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, mostly from families suffering from generation after generation of child abuse, fuel the furnace of the Juvenile Justice System.  It has become common to charge 12 and 13 year old children as adults in the Criminal Justice System, some as young as 8 years old.  Pennsylvania recently charged a 10 year old as an adult.  

3000 children have been sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, some as young as 13 (sentenced to die in prison).

Yesterday’s article on tasing 3rd graders & expelling preschoolers at many times the rate of other industrialized nations is snapshot into the dysfunctional elements of our institutional approach to dealing with the mental health issues of children, primarily abused and neglected children, that enter Juvenile Justice Systems where we under-treat or ignore their mental health problems.

Today, I draw your attention to some of the worst practices within Child Protection Services and the Juvenile Justice System and ask you to reflect on how these practices relate to the frightening violence and dismal news that pervades our media and daily lives.  Social death… 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…, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Occasionally 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 

 

       Richard Ross Girl     Earlier this week, President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 people who he said were serving sentences disproportionate to their crimes. They were all serving time for drug-related offences. After he commuted their sentences, President Obama called for reform to the criminal justice system. He was quoted as saying, “In far too many cases, the punishment simply doesn’t fit the crime.”

President Obama is calling for a fairer and more equitable criminal justice system. This would entail a federal review of solitary confinement, the restoration of voting rights to former felons, and the passage of a sentencing reform bill by Congress. 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. 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

help us BUILD KARA & spread the word)

DONATE NOW

 

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

 

 

Sad Stories; How America Values Its Children (a national disgrace)

January 29, 2015 in Child Death, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

Chrysanthemum“National Disgrace” is the headline in the Wednesday Star Tribune report on the Federal Government’s failure to enforce child protection laws, and the many children dying of abuse and neglect in plain view of child protection workers.

“Colossal Failure” were the words of MN Governor Mark Dayton when speaking about his state’s failure to provide child protection services to 4 year old Eric Dean after 15 ignored reports (by mandated reporters) of the bite marks and broken bones prior to his murder this year.  The photos and the stories presented by journalist Brandon Stahl at the Star Tribune were horrific and caused the Governor to create a task force to stop the awful happenings in Child Protective Services.  

We have traded at risk children and young families for failed schools, unsafe streets, full prisons, and a giant pharmaceutical industry (about a third of CP kids are on psychotropic medications for their severe behavioral problems – about the same percentage that exists in juvenile justice and criminal justice).

Mark Dayton’s task force is recommending transparency and changing the broken laws and practices that currently make keeping children safe next to impossible. Read the rest of this entry →

Conversation at ACEs Connection (We Are Paying For This)

January 28, 2015 in education, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

default-headerhttp://www.acesconnection.com/topic/we-are-paying-for-this

Join the conversation at ACEs Connection above and add your voice

Child Abuse – Society Is Paying For This (Hank Marotske today’s Star Tribune)

January 22, 2015 in CASA, Child Death, Foster Care, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

Pensive ParakeetTruer words were never spoken.

I am encouraged by Abby Simmons Star Trib reporting today on the MN Child Abuse Task Force 11 point plan to make child protection a priority in Minnesota.  That a bipartisan group of lawmakers are able to agree that keeping children out of harms way is the least we can do for them gives hope to the possibility of crisis nurseries, day care, and mental health services*.

If adopted, there will be more transparency about child abuse and how it is addressed in each county, counties will no longer screen out 90% of child abuse reports, reported cases will be shared with police, assessments will be used only when safety of the child is not an issue, and the use of prior child abuse reports will become part of the investigation instead of off limits.  Well done MN Task Force On Child Abuse. Read the rest of this entry →

Powerful Video Expose On Drugging 5 & 10 Year Old State Ward Children

January 9, 2015 in CASA, Child Death, Foster Care, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States, video by Mike Tikkanen

parasailingThis video from Mercury News is the most comprehensive and powerful discussion I have seen on the topic of forcing abused and neglected children to take psychotropic medications.  Remember, state ward children have no voice in this discussion.  These decisions are made for them by a closed system that rarely shares information and by and large fears discussion on the topic of mental health.

These children’s stories mirror my experience as a volunteer guardian ad-Litem in child protection services and make me wonder how it is possible that this topic still remains under the radar.

