ACES Connection (articles from April)

May 2, 2016 in Health and Mental Health, Links To Helpful Orgs, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

babies best ever

These articles are from the ACES Connection from April 2016 (Adverse Childhood Experiences Daily Digest) Read the rest of this entry →

Child Abuse & Child Protection Around the World (April 2016)

April 30, 2016 in Adoption, Child Death, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, International Child Abuse, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources by Mike Tikkanen

flaga

Help KARA grow awareness and resources for at risk children around the world; Donate a small monthly amount, buy KARA’s INVISIBLE CHILDREN book and share these articles with your friends and networks.   If you like to write and research, submit your nation’s child abuse and child protection stories/articles – please use the format you see here and include a link to verifying data or the news source of record.  You may listen to or read the book on this site for FREE (but make a donation if you can). Read the rest of this entry →

Child Abuse & Child Protection Around the World (January 2015)

April 30, 2016 in Adoption, Child Death, Health and Mental Health, International Child Abuse, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

my monkey

Help KARA grow awareness and resources for at risk children around the world; Donate, buy KARA’s INVISIBLE CHILDREN book and share these articles with your friends and networks.

 

Saint Helena: Child abuse on St Helena ‘covered up by Foreign Office’ admits government
International Business Times – January 04, 2014
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been forced to admit it made an “erroneous” report to the United Nations in which it denied the South Atlantic island of St Helena had problems with child abuse.
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/child-abuse-st-helena-covered-by-foreign-office-admits-government-1481796 Read the rest of this entry →

Another Guardian ad-Litem Speaks (thank you David Strand)

April 22, 2016 in CASA, Child Death, David Strand, Health and Mental Health, International Child Abuse, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

cardinal best everDavid is a KARA board member, former CASA guardian ad Litem and was a public policy maker on children’s issues in Europe for ten years.  He is now living and writing in Aitkin MN.  I found his recent response to a reader in the Aitkin newspaper very enlightening.  I hope you do too;

If we just had the average infant mortality in Western Europe, about a 1000 infants a month would avoid death. Read the rest of this entry →

Mental Health, Prozac, Holding Pens, Children & Sheriffs – (why nurses, teachers, social workers & foster / adoptive parents need to speak out)

April 19, 2016 in CASA, Child Death, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

mn fall panorama leaves turnedToday’s Star Tribune article about hospitals without the capacity to deal with the surge in emergency psych visits relates directly to the sheriff’s (Washington, Ramsey and Hennepin Counties) threat to sue because their departments had become mental health service providers as a result of the state’s failing to honor the 48 hour rule.

It would be useful if more educators, social workers, police officers & public health nurses would speak up on this topic also.  The levels of suffering, violence and disruption caused by not addressing mental health in our community has lead to unmanageable public institutions and prisons larger (almost ten times larger per capita) than in other industrialized nations). Read the rest of this entry →

March Sad Stories (2016 KARA reporting)

March 16, 2016 in Adoption, Child Death, Crime and Courts, Foster Care, Health and Mental Health, International Child Abuse, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

sunset costaricaThese stories about risk children have been gathered for the month of March 2016

Feel free to share this page, comment and send KARA stories & articles from your community, (info@invisiblechildren.org)

Read the rest of this entry →

Progress & Next Steps in County Child Protection (thank you SafePassageForChildren)

February 12, 2016 in Foster Care, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Links To Helpful Orgs, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

 

Today’s EBrief:

Progress and Next Steps in Hennepin County

 

This week the Hennepin County Oversight Committee reviewed efforts by child protection managers to implement recommendations in the Casey Report, which was critical of the program.

Progress was reported for example in rolling out a 24/7 child protection response, and adding screening and investigation staff.

In another part of this hearing, Casey staff presented a draft child protection ‘Practice Model’. While it identified child safety as the paramount responsibility of the program, much of the language – as Commissioner Mike Opat and others pointed out – echoed the old Family Assessment philosophy, which is weighted towards the needs and preferences of parents.

The final version of this practice model should reflect more clearly the priority that recent changes in state law and recommended practices gave to child safety and well-being.

 

Click to Comment

Think Again MN Feb 16 (includes KARA presentation)

February 10, 2016 in education, Events, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Links To Helpful Orgs, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources by Mike Tikkanen

THE IMPACT OF DOMESTIC ABUSE ON CHILDREN
Tuesday, February 16
6 p.m. Light Supper and Social 6:30 P.M. Program
Cafeteria, Hennepin Technical College, 9000 Brooklyn Blvd, Brooklyn Park, Map
RSVP on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1kWpPiG or to CarolWoehrer@usfamily.net Read the rest of this entry →

January Sad Stories (2016 KARA reporting)

January 30, 2016 in Child Death, Crime and Courts, Health and Mental Health, International Child Abuse, Invisible Children, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

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

Read the rest of this entry →

Violence Against Children & Policing

January 29, 2016 in CASA, Crime and Courts, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

best sharkThis morning’s Safe Passage For Children post about how police have put battered children back in the home because they like to keep families together reminds me of a CASA guardian ad Litem case where the mother’s boyfriend kicked a 7 year old girl so hard she went into convulsions & was sent to the hospital Emergency Room.  The police in that case sought safety for her and her siblings and involved Child Protection right away.

