A Note to Brandon Stahl & the Tribune (abused children still need you)

It is only because you found the death of 4 year-old Eric Dean suspicious and dedicated yourself to reporting on the awful circumstances that killed him after 15 ignored reports of child abuse, that this volunteer CASA guardian ad Litem has any hope for the thousands of other terrified and tortured children in need of child protection services today.

Working for decades with traumatized children, I’ve experienced the awful truth about the lasting impact of abuse on children and the lasting impact of abused children on our community.

Brandon, your efforts and insights into the inadequacies and failures of a system in need of transparency, accountability and media attention is why Governor Dayton called out the colossal failure of the system & created the task force that has brought significant change to an institution not given to criticism or outside influence.

Foster Care – the American Tragedy

There is no endeavor more difficult, painful and underappreciated than inviting a traumatized state ward child into your home as a foster child.

Let no one report that this article demeans or discredits the brave people that have made their home a foster home.

What has been a voluntary and informal act of kindness and concern for vulnerable children is now a regulated and complex industry that deals with the compound needs of abused children within the state industry of child protective services.

Bringing Transparency to Child Trauma & Abuse to End Child Abuse Where You Live

Unseen and unknown, America’s abused & traumatized children lead painful lives that without help do not improve much as they age.

Do at risk children in your community need more support to lead normal lives? Would more information and community involvement make their lives better?

Check out Kids At Risk Action traveling exhibit provided free to colleges where you live and build support for the better answers these children need.

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

A Star Tribune Mistake (impacting millions of children each year)

“Did you all see the article in the Science and Health section of the Sunday Star Tribune? – ”Study will look at the role of childhood stress in adult disease”. There is a line in there that says, to the effect, that very little is known about the connection between childhood stress and adult disease. Give me a break. What about the ACE Study? Very discouraging.”

Thank you Carol.

Here are my thoughts on your note;

Beyond the sadness of reporters and the general public lacking awareness about the plethora of * ACEs studies demonstrating the direct connection between abuse and lack of coping skills, chronic illness, dangerous lifestyles and early death, is that the most recent reprinting of the DSM* shows almost no mention of ACEs.

Professionals in the mental health field and learning institutions that train new mental health workers need to know ACEs trauma informed best practices for working with trauma victims if we are ever to increase graduation rates, reduce crime and incarceration rates and rebuild safe and livable inner cities.

Snapshot of Child Abuse News Headlines August 2017 (thank you Eileen King & Child Justice)

Woody Allen has never been charged with a sex crime.
In the court of public opinion, however, a large segment long ago began viewing the famed director a deviant for two reasons. First, in 1992, his former partner Mia Farrow accused him of molesting his then 7-year-old adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow. Then in 1997, he

The Best Article On Child Protective Services Ever (this is worth the read)

the impossible dilemma faced by child protection workers, judges and parents when a child abuse claim is made. What shouldn’t happen and what should happen for the safety of a child and the integrity of the institution of child protection.

Repercussions of a child abuse report last forever (what’s it like for the child to hear the specific abuse charges brought against you), parents sometimes not allowed to say goodbye, what is imminent danger and how long before you get a hearing (in some communities a year is common).

A Painful Reality About Guardians ad Litem (and other child protection workers)

Recently, I asked an acquaintance who had finished an intense volunteer experience (overseas) if she would consider CASA volunteer guardian ad Litem work or something supporting the program. Her response was surprising. She explained to me how less than useless the CASA guardian ad litem program was, how poorly trained and counter productive the volunteers were and implied pretty directly that I was quite the meathead for being a part of it or asking her to help.

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.

Thank God For Lawyers, Lawsuits & the Star Tribune

Today’s Star Tribune reporting on the civil rights lawsuit for abused children (by reporter Chris Serres) validates my belief that child rape and other crimes against children are the most ignored and cruelest reality in our community.  We hate the conversation so we avoid it and children suffer continued awful traumas because of us.

I know far too many children that have suffered these crimes repeatedly over many years.  All this because we don’t talk about child abuse unless the child dies and makes the news.  Our overwhelmed and misunderstood child protection system is simply unable to provide change or justice until we have this talk.

Traveling College Child Abuse – Child Protection Exhibit (for your campus activity space, library/museum)

KARA delivers to campus activity centers and departments a low cost, powerful visual display series of stories, graphics and news to build awareness and start discussion about the issues facing at risk children in your community. Six month lead time is projected presently. This display includes a menu of presentations and workshops and can be tailored to events and conditions in your community. Start this conversation on your campus.

Support this program directly (contact KARA for more info – info@invisiblechildren.org Campus Display in subject line)

Being A Mandated Reporter (and what it means)

As a longtime volunteer, CASA guardian ad litem and writer/reporter on child abuse I know how voiceless children are. Think about it, they don’t even know that what is happening to them is wrong.

I also know how common child sexual abuse is and how sex abuse traumas destroy childhoods and lasts forever. It is the most tragic and under-reported crime in America.

