of Americans will be special needs people.

After thirteen years in child protection services, I think Dr Perry is an optimist.

About three million children per year are reported to child protection services. Only recently have the services began to show up that could address the mental health needs of traumatized children (to date the services remain far short of addressing those issues adequately). The vast majority of these children are being prescribed psychotropic medications (Prozac, Ritalin, etc) without adequate mental health therapies.

It may need to be pointed out that children are not removed from their homes in this nation until they have been severely traumatized (these children need services). The World Health Organization defines torture as extended exposure to violence and deprivation. This is also my definition of child abuse.

50% to 75% of the youth in juvenile justice have diagnosable mental illness, with half of this population living with multiple, severe, and chronic conditions that get worse over time if left untreated. These statistics are the same for adults in the criminal justice system. There is no available mental health data for youth in child protection systems. If the data existed, it would mirror juvenile justice data.

America’s At Risk children form “a pipeline to prison” (Marion Wright Edelman, Children’s Defense Fund founder).

Minneapolis MN arrested 44% of its adult black male population in 2001 (with no duplicate arrests, 58% of these men went on to be rearrested for a second crime within two years).

The negative racial disparity among abused and neglected children in child protection systems, or schools, juvenile justice, jails and prisons besmirch America’s reputation to the rest of world.

As a guardian ad-Litem for Hennepin County for about fifty children over 12 years, I have witnessed multiple cases of untreated mental health problems of children traumatized by child abuse and the correlation with the dysfunctional lives that they go on to live as adults.

A Hennepin county judge has provided me with the psychotropic medications taken by the four and five year old children that she has guided through her juvenile courtroom.

I have witnessed and written about suicides by children as young as four years old.

The reliance this nation has on psychotropic medications for severely damaged children without concurrent mental health therapies is a failed public policy.

Maladjusted children become maladjusted adults.

A core assumption of invisiblechildren.org is that crime in the U.S. would evaporate if hopeless and gruesome childhoods that we are now propagating were addressed as if we meant to help children lead productive lives.

Significant U.S. data;

13 million prison and jail releases last year

13% of America’s black men can’t vote because they are felons

1 to 1.6 trillion dollars in crime annually (insurance cost estimates alone)

America has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prison population

Almost all felons come through the juvenile justice system. There are at least six major American cities with adult black male populations that have ex felon ratios above fifty percent.

MN Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz states that 90% of the youth in juvenile justice have come through child protection services. That of course is not true in states with poor child protection services with no services, as there is no way to identify at risk children (and there are many such states).

**”If you define institutions by what they create instead of what they were designed to create”, then child protection services create dysfunctional human beings that will forever be a burden upon their community. These citizens will be disproportionately institutionalized and require services for most of their lives, and they will go on to raise families as dysfunctional and as costly to their community as they themselves were.

(**borrowed from Kathleen Long, Angels and Demons).

The U.S. stands out among the industrialized nations with the weakest of child protection policies. The Imminent Harm Doctrine allows courts to remove children from families from homes ONLY where their lives are in danger. Judges receive no special training to work in child protection court and many of them view the duty as onerous.

The expense of not investing in our very young children far exceed the longterm costs of dealing with that child and his or her actions and progeny to our community.

Besides, it is the right thing to do.

1*. This is one of many examples; as a guardian ad-Litem, it was my job to support the County in its attempt to remove four children from a father whose key problem with the County was that he could not afford day care, which would leave the children in the possible care of his crack addicted wife. The County maintained that it was good public policy (cheaper/less disruptive) to take these four children from their hard working and decent birth father and place them in foster homes than it would be to help him find affordable day care.

Day care workers are paid about the same as food service workers in America (the lowest paid employees in the U.S.). This is how we value children in America.

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As Pliny the Elder said 2500 years ago, “what you do to your children, they will do to your society”

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2 Comments

  1. I painstakingly agree with Michaels views here. I say painstaken because I worked for the Detroit Board of Education for 15 years, which resulted in me becoming a youth advocate. I’ve written a book “Children Learn the Seasons”, which stemmed from a lecture I gave entititled “Life Preparation 101”. (see my website) I recieved little to no support in my efforts to curb the maddness and re-align the childrens minds with productive thoughts. No one seemed to care, or worse yet, were apathetic towards the plight of our youth. I have been in the trenches for many years, and trust me when I say it is most certainly a war being waged upon the black youth of America.

