It Can’t Happen Here

This article shines light on a serious social failure not uncommon in America. 6 year Sarah Elizondo has been forced by the court to live with a pedophile parent (Nicholas Elizondo served 6 years for the crimes he committed upon very young girls).

One of my first cases as a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem was a 7 year old boy that had been forced by the court to live with his pedophile father (who had spent 2/3 of his adult life in prison for the crimes he was about to commit on his son – and there was a court order forbidding him to be near young boys).

This boy had spent 4 years tied to a bed, sexually abused, starved, and left alone for days at a time in a small apartment (what do you think it would be like at 4,5,6, or 7 to be tied to a bed and left alone for days at a time without food?)

The boy was covered from head to foot in severe bruises when he entered the child prote

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How Things Get Worse

What makes life worse for sexually abused five and seven year old’s is not talking about it. Not reporting it. Not disclosing it publicly or privately. The fewer people that know about the wretched things that are happening to NJ children, the smaller the problem appears to be and the less will be done to support the agencies chartered to help New Jersey Children.

New Jersey has taken a big step forward in making sure that the abuse is worse and lasts longer for its youngest citizens;

NJ: Child welfare agency proposes less disclosure of fatal child abuse cases.

The Star –Ledger- June 12, 2013.

The Department of Children and Families Plans to limit the information it publicly discloses when a child die or suffers life threatening injuries from abuse and neglect

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Free College Tuition For Foster Children and other good news for at risk youth

Here are recent positive developments in support of people, policies, and programs for abused and neglected children;

Arizona has granted free tuition for foster children

California; Overwhelming response to request for more foster homes

New Mexico offers free home visits to first-time families (including fathers and adoptive families)

Oregon legislates a Foster Children’s Bill of Rights

Pennsylvania DHS receives U.N. award for improvements

U.S. Senate provides automatic citizenship to all persons born outside the U.S. and were adopted by American Citizens

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Twin Cities Marathon & CASA MN (a great combination)

We are proud to announce that, for the second year in a row, CASA Minnesota is a participating charity in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on October 6, 2013. We are reaching out to runners and supporters to fundraise for Team CASA Minnesota.
CASA Minnesota is a local nonprofit whose mission is to support and promote volunteer advocates to ensure that every abused and neglected child in Minnesota has a safe, stable and permanent family. Our advocates are everyday citizens who become extraordinary volunteers.

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San Francisco: 1 in 3 Gay School Youth Attempt Suicide & 1 in 2 Transgender Students (Center for Disease Control)

My stepfather was gay and had served in the military in the 1940’s. He experienced no kindness and very little acceptance for his sexuality during his time on this planet.

As a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I have come to know a good many GLBT youth and identify with the exclusion and cruelty they face on an all too regular basis.

This report from the Center for Disease Control delivers a clear picture of the extent to which GLBT issues are overwhelming millions of children in our nation today.

Not being accepted by society is it’s own kind of perpetual torture and a whole lot of innocent children suffer to the point that they want to die. San Francisco is a relatively progressive community. If it is this bad there, what’s it like in Texas, or Alabama?

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Religious Freedom In Philadelphia Kills 2 Young children (4 years apart, same home)

In April, 2 year old Kent Schailble died of treatable pneumonia because his parent’s fanatical religion demanded it. Kent’s 4 year old brother Brandon died for the same reason in the same home just a few years earlier (he was also denied medical treatment for a completely treatable disease).

As a CASA guardian ad-Litem, I witnessed 49 police calls to a home where a seven year old had been prostituted and the only reason the children (girls 4 and 7) were removed from the home on the 49th call, was that the 7 year old tried to kill the 4 year old in the presence of police officers (it was a child’s cry for help).

Somewhere in this conversation we need to discuss child protection and the civil rights of children.

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Bill Murray Stop Child Abuse Now Radio Interview

ill Murray knows the best questions to ask to create a lively and informative discussion on the issues that impact abused and neglected children.

This 90 minute talk is a powerful and comprehensive talk I had with Bill and his panel about our institutions and what needs to change to make our children and communities happier and safer: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bill-murray/2013/05/16/stop-child-abuse-now-scan.mp3 (move the arrow a little bit to skip the music if you wish to start at the conversation).

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How To Sell Guns To Five Year Old’s (yes we do)

Mother Earth News this month includes weapons manufacturers marketing materials aimed at very young children. It is disturbing. It was just last week a five year old Kentucky boy killed his two year old sister with his “Crickett” “my first” rifle. You can buy them in hot pink for little girls:

“The Crickett rifle is ideally sized for children four to ten years old and comes in a …Arms manufactures the following youth rifles: Crickett .22WMR Youth Rifles”
Mom was outside & said she did not know the gun was loaded. Gun marketing pictures from the Crickett marketing page (the site was down today when I went to include the link – it will be interesting to see if it has been changed) http://www.crickett.com/

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Judges Jailing Children For Money In America (yes it happens)

A second Pennsylvania judge (Michael Conahan) has plead guilty for receiving commissions for each child sent to privately held detention facilities (PA Childcare and Western PA Childcare) .

