Friday’s Star Tribune piece by Jesse Van Berkel (thank you Jesse) reminded me of a badly abused 12 year old boy (Andy) forced outside by staff on a ten degree night at a privatized group home in Cambridge MN.  I was his guardian ad litem.  That night, the boy walked over 30 miles to a friend’s home in a tee shirt.  Andy told me he thought he was going to freeze and die (as I’m sure Cullen Kennedy thought also*).

As a volunteer CASA there I have seen many traumatized and tortured kids shuffled through child protection and juvenile court and then sexually abused or beaten half to death in a state sanctioned child group home or prison (Elmore Academy).

Every state* has the problem, but MN has failed these kids for too long.  All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children (support KARA’s traveling INVISIBLE CHILDREN exhibit)

Profit driven organizations caring for children need oversight, training and governance.  These things cost money that is taken out of the pockets of shareholders and owners and will always be a problem unless regulations and oversight are strict.

Minnesota recently forced the closing of privatized child group homes at Buhl and St. Cloud  for repeated violations over many years (forced sex, drugs and violence mostly).

Poorly run child prisons and group homes add abuse to state ward children already traumatized by rape, beatings and violence visited upon them in their birth homes (that is why they are removed from their homes and become state ward children).

More trauma at the hands of their next caregiver is the exact opposite of helping children heal and gain the coping skills required to lead a normal life.

Poorly run privatized group homes and prisons are the worst use of taxpayer money you can think of.

Unhealthy children become unhealthy adults, hurting our schools, filling our prisons and making our communities unsafe.

A public that does not understand the cost of unhealthy children becoming unhealthy adults will continue to under appreciate and underfund programs and policies that could heal at risk youth and make children whole and healthy and our communities safe and happy.

*from the article; “beaten until they were too tired to continue” beating him.  Incarcerating 14 year old Cullen with hardened adult criminals begs for rape and violence and is proven to be so by the data and the stories that have existed for decades.  That is how we value children in MN.

 

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