    It is Chemical, Biological and Psychological in nature. Chemical = Crack Cocain as well as many other forms of drugs especially marijuana, Biological = Aids, Chrones and an assortment of other illnesses. Psychological= Gangsta Rap and other degradating, sexually explicit, vilolence promoting, drug glorifying and female debasing music; which is consistantly pumped over the airways and through the cable lines into impressive and developing young minds who know no better than to embrace it (as a fish embraces the water into which it is born).

    The effects of this coupled with the fact that decent people (who’s only crime is being poor) in the community feel helpless due to the lack of support; as they watch gangs and drug dealers seize the community. The police are overwelmed and out gunned which has resulted in a lack of police response. This crazed conditioning has resulted in the statistics Michael is reporting here.

    On the surface it may very well appear as a silent race war; for it most certainly has imprisoned and extinguished the lives of a disproportionate amount of the black youth. However, it doesn’t stop there. This maddening consciouness has crossed over into all sectors of American life and threatens to destroy the very fabric of that which we hold so dear. The American dream. This dream has turned into a nightmare. The world is watching America, and she is slowly but surely losing it’s influence as a world leader. For how can we lead others if our own house is out of order. I am a firm believer in the American way of life and I think that this is not just a race war, it is a war on America. Being waged from within. I believe we have wherewithal and the resources to curtail this madness, if we are willing to return to the thoughts of our fore fathers and founders of this country. “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for All”

    The whole idea of expelling God from school has released this madness into the school system. We must return to teaching morals and family values, and use our resources to reestablish the true infrastructure of America; the American Youth (All of Them), not just the elite. Some of our greatest minds have risen from the gutters of the ghetto. America is standing at the crossroads, (toes to the precipice) and must decide whether to go over the cliff or turn this world around. I have full confidence that we can, and must turn this situation around. The idea of seperation of Church and State due to different religious beleifs is understandable, but you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The one thing 99% of Americans can agree on is that there is a God. I do not think that because we have 1% which does not believe in God (athiest), that we should throw everyone else under the bus, and allow the moral decline we see to continue overtaking our wonderful country. We are not democrates and republicans, we are Americans; all aboard the same ship, if it sinks we all drown.

    This is a decisive moment in history, a time where we must all decide where we will stand, a time when those who are God minded,Humanistic or simply morally adept must take a stand and cry NO MORE! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! We have been compartmentalized, divided, segregated and made to feel all alone in our outrage. We cannot even get a empathetic voice on the phone anymore due to the automation and compartmentalization of our society. We need leadership that will unite us once again as “One Nation Under God” (Or at least a moral umbrella). I do not think that it is hopeless, although it is certainly beginning to appear that way. I think the universe has brought us to this pivital point, so that we can realize that we are One, and that unless we learn to recognize this and act accordingly the ship will sink.

    My most fervrent prayer is that “We The People”, wake from this mindless slumber and begin to reconnect and communicate and work together to support one another to change the conscioness of our nation; so that we can help change the consciouness of the world. Ther is No acceptable loss. If we treasure democracy and we want others to embrace it, we must show that it works! Let us put aside the automation long enough to hear what one another are saying; let us connect in a real and meaningful way, and realize that without the feet we cannot stand. It’s basic christianity 101 “Feed the hungry, Clothe the naked, give hope to the hopeless.” We have done it for so long for so many others, it is time now to do it for America! “The world is watching.”

    My point being: Unitl we help the parents we cannot begin to even hope to help the children of which Michael is speaking, this is why I have left the classroom and entered the pullpit.

