January Sad Stories (2016 KARA reporting)

children down hill having funEvery month Kids At Risk Action draws attention to the plight of abused and neglected children by gathering the stories of at risk children from around the nation.  You will find your community on this page.  Please share this page with your friends and networks to make this conversation come alive with the hope that we will do more if we know more.  Join KARA’s Facebook Page

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January 2017 Sad Stories Part II

KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. Please note that what you see here is only a sampling of what should be reported – the great majority of child trauma & abuse never gets reported.

American states are struggling to find answers for saving at risk children and reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect. Today, many state ward children are the 4th and 5th generation of abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Compilation of information and writing on this page is the hard work of David Vang, Mike Toronto, Jamar Weston, Adolf Nchanj and Blaz Zlate, Callie Benscoter, (student volunteers at Century College) Katie Frake, Boston College, Julie O, and KARA.

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It’s Worse In Texas

Minnesota is reacting to a very rare and thorough investigation of abused children (thank you Brandon Stahl).

This is the first time in 30 years (since three year old Dennis Jergens tortured murder) that well written and multiple child abuse stories from our cities major media are forcing our community to consider how shallow our commitment to at risk children is.

As a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I worked with dozens of children with toxic and painful home lives very much like Eric Dean’s home. None of my caseload children ever made the paper – not the girl who had the bottom half of her body scalded off, not the boy sexually abused, tied to a bed & left alone for days, starved and beaten for four years, not the suicidal four year old, the prostituted seven year old, or the small boy who walked back home from Cambridge on a ten degree night in a T shirt because he was thrown out of a group home as punishment for his mental health problems. Their stories, and a million others every year, are never in the newspaper, never told on TV or radio, and rarely spoken of by the people that know them.

These are awful and uncomfortable stories that we would rather not speak of and the children themselves rarely know just how wrong what has happened to them is. Nor do they know the life long damage that has been done to them.

But I know.

I also know, that until the rest of the community cares enough about the horrific damage done to thousands of abused children every week (and not just the tortured dead children that make the newspaper) to have in place a child protection system that identifies and deals with children needing services, reporting, and policies to keep them safe, our prisons will remain full, our schools to fail, our communities unsafe, and children will be traumatized in their homes on a daily basis.
Without Brandon Stahl’s Star Tribune reports, Governor Dayton would not have ordered a joint county-state investigation of Minnesota’s child protection services and Adrian Peterson’s son being beaten with a stick and forced to eat leaves would not have been a news item any more than the guardian ad-Litem cases I have written about in this article and Adrian would still be playing football as a star for the Vikings.

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It’s Inevitable (police shootings)

Dallas Police Chief David Brown and MN Sheriff Rich Stanek speaking out about how armed law enforcement officers are now the front line in managing more and more of societies problems is just the beginning.

Sheriff Stanek and his fellow Washington and Ramsey Sheriffs threatening to sue the State of MN for not providing timely mental health services to the troubled people in their squad cars and jails thereby turning law officers into mental health service providers may be the most effective way of drawing attention to the massive under-treatment of traumatized children soon to impact schools, communities and law enforcement in this nation.

As a Hennepin County volunteer guardian ad-Litem, I have come to know second and third-generation families of under-treated traumatized children with drug problems, violent boyfriends and serious mental health problems that are now having their own next generation of soon to be neglected and abused (traumatized) children. Children who will bring their drug and behavioral problems to school and the community. It’s inevitable that there will be another generation of traumatized children entering our schools every five years and squad cars a few years after that.

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It’s How You Frame The Issue

Albert Garcia’s first psychotic break was bizarre — he awoke from a night of drinking and meth use 10 years ago to hear angry voices coming from people on the other side of a living room mirror — but it gives him credibility as he counsels others with severe mental illness.

“I can see it. I can feel it,” said Garcia, 57. “I can actually feel the kind of fear they are going through.”

Garcia is the most unorthodox member of a project created to help Twin Cities teens struggling with severe mental illness. The idea is to bring a team of professionals such as psychiatric nurses and drug counselors to teens’ doorsteps, but also to connect them with “peer support” specialists such as Garcia who can relate to their struggles.

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It’s Enough To Make You Sick

Being involved in child protection, you see people torture their children and it is traumatizing.

