How America Treats Its Children

The recent International Labor Organization study proves that the U.S. is one of three nations on the planet that does not provide some kind of monetary payment to new mothers who’ve taken maternity leave from work. America also provides the least amount of maternity leave among the industrialized (and many emerging and third world) nations.

That is what we think of children in America. New Zealand and Norway provide up to 14 weeks of paid leave, and 70 nations provide paid leave for fathers.

In America, we pay our daycare workers what we pay food service workers (the lowest paid people in the nation) and have almost no requirements for education or training for the difficult and important task of raising our youngest citizens.

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House of Horrors (not investigating child abuse = not caring for abused kids)

Twin girls beaten with bats, starved, raped, chained & abused over 12-15 years on the 4200 block of 17th Av South in Minneapolis. Over 50 police calls to the home, developmentally disabled and pregnant in high school.

“The neighbors knew. The police knew. The county knew. We all knew…But nothing was done.”

“How many times the county received reports of abuse and neglect remains unclear” (from the star tribune article).

This is not uncommon. It’s how 4 year old Eric Dean was tortured to death after 15 ignored reports of abuse by mandated reporters and how 6 year old foster child Kendrea Johnson died by suicide and how my 7 year old CASA guardian ad litem case child was prostituted over 2 years and 49 police calls to her home where gun fire and prostitution were the reason for the police calls.

I’m just one of hundreds of volunteer MN CASA guardians and I know dozens of these stories. It’s awful.

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Hospitals Turning Away Mental Health Patients (nothing to be proud of)

Thank you Chris Serres for reporting on the troubling development at St Joseph’s Hospital in Brainerd.

This is one of our community’s (nation’s) most serious health problems.

St Joe’s failure to admit mental health crisis patients reflects the growing nightmare of how medical institutions are dealing with mental health at a management level.

Refusing help to our most troubled citizens (people in crisis) means more sad & awful things happen to the rest of us.

People in crisis…

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Hitting Children & Leaving Bruises On Kansas Children Could Be The Law Next Session

State Rep Gail Finney says whacking children is about restoring parental rights (along with the rights of teachers and other caregivers) and not child abuse. I guess that depends on how you define abuse. Imagine letting other people whack your child and leaving bruises.

Kansas already allows whacking children without leaving marks, but that just doesn’t pass Gail’s smell test. She wants to see red.

Gail has vowed to continue bringing it up if it doesn’t make it this year. Kansas ranks 36th among the states in child death & 29th in juvenile incarceration according to Geography Matters, Child Well-Being among the states.

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High Hopes For Hennepin County’s New Child Protection Model (keeping up with reports of abuse)

Today’s heartening Star Tribune article gave me hope that I’ve not had in decades for the saving of abused and neglected children from extended traumas and ruined lives.

“No longer will a child need to endure maltreatment before they get social services in Minnesota’s most populous county, an unprecedented step in the state”.

Thank you Task Force on Child Protection, Safe Passage For Children, Governor Dayton and all the legislators and supporters standing for the weakest and most vulnerable children in our community.

Additional funding for staff, reduced caseloads, responding to child abuse reports at all hours (including weekends) and focusing on the child’s well-being instead of the crisis mode required after traumatic abuse has been endured (usually for years) will make a huge difference in the lives of these kids.

By making services available to struggling families and insuring that very young children reported as abused receive face-to-face assessments and the help they need, we will be interrupting patterns of behavior that can ruin a child’s life forever and making their lives safer and happier.

The ACE’s (Adverse Child Experience) medical studies have proven the negative mental health outcomes of childhood trauma.

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Hiding Child Suicide Hurts Everyone (until it exists – nothing will change)

Six weeks ago, Brandon Stahl’s Star Tribune article about the death of six year old Kendrea Johnson by apparent suicide, pointed out just how misinformed (or misdirected) our community is when it comes to the impact of trauma on children.

An unnamed Hennepin County Medical examiner was quoted in the article, “the decision to carry out such an act (suicide) is outside what a normal six year old could think about”.