That girl had been sexually abused for four years (from 4 to 7) by this older violent man, my first visit to her younger year sister was at the suicide ward of the hospital & the 2 other children had problems so severe that they could not be together in foster care because of the things that happened when they were together.

The man who did these things to the children remained in the home for many years, and was never charged or made to answer for any of his crimes.  More than ten years later he was still sexually abusing children in the same home and he had never been mentioned in the justice system.

Children have no rights in the homes they live in, no access to safety other than our community efforts to keep children safe and no way to influence policy makers to improve the existing system.

The important & well written Safe Passage Article linked above includes a snapshot of how the rest of the industrialized world keeps children safe.

How about providing Social Worker, Educators, Police & Justice Workers sabbaticals or subsidized vacations in industrialized nations to experience other policies and practices for keeping children safe?  Do you have a better idea for more effective child protection in your community?

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children  Join KARA’s Facebook Page

The Administration That Poisoned the Children of Flint Michigan

January 20, 2016 in Crime and Courts, Events, Health and Mental Health, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

20130107-can-mozart-boost-brainpowerIt’s hard to believe that a political administration could go so far in negating the value of a city’s children as just happened in Flint Michigan.

Since April of 2014 Flint children have been poisoned with diarrhea like water infused with lead and other toxins (Flint water has twice the toxicity the EPA classifies as toxic waste) in the face of scientific evidence, political backlash and community outrage with nothing but misfeasance, malfeasance and non-feasance from the Governor’s office (all 8000 of Flints children).

Flint needs disaster relief from the EPA, CDC and Army Corps of Engineers to stop the State sponsored child abuse that poisoned the children of Flint Michigan.

Elected officials need to be made aware  that what happened in Flint was wrong and the people in charge made public, made to resign and be punished.  Sign Michael Moore’s petition on Facebook to let Michigan’s Governor know that what he has done to Flint’s children is a crime.

If Michigan State found that you knowingly poisoned your children over an extended period of time you would be guilty of second degree felony child abuse)*

Michigan Penal Code, section 750.136b:

“A person is guilty of child abuse in the second degree if…the person knowingly or intentionally commits an act likely to cause serious physical or mental harm to a child,” Michigan Penal Code, section 750.136b states. “[This] is a felony punishable by imprisonment for a first offense of not more than 10 years…[and] for a second or subsequent offense not more than 20 years.”

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

share this with your friends and networks

Updates on Flint Michigan’s Poisoned Children below  Read the rest of this entry →

Child Death & Drugs (send KARA your stories)

January 18, 2016 in Child Death, education, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

babies best everAs a County guardian ad-Litem, I’ve become familiar with children as young as four, five & six trying to kill themselves.  Many of these children have been proscribed powerful psychotropic medications with way too little of the necessary mental health care required to keep them safe.

Today it’s time we learn about the growing problem of newborns dying after being sent home with mothers struggling with drug addiction.  This Reuters investigation starkly demonstrates that doctors are not alerting social services to thousands of infants living in toxic homes with addicts.  Every 19 minutes an American baby is born dependent on opioids.

KARA needs your help finding information on the topic (forward related local news & your stories); info@invisiblechildren.org

All Adults Are The Protectors Of All Children

Minneminds Policy Principles For Early Learning & Child Protection Strategy Work Group Recommendations

January 15, 2016 in education, Health and Mental Health, Links To Helpful Orgs by Mike Tikkanen

default-header2016 Policy Agenda Principles (MinneMinds) & child welfare improvements (from SafePassage for children).

We should all want this for Minnesota children;

Fully support Parent Aware to continue expansion of high quality early learning throughout Minnesota.  PRIORITY SUMMARY: The shortage of early childhood staff, particularly in Greater Minnesota, is a growing crisis not just for the early childhood sector but for employers broadly across the state.  The waiting list for subsidized day care used to be under fifty families – today it is over 7000 families (why is that?).  Center based young child & infant daycare in MN is over fourteen thousand dollars a year and way out of reach for low wage families.
Read the rest of this entry →

Children, Trauma & School (what’s it like to teach tortured children?)

January 15, 2016 in Adoption, Child Death, education, Foster Care, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

iceberg picToday’s Star Tribune article nails it.  Thank you Annie Mogush Mason for your clear explanation of how child abuse impacts schools.  Coping skills (learning skills) are not brought by the stork.  Add to that, the terrible things done to at risk children in the home, children bring fear & high anxiety into the classroom instead of the ability to sit still, play well with others or learn.

Teaching *traumatized children is different than teaching other students.  Way different. Read the rest of this entry →

The Ghost Of Christmas Future

December 29, 2015 in Health and Mental Health, International Child Abuse, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

birdwatching in MazatlanI’m very pleased to know that the head of Hennepin County Commissioners Jan Callison showed genuine anger and concern when she found out* that Social workers weren’t available on weekends for abused and neglected children and that she directed the department to “fix it”.  Note that it is departmental management making bad policy and not problematic workers at the core of this issue.

The child protection system should be structured in the best interest of the children who need it and not just to accommodate workers or institutions.  It is a problem.

Too many policy makers and politicians are putting the interests of America’s youngest (voiceless and nonvoting) citizens on the back burner to the detriment of children, young families and our communities.

