The better part of being a volunteer County Guardian ad Litem is knowing that the 7 year old you advocate for will no longer be prostituted, or starved, beaten or sexually abused on a daily basis any more.
The saddest part of being a volunteer County guardian ad Litem is knowing that the children you helped save from the evils and traumas they lived with for so long were only kind of saved.
Guardian ad Litems cannot save a child from suicidal ideation effects of Prozac or the plethora of other psychotropic medications that are now standard operating procedure in treated behavioral problems of state ward children.
About a third of my caseload kids were forced to take psychotropic medications like Prozac (they have no choice – the drugs are forced on them).
Nor can the guardian help the child to cope with the results of horrific traumas visited upon them in the homes they were raised in.
In 2014, America forced Prozac like drugs on 20,000 + one and two-year old children. One manufacturer (Johnson & Johnson) was fined 4 billion dollars for illegally selling these drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children (with 4 thousand cases awaiting trial and that is just one manufacturer).
Guardians lobby for mental health services in the courtroom and feel like we have accomplished something when a psychological evaluation is ordered.
The downside is that the resources to see that a meaningful percentage of abused children get into successful programs like the Washburn Center for Children just don’t exist. Instead we rely on the cheaper alternative, Prozac like drugs.
The World Health Organization defines torture as “extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.
Every child in my case load suffered from extended exposure to violence and deprivation. Every child was tortured – most of them for years.
I would add to the WHO definition of torture, that being forced to take psychotropic medications as a child is also torture as it changes the brain in visceral ways. These kids know it and it hurts them.
Unlike adults who have been tortured, children have no “before” to evaluate what is happening to them. As far as a child knows, his life is normal – until the day she discovers that it is not.
My first visit to a four-year old child as a county guardian ad Litem was at the suicide ward of Fairview Hospital. I know suicidal ideation by medication and caution anyone recommending or using these drugs on children to read widely and well to more fully understand how they work.
For every successful child-suicide there are many attempts. As volunteer Hennepin County CASA guardian ad Litem, I’ve come to know how common self-harming behaviors are among abused and neglected children.
The Brooklyn Center suicidal hanging of six-year old foster child Kendrea Johnson opened my eyes to the fatal flaws of Prozac and very young children and foster care. The suicidal ideation warning on the side of each package is there because suicidal ideation causes people to try and kill themselves.
The note seven-year old foster child Gabriel Myers left when he suicided by hanging was specific about his hatred of the drug he was forced to take and that he would rather be dead.
As a CASA GAL, I experienced self-harming behaviors among my caseload children and multiple suicide attempts.
The amount of Prozac like drugs forced on foster children is remarkable – and wrong.
A Hennepin County judge shared the records she kept of psychotropically medicated children in her courtroom with me and talked openly about her dismay that these drugs were being used on very young children.
There are no records available of suicide attempts by children in child protection or foster/adoptive homes. There are really no records kept of any of the tragedies that befall abused and neglected children unless they die and make the paper.
Only successful suicide attempts make the paper or are made public.
In 2013, 494,169 Americans were admitted to hospital emergency rooms for self-inflicted injuries.
In Minneapolis MN, our HCMC hospital sees almost one thousand emergency room psychiatric visits each month (a single metro hospital).
For the first time in our nation’s history, mental health parity (a piece of the Affordable Health Care Act) will make mental health services available to the poor traumatized children I have worked with.
How we treat our most vulnerable children define the heart and soul of this nation.
If there is one thing to fight for in the coming battle over repealing the ACA, please join me in the demand for mental health care for our youngest citizens.
Forward this to your lawmakers, friends and social media. It is the least we can do.
Until lawmakers and other policy makers become aware of the need for mental health help for traumatized children not much will change and these kids will continue to lead the nation in school failure, preteen pregnancies, courtroom appearances and recidivism in our prisons as they age.