This statement should have been, that all children in foster homes have been traumatized and normal does not exist for most of the six million children reported to child protection in this nation every year and that suicidal thoughts are not uncommon to traumatized children.

Awful things happened to these children or they would not have been taken from their home and placed in foster care.

Being removed from your birth home is traumatizing in and of itself. What happened before changes the way a child reacts to life – literally, it changes the way the brain responds to “normal” events for a child. Then, we add psychotropic medications that trigger thoughts of suicide (just read the package). Judge Heidi Schellhas shared her list of very young children taking Prozac, Ritalin, and other mind altering medications with me. Six year olds were on the list.

My first visit to a four year old girl in my CASA guardian ad-Litem work was at the suicide ward of Fairview Hospital.

I’ve written about seven year old Gabriel Meyers who hung himself and left a note about how he hated Prozac.

KARA’s interviewing for our child protection television expose includes past volunteer guardian ad-Litem and former mayoral candidate Don Samuels telling his story of a teacher calling him and asking for help with a five year old suicidal boy.

I’ve been on an airplane delivering a twelve year old suicidal boy to an out-state suicide prevention group home because all the metro suicide beds were taken – there are 800 to 1000 emergency psychiatric visits to HCMC every month (and many of them are children). Remember, this is just a single metro hospital. There are 3 children’s hospitals in the metro and zero children’s mental health hospitals.

While it is true that most five and six year old children fail in their suicidal attempts, their lives often remain self destructive and lead to early death. It hurts me that if not for the reporting of Brandon Stahl at the Star Tribune, no one would know that Kendrea killed herself, except her therapist and other service providers that knew she was having daily thoughts of suicide.

It is an awful condemnation of our values and community that abused and neglected children suffer this much with so little meaningful help from the rest of us. This speaks volumes about how we value children.

She is out of the news cycle now and probably not going to get much more attention. We should all feel some sorrow and empathy for the six year old girl that had to think about how she was going to end her life and then doing it. It should be much bigger news.

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Here’s Something Easy You Can Do To Improve The Lives Of At Risk Children

Children’s Issues in MN don’t get the coverage they need. You can help KARA change this. Click Here and fill out the form recommending children’s issues as the most important story right now. Think about it. You don’t read about these issues in the media unless a baby has died or some other horrid things has happened to a child.

Help KARA change this. Two minutes of your time will have an impact.
Buy our book or donate Sample 4 minute video of Mike’s awesome talk on child protection in America

Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/KidsAtRisk Share This Blog

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Helping Homeless Kids In the Metro

Today, there are about 100 youth shelter beds for the almost 5000 youth that experience homelessness every year in our state.

Sad facts;

15% of homeless youth have traded sex for shelter and food.

Over 20% of homeless youth have been physically or sexually attacked while homeless.

Almost 1/3 of homeless youth have been sexually abused.

Almost 40% of homeless youth have stayed in abusive homes because they had no where else to go.

The Y’s host program matches friendly families willing to share their safe homes with homeless youth as the Y staff helps these kids attain self-sufficiency.

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Help Wanted Volunteer Staff Writer (for Sad Stories and CASA pages)

Would you like to do more for at risk kids? Can you commit to four hours weekly for at least the next 3 months, to rewrite the information that I gather for these pages?

Review them; CASA News Sad Stories, and contact me if this fits your style and competency.

Buy our book or donate

Sample 4 minute video of Mike’s awesome talk on child protection in America (invite me to speak at your conference – Mike@invisiblechildren.org )

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Help KARA Spread the Word – 3 Simple Things

Sharing KARA news/videos/articles with your social media and networks – the more people become aware of how serious a problem child abuse is in America & how broken our child protection systems are, the more pressure will be put on legislators to support the people, programs and policies that work.

KARA needs dollars, subscribers (members), volunteers & promotors to make this happen.

Become part of the KARA grassroots army – share our information widely to promote programs, policies & the people striving to improve the lives of abused and neglected children.