Drugging decisions are made often because of fear and cost*, not effectiveness.  The traumas of child abuse can be dealt with if met head on and early but spiral into dysfunctional lifestyles if left untreated.  80% of youth aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives. Read the rest of this entry →

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

December 30, 2014 in CASA, Child Death, Foster Care, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

Lake AtitlanStrangled dead tangled in a jump rope is not something that happens to six year old children (Star Tribune today)

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). Read the rest of this entry →

Recent Mental Health Guidelines For Psychotropic Medications and Three Year Olds (I certainly don’t like them)

November 28, 2014 in Child Death, Crime and Courts, Health and Mental Health, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

image001I would be interested in your comments on June 1,2014 MN DHS (from their website) change in proscribing psychotropic medications to three year old children;

Effective June 1, 2014, psychiatric consultations will no longer be required for high-dose ADHD and SGA drugs prescribed for children over age 3. Instead, pharmacies will receive an informational message when they bill for prescriptions which exceed the dose/age threshold for recipients under age 18.

Also, as of June 1, 2014, a child must be at least three years old for all ADHD and SGA prescriptions. Prior authorization (PA) overrides will not be available for children younger than age 3. Some drugs will continue to be subject to higher age requirements. PA requirements for prescription drugs, including age requirements for prescription drugs, are available on the PA Criteria and Regimen Review Sheets.

As a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem I watched many children forced to take these drugs.  As state wards they could not argue and were forced to take them.

I’ve written about seven year old Gabriel Myers who hung himself in his foster home and left a note about how he hated Prozac and the Hennepin County Judge that shared with me the huge number of state ward children proscribed psychotropic medications while passing through her courtroom.

Mental health services for traumatized children would be more effective, more humane, and less expensive in the long run.  Children could learn coping skills and become functioning members of our community.  Jails & prisons would empty, schools would be way more successful and positive environments and our streets would be safer.

It would also be the right thing to do.

 

The Week In Toddlers Shooting People (Huffington Post Article)

November 5, 2014 in Child Death, Health and Mental Health, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

superior shipFrom the Huffington Post Today;

3 People Shot In 1 Week By Toddlers Wielding Guns

The Huffington Post  | By 
Posted: Updated:  

At least three people have been shot within a 7-day span due to toddlers getting access to guns.

Monday at around 9:30 p.m., two 3-year-olds were playing with a shotgun in a Baltimore home, the Baltimore Sun reported. Police told the Sun that the two kids found the gun in one of their bedrooms, though it’s unclear why it was there.

The gun went off and hit one of the children, a boy, in the lower leg. He was taken to a hospital and was in stable condition as of Monday night.

Just two days prior, a 3-year-old girl in Lorain, Ohio was listed in critical condition after her 4-year-old brother shot her in the head. The siblings were playing at home alone when the boy found a .40 caliber handgun. Police said the boy was crying and holding his sister in his arms when they got to the scene, and that he told them multiple times he was sorry.

On October 27, Patrick Sanders, 20, was sleeping on the couch at a Houston-area apartment when his loaded pistol slipped out of his pants and a 3-year-old boy in the home picked it up. Sanders was shot in the face as he tried to get the gun away from the boy and it accidentally went off.

There are no definite statistics on how many people every year are killed or injured bychildren getting their hands on guns, according to the Washington Post.

“We know how many times children die each year as a result of gun deaths,” Jon S. Vernick, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, told the Post in September. “We don’t know how many times children pull the trigger and someone dies.”

 

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What’s The Difference? (and why we should care)

August 17, 2014 in CASA, Crime and Courts, education, Health and Mental Health, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

children down hill having funMy first quarter of Sociology Studies at Moorhead State College in the 70’s demonstrated that meeting nonviolent protesters with a militarized police and over the top force (German Shepard Dogs and brutal water canon/riot stick attacks) provoke the mob – not calm the mob. Read the rest of this entry →

Brutal Truths and Worst Practices (America’s injustice System)

June 16, 2014 in Child Death, Crime and Courts, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

magnificent double exposure lacrosse mississippi river lampshadeMuch of this article came from this in depth article at Huffington Post

One out of 28 American children has a parent in jail or prison – 60 percent of inmates are people of color (only 30% of America’s population are people of color).  There are twelve time more drug offenders in state prisons than there were in 1980.

