Two friends have frightened me into writing this.
One, a bright fellow & past executive director of a nonprofit serving at risk youth, the other a successful businessman that has adopted many children over many years. Both have good hearts and great minds.
The political fellow tried to make a life in the nonprofit world as an executive. He quickly realized that his nonprofit (and he extrapolated that most of them) could not make rational, sustainable decisions to create outcomes consistent with their mission statements.
That’s the long way of saying that most non profits are badly run in his estimation.
He left his executive position (& the nonprofit world) after continued disagreements with the board of directors and I believe, the opinion that nonprofits could not sustainably meet the needs of abused and neglected children.
The other fellow, a long time businessman, explained that his experiences with adopted children and government agencies were bad, and therefore government should stay out of the lives of abused and neglected children.
These gentlemen believe that non profits can’t fix the problem, and our social service agencies can’t help either.
What’s left for abused and neglected children if this level of failure in the non profit and social service sector exist?
Should we let these children just sink to the bottom (as in Jonathon Swift’s MODEST PROPOSAL)?
This is what Minnesota’s last Governor, Tim Pawlenty said to Andy Dawkins & David Strand when asked his opinion; “children that are the victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem, nor are they the problem of the State of Minnesota”
To start with, three million children a year are reported to child protection services in the U.S. (when there is funding and calls are being answered). Multiply 3 million by the next generation of abused and neglected children (this is a generational issue).
A lesson I learned right away as a volunteer guardian ad-Litem;
It may not matter how hard foster parents & adoptive parents work to cure the wounds from damage done to children in their birth homes, the failure rate of children aging out of foster care is still 80%.
I have tracked damaged children and the families that have tried to help them for over 15 years.
My heart goes out to all the people who try, and always, the child with developing mental health issues that must deal with the same type of serious PTSD issues that our politicians and communities recognize in soldiers but refuse to acknowledge in abused and neglected children.
The Chapin Hall study of 2010 shows what I witnessed repeatedly;
the mental health issues resulting from extended exposure to violence and deprivation (that were responsible for a child’s removal from the home) were profoundly more serious than average, caring people could deal with successfully.
One boy had 27 placements by the time he was 14. An 11 year old girl broke out of St Joe’s home for children to have 3 terrible sexual experiences by the end of the day, another family had to guard against the homicidal tendencies of the boy they adopted.
Violence experienced by neglected & abused children finds its way into that child’s behavior pattern if not dealt with in a therapeutic & professional way (in a timely manner).
I have witnessed stabbings, rape, and arson committed by very young children that were in need of professional help (but did not receive it).
From a community perspective it is impractical and expensive to make educators deal with the growing population of very troubled children (think Prozac, Ritalin, & other profoundly impactful psychotropic medications) and the effect dysfunctional youth have within the classroom.
Add the costs of building of more prisons (13 million jail & prison releases in the U.S. last year), paying more insurance (1.6 trillion $ in estimated costs of crime last year), and the concurrent deterioration of our home communities.
The Chapin Hall Study proves my experience to be true. Children aging out of foster care suffer the worst transition to adulthood than any other population in this nation.
By the time they were 24 years old;
Only 6% had completed any post secondary college degree,
25% had no high school diploma or equivalency degree,
60% of males had been convicted of a crime,
73% of females had been pregnant (many preteen moms)
Consider also that two states (NY & CA) pay over $250,000 per year for each juvenile in their juvenile justice system, almost all those youth graduate into the adult criminal justice system (30 years of incarceration over a child’s lifetime is not uncommon) & yet we don’t have the money or motivation to help a child lead a normal life.
It is more effective and less costly to treat mental health issues in children than after many years of established sociopathic behaviors.
Programs and policies exist that work to help children lead normal lives (they just need our support and attention – example)
Is it ethical to ignore these issues just because no one outside of the impacted community cares (as my nonprofit friend suggests and his political party endorses)?
Abused children have no lobby & no voice in their daily lives or their own future.
Is there a religion on the planet that would continue to abandon abused and neglected children?
What kind of people are we becoming when we can look squarely at the most vulnerable people in our community and agree that they do not deserve our attention?
Can any of us be ethical or religious pepole without supporting sustainable efforts to solve this great American problem?
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