2.6 million dollars in fees were paid for between one and two thousand children sentenced for things they did not do. Judge Mark Ciavarella was identified some months ago as the primary offender in this case.

This adds a sorrowful twist to Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz statements that “90% of the youth in juvenile justice have passed through child protection” & “”The difference between that poor child and a felon, is about 8 years”.

In Pennsylvania 90% just isn’t filling privately held facilities with enough human prison fodder. I know how hard life is for at risk children and find this kind of crime to be a hanging offense for both the owners of the privately held facilities as well as the corrupters of our legal system.

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State of MN Falls Behind In Abuse Inquiries

State Falls Behind In Abuse Inquiries (today’s Star Trib headlines)

The sentence seems harmless unless you are a five year old child tied to a bed, left alone for days without food, beaten and sodomized, prostituted as a 7 year old, or left alone in a crib for days without food or contact.

These were my first experience with child abuse as a volunteer Hennepin County guardian ad-Litem.

The backlog of 724 cases (double what it was 18 months ago) means that children will wait for their sexual abuse, beatings, and neglect to be investigated.

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More Cheating Fallout From the NCLB Tragedy (DC Schools This Time)

Teachers that lived through the Bush era No Child Left Behind fiasco understand the impossibility of making students succeed and schools look good with inadequate resources and classrooms bulging with kids that can’t read, Prozac, and violence.

The “Texas education Miracle” that lead the NCLB’S deconstruction of America’s schools proved to be as wrong and dysfunctional as the erasures on thousands of test questions executed by hundreds (if not thousands) of teachers in Georgia and now DC (and there may well be other states as yet undiscovered).

If you study the DC memos being made public you will see just how hard it is to identify and pursue this kind of criminal activity (if it weren’t for excellent journalists at the Atlanta Journal, none of this would have been discovered).

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Texas Wins Again (Criminalizing 300,000 students / year)

Cursing, farting, or an honors student spraying perfume on her neck, all valid reasons for being arrested in Texas schools (citations to six year old’s even).

Does the nation need more disadvantaged youth in the criminal justice system? Texas thinks so.

Texas, the state eliminating higher order thinking from it’s schools & teaching that premarital sex has fatal consequences, and that getting plenty of rest and avoiding condoms saves one from sexually transmitted diseases (& leads all states and many third world nations in the incidence of STD’s among youth) now rests comfortably ahead of all states and the rest of the world in criminalizing students.

Texas also leads in Executions (including of the mentally ill – ignoring federal mandates), juvenile incarceration, uninsured children, child poverty (including food insecurity/starvation of children), preteen pregnancies (and the highest rates of repeat births to teen moms).

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Tracking America’s Most At Risk Children (Weekly)

Teen who killed baby sentenced to 90 days

October 18, 2012. Colorado.

Dylan Kuhn had called authorities stating that his 6-month-old daughter was found hanging from her crib by her next and that she wasn’t breathing. Authorities later discovered she had injuries consistent with being “slammed” against a soft and unyielding surface (like a mattress). Kuhn later stated that he did slam his daughter into the bed and she became quiet afterward, that she had never had a blanket around her neck, and that he lied to police initially because he was afraid the mother would hate him for it. Kuhn plead guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 4 years of probation, a parenting class, a mental health evaluation, a drug abuse evaluation, and would not be allowed to be alone with any child under the age of 10.

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KARA’s Minnesota Friends of Children Please Support Bill Number SF 704/HF 1106

KARA board members Sam Ashkar and Mike Tikkanen accompanied Rich Gehrman and his Safe Passage For Children colleagues to support a bill at the state capital on thursday supporting child protection screening practices protecting children throughout MN. This bill SF 704 / HF 1106 gives simple guidelines, clarifies standards, and improves accountability for reporting and screening practices for abused children in terrible circumstances. It is the least we can do.

Please forward this to your friends and make a call to your state representative (and to State Senate Republican leader David Hann who is influential on this committee; 651-296-1749 )

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Over 90% Of New Orleans Elementary School Children Witness Violence (over half have been victims – 40% have seen a dead body)

Much of the violence occurs in the home, and it occurs again and again and again. That has also been my experience as a CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem.

Most of the families experiencing violence in the home also report child abuse. 77% of children in high violence families were abused over their lifetime.

