Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Recognition Event – Could Not Have Been Better

CASAMN’s keynote speaker and honored guest Star Tribune investigative journalist Brandon Stahl, was surprised to come face to face with his biggest fan club.
Brandon has been so busy investigating and reporting on Minnesota’s child abuse, child death and child protection news that he was caught off guard by a room full of people who gave him standing ovations every chance they got.
We in that room knew deeply that if it were not for Brandon Stahl’s reporting, Governor Dayton would not have spoken out about child protection or formed the task force that has made the kind of changes to child protection that can improve the lives of these tortured and troubled children.
Because of Brandon’s serious and intrepid writing, it’s no longer a law that social workers are forbidden to review prior histories of child abuse when evaluating a new charge.
No longer is it acceptable for the state to screen out sixty percent of child abuse reports (the national average is thirty percent) or for counties to screen out 90% of abuse calls (when four year old Eric Dean was tortured to death, four Minnesota counties did so).
Brandon’s keynote talk was singing to the choir. His audience of volunteer court appointed special advocates (CASA guardians ad Litem) witness his reporting on the results of public policy on two and four year old children. Kids that are beaten, starved and sexually abused until the community intervenes.
The event truly did honor the tireless efforts of volunteer guardians ad Litem and it was touching to see how moved the audience and the speaker were when those standing ovations happened.

Thank you Laurie and Dana for organizing the best event I’ve attended in a long time. It was a terrific experience and everyone left feeling better about the work they were engaged in.
It could not have been better.

Sad Stories April 2017 Part I

KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

These pages are a sampling of what should be reported – the great majority of child trauma, abuse & tragedy are never reported.

American states are struggling to find answers for saving at risk children and reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect in our communities.

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 January 2017)

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 Florida reports 48% of its foster children are forced to take Prozac like drugs.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

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)

Child Abuse – Numbers & Why They Matter (thank you Chris Serres & Star Tribune)

MN has recently forcibly closed foster group homes in St Cloud and Buhl and housed state ward children in hospital rooms because there was no place else to put them.

How would it make you feel as a traumatized six year old to live in a hospital room because our community just does not have the money or concern to find you a home?

Not normal, not loved or of any value at all.

Think about becoming a volunteer CASA guardian ad Litem (or making a donation to a fund that gives foster children things that the state does not provide – make them more like your children

International Child Protection News March 2017 (send us your news from around the world – info@invisiblechildren.org with research/writing in the subject line)

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

Aspiring researcher / writers, KARA needs you. Help KARA report on at risk children in your community.

Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org with Research/Writing in the subject line.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN – Join The KARA Team (and receive free weekly updates on Friday mornings)

Compilation of information and writing on this page is the hard work of the KARA team and volunteer Eshanee Singh

Please donate now and support these pages &

1) Our documentary on the needs of at-risk children and breaking the cycle of abuse

2) Our second book and college child abuse travelling displays (let us know if your college or university wants to participate)

Speak For An Abused Child in Court (short video) WE NEED YOU!

Volunteer: Be the voice for a child that doesn’t have one! (Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul Area OPPORTUNITIES)

One hundred and seventy five Hennepin County children are without a guardian ad litem today – WE NEED VOLUNTEERS.

Do you know any? Send this to a friend and share it with your social media.

With the response to recent reporting of child abuse and child death in MN, a corresponding increase of child abuse cases are entering the system & means that volunteers are badly needed.

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

Minnesota Child Protection News March 2017

MN Child Protection News March 2017
KARA gathers news about abused Minnesota’s abused children every month and provides a snapshot of Child Protection and how our state values its children.
If you are an aspiring writer/reporter, KARA needs you to help gather and report on these stories.
Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org with REPORTING in the subject line.
All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children
Follow;
Safe Passage For Children MN (Join them and make child friendly legislation a reality)

CASAMN (become a guardian ad Litem and speak for abused children)
KARA Star Tribune Articles; Child Protection Who Will Speak For Children?

KARA Star Tribune Articles; Child Protection Who Will Speak For Children?

Wanting To Know (caring enough to know)

Does Minnesota (your state here) want to know how its thousands of foster children are doing in school? Is there information available for people that care and want to see abused and neglected children at least get a chance to graduate from high school and lead a normal life?

The lack of transparency surrounding child abuse, child protection, foster care, drugging of very young children (Prozac, Ritalin, Zoloft…) indicates that while we talk big about valuing children in our community, we don’t care enough to want to know what their needs are.

If we knew that 80% of youth aging out of foster care were leading dysfunctional lives (last study of ten years ago), that 48% of state ward children are being forced to take psychotropic medications (true in Florida today) or that 4 MN counties screened out 90% of child abuse calls (true at the time of 4 year old Eric Dean’s murder by his step mother), then some concerned citizen, politician or administrator somewhere might be outraged enough to lobby for change.

Until information by our institutions becomes public, the problem simply does not exist and no one appears to care enough to see these awful things change.

Cudos to Minnesota for turning the child endangerment model into a genuine child protection model. It’s a great first step.

A Modest Proposal

Three hundred years ago, an Irish Minister wrote an explosive satire that was misinterpreted by many readers of his day (printed in its entirety below).

In a gruesome and widely read logical argument, Jonathan Swift clearly articulated a plan that would relieve the suffering of Irish families and their youngest children by selling babies to the English to be eaten (in a stew that he included the recipe for).

Back in the day, these writings were the modern equivalent of you tube or a longer version of Twitter and consumed voraciously by all who could read (or read them to others).

Public policy of the era treated the Irish more like animals than people and Irish children were doomed to lives of crime, prostitution, and abject poverty.

While a satire, Swift’s underlying argument was the completely serious view that death might be preferable to children doomed to disease, crime, prostitution, & the horrid cruelties suffered by abandoned children of his time.

His writings provide a painful comparison to the data and media stories that identify the most vulnerable citizens of today’s America.

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.

Foster (a film) Florida’s Foster Care System (don’t let this happen to you)

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.