Not Enough

The state has agreed to pay $2.85 million to a 21-year-old woman who allegedly endured physical and sexual abuse after a child abuse investigation conducted by the state Department of Social and Health Services.

I accept that the dollar amount sounds impressive, but I challenge the DSHS assertion that this young woman’s life will ever be made whole by the financial settlement. I’ve spent years in child protection and never met a fully recovered victim. Abuse lasts forever and it takes great strength and help to make a happy life. Help is not easy to find, and very expensive. Allot of people just suffer.

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Note To Invisible Children Followers

I am unable to respond quickly as my normal work can keep me away for days at a time. This site and my efforts are designed to provide information and resources on and about child abuse and at risk children.

The Blogroll, Links, & Resources links on the right side of the page (located below the comments section) provide telephone numbers and contact information for organizations that have staff and can be of help (KARA has no staff).

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Note To InvisibleChildren Readers

www.avahealth.org You can spend hours listening to the medical professionals address these topics on this site in a very straightforward manner. Their videos are powerful – in particular, study the ACES information.

www.juvenile-in-justice.com This site provides an overview of how our institutions are working together and paints the picture of how at risk children are aging through society today. While it does not speak directly to pre-teen pregnancy, and the many important young women’s issues, it will draw your attention to the racial and economic disparity that is destroying so much of our inner cities.

& of course, Google, Art Rolnick, / Rob Grunewald Federal Reserve Bank Early Childhood Development. Study their report. It makes a statistical / financial argument for taking better care of American children.

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Nothing Just Fine About It

At the end of a recent KARA presentation about child abuse and child protection in our community at a metro Kiwanis, a University Professor argued strongly that child protection was working “just fine” from his perspective.

This after I had just pointed out the lack of support, training, and resources for the courts and social workers and the terrible stories and results MN is currently experiencing. Governor Dayton called child protection in the death of 4 year old Eric Dean (after 15 ignored reports of child abuse) a “colossal failure”, MN ranks 47th in what we spend on child protection, and this professor lived just a few miles where a very young child was raped and murdered (18 month old Maplewood girl).

He did not seem to know that day care workers are paid less than food service workers in America and in the rest of the industrialized world day care workers are are required to have advanced degrees that include mental health training (and are paid better because of their training). He did not agree that more attention needed to be focused on at risk youth.

“Just fine” for him perhaps, not having to meet or deal with the traumatized two year old’s, and the never ending string of abused and neglected children that social workers and court personnel see day after day and year after year with too little resources and too big of a case load.

There is nothing fine about the statistical reality of state wards in child protection becoming state wards in juvenile justice and then state wards in criminal justice. There is nothing just fine about the amount of psychotropic medications being used on children and juveniles in the system, or the problems foster and adoptive parents must face everyday with the behavioral problems these kids bring with them into their homes and school.

The professors thinking goes a long way in explaining the absence of crisis nurseries, therapeutic day care, and other programs that would give kids safety and coping skills necessary for success in school and in life.

It saddens me greatly that an educated segment of our community knows so little about the sadness that exists for so many involved in child-well being and child protection that they are unable to identify and support the programs and policies that could address the problems and make life better for children, our schools, and communities.

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November 2016 Sad Stories Part I

IN: Child re-sentenced for murder: A sign of juvenile justice reform?
Christian Science Monitor – October 31, 2016
Paul Gingerich was 12 years old when he helped fatally shoot a friend’s stepfather in a small Indiana town about 45 miles northwest of Fort Wayne. The boys had planned to flee to Arizona or California after the ambush, but both were caught, convicted, and sentenced to 25 years in prison. The case sparked outrage from child welfare advocates because Mr. Gingerich, now 18, is believed to be the youngest person in Indiana history to be sentenced in an adult court.
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2016/1031/Indiana-child-re-sentenced-for-murder-A-sign-of-juvenile-justice-reform

IN: Drugs could be to blame for rise in foster care cases, officials say (Includes video)
WDRB – October 31, 2016
As the number of kids in foster care in the United States goes up, Indiana is among the states seeing the largest increase in new cases.
http://www.wdrb.com/story/33534207/officials-say-drugs-could-be-to-blame-for-rise-in-foster-care-cases

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November 2016 Sad Stories Part II

Sign Up Here For Friday morning news updates (free) 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…

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November Sad Stories Part II (1000 stories)

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

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Occupy Wall Street For America’s Children

Children have no lobby, no voice, & can’t fight back when a MN Governor* states that “children that are victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem, nor are they the problem of the State Of Minnesota”.

There’s nothing a five year old can say to the governor of Indiana about the elimination of the state’s newborn screening fund (paid for by birth fees collected from parents), or the retroactive termination of adoption subsidies to the five hundred families that adopted special need children based on the promise that they would have assistance for their special needs children.

I doubt that a nine year old could clearly explain the problem facing California foster children because 1,000 state-licensed facilities match sex offenders’ addresses;

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October Sad Stories Part I

Drugging Our Kids: Governor signs bills to curb prescribing of psych drugs to California foster youth
The Mercury News
Joymara Coleman, a 24-year-old Cal State East Bay student, displays two of the psychotropic medications she was prescribed while in foster care.
Flag as irrelevant

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October Sad Stories Part II

WA: Can this tool fix our troubled foster care system?
Crosscut Seattle – October 28, 2015
Anyone who has filed a tax return by hand knows that filling out bureaucratic forms can be a dreary, time-consuming enterprise. For child welfare and youth homeless social service providers, it can be a hindrance to the very outcomes those forms are trying to achieve: providing quality care for the state’s most vulnerable kids. Partners for our Children, a group out of University of Washington’s School of Social Work, is trying to solve that problem.
http://crosscut.com/2016/10/can-this-tool-fix-our-troubled-foster-care-system/

US: Modernizing Foster Care (Opinion)
Chronicle of Social Change – October 28, 2016
The shortage of foster families will continue to increase. Previous blogs have discussed ways to lessen the need for temporary homes by preventing unnecessary removals and by hastening the time to a permanent home through reunification or adoption. In addition, foster parents should be more adequately compensated.
https://chronicleofsocialchange.org/blogger-co-op/modernizing-foster-care/21957

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Official Launch of KARA’s TPT/ Television Expose Fundraiser

Friends of KARA, please help us by donating (any amount) and sharing this link to our official fundraising site for the TPT partnership to create a television expose telling the real-life stories that will bring to life the critical issues facing abused and neglected children and the people, policies, and programs impacting them.