By many indicators (child poverty, teen pregnancy & STDs, crime & education) U.S. youth will be less healthy, educated  or well off as their parents. Comparing these same indicators in other developed nations the results are very different and not in our favor.

For people my age, the U.S. was always a leader among the developed nations in health, quality of life, education, child well-being. Not so any more. America’s public policies have become less compassionate & much more punitive to where we now have 5% of the world’s population & 25% of its prison population.  There were a stunning 13 million prison and jail releases last year alone. Read the rest of this entry →

San Francisco Chronicle Article Rob Waters (it’s been 10 years and not much has changed)

December 17, 2015 in Health and Mental Health, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

hallwaykid
reprinted from Sunday, February 12, 2006 (SF Chronicle)

One Child, One Therapist/An innovative program partners foster children with therapists for as long as they’re needed, providing a stability otherwise missing
Rob Waters

When child psychologist Norman Zukowsky first met him, 6 1/2-year-old “William” had already lived through more hardship and trauma than many people experience in a lifetime.

He was born exposed to drugs and alcohol,one of three children of a drug-addicted mother who lived in an unheated garage with no cooking or bathroom facilities.

Child welfare reports suggest that the children were physically abused, exposed to sexual behavior and often went without food or clothing. Eventually, William was
removed from his mother’s care only to be placed with a relative who scarred his chest beating him with a belt. Read the rest of this entry →

Babies, 2 year old’s & Antipsychotic Medicines

December 11, 2015 in Child Death, Crime and Courts, Foster Care, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

babies best everA New York Times article has identified that almost 20,000 prescriptions for antipsychotic medicines were written in 2014 – to children 2 and younger (many still in cribs).  A shortage of child psychiatrists is partially blamed.

These powerful mind altering chemicals are just one generation removed from Thorazine.  To use them like candy for babies and 3 year old children is dangerous.

 This Mercury News video series on foster care children provides a stunning insight into the growing use of unproven and dangerous medicines given to state ward children.

MN DHS in June of 2014 ended physchiatric consultations for high-dose ADHD and SGA drugs for children over 3 years old.

Big pharma has been fined billions of dollars for criminally promoting these drugs for use by children.  Johnson & Johnson paid 3 billion for the “illicit promotion of Rispererdal” and is still defending thousands of cases in court today.  This is just one example of the depth and scope of big pharma’s continued willingness to make money at the expense of vulnerable children.  This CASA guardian ad-Litem has too many stories of very young state ward children forced to take these drugs and the side effects they cause.  92% of foster children using psychotropic medicines get them for unaccepted reasons.

No one questioned whether foster child Kendrea Johnson was on psychotropics when she hung herself and left a note.  Her social worker did not know that she was suicidal and seeing a therapist at the time she killed herself.

There was no question why 7 year old foster child Gabriel Myers hung himself – his suicide note clearly articulated that he killed himself because he hated being forced to take Prozac.

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children – this includes voting for child friendly public polices like mental health access, crisis nurseries and quality daycare (tell your friends).

 

 

 

 

Newborns, Death and Drug Addiction (preventable deaths of drug-dependent babies)

December 7, 2015 in Child Death, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

20130107-can-mozart-boost-brainpowerNarcotic addicted babies are born every 19 minutes in America.  27,000 in 2013.

A federal law requiring hospitals to report drug addicted moms to child protection services is largely ignored.  This heartbreaking series by Reuters about the preventable deaths of drug-addicted babies ends includes ideas that can solve the problem.   Reuters filed more than 200 Freedom of Information Act requests and reviewed almost 6000 child fatality reports to identify these cases.

Only 7 states specifically tracked referrals of newborns in drug withdrawal and only half the number of cases that were diagnosed were tracked in those states.  Most states require reporting only babies exposed to illegal drugs – but prescription drug addiction is growing to become an even larger problem.

In 2005, 598,000 emergency drug related admissions included legal pharmaceutical overdoses.  According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, teens who abuse prescription drugs are twelve to twenty times more likely to use illegal street drugs than those that don’t abuse prescription drugs.

In 2010 2.4 million Americans used prescription drugs non medically for the first time.  

 

 

 

 

Worthy Reader Questions

November 28, 2015 in Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources by Mike Tikkanen

ocean wedding at sunsetKARA appreciates reader insights and we reprint the best ones.  Here today from A.R mcFarland and my response (below)

Your anguish at the pain and suffering of children is laudable and this site great.  And these hearings only show the safety net is torn and clearly failing children, isn’t time to broach the subject of parenting while asserting the “rights of the Child?”

 

A.R.,

Thank you for the kind words and very good question – it gets to the heart of what KARA is. Read the rest of this entry →

What Do You Wish For Today?

November 26, 2015 in education, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

A Family Dinner Guatemala sytleFor Thanksgiving this year, let’s all wish really hard to make life better for at risk children.

As a long-time Volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I wish for; The implementation  of the recommendations by the Governor’s Task Force on Child Protection and the additional attention and resources necessary to make children safe in my community (and yours too).