25% of American youth are charged in adult courts & many ten or twelve years old children are tried as adults.  About ten thousand juveniles are housed in adult prisons and jails every day.  2/3 of those youth suffer from mental health issues and half that number have multiple and serious diagnosis.

Seven of ten of these youth have seen someone killed or severely injured and three of ten have attempted suicide.  My first visit to a CASA guardian ad-Litem four year old was at the suicide ward of Fairview hospital in Minneapolis.  The thoughts of killing yourself start young in at risk youth.  Jeff Weise had been talking and writing about it before he killed his grandfather and fourteen others before killing himself.

And we wonder where the violence on our streets and in our schools comes from.

Black men born in 2001 have a 33% chance of incarceration  and black youth are five times more likely to be arrested than white youth.

2/3 of America’s prisoners recycle within 3 years of being released Our recidivism rates are soon to exceed 70%.

Nearly 40% of America’s incarcerated youth are sentenced to privatized facilities.  Where a growing number of them are being reported for under training and under-staffing, a culture of rape and violence, arbitrary quotas, inadequate health care, and their own criminal acts (2 Pennsylvania judges sentenced to 40 years for incarcerating innocent youth to collect the ten percent commission on each child sent “upriver”, and the “cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts” brought about the shut down of GEO Groups Mississippi operation (words in quotation marks were written by Governor Phil Bryant of Miississippi).

60,000 detainees labored in these facilities last year, many of them for candy bars or one dollar a day.

One of my guardian ad-Litem boys walked 35 miles when he was tossed out into a ten degree Minnesota night when the staff at his privatized facility used freezing in the cold as discipline (he was wearing only a t shirt).

Private prison contracts almost always mandate that 80 to 100 percent of prison beds be kept full with fines for unused beds.  This is the opposite of any sane persons approach to sound public policy.

Prisons are a five billion dollar business with powerful lobbying firms working to incarcerate more people for longer sentences.  This has disrupted not just America’s at risk youth.

America incarcerates more young people than any other industrialized nation – overall, we have 25% of the world’s prison population, and only 5% of the world’s population.

One third of the world’s entire imprisoned female population is in America’s justice system, mostly for non violent crimes.  Since we passed the King Pin and Mandatory Minimums laws, it is often the women serving the longest sentences.  King pins have high priced lawyers and get time off of their sentence for ratting on others.  Most of these women have committed the crime of being in love with or afraid of the man they live with.  It is a rare event that the women ever received money or safety because her significant other treated them well.  Most of these women lose their children and many of them were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time (and she gets twenty years).  Sexual assault and PTSD are the almost the rule for incarcerated in America’s prisons.  GOP governors have been fighting against the “Rape Elimination Act” passed ten years ago.

There are almost seven million Americans in the U.S. adult correctional system with twice that number of arrests made in 2012.  The conditions within the prison system are in many states just awful.  The people that run Riker’s Island youth prison in New York might be the people more deserving of a prison sentence (nearly twenty inmates slashed last month).

 

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12 Year Old Wisconsin Girls Charged As Adults (what this says about us)

June 11, 2014 in Crime and Courts, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

Lake AtitlanLast week’s Milwaukee stabbing of a twelve year old by a twelve year old shines light into the deep dark hole that is Wisconsin Justice.

As a long time volunteer guardian ad-Litem watching hundreds of abused and neglected children forced through a broken court system that fails miserably in responding to at risk youth or mending the traumas suffered by tortured children*.

I am appalled at a community that would prefer harsh criminal practices that thrust children into a failed prison system instead of dealing with the obvious deprivations and mental health issues driving insane behaviors.  For this kind of crime, ten or older qualifies as an adult in Wisconsin and 28 other states automatically place children in the adult criminal justice system.  Nationally, 25% of american youth are charged as adults and over 30% of America’s youth are arrested before their 23rd birthday.

Juvenile crime in America is huge.  9.3 million juvenile arrests between 2007 and 2011.  About 2/3 of the youth in the JJ system have mental health issues, half of those youth have multiple, chronic, and often dangerous diagnosis.

Minnesota’s former Supreme Court Chief Justice remarked that “the difference between that poor child and a felon, is about eight years”, and that “90% of the youth in juvenile justice had come through the child protection system”.