Best of all, long time American news anchor and investigative journalist and winner of Emmy and Peabody awards Don Shelby is advising us on the project. The protection of all children, is to his mind, the responsibility of all adults

To complete this project & make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. We need your help.

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On Handcuffing & Tasing 3rd Graders (and expelling preschoolers)

There is no shortage of disturbing stories about violent children & authorities using violent means to control them. Today, the U.S. expels more children from daycare than any other industrialized nation and the levels of violence in our schools is frightening and harmful to all of us.

There is nothing more disturbing than watching a video of an armed 200 pound police officer twisting the arms of a 50 pound special needs child into a painful behind the back steel handcuffed position as the boy cries uncontrollably in his classroom, unless it is reading about the St. Louis Sheriff’s deputy tasering an 11 year old boy and threatening to sodomize him (Sheriff Mulch “nothing out of the ordinary…, followed protocol)

These stories and recent horrific police shootings of juveniles are a signal of overwhelmed institutions unable to deliver the most basic protection and safety services to the communities that employ them. Don’t blame service providers -it is lawmakers and administrators defending archaic policies that just don’t work anymore. Neither police nor teachers are able to nor should they be required (with the training we give them) to handle the deep and troubling behaviors of very disturbed children). Traumatizing five and six year old children because they have behavioral problems is just awful and it makes things so much worse for the child (and our society).
This story out of Texas, demonstrates how the police might better deal with troubled youth with an approach that recognizes the significance of mental health issues impacting police/child interaction. We need to do a 180 on dealing with mental health issues. Now.

The sooner we the people recognize that this is all about mental health and that schools and police departments are not mental health service providers, the safer our schools and city streets will become.

All adults are the protectors of all children.

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On The Death Of 6 Year Old Kendrea Johnson (another perspective)

Strangled dead tangled in a jump rope is not something that happens to six year old children (Star Tribune today) Thank you Star Tribune for giving voice to the voiceless children of Minnesota.

As a Hennepin County CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem, I watched abused and neglected children, traumatized children, whether they be two, four, or six years old, do terribly destructive things and try to kill themselves. My first visit to a four year old CASA case girl was at the suicide ward of Fairview hospital. She had watched the beatings and rape of her mother and sister (who was three years older than her) for most of her four years on earth. Think of the terror going through a child’s mind watching drug crazed, violent, and sexual abuse of your mom and sister. It changes a person.

I’ve written about the seven year old foster boy who hung himself and left a note about how he hated being forced to take Prozac. Children in foster care are often medicated to keep them from hurting themselves and others. You really don’t get into foster care unless you have been traumatized and behavioral issues are endemic to trauma victims. A very real side effect of psychotropic medications is suicidal ideation (fully formed thoughts of killing yourself, delivered by your brain – like a daytime nightmare).
The article in the Tribune makes Kendrea’s death sound like a pretty normal young child accident (Wow). Her younger brother was born drug addicted (the womb has no barrier to protect an infant from drugs and alcohol). Kendrea had been in a number of foster homes (one of my CASA case boys had been in 29 foster placements when he aged out of child protection). This death was not normal. Traumatized children need our help. Tens of thousands of MN children are victims of the kind of abuse Kendrea lived with all of her young life. Very few of them find the help they need to live a normal life. It would be the right thing to do to deliver these children the help they need to make sure they do not injure themselves or others with dangerous behaviors.

Remember friends, we only read about the children that die.

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Only Evil Governments Torture Other People’s (Immigrant) Children

Losing 1475 migrant children as a political statement was an awful example of what America is becoming know for internationally.

Letting Migrant Kids Rot in shabby poorly run centers for months or years stinks of racism & an administration without a conscious.

Boarder agents threatening children with adoption and Drugging them just adds a vile and criminal element to the equation. If these children die will there be consequences?

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Our Creeping Mental Health Crisis (& statistics)

As a new CASA guardian ad Litem volunteer I was stunned by the Prozac, Ritalin and other psychotropic medications prescribed to my seven, eight and nine year old State Ward children. About 1/3 of all state ward children (nationally) are forced onto psychotropic medications. Suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death among 10 to 24 year olds.

Over 1 million children under 6 are prescribed psychiatric drugs in America today. In 2014, 20,000 one and two year old’s were on Prozac like drugs & *Johnson & Johnson was fined billions of dollars for illegally selling those drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children…

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Our Only Hope For A Safe, Livable America; Talking About Mental Health

Friday’s horrific national tragedy — the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut — has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

While every family’s story of mental illness is different, and we may never know the whole of the Lanza’s story, tales like this one need to be heard — and families who live them deserve our help.

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Outcomes – Not Reorganization – Safe Passages For Children

I have been part of government reorganizations. People have to redesign logos, develop new civil service positions, decide about fonts for the stationery…. It takes years. In the meantime, programs often tread water.

A better plan is to focus all that energy on improving outcomes. Counties should regularly measure and report how their children are doing regarding mental health, level of trauma, cognitive skills, and physical development.

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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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