Fewer ten and twelve year old children charged as adults in our judicial system, Read the rest of this entry →

A New Disease of the Wealthy & Powerful

November 22, 2015 in education, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources by Mike Tikkanen

Pensive ParakeetWisconsin Representative Paul Ryan and new Speaker of the House voted NO to federal childcare subsidies, eliminated 16 billion dollars in Social Services block grants, including all child care funding for low income families,

No to parental leave for federal employees (no to even 4 weeks for a new mother), No to food stamps, Medicaid and Pell Grants, Yes to de-funding Planned Parenthood and removing contraception from employer based insurance requirements, and yes to deporting (children) and undocumented immigrants that grew up in the United States.

 

But he cannot and “will not” give up his family time.

Pro family yes (but just his family).

 

 

ALERT For MN Child Protection – Rolling Back Child Protection Reforms (from Safe Passage for Children MN)

November 13, 2015 in Child Death, Foster Care, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

Counties Propose Rolling Back Child Protection Reforms

Safe Passage LogoThis week county social services directors and the Department of Human Services (DHS) presented a plan to legislators that would significantly weaken reforms approved by the Governor’s Child Protection Task Force. Items they recommended dropping include:http://safepassagemn.com/counties-propose-rolling-back-child-protection-reforms/

 

Sad Stories October 2015

October 31, 2015 in Child Death, Crime and Courts, Foster Care, Grandparents & Kinship, Health and Mental Health, International Child Abuse, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

mississippi double exposure red wingFind information about child protection, child endangerment & child well-being in your state here.

For past months, click here

AR: Arkansas’s child welfare system discriminates against relatives of neglectful or abusive parents
Arkansas Times – October 29, 2015
When parents fail their children, relatives often want to step up. But Kimberlee Herring and Karisa Hardy say the system shut them out, and instead placed three kids into a home where they were abused.
http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/arkansass-child-welfare-system-discriminates-against-relatives-of-of-neglectful-or-abusive-parents/Content?oid=4144320 Read the rest of this entry →

Join The KARA Conversation on Linked In

October 21, 2015 in Adoption, education, Foster Care, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

parasailinghttps://www.linkedin.com/company/kids-at-risk-action-k-a-r-a-childrens-rights-advocacy-network/

Add your insights and concerns to these important conversations and let’s raise awareness and concern for abused and neglected children

 

 

 

 

What’s It Like?

October 20, 2015 in Child Death, Crime and Courts, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources by Mike Tikkanen

my best sunset everWhat’s it like to be;

The admitting person in the psychiatric ward of a metro hospital turning away violently troubled children because there is no space?  HCMC in Minneapolis averages about 900 emergency psych visits a month, many of them children.

A social worker, grandparent or guardian ad-Litem visiting a traumatized four year old child in the suicide ward of a hospital,

The first grade teacher who called City Counsel member Don Samuels asking what to do about a student trying to kill himself in her classroom, Read the rest of this entry →

Survivors Of Childhood Trauma Videos by Dr Vincent Felitti & ACES

October 15, 2015 in education, Health and Mental Health, Public Policy, video, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

babies best everSurvivors are up to 5000 times more likely to attempt suicide, have eating disorders, or become IV drug users 7 minute video (DR  Ferlitti)

2 short videos from AVAhealth.org about Adverse Childhood Experiences    (3 minute)

(8 minute)

Brandon Stahl’s investigating and Safe Passage’s volunteers are changing lives

October 7, 2015 in Adoption, CASA, Child Death, education, Foster Care, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

 

children down hill having funBrandon Stahl’s reporting (September 2014) on the tortured death of 4 year old Eric Dean and his  powerful Star Tribune articles about tortured children & the “catastrophic failure” of child protection in Minnesota (Governor Dayton’s words), shine light into the invisible world of child abuse that is so hard to talk about and so easy to avoid.

Rich Gehrman & Safe Passage For Children of MN worked with and reported on Governor Dayton’s Task Force On Child Protection, organized 100 volunteers to speak out and call on legislators to raise awareness and bring positive change to the 60,000 Minnesota children reported to Child Protection services each year. Read the rest of this entry →

Child Death and Child Abuse Articles (for September 2015 – find your state/country here)

September 25, 2015 in Adoption, Child Death, Crime and Courts, Foster Care, Grandparents & Kinship, Health and Mental Health, International Child Abuse, Invisible Children, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

default-headerEvery month KARA publishes articles that largely go unnoticed outside of the community they occur.  These stories are gathered from different sources all around the nation and some international stories.  Please share this page with people in your networks, especially reporters, educators, social workers and law enforcement.  Spread the word; when more people know about how troubled our child protection systems are, we will do more to make life better for abused and neglected children (until then, not much will change).

 Sign up for our weekly children’s issues updates (free)

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children                             Read the rest of this entry →

Thank You Prairie Care & Washburn Center For Children’s Mental Health (the uphill battle in addressing children’s mental health in Minnesota)

September 2, 2015 in Child Death, education, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources by Mike Tikkanen

birdwatching in MazatlanPrairie Care’s new 50 bed hospital for Children’s mental health is a tiny step in providing badly needed services for the traumatized children passing through Minnesota institutions.

HCMC alone sees 800 to 1000 emergency psychiatric visits each month and many of them are traumatized children.  I’m guessing that an equal number of terrifically disturbed youth get no help at all in our state because there are no children’s mental health hospitals where they live.