A few hundred years ago Jonathon Swift suggested that the Irish sell their children as stew meat because the English were torturing and killing the children anyway and at least by selling them, the parents would get a small stipend, and the food was not bad (remember that this is satire).

Swift’s argument holds as true today for families of generationally abused children as it did in 1729.  Read the rest to see how other states treat ten and twelve year old criminals.

*The World Health Organization defines torture as “extended exposure to  violence and deprivation”.  Every child in my caseload as a volunteer guardian ad-Litem suffered from extended exposure to violence and deprivation.

Read the rest of this entry →

Tuesday, June 17 6pm KARA Brooklyn Park Think Again Presentation, Pizza, and Social

June 1, 2014 in CASA, education, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, KARA Events, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

Early Childhood Education Boosts
Academic Achievement and Career Success

Tuesday, June 17               6 p.m. Pizza and Social           6:30 p.m. Program

Brooklyn Park Council Chambers, 5200 85th Avenue N

Please RSVP and Share on Facebook
or to

Carol Woehrer, carolwoehrer@usfamily.net

A question and answer session will follow the presentations.

Sponsored by the Maple Grove, Osseo, Brooklyn Park, and Brooklyn Center Chapter of the League of Women Voters; Kids at Risk Action , KARA; Think Again MN ; and the BrooklynPark Diversity Team.

Read the rest of this entry →

10,000 Two and Three Year Olds On Psychotropic Meds (we will pay for this)

May 17, 2014 in Child Death, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources by Mike Tikkanen

cardinal best everFriday’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study confirms the sad fact that there is no age too young to drug defenseless children (by the thousands).  I’ve written about the seven year old foster child that hung himself and left a note about how he hated Prozac (Gabriel Myers) and the memory I have of my first visit to a four year old CASA guardian ad-Litem case girl at the Suicide ward of Fairview Hospital in Minneapolis.

From an even more personal perspective, I have first hand experience with the sheer terror of suicidal ideation from my use of the psychotropic Topamax, proscribed to me as an off label use of the drug to treat my severe migraine headaches.  It did not work and it did result in creating the second worst fearful incident that has ever happened to me.  The first was being lost at sea with a shark swimming in my vicinity.  Each of these incidents kept me from sleeping for several nights in a row and it is beyond my comprehension how a very young child could deal with the terror of suicidal ideation.  I study mental health, and this freaked me out.

Judge Heidi Schellhas shared with me here concern about this and her list of very young children placed on these drugs in her courtroom while she was on the bench in Juvenile Court in Hennepin County.   It was unbelievably long.

As a guardian ad-Litem, about a third of the children in my caseload were on these drugs & it was clear to me that these drugs are the first defense the County has against behavior problems of the children in the system.  One young boy on Ritalin, tugged on my sleeve asking me, “when will I be normal” as he told me how he hated what Ritalin did to him.

It is the absence of sound therapeutic regimes that compounds all the problems these children live with daily.  It may very well be that these drugs compound the mental health problems abused and neglected children live with.  Support KARA’s MN Public TV’s Documentary project  Donate Read the rest of this entry →

MN Public TV / KARA Partnership (bringing attention to the issues of abused & neglected children)

May 14, 2014 in education, Health and Mental Health, KARA Events, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Links To Helpful Orgs, links to video, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

image001MN Public TV is partnering with KARA for a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve the lives of abused and neglected children.  To do this we need your help.

KIDS AT RISK ACTION (501(c)3 non-profit, is partnering with Minnesota Public Television (TPT) to tell the INVISIBLE CHILDREN’s story through compelling interviews with children and adults within the world of child protection.  KARA needs your support and asks for your gift to help make this project happen.

Larger donors will be featured on the program, invited to the pre-screening party at TPT (St. Paul), and receive priority consideration for all new projects as they develop.   This project will be a big part of our ongoing efforts at KARA.