Most children who witness domestic violence suffer from PTSD and go on to lead lives much like their parents taught them (unless they are lucky enough to have good daycare, crisis nursery access, and mentoring – fairly rare in America today).

Full report here; http://www.childwitnesstoviolence.org/facts–myths.html

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A New Standard For Disaster; Tennessee (802 child deaths in 2011)

It’s painful to watch any children and family services system in turmoil, but the goings on in Tennessee right now might be setting a new standard for disaster. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (TDCS) is locked in a high-profile battle with the state’s most prominent newspaper, The Tennessean, which has published a series of articles questioning the department’s performance in analyzing and reporting on child fatalities.

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Bigger Armies & More Wars – Why Americans Hate Children

Just yesterday a tea party fellow I know (RW) was telling me about the wisdom in former MN Governor Tim Pawlenty’s words, “children that are victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem, nor are they the problem of the state of Minnesota”. Solid Christians both of them, so they must be right. Although I’m still having trouble finding the religion that abandons children.

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Total Disaster In Tennessee (NV, TN, CA, & TX in Trouble Too) Disappearing Watchdogs Around the Nation

When detectives interviewed Brewer, she told them the children were punished for stealing food. The case “even shocked some of our most veteran children’s case workers,” Hudson said.

Brewer pleaded not guilty to eight felony counts, including torture, cruelty and assault with a deadly weapon at her arraignment Jan. 18. Her attorney, alternate public defender Hung Phi Du, declined to comment.

After Brewer’s arrest, county investigators uncovered a history of child maltreatment investigations involving Brewer going back to 2001, when callers to a hotline twice reported that she was abusing her two biological children. Both times, social workers concluded that the allegations were unfounded.

In 2006, Brewer was recruited by a private agency called Aspiranet. Based in South San Francisco, the contractor is one of the state’s largest foster care providers, serving 2,000 children a year.

Aspiranet placed 23 children in Brewer’s care over the next five years, among them the half siblings she ended up adopting.

The children’s mother had been found to be suffering from schizophrenia and depression. They came to Brewer in 2009; it was their fourth foster home.

During Brewer’s five years as a foster parent, the county child-abuse hotline received at least seven calls from people alleging that she was maltreating children, including the half siblings.

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Guns and Children In Florida (it’s not guns that kill people) It’s Bad Laws About Guns

In Florida it is against the law for a Pediatrician to ask a patient about guns in the house.

In 2010 almost 20,000 children were killed or wounded by firearms in America (A child is killed or wounded every thirty minutes) (Slate article Feb 1)

Simply explaining public health issues to parents seems like a natural function of the medical profession.

At Children’s Health of Ocala, Florida, Pediatrician, Dr. Okonkwo was asking routine public safety questions about swimming pools, bike helmets & loaded guns in the home of one of his patients.

Dr Okonkwo was right about locking ammunition and guns separately as a public health issue for children.

For this he could be accused of “unnecessarily harassing” the mother of his patient (the child).

Turns out, it is against Florida law to ask questions about gun ownership or ammunition in the entire state of Florida. The initial bill called for a five million dollar fine & five years in prison (for asking a Floridian if there was a gun in the home).

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New York Saves $666 per State Ward Child (Destroying Children & An Important CASA Program)

New York State Ranks 44th in adoption of state ward children and 40th in moving children off of the state ward list.

At a cost of about $666/per child, abused and neglected children have had a personal volunteer CASA voice speak for them in the cold, hard, underfunded institution that is child protection in New York. CASA graduates in New York are half as likely as non CASA children to re enter the system (and a whole host of other positive measurements). One of my CASA case boys alone has cost Hennepin County several million dollars (without counting the people he has stabbed, teacher he assaulted, lives he has crushed, or property he has destroyed).

In his case, my county saved the money (under $500) it would have cost to complete a background check on the man who requested custody of his son while he was still in prison.

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A KARA Guide To Understanding Texas Approach To Education

begin with a puritans early world view that corporal punishment & abstinence works (think Cotton Mather & the WitchCraft trials) and denouncing the teaching of “higher order thinking”.

In 2011, Representative Michael Villarreal proposed that sex education taught in public schools be medically accurate (the bill never made it out of committee). In its place Texas Republicans approved Corporal punishment, refusing federal funding for schools, and denying pre-school and kindergarten, as a step forward for Texas children.

At least 3 Texan school districts teach that;

Premarital sex can have fatal consequences,

If a woman is dry, the sperm will die,

3 of the 4 text books used in 30% of Texan school districts never mention condoms but do promote “getting plenty of rest” to avoid contracting Sexually Transmitted Disease.

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