The disparity between available beds and needy children will remain huge with this addition but it’s a nice thought that it signals a trend towards valuing the well being of the youngest and most vulnerable among us.

Would six year old foster child Kendrea Johnson have hung herself last year by her jump rope if child protection services had identified her level of trauma and provided access to the most current pediatric mental health care?  As it was, her social worker did not know she was seeing a therapist and the police and medical examiner proclaimed that six year old children were incapable of suicide (little do they know).

Would Jeff Weise have killed all those people and himself at Red Lake a few years ago if someone had read his blog or heard his cries for help and brought him to Prairie Care, Washburn Center or other advanced treatment facilities?  His mother told him she “wished he’d never been born” and his homicidal/suicidal blog writings were ample warning that the boy needed help.  After the tragedy, Red Lake built a mental health facility in town.

Michael Swanson’s mom tried desperately for years to find help for her terribly disturbed son prior to his killing of Sheila Myers & Vicky Bowman-Hall – two random and innocent Iowa grocery clerks.

In my experience as a volunteer guardian ad-Litem, I had many personal, painful encounters with suicidal very young children.  My first visit to a four year old state ward girl was at the suicide ward of Fairview hospital.  A reason for my becoming a guardian ad-Litem was the tragedy a dear friend lived after adopting a homicidal state ward boy.

So many stories (including my video interview with mayoral candidate/County Commissioner Don Samuels) of helpless children trying to kill themselves often five years old and on psychotropic medications have hardened me to the grim reality that my community finds this topic too painful to address head on.  Instead we live with the awful effects traumatized children carry with them into adulthood.

People like DR Read Sulik at Prairie Care and Steve Lepinski at the Washburn Center for Children’s Mental Health well know that the need for their services far exceeds their ability to provide the thousands of needy children in this state a safe place to address their mental health issues.

They also know that until our community has this painful conversation about the critical need for children’s mental health services, school failures, horrid crimes, full prisons and dangerous neighborhoods will remain the rule, not the exception in our communities.

All Adults Are the Protectors Of All Children

The Power of Coping Skills & Life Without Them

August 10, 2015 in education, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Links To Helpful Orgs, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

20130107-can-mozart-boost-brainpowerA sad personal email this morning from a grieving mother has caused me to reflect on friends who ended their own lives and the four, five and six year old children  I have known, or known about, who tried or succeeded at suicide.

Read the rest of this entry →

How We Punish – And What It Does To Children & Our Community

August 6, 2015 in Child Death, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

4 little kittens..For many years, we have fed younger and younger people into our Criminal Justice System and gotten the same results over and over again as recidivism rates approach 70% (Juvenile Justice recidivism is not tracked in 11 states and narrowly tracked elsewhere).

Evidence overwhelmingly indicates that abused and neglected children Read the rest of this entry →

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

August 3, 2015 in Crime and Courts, education, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources by Mike Tikkanen

ChrysanthemumThere 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 Read the rest of this entry →

NO DEMAND, NO SUPPLY

July 30, 2015 in Adoption, Crime and Courts, Foster Care, Health and Mental Health, Occasional Authors, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

an-onlooker-watches-the-annual-solar-eclipse-in-albuquerque-new-mexicoOccasionally KARA publishes works from other authors.  This is a strong argument for reforming the Foster Care System before fixing the Criminal Justice System (author & contact info below).

 

Before we reform the Criminal Justice System, we need to take a closer look at the Foster Care System  Read the rest of this entry →

Child Death and Child Abuse Articles (for July 2015 – find your state/country here)

July 26, 2015 in Child Death, Foster Care, Health and Mental Health, International Child Abuse, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

magnificent double exposure lacrosse mississippi river lampshadeKARA tracks child abuse and death articles from around the nation (and some international cases).  Most non death child abuse cases never make it into the media.  This page is KARA’s discovery of information through July 26 2015 and is only a fraction of this child welfare news around the nation.  For a look farther back in time for child abuse and child death news click here.  ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN Read the rest of this entry →

The Sadness Of Child Protection – 2 Year Old’s Murdered by Caregivers

June 16, 2015 in Child Death, Crime and Courts, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

mararishi guatemala thanksgivingThese past weeks have been awful for vulnerable children in MN.

Stomped on, kicked, torn liver kidney & pancreas 2 year old Sophia O’Neill was violently murdered by 17 year old Cary Faran-Baum died because she wouldn’t stop crying. There’s been way too many violent child deaths in MN this past year – many of these children were known to child protection services.

Sophia was known to child protection (they didn’t investigate the case because caseloads are high and resources did not allow it).

In a family video taken before her death, Sophia explains that Faran-Baum had hit her in the face and Read the rest of this entry →

Standing In A Soviet Bread Line (thank you James Eli Shiffer)

May 27, 2015 in Child Death, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

ocean wedding at sunsetThis recent Star Tribune article by James Eli Shiffer hits on a touchstone to light the fire needed to fix child well-being, racial disparity, schools, juvenile justice and public safety in our community.

“Trying to get information out of the government can feel like standing in a Soviet bread line” gives the reader a sense that the bread will be there, maybe stale or moldy but there will be bread to take home if you wait long enough (which is not true regarding  getting information out of the government about child protection issues).

