Last night I attended the Patrick Henry High School Community Forum on the impact that children’s mental health has on the entire education and juvenile justice systems held by Representatives Mindy Greiling and the Civil Justice Committee Chair Joe Mullery.

Smart people from mental health and education spoke on stigma, truancy, intervention & juvenile justice. A very smart person from the community stepped forward and spoke about mental health as perceived from within the community.

By the end of the evening it was made clear that the 47,000 arrested juvenile arrests in MN last year were related to high school dropout rates and the safety of city streets. No reference was made to the A.C.E. study of two years ago indicating that over 70 percent of all violent and serious crime in Ramsey County was committed by youth from 3% of the families within the county.

Thank you to all of the committed individuals that work in education, social services, mental health and justice trying to make these institutions responsive to the massive needs within our communities.

Please appreciate the frustration from those of us who know that preteen moms and juvenile felons deserve better from our policy makers than the hard politics that have continued to underfund mental health and young families at the expense of prisons, punishment, and jails.

I am pleased that we are having public forums on the topic for more than a few reasons;

As a community, the topic has been uncomfortable and avoided for too long. Last nights discussion on “mental health” and how to be mentally “healthy” was positive and meaningful and a model for other forums and future discussions.

As a guardian ad-Litem, I came to know many traumatized children that had no access to adequate mental health services and watching them grow into dysfunctional adults has been painful.

Missouri went from 90% recidivism in its juvenile justice system to about 10% over just a few years as it transitioned into a restorative justice model that treated youth as children in need of counseling instead of adult criminals (about 30% of American youth are tried in adult courts).

California locks up young people longer than any other state — on average young people spend about 3 years in the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). More than a year of this time is tacked on by DJJ guards, who extend parole hearing dates for disciplinary and other reasons.

This flies in the face of research that shows that positive incentives are much more effective at helping kids improve than are negative, disciplinary actions. And, because DJJ spends $234,000 a year to lock up each youth, it’s not only unfair and ineffective, it’s incredibly expensive.

MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz commented that 90% of the youth in juvenile justice had passed through child protection. As a long time guardian ad-Litem working with children in child protection, it hurts me greatly to see children born into almost certain lives of early pregnancy, crime, and incarceration.

The only way out for these children is a system of education, mental health, and civil justice that concentrates on the most vulnerable citizens in our community.

They have no lobby or PAC fund to attract politicians to their cause. It is up to us, those that work in the field, foster & adoptive parents, and advocates, to speak up for them.

Let CIVIL JUSTICE COMMITTEE Chair Joe Mullery know that you want justice and mental health services for youth.

Joe Mullery (DFL) 58A – Minnesota House of Representatives
Representative Joe Mullery. * 367 State Office Building 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155 651-296-4262 …

Show map of 4101 Vincent Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55412
www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/members.asp?id=10442 – Cached – Similar –

Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/KidsAtRisk

Click here to join our Linked in online discussion about at risk children

http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=2468497&trk=anet_ug_hm

Become part of our email network by sending a request to join to; amy.rostronledoux@yahoo.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

clear formPost comment