Donate Button or Contact me directly to help KARA complete this project mike@invisiblechildren.org

  • Program purpose; Create awareness of the critical issues impacting at risk children & identifying how to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect.
  • Program themes; Mental health and coping skills, and the basic rights of children to safety, healthcare, and education.
  • Program production; Experts and personal stories of children and adults within the child protection system.
  • Program look and sound; Serious and inspiring
  • Target audience; General public with attention to legislators, and everyone touched by our child protection system Read the rest of this entry →

How America Treats Its Children

May 14, 2014 in Crime and Courts, education, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

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

That is what we think of children in America.  New Zealand and Norway provide up to 14 weeks of paid leave, and 70 nations provide paid leave for fathers.  179 other nations provide at least some paid leave for new moms and a growing number are giving the same benefit to dads.  The rest of the world has realized that healthy families raise healthy children and that healthy children become productive members of their community.  We seem to think that building more prisons will work just as well.

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

The reason 26% of our high school graduates perform proficiently at math, and 38% can read at proficiently is that they were not ready for school when they started school.  This also explains why the U.S. spends twice as much per student as smarter nations to get such dismal results on test scores and graduation rates. Read the rest of this entry →

Children In The News (update),

May 13, 2014 in Child Death, Health and Mental Health, International Child Abuse, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

my best sunset ever

Friends, click here for the last few weeks of children in the news – Read the rest of this entry →

Speaking For The Weakest & Most Vulnerable Among Us – Star Tribune Articles

May 5, 2014 in CASA, Foster Care, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

default-headerIt hurts me to see people in high positions who are responsible for child protection make claims that there’s nothing to see here, things are just fine, child protection is working as it needs to (“Counties are committed to safety of kids,” April 25).

There is very little fine about it, and by accident or by design, information about it is hard to find and rarely published. By almost any measure and from my perspective over many years as a volunteer guardian ad litem within the system, there are not enough resources, record keeping is poor, child protection cases need to be over the top to get into the system, and children stand only a small chance of getting what they need to recover from the years of abuse and neglect they have suffered.

Things have gotten worse since Minnesota went from screening out one-third of the cases to screening out two-thirds. Screening out 90 percent of cases (as four Minnesota counties do) is a very big deal. Read the rest of this entry →

More Attention To Children’s Issues (the only way to make their lives better)

April 27, 2014 in Child Death, Crime and Courts, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

penguinsPlease share the information discovered by Star Tribune writer Brandon Stahl in this article (and his future writings on the topic) with your social media and friends.   The more people understand the core issues, the greater the chance that legislators will respond to an educated populace and make the lives of abused and neglected children a little better.

 

Minnesota now screens out more child abuse cases than 47 other states (this is a terrible fact if you are an abused child).

As a long time advocate for children’s issues, I see how my community’s lack of awareness of the terrible conditions facing at risk youth drives poor public policy and shorts children of not only their childhoods, but a fair shot at leading a normal life.  80% of youth aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives.

Sign KARA’s Petition to make health, education, and well being available to all of America’s children; 

Recommend Mike’s Invisiblechildren talk for TED

6 million children are reported to child protection services in the U.S. each year  Only a fraction of these children receive the help they need to lead productive lives.  Help KARA change this.   KARA TV interview at Catherine’s Crossings.

 Buy our book or donate

Sample 4 minute video of Mike’s awesome talk on child protection in America (invite me to speak at your conference – Mike@invisiblechildren.org )  Read Brandon’s article below – Read the rest of this entry →

Snapshot On Florida’s Child Protection System (or what’s not working)

April 26, 2014 in Child Death, Crime and Courts, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

ocean wedding at sunsetMost of the 477 child deaths investigated (over the last six years) by the Miami Herald were in the child protection system when the children died, many of them were waiting for services from underfunded programs.  Some social workers in the state are caring for 60 children and there are far too few services to go around.

There’s two parts to this story.

The first part has to do with the children that didn’t die and went on lead dysfunctional lives that generally include preteen pregnancy and adolescent felonies that cost the community not just millions of dollars, but quality of life and public safety.   for everyone in the state.  I’ve had under-treated kids in my caseload that have cost the county millions, not including the stabbings, assaults, or otherwise ruined lives of innocent people.  Building children is far less expensive than dealing with the mayhem caused by truly dysfunctional children as they become truly dysfunctional adults. Read the rest of this entry →

This Week’s News For At Risk Children

April 22, 2014 in Child Death, Health and Mental Health, International Child Abuse, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

Guatemalan BoyThe following are news articles from this past week gathered from various sources, but primarily from;