You can wait all day, all week, all year and never find out about how many five and six year old children were on drugs, were sexually molested, tried to commit suicide or were grievously injured by their parents or caregivers last year (the information exists).

Nor will you have access to the necessary paperwork made available to Brandon Stahl at the Star Tribune in his investigation into the death of Eric Dean without a major newspaper filing a freedom of information act and spending thousands of dollars to placate a County that wants no part of your investigation (8 children have died under similar circumstances since Eric Dean’s death). Read the rest of this entry →

The Unspoken Truth (from Kristin Rode)

May 21, 2015 in Foster Care, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Links To Helpful Orgs, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

coneflowersMy name is Robert Hamelin and when I was 4 years old I entered the Foster Care System. My stepmother began to physically and mentally abuse me. I was taken out of the home I lived in, with her and my father and moved into the first foster home. When I was 9 years old my father was killed. He was the only good memory I had left. His loss had such a deep impact on me. I knew now that I was completely alone. By the time I reached the 6th grade I began acting out for attention. My behaviors became worse. The abuse had continued worse than ever, as now, I was being sexually abused. By the time I was 18 years old I joined the Marine Corps. I needed stability but even more important, I needed to find out if I could overcome my past and succeed, despite 14 years of violent child abuse.

The system failed me but it did not beat me!

Today I am a successful Regional Vice President for Transamerica. I have raised 5 beautiful daughters, 4 of which have already graduated from college. What is disheartening is 32 years after I got out of the Child Protection System, it continues to fail children and the abuse, still all too common. We need to come together to fix a broken system. Read the rest of this entry →

More On Child Suicide, Death By Hanging and Kendrea Johnson

May 19, 2015 in Child Death, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

invisible children picture web 11.09Yesterday’s New York Times article on huge increase in Black Children killing themselves should make some impact on anyone with a heart.  From 1993 to 2012, JAMA Pediatrics published a study that found that suicide among black children doubled (hanging by black boys tripled) at the same time, suicide for white children fell by half.  This is what I’ve seen as a CASA guardian ad-Litem, read about in the Star Tribune and witnessed in KARA interviews (Don Samuels).

What I find stunning about this article is the absolute non-discussion about child abuse, child trauma and children in child protection and apparent cluelessness about why  children kill themselves.

PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION WIDELY (until we have this discussion, chances for improving the lives of at risk youth remain slim).

SUPPORT KARA’s efforts to advocate for abused and neglected children

18 Months Old, Sexually Abused (allegedly) & Beaten To Death In Maplewood

April 22, 2015 in Child Death, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children by Mike Tikkanen

cardinal best everGenisis Xiong is the 8th child murdered in MN by a caregiver since Eric Dean’s death in early 2013 and the 57th child to die of maltreatment since 2005.

The only positive is that the media and public attention absent (for decades) children murdered by their caregivers is now making front page news & driving the Governor to speak out and form a task force to study child protection issues.   Read the rest of this entry →

Without Understanding Core Issues, Better Answers Are Hard To Come By (or why legislators need more information to do their jobs well)

April 21, 2015 in Child Death, education, Health and Mental Health, KARA Events, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

child abuseIt was the final question and statement from the Legislative Committee after my testimony about generational child abuse and the “real costs” of under-funding Child Protection and Children’s Mental Health at the State House yesterday that caught me off guard and made it difficult for me to fall asleep last night.   Read the rest of this entry →

Mental Health – Connect The Dots (the hidden dangers of antidepressents and children)

April 10, 2015 in CASA, Child Death, Health and Mental Health, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

parasailingToday’s Star Tribune included 2 powerful articles that if read together provide an alarming insight into how misreported and mishandled the information about suicide, suicidal ideation, and psychotropic medications is (and people are dying every day because of it). Read the rest of this entry →

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

March 24, 2015 in Foster Care, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

this-caterpillar--photographed-in-north-carolina--looks-incredibly-deviousInvisible 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.” Read the rest of this entry →

Drugging Our Kids

March 23, 2015 in Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

mararishi guatemala thanksgivingThis series of videos report on the dramatic increase in the forced use of psychotropic medications by children in California’s foster care system is worth watching and sharing widely.   The use of these drugs on very young children may very well may be an epidemic in every state.

I have personally watched the explosive use of these drugs over the past twenty years in Minnesta’s child protection system and have talked with professionals (including judges, educators, families & service providers) who are very concerned with the dangers of using these powerful anti-psychotic medications in place of mental health treatments for abused and neglected children.

Prior reporting on the topic; A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N,  (share your stories here)

“Police & Sheriffs More Concerned About People’s Mental Health Than Advocates Are” (thank you Senator Barb Goodwin)

March 23, 2015 in Child Death, education, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

sunset costaricaI’m always pleased to find outspoken observers in the mental health discussion.  Today’s Star Tribune article begins to articulate the gaping hole in our communities (and the nation’s) approach to mental health.  Much like child suicide and child sex abuse, we have avoided the mental health topic leading to the worst case of overbuilt prisons, unsafe streets, and terribly overwhelmed schools of any industrialized nation.