It’s gets worse if you witness the impact trauma and terror have on a child in your caseload and you watch school and peer failure and how a child’s life is destined to play out.

Unhealthy children become unhealthy adults.

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It Happens Over and Over (profound child abuse – child death – inadequate reporting & response)

This is my take from Brandon’s article of Nov 30th (linked above)

Minnesota’s recent brutal murder of 4 year old Eric Dean after 14 ignored reports of child abuse by mandated reporters (and one family assessment) is becoming just one of thousands of cruel stories articulating the low value our nation places on children being exposed by Brandon’s continued research and writing.

As American’s talk big about how we value children and our religious affiliations are many, but there really is very little child protection in the U.S.

Watching this over many years as a volunteer guardian ad-Litem causes me great pain and it is only recently that I have found any hope that conditions might change for the weakest and most vulnerable among us.

MN has tried to reform its child protection system 3 times in the last 25 years, 16 state and county agencies across the nation have resigned or been fired (mostly after the death of children they were hired to protect).

In Maine, it is estimated that up to 70% of abused to death children were known to child protection agencies. In Arizona, 6000 child abuse reports were ignored by the agencies and many children died. Florida reported almost five hundred children killed while known to child protection (since 2008).

What follows is my past reporting on how various states treat their youngest citizens;

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It Didn’t Start In a Vacuum (crime – impact & statistics)

DJ Tice Star Tribune article recently made crime very real by describing his wife’s rape, his own assault and home burglary along with the awful Barry Latzer assumption that 80% of Americans could become victims of a violent crime in their lifetime.

No obfuscation here.

Crime hurts when it happens to you or someone you love.

What best should be done about crime and punishment is our national conundrum.

Damn the data, “hanging’s too good for em’ and “lock em up” our national chant for fifty years bringing us such data as;

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It Could Be Worse (Virginia screens out 83% of all child abuse complaints)

Minnesota screens out 66% of child abuse complaints overall, but 4 MN counties screen out 90%. The only good thing to say about conditions in Virginia is that there seems to be some transparency in the reporting which one would hope will lead to more concern for what happens to abused and neglected children. All this talk about how we value children in America seems to be just talk.

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It Costs Way Less To Hire & Train Social Workers;$68 Million Settlement Proposed for 10 Children Fraudulently Adopted and Abused

It would be far less expensive (see the studies & long term costs) and the right thing to do to see that foster & adoptive parents were well funded, well regulated, and early childhood programs set up to insure that every child had a chance to have a meaningful life in America.

Until then, let’s sue the pants off of states and counties that refuse to care for children.

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It Cant Happen Here

A very smart person that I consider a friend suggested that the sad story of Florida’s foster care system (in the blog article just prior to this one) is not comparable to the state of foster care in my state of MN. Suggesting that things are fine in MN’s foster care system. Nothing to see here, let’s talk about something else.

Dee Wilson delivered the Casey Foundations report on child protection in MN and softly stated that our group home facilities were grossly unable to deal with the level of trauma and behavioral problems that these overwhelmed homes were experiencing.

Just a week ago MN closed the group home in St Cloud MN because of many violations over many years.

That home allowed kids to bang their heads against walls to the point of concussions, facial injuries and head trauma along with forced sex in the presence of staff.

Don’t blame the staff*. It’s the management and the people making the rules. It is always the management that determines the wage, the training and the supervision that will be in place in every business endeavor. It’s always the policy makers that determine the oversight and resources available to the homes providing the service. These things are made extremely clear in the Florida video.

To expect low waged and undertrained people to manage children traumatized by years of abuse now being managed by a cold and distant state is just unworkable.

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It Can’t Happen Here (Sally’s Story)

This had to have been one of the most detailed Childline referrals the county had ever seen, not to mention Sally had a wonderful, dedicated psychiatrist. As the time went by, the treatment team eagerly awaited the results of her abuse referral, as she had won over the hearts of all the hospital staff and we all wanted to see her safe and free from harm.

The referral came back as unfounded.

Due to her intellectual and neurodevelopmental disabilities, she was deemed in-credible.

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It Can’t Happen Here (it Does happen here)

State probation agents made three visits since mid-December to the Madison, Wis., house where prosecutors say a 15-year-old girl was tortured, starved and abused by her parents and stepbrother, according to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

The girl was found barefoot in pajamas Feb. 6 by a neighbor outside the Southeast Side house. Her stepmother, Melinda Drabek-Chritton; father, Chad Chritton; and stepbrother, Joshua Drabek, were charged Thursday with various counts related to child abuse.