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Help KARA Do Something About Drugging Foster Kids (invitation to action)

Invisible Children readers know that psychotropic medications, especially “antipsychotics,” often are used to sedate and restrain problematic people, children especially—and not just any children, but foster children particularly, and most of all, foster children in so-called “group homes.”

Agreement is widespread that foster kids are over-medicated: too many, too young, too many drugs per child, on dosages that are too high and are maintained too long, often for years on end.

The PsychDrugs Action Campaign of the National Center for Youth Law invites you to help make positive changes now. Our contact information is at the bottom of this message.

Why Foster Children?

Foster children are a lucrative market for psychotropic drug sales. Unlike adults, they can’t say “no, I won’t take any more.” Their parents are in no position to object. Responsibility for prescribing is diffused confusingly among foster parents, caseworkers, child welfare supervisors, group home administrators, and prescribers. All are involved, but their roles in medication decisions are overlapping and ill-defined. It is easy for each to say, “it wasn’t my decision.”

One of the consequences is that in some states about half of children in group homes are medicated with psychotropic drugs. Many foster children are dozing through their childhoods and teenage years in a semi-sedated fog, a fog that is profitable for the drug industry and convenient for those administrators, staff, and foster parents who prefer to minimize demands on their time and attention.

The losers are the kids. A dozen years in a chemical straitjacket is no preparation for adult independence.

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Help KARA Accomplish Its Mission (volunteer & support our documentary project)

Support KARA’s MN Public TV documentary project  Your donation will help KARA bring this powerful story to a statewide and national audience through television and social media. We are also seeking help us with reporting, writing, and building a greater social media presence. Do you have the skills to help us accomplish our goals of…

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Healthy Students – Healthy Schools

1/3 of foster children have mental health issues serious enough to be forced onto psychotropic medications.

Of the 2 million youth arrested in America every year, 70% or them have mental health issues – half of them have severe, chronic and often multiple diagnosis.

That’s what teachers and schools face every day with one school nurse if they are lucky enough to have one.

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Healing Through Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy (or, things I stole from the Surviving Spirit Website)

Our Story

The ideas, thoughts and dreams for The Surviving Spirit

The Surviving Spirit had its origins a long time ago in the mid-nineties. As a musician I had many unique opportunities to perform in different venues that would have a fair amount of folks in attendance who were dealing with the concerns of trauma, abuse, or mental health [mental illness]. These performances took place in peer support centers, psychiatric hospitals, day treatment centers, conferences, workshops, outdoor events, festivals, fairs, rallies, fundraising events and so much more. I was always blown away by the amount of people who not only shared parts of their difficult lives with me, but who also had these incredible gifts and creative talents — whether as an artist, musician, author, crafts person, photographer, author, writer, sculptor, poet, etc. Their listing of talents covers all styles and genres. Many others would also contact me through my website and send me information on their respective creative abilities.

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Havoc In Texas Child Protection Services (Dallas News)

According to Dallas News, on March third 2016, almost 6000 children needing immediate contact were not visited by CPS within the mandatory deadline for priority extreme cases (sexual abuse, infants neglected by drug-addled parents and other life threatening circumstances). The federal government has warned Texas for more than a decade that it isn’t meeting standards for timely visits in abuse investigations.

Caseworker turnover (57% per year) is on the rise because increased caseloads leave workers feeling overwhelmed and ineffective.

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Hard to Watch; Immigration & Children as Political Footballs

Dropping napalm on children and families in Vietnam (PBS video) was an unforgivable evil. Thousands of small children died by napalm.

Burned alive is the most painful death anyone can suffer. Survivors live with scars and trauma that never end.

Today, my government takes helpless babies & children from parents and places them in the custody of money driven defense contractors who warehouse them in cages at vacant shopping centers by the thousands.

The American Psychological Association condemns this act as needlessly cruel threatening “the mental and physical health of both the children and their caregivers”.

*Torturing immigrant children for political reasons is a vile act and it needs to be called out. *The World Health Organization defines torture as “extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.

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