Senator Barb Goodwin told Abby Simons of the Star Tribune what a sad state it is when public advocates for mental health don’t speak as urgently for mental health services as the service providers forced to deal with mentally unhealthy people.  Is it because the public doesn’t know how damaged abused and neglected children are that they don’t understand what happens to them and the people living with and among them?  I refuse to believe that it is a lack of compassion.

Can you imagine what it’s like to be a juvenile/law enforcement officer, teacher, or other caregiver/service provider choosing between personal safety and protecting a disturbed child?  I watched a 6th grade teacher, a man about my size whack a young girls head on a banister (hard) as she was trying to gouge his eyes out and biting his face.  What college teaches defense tactics to grade school teachers?

My deepest sympathy lies with the birth / foster / adoptive parents unable to obtain mental health services Read the rest of this entry →

Psych Drugs Action Campaign (from the National Center for Youth Law)

March 18, 2015 in education, Foster Care, Health and Mental Health, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

children down hill having funOn April 14th four bills will be heard before the Health and Human Services Committee of the California State Legislature that improve oversight and monitoring of psychotropic medication treatment for children in foster care. We are writing to request your support. Will you or your organization help? Please send your support letters by end of day April 6th for timely submission to the committee members by April 7th, the deadline.Please click here to find sample letters on our blog to create your own letter of support.  On the blog you will find directions for sending the support letters to us and we will ensure the letters are delivered to the appropriate legislative offices.

The bill package takes a comprehensive approach that will strengthen the ability of judges, caregivers, child welfare workers, and other professionals to ensure safe and appropriate treatment in the spectrum of wellness and trauma informed health approaches with the aim of reducing the inappropriate uses of psychotropic medications.

Below are the bill numbers linked to the language and a short description of each bill’s purpose:

SB 253) Strengthen the court authorization process to provide clear and convincing evidence for the treatment and require evidence that non-pharmacological treatments have been tried prior to medications
SB 238) Provide for training, data collection and systems to red flag questionable practices
SB 319) Increase the oversight role of public health nurses to ensure that all foster children prescribed psychotropic medications are monitored for metabolic complications.
SB 484) Identify the group homes that are most over-reliant on the riskiest psychotropic medication treatments and require these homes to develop corrective action plans that are monitored for progress.

We appreciate all you do for foster children and youth and hope to have your support in ensuring safe care for kids.

Four Year Key’Ontay Miller-Peterson Murdered – Two & Three Year Old’s Starved (2 families reported by the Star Tribune today)

March 17, 2015 in Child Death, Crime and Courts, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

ocean wedding at sunsetI hope the task force is working fast and that it’s efforts will lead to a reduction in the number of murdered, tortured, and suicidal very young children in Minnesota.

Today’s Star Tribune indicates the “colossal failure” (Governor Dayton’s words) of child protection in the death of Eric Dean after fifteen reports of child abuse by mandated reporters is still causing suicide, torture and death to afflict Minnesota children today.

Just a few months ago, six year old Kendrea Johnson’s social worker was unaware of her suicidal and homicidal talk before she died by hanging herself with  jump rope.

Today’s Star Tribune has two disturbing articles of worst case abuse and murder suffered by two, three, and four year old Minnesota children;

Four year old Key’Ontay Miller-Peterson’s mother found guilty in the repeated assaults and eventual murder of her son Key’Ontay Miller-Peterson.

The two year old and three year old children of Michael Gunderson of Princeton were starved to the point of eating feces when discovered by the Sheriff’s Department. 

I want to believe that we are better than this as a community.

After all, we have money for a billion dollar stadiums and equally expensive transit system.  It’s not that we are short the money – it appears to be how we value sports and mobility over children.

What we do to our children, they will do to society”  Pliny the Elder, 2500 years ago.

 

Reporting Child Abuse in MN  Reporting Child Abuse Nationally; 800-422-4453

Watch & Share these 2 minute trailers from KARA’s TV documentary project (help us BUILD KARA & spread the word)

Donate any amount to support our ongoing efforts for abused and neglected children

DR Felliti Explains The Effects of Child Sexual Abuse (read and listen)

March 3, 2015 in education, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Links To Audio by Mike Tikkanen

coneflowersThis comprehensive NPR interview with DR Vincent Felitti identifies how child sex abuse lasts for ever and how the medical community has grown to understand the epidemic of abuse in our nation and how their ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) study brings into focus the problems and the solutions.

Listen to the Story (take the quiz/below)

Read the rest of this entry →

Substance Abuse & the Cycle of Family Abuse (from Steps to Recovery)

February 24, 2015 in Crime and Courts, Health and Mental Health, Links To Helpful Orgs, Occasional Authors by Mike Tikkanen

birdwatching in MazatlanSubstance abuse is a major contributing factor to domestic violence in the United States. The link between the use of alcohol and narcotics, and the use of aggression, physical and mental violence against partners is part of a desperate cycle in our society. It is a cycle that can, and does, affect our children too – one that can make them future abusers.

Studies are showing that a high proportion of adult abusers and victims have some kind of addiction to alcohol or drugs. Here’s some stats:

  • 25-50% of men who commit domestic violence have an addiction issue
  • 90% of these men used a substance on the day they abused/attacked someone
  • 42% of victims have a substance abuse problem
  • 75% of those victims have an abusive partner who also has a substance abuse problem

It is often thought that domestic violence is purely between spouses, partners and adults within the household. This is why some groups term such incidents involving children as “Family Violence.” It can and does affect children as well as partners.