According to a criminal complaint, the girl was forced to live in an unfinished basement, scavenge food from the garbage and eat her own feces.

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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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Is Undertreatment of Mental Health Counter-Productive?

Children suffer more abandonment & more trauma when their therapist prematurely leaves (quits the patient) than they would have experienced without treatment. I have yet to witness my county provide timely or adequate mental health therapies to any of the truly damaged children I have come to know through the Court System. Most of them take multiple prescriptions of psychotropic medications with very limited access to mental health professionals. The children’s behaviors and development are living proof of ongoing mental trauma.

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Is There a House of Horrors Where You Live?

Jerry Lee Curry is going to prison after proving that he could torture children in a wealthy progressive city right for ten years right under our noses.

A combination of about 100 police calls and child abuse reports were made to his home where his 3 young girls were beaten, raped, impregnated and tortured (not far from where I live).

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Is Minnesota Setting A “Great” Example For Dealing With Child Protection Issues?

With Governor Dayton’s Task Force recommendations reported in today’s Star Tribune article (Dayton’s Task Force Agrees On Overhaul, Brandon Stahl), I am optimistic that this (“great” example) approach to child well being could become a reality.

Ten years ago, the father of one of my family’s Mexican foreign exchange students explained how he (as a State of Sinaloa Legislator) had traveled to MN and CA to review child protection systems. At the time, these were the two states he deemed to have the most advanced and effective systems in the nation.

MN has at one time done child protection as well or better than any other state – when reviewed by someone without bias.
MN had reduced child protection funding by over forty million dollars these past few years. This explains sad stories like Eric Dean’s death after fifteen (ignored) reports of abuse by mandated reporters and why family assessments replaced child protection, why social workers are shorted training, process, and resources needed to effect the change that could heal toxic families or provide safety to their young charges.

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Ireland Implements guardian ad-Litem Program

A child’s right to be heard is the essence of the guardian ad-Litem program. Think about it. Voiceless, helpless children enduring unspeakable horrors, sometimes for many years with no one to turn to for help.

The World Health Organization defines Torture as extended exposure to violence and deprivation. That is how I see child abuse.

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Invisible Children Campus Program

WHAT IS A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS?

Polio, smallpox & measles were public health emergencies – policies & programs were created to end these crisis.
FIRST, A conversation.

A conversation about identifying and understanding the issues is a first step to discovering the policies & tools to interrupt generational child abuse and heal troubled children and families.

Once policy makers recognize the depth and scope of the problem, it becomes possible to divert resources and attention from policies and programs that don’t work to policies and programs that do work.

Until then, cities will suffer levels of violence, school failure, racial inequities and all the sadness and failure trauma survivors bring to the communities they live in.

Kids At Risk Action invites you to start the conversation in your community with KARA’s INVISIBLE CHILDREN Campus program.

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INVISIBLE CHILDREN Book II – America’s Public Health Crisis (why we should care)

We are all in this together.

Pliny the Elder stated 2000 years ago, “what we do to our children they will do to society”.

Let’s do better.

The Heart of the Matter Chapter One
What You Don’t See;

If it’s not seen, it’s not spoken of.

If it’s not spoken of it’s not an issue.

If it’s not an issue there’s not a problem.

If it’s not a problem it needs no solution.

Generational child abuse is a problem festering in America for decades. It is having a profound impact on taxes, public schools, public health and public safety.

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INVISIBLE CHILDREN Book Accepted Into Public Library Today

INVISIBLE CHILDREN will now be on the shelves of the public library. You can search for it online or click on this book link to reserve it. It has been some years in coming, and I like to think this is a sign that the conversation around abused and neglected children is finally getting the attention it deserves. Forward this to people that might want to know.

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Invisible Children Around the World; United Kingdom

Early intervention is vital – not only in ensuring that fewer and fewer children grow up in abusive or neglectful homes, but also to help as many children as possible reach their full potential.

The Audit Commission has estimated that, if effective early intervention had been provided for just one in ten of those young people sentenced to custody each year, public services alone could have saved over £100 million annually.

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