Child Welfare in the News is distributed at no charge by Child Welfare Information Gateway (www.childwelfare.gov), a service of the Children’s Bureau/ACF/HHS (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb). It features news stories on topics of interest to child welfare and related professionals. Inclusion does not imply endorsement of any view expressed in an article, and opinions or views do not reflect those of Child Welfare Information Gateway, the Children’s Bureau, or staff. Other free subscriptions from Child Welfare Information Gateway are available at:  www.childwelfare.gov/admin/subscribe

Sign KARA’s Petition to make health, education, and well being available to all of America’s children; 

 Buy our book or donate  Sample 4 minute video of KARA’s awesome talk on child protection in America – invite KARA to speak at your conference – INFO@invisiblechildren.org

 KARA TV interview at Catherine’s Crossings.   Buy our book or donate

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

Read the rest of this entry →

Tip Of The Iceberg – Medicating Six Year Olds

April 21, 2014 in education, Foster Care, Health and Mental Health, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

parasailingLast months Wall Street Journal article by Lucette Lagnado  (and below) touched on painful truths I have witnessed with children in child protection systems being prescribed powerful psychotic medications without anything near an adequate therapeutic regimen.  When measured (not often) about a third of the youth in child protection are taking psychotropic medications.  In the juvenile justice system, two thirds of the youth are proscribed these drugs.

 

Sign KARA’s Petition to make health, education, and well being available to all of America’s children; 

Read the rest of this entry →

Making Children Whole (with the help of the community)

April 8, 2014 in Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources by Mike Tikkanen

I’ve recently had an argument with an otherwise reasonable and very caring person.

She believes strongly that the unborn (including zygotes) should have rights that one and two year old children don’t have (and that one and two year old children should not have – according to her religion).

4 little kittens..At the same time this person does not want moms to have prenatal care to make sure these babies are born healthy (if taxes pay for it).

For me, who for many years, has witnessed the toxic homes and terrible abuse of fifty children (as a volunteer Hennepin County CASA guardian ad-Litem) it is incomprehensible that anyone would not want babies and very young children to have basic healthcare once they are born.

Think what you might about the unborn, it seems only fair that a living breathing baby should have the right to basic health care (if only to continue breathing). Read the rest of this entry →

KARA TV Interview Mike & Tiffini

March 29, 2014 in CASA, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, KARA Events, mike tikkanen speaking, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

casa_v_redblue_R_alt_rgb_normalRecently CASA volunteers and KARA board members Tiffini Flynn Forsland & Mike Tikkanen were Interviewed on Catherine Hoaglund’s Metro Cable Network Channel 6, Catherine’s Crossing to bring attention to key issues facing abused and neglected children.  Catherine asked powerful questions about the brutal truths faced by at risk children and what our community could do to help children in toxic homes develop the coping skills necessary for leading a normal life.

The Interview takes about ten minutes.

Buy our book or donate  Support KARA  Sign KARA’s petition for child well being

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

Thank You Ruben Rosario (for today’s powerful Pioneer Press article supporting our Invisible Children Petition)

March 23, 2014 in CASA, David Strand, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources by Mike Tikkanen

tigerRuben Rosario’s Pioneer Press article Today captures the voicelessness and invisibility of children in child protection systems and the great need they have for health care and early learning and brings attention to KARA’s effort to support David Strand’s (KARA board member) resolution to make access to these important services a right and not a privilege in Minnesota.

This is a big deal and if enough voices can be raised in support of David’s resolution, life could get a whole lot better for Minnesota children in a very short time.  Please read Ruben’s article, sign the petition, and share with your social networks and friends. Read the rest of this entry →

Suspending 3 Year Olds (race matters)

March 22, 2014 in Crime and Courts, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, The States by Mike Tikkanen

my monkeyToday’s Star Tribune article starkly demonstrates that discrimination starts early and that we really do not value children as a society.  By wide margins, children of color are suspended and sometimes forbidden readmission to daycare centers all across the nation.  Rather than recognizing that these are the children that most need early childhood programs, help with coping skills and mental health development, they are cast out early to parents who often have behavior issues themselves.

As a long time CASA guardian ad-Litem, it is apparent that childhood behavior issues most often come from the family, and generation after generation of at risk children go on to have their own troubled families.  Coping skills and parenting skills are not delivered by the stork.  If they don’t come from within the home, they must come from us (that could start with daycare).