One in ten children will suffer from domestic violence as they grow up. That means 3-4 million American children suffering in one of two ways, or both; either by witnesses domestic violence or experiencing it first hand.

Studies have documented how being the victim of abuse can lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, career decline and other mental/physical health issues in adult victims. It would be crazy to assume that the same is not true of our children too – indeed, it could be worse because they are at a tender developmental stage.

We now know that witnesses and/or experiencing domestic violence/family violence can cause a long list of issues for children, which include:

  • Behavioural problems
  • Increased violent behaviour
  • Failure to thrive
  • Academic failure
  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-harm
  • Poor impulse control
  • Social reclusion
  • Relationship issues
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosomatic complaints
  • Substance abuse

The final one is the one we should think about most here in terms of this article. We’ve seen that drug and alcohol use is linked to increased levels of domestic violence and family violence. Without seeking the right therapy ( rather than using violence or more drugs ) to help kids understand and overcome the traumas of their childhood, it is possible that the next generation of abusers are being grown. It also makes us wonder what this generation’s suffered themselves as children. That’s why it’s a cycle that needs breaking with good care and awareness.

This article was written and submitted by Mark Wollacott at Steps To Recovery

 

Reporting Child Abuse in MN  Reporting Child Abuse Nationally; 800-422-4453

Watch & Share these 2 minute trailers from KARA’s TV documentary project (help us BUILD KARA & spread the word)

Donate any amount to support our ongoing efforts for abused and neglected children

 

KARA Conversation With A Minnesota Police Chief

February 19, 2015 in Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

children down hill having funMy conversation with a Minnesota police chief (in an outstate town of over 10,000 people) today was eye opening.

He spoke of how city leaders don’t take his repeated warning about the growing body of experience his community is having with troubled children & families.  These leaders debate his stated daily reality for his police officers as if it were a small thing.

Like the growing bloc of dysfunctional families with serious mental health and coping problems and how this population is stressing the police force, courts and public welfare systems and how that added stress flows into the daily lives of the city/county workers themselves leading to serious problems of failure in school and failure of child protection systems and the high rate of worker turnover in education and social work.  And then there’s the costs to the County and diminished quality of life to the citizens.

We both see that there is far too much training that goes into the difficult work of teaching and social work to see turnover rates growing as fast as they are.  No one likes poor graduation rates or high crime rates. Unsafe neighborhoods are no good for anyone.

His view is that the elasticity of our systems is not limitless – it will break at a point and become a major social ill impacting our entire civil society making life painful for all of us.

It is precisely the functionality of our institutions that have made life in this nation as attractive as it has been.

For a growing number of people conditions are getting worse and this includes working people forced to deal with a more problematic and behaviorally challenged population.

Dr Bruce Perry has thirty years of working with at risk children and speaking to audiences about the impact abused and neglected children are having on our communities. Eight years ago Dr Perry made the statement that 25% of Americans will be special needs people by the end of this generation – I think it may already be true today. After all, without counting the people on psychotropic medications unable to hold down jobs or lead productive lives, we now have 2.5 M citizens in our jails and prisons and over 7 M citizens on or recently on parole (people with criminal pasts have a very hard time finding work that will keep them off of welfare).

Psychotropic medications are impacting between 1/3 and 2/3 of the youth in child protection and juvenile justice. Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz stated that “90% of the youth in juvenile justice have passed through child protection” – and more painfully, “The difference between that poor child and a felon, is about eight years”.

I failed to remind the Chief that Kathleen Long, author of the book ANGELS AND DEMONS (about the child protection system in California) holds that “American institutions are creating exactly what they were designed to stop”.

A thought I refer to frequently.

This conversation went like many prior conversations with other professionals dealing with dysfunctional families, abused and neglected children, and behaviorally troubled juveniles. We all see a desperate need for mental health services, crisis nurseries, therapeutic daycare, and education and resources for young families.

We also see the terrific stress on our workers and systems and the cost to our communities in money and quality of life and we agree that we will not arrest and incarcerate ourselves out of this sad and dangerous epidemic of dysfunctional families having their next generation of dysfunctional children and that breaking this cycle will save money and create happiness all around.

Today, social workers are blamed when children die in their care and teachers are blamed for failed schools.  This approach is woefully inadequate and wrong.  It redirects the conversation away from the real culprits behind this exponentially expanding catastrophe (I can use this word as Governor Dayton has in this topic).

It is becoming clear to some of us that few people outside the circle of worker bees immersed in the lives of at risk children have any idea of the depth and scope of this issue and that very little will change until they do.

Until one’s own child, grandchild, neighbor or friend is robbed, raped, beaten, shot dead or burgled, this isn’t a current issue. Instead of waiting to ask “why me” let’s all ask ourselves, what can I do to make life better for the at risk children in my community.

Watch our short video on the topic

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Nothing Just Fine About It

February 19, 2015 in Child Death, Health and Mental Health, KARA Events, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources by Mike Tikkanen

parasailingAt 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.

Watch our short video on the topic

help us BUILD KARA & spread the word)

DONATE NOW