    God Bless You All,

    Rev. Michael

    I am cetainly an advocate for

  2. I painstakingly agree with Michaels views here. I say painstaken because I worked for the Detroit Board of Education for 15 years, which resulted in me becoming a youth advocate. I’ve written a book “Children Learn the Seasons”, which stemmed from a lecture I gave entititled “Life Preparation 101”. (see my website) I recieved little to no support in my efforts to curb the maddness and re-align the childrens minds with productive thoughts. No one seemed to care, or worse yet, were apathetic towards the plight of our youth. I have been in the trenches for many years, and trust me when I say it is most certainly a war being waged upon the black youth of America.

    It is Chemical, Biological and Psychological in nature. Chemical = Crack Cocain as well as many other forms of drugs especially marijuana, Biological = Aids, Chrones and an assortment of other illnesses. Psychological= Gangsta Rap and other degradating, sexually explicit, vilolence promoting, drug glorifying and female debasing music; which is consistantly pumped over the airways and through the cable lines into impressive and developing young minds who know no better than to embrace it (as a fish embraces the water into which it is born).

    The effects of this coupled with the fact that decent people (who’s only crime is being poor) in the community feel helpless due to the lack of support; as they watch gangs and drug dealers seize the community. The police are overwelmed and out gunned which has resulted in a lack of police response. This crazed conditioning has resulted in the statistics Michael is reporting here.

    On the surface it may very well appear as a silent race war; for it most certainly has imprisoned and extinguished the lives of a disproportionate amount of the black youth. However, it doesn’t stop there. This maddening consciouness has crossed over into all sectors of American life and threatens to destroy the very fabric of that which we hold so dear. The American dream. This dream has turned into a nightmare. The world is watching America, and she is slowly but surely losing it’s influence as a world leader. For how can we lead others if our own house is out of order. I am a firm believer in the American way of life and I think that this is not just a race war, it is a war on America. Being waged from within. I believe we have wherewithal and the resources to curtail this madness, if we are willing to return to the thoughts of our fore fathers and founders of this country. “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for All”

    The whole idea of expelling God from school has released this madness into the school system. We must return to teaching morals and family values, and use our resources to reestablish the true infrastructure of America; the American Youth (All of Them), not just the elite. Some of our greatest minds have risen from the gutters of the ghetto. America is standing at the crossroads, (toes to the precipice) and must decide whether to go over the cliff or turn this world around. I have full confidence that we can, and must turn this situation around. The idea of seperation of Church and State due to different religious beleifs is understandable, but you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The one thing 99% of Americans can agree on is that there is a God. I do not think that because we have 1% which does not believe in God (athiest), that we should throw everyone else under the bus, and allow the moral decline we see to continue overtaking our wonderful country. We are not democrates and republicans, we are Americans; all aboard the same ship, if it sinks we all drown.

    This is a decisive moment in history, a time where we must all decide where we will stand, a time when those who are God minded,Humanistic or simply morally adept must take a stand and cry NO MORE! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! We have been compartmentalized, divided, segregated and made to feel all alone in our outrage. We cannot even get a empathetic voice on the phone anymore due to the automation and compartmentalization of our society. We need leadership that will unite us once again as “One Nation Under God” (Or at least a moral umbrella). I do not think that it is hopeless, although it is certainly beginning to appear that way. I think the universe has brought us to this pivital point, so that we can realize that we are One, and that unless we learn to recognize this and act accordingly the ship will sink.

    My most fervrent prayer is that “We The People”, wake from this mindless slumber and begin to reconnect and communicate and work together to support one another to change the conscioness of our nation; so that we can help change the consciouness of the world. Ther is No acceptable loss. If we treasure democracy and we want others to embrace it, we must show that it works! Let us put aside the automation long enough to hear what one another are saying; let us connect in a real and meaningful way, and realize that without the feet we cannot stand. It’s basic christianity 101 “Feed the hungry, Clothe the naked, give hope to the hopeless.” We have done it for so long for so many others, it is time now to do it for America! “The world is watching.”

    My point being: Unitl we help the parents we cannot begin to even hope to help the children of which Michael is speaking, this is why I have left the classroom and entered the pullpit. If you visit my website and like what you see, please know that I have just begun and I need contributions to continue.
    http://revmichaelonline.com/
    God Bless You All,

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