Zealous discipline policies guarantee that 3 and 4 year old’s will not do well in school and most likely will not graduate.  Many don’t learn to read.  Many go on to fill our prisons or become preteen moms.

What the article misses, is that the rest of the industrialized world truly values children and employs policies and people that can deal with troubled children.  They understand the cost to society of turning their back on children (we have 10 times more prison space per person than Denmark – and it is filled).

 

Read the rest of this entry →

Sign Our Petition For Child Rights, Safety, and Healthcare

March 20, 2014 in David Strand, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

Help KARA make a better world for America’s children and sign our petition for basic rights, health care, and safety (even if you’re not from MN)
Every signature helps.Koala

Violence Against Children – A family Tradition (TEDx, Robbyn Peters Bennett)

March 18, 2014 in Child Death, Crime and Courts, education, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

children down hill having funThis short (13 min) TEDx video clearly articulates what is wrong with hitting babies & children (and legislators in Kansas lobbying for the right to leave bruises on children).  Passed down generation after generation, sticks, paddles, and open hand hitting all leave mental health marks that result in compensating behaviors, poor brain development, and the next generation of parents beating their children.  If you know someone that hits their child, or lives in Kansas, send this link to them.

6 million children are reported to child protection services in the U.S. each year  Only a fraction of these children receive the help they need to lead productive lives.

(invite me to speak at your conference) / Buy our book or donate  Sample 4 minute video of Mike’s awesome talk on child protection in America

 

Great Discussion On Privatized Foster Care In Georgia (Linked In)

March 14, 2014 in Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

Georgia considers privatizing foster care

Versatile writer ♦ consultant ♦ lawyer ♦ editor providing strategic communications and subject-matter expertise.

Fascinating debate occurring in Georgia that has life-altering impacts on children. Have you studied the research on privatization of foster care and/or other child welfare services? If so, please share what you’ve learned? Has your state had experience with partial or full privatization? Any lessons to share with Georgia and the rest of the country from that? Read the rest of this entry →

It’s How You Frame The Issue

March 5, 2014 in CASA, education, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources by Mike Tikkanen

magnificent double exposure lacrosse mississippi river lampshadePeople on the right call it throwing money at it.  I fall in with people on the left who say that it is a better investment to build children and also a much smaller expense than fixing broken adults.  Anyone involved in the Hennepin County CASA guardian ad-Litem program knows the validity of this statement.

Monday’s Star Tribune article touched on the need for keeping mentally ill teens out of institutional settings.  For years we have avoided these conversations.  Mental health conversations are almost as rare as hens teeth.   As a culture we don’t know much about it and don’t respond well to the conversation until it hits us personally (and then it is really scary).  We readily take and proscribe psychotropic medications but obfuscate and euphemize the underlying issues.

A very big part of the mental health problem is our failure to provide a path to coping skills for children born to parents that don’t have these skills themselves.   Too often we would rather proscribe the meds than have the discussion and deal with the hard underlying truths that hard wired the problems.

Where do we think mental health comes from?  Dr Read Suliks definition of mental health is just that – the ability to cope.  We will continue to lead the industrialized world in prison populations, dangerous neighborhoods, sexually transmitted diseases, and dropout rates until our children have a path that brings access to the skills they will need to lead a productive life. Read the rest of this entry →

by admin

Paranoid Golden Valley Residents Drive Children’s Mental Health Services Out Of Town

February 22, 2014 in education, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Links To Helpful Orgs, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources by admin

coneflowersGolden Valley residents reached a pinnacle of fear and loathing this week when they showed up at a Council meeting with pitchforks and torches to kill the possibility of developing a center for children with mental health issues (weekday hours only).  The few hysterical GV residents  huffing and puffing and misrepresenting the issues (equating youth with mental health issues to criminals) succeeded in eliminating practical and badly needed local access to mental health services for youth in their own city.   When it’s your child that becomes uncontrollable, will you feel differently?

 Buy our book or donate  Sample 4 minute video of Mike’s awesome talk on child protection in America  Recommend Mike’s Invisible Children talk for TED

Receive our weekly updates on child protection issues by sending an email request to; Info@invisiblechildren.org

Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/KidsAtRisk   Recommend Mike’s Invisiblechildren talk for TED


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