Yesterday I sat through a terrific class on self-defense developed for children about escaping from sexual predators.

The instructor presented powerful information that will save pain and violence for kids in the class before and even after they enter adulthood.

About half of all women experience sexual violence in their life and about one fifth of men.

As a CASA guardian ad litem I helped to remove fifty children from toxic homes where half of them had been sexually abused.

One two-year-old, several four-year old’s and the rest under ten – and most of them suffered daily for years before child protection became involved. I have witnessed again and again the long term effects of child sex abuse traumas.

I was crushed at the end of the presentation when the instructor flat out stated that she very deliberately allowed no opportunity for a child in her class to describe sexual violence already experienced because “I am a mandated reporter and you know what that means”.

How few opportunities a child has to tell someone and how likely the abuse is going to continue until they do tell someone that can help them.

What’s a five-year old to do?

Let’s not put ourselves out or get some of this on us is a big part of the problem.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

SAFE PASSAGE FOR CHILDREN MN (Federal audit of MN child welfare shows inadequate metrics, resources, quality assurance & training)

If you live and Minnesota and are willing to make time for one trip a year to the Capital in St Paul to speak for a child, there is nothing more meaningful that you could do for at risk children than volunteer with Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota. The appointment with your state legislator/s is arranged by Safe Passage for Children and you are provided a brief outline of the key issues facing abused children for you to share with your legislator.

Meeting time is seldom over 15 minutes but that will be enough time for you to show commitment to children and share the most critical information available with someone who can make a difference in the lives of the children you are advocating for.

Your state legislators actually do listen to you and they care what you have to say. Without your 15 minutes of child advocacy, legislators have little insights into the issues facing abused and neglected children. After all, children have no voice in the homes they are raised in, the media or government (they can’t vote).

Thank you Safe Passage for another powerful day on the hill

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

Video – Florida’s Foster Care System (don’t let this happen to your children)

This is the most powerful piece I have seen about foster care. Although it is on Florida’s system, it represents much of what happens throughout our nation today. Please share it widely as this is important information for millions of children that suffer these failings every day in our nation.

https://vimeo.com/139417634
The password is foster

KARA encourages you to send us your child protection documentaries and videos for consideration on this site.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

Body Memories – Why Child Sex Abuse Never Ends (letters from survivors and non survivors)

Dear Doctor,

As a medical professional you have taken an oath to do no harm, but there are ways in which you can hurt your patients without even recognizing you are doing so. What seems to you as a simple exam may cause injury to those who have been victimized by someone’s touch. This is a subject that we, survivors of sexual violence, have been meaning to discuss with you for some time now, but your authority can be more intimidating than you may know. I am also unsure if you are aware just how much power you, as a physician, hold and to the extent that you affect the lives of all of your patients. Your interactions with us travel much deeper than the physical core.

The relationship between patient and doctor is also mental, built on trust, understanding, and the security of knowing that your doctor has your well-being at heart. We, as your patients, entrust in you the most intimate parts of our bodies and our lives. But this trust has to be earned, and it is much harder for us patients who have been so severely violated. The intent of this letter is not to in any way criticize your work as a

1 In 3 Children Investigated For Abuse by 18 (Washington University Study)

river-vista-double-exposureAs a long time volunteer County CASA guardian ad Litem it has been hard to comprehend the explosive growth of child abuse in my lifetime.  This study (lead author Hyunil Kim PhD Student at the Brown School at Washington University St Louis) published in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health is troubling on several levels.

First, to reach numbers this high by only including reports of child abuse that met County standards for a case to be investigated, indicates that this already high number (37% overall & 53% for Black Children) is possibly even higher

Child Abuse & The Most Powerful Suicide Note Ever

Of the children I’ve worked with as a guardian ad-Litem, a high percentage of them have been sexually abused. I have seen the horror of child sex abuse and how 10 or 25 years later, a troubled being still fighting the darkness every day.

Child sex abuse may be the most under-reported crime in America. It could also be the most under-treated horror in America. As a guardian ad-Litem, my first visit to a hospital suicide ward to visit a four year old girl that had been horribly abused was never made public, or when I worked with the seven year old that had been prostituted, or any of the family members that practiced child sex abuse.

30.2 % of America’s Youth Arrested Before Their 23rd Birthday (25% of us are state wards & special needs people)

Add this to the fact that American youth (as young as 11) are routinely charged as adults (25% nationally) and that cities around the nation arrest extremely high percentages of their minority populations (in 2001 Hennepin County – Minneapolis MN) arrested 44% of it’s adult Black Men – no duplicate arrests/58% of those men were rearrested for a second crime within two years making Minneapolis the Jail & Prison capital of the world.

Many states have funded their prison and jail systems at far greater rates of increase than their schools, daycare, or health systems, either of which could reduce the stresses driving the extreme growth in crime and courts.

A pathological lack of empathy is driving parts of our political body and ensures that generation after generation of dysfunctional families will continue to maintain the statistical truth that the U.S. has five percent of the world’s population and twenty five percent of the world’s prison population.