February Sad Stories Part II

Sign Up Here For KARA’s Free Friday Morning Real Story KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and  attention to our youngest and most vulnerable  citizens.  Please note that what you see here is only a sampling of what should be reported –  the great majority of child trauma & abuse never gets…

February Sad Stories 2017 Part I

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Bill-would-let-nonrelatives-care-for-foster-10920621.php
KY: Westerfield introduces bill to set age of criminal responsibility for youth
Kentucky New Era – February 08, 2017
Criminal complaints filed have been filed against children as young as 4.
Information Gateway resource: Youth Involved With Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/youth/collaboration/dualsystem/
http://www.kentuckynewera.com/web/article_7232ebe2-ee8d-11e6-9100-cb7fb0fa0fdd.html
MA: Report: Despite efforts, 35 kids died in state care
Boston Herald – February 10, 2017

Black Children Matter (and child protection systems)

Yesterday at the State Capital in St Paul, Black Lives matter rallied outside for fair treatment by the police and inside (where I was) at the rotunda for fair treatment in child protection for black families and children.

Child protection is viewed by many in the community as a finance driven machine making life miserable for families and ruining the lives of their children.

Far too many group homes and foster care givers fall far short of providing a safe haven for traumatized children and state ward children are often;

* forced to take psychotropic medications without adequate mental health services

* abused while in child protective services

From reporting to discharge, the over representation of Black children in the child protection system cannot be overstated.

Nationally,

37% of children are reported to child protection by the time they are 18 unless they are black, when the number jumps to 54%.

Black families are 4 times more likely to be subjects of a child protection investigation & 5 time more likely to experience a child protection report than white families.

Black children are 5.3 times more likely to be placed in foster homes than white children.

After 20+ years as a white volunteer CASA guardian ad litem, I know that the system leaves few people involved with it satisfied and I very much see why black families think the system is a money driven machine.

Not having a child protection system would be unethical and deadly for children. Our best hope is to make the changes that are critical to building a fair and effective system that breaks the cycle of generational child abuse.

Communities that fail to support young mothers and their children will not have schools performing at acceptable reading, math or graduation rates and they will continue to suffer high crime and incarceration rates. The U.S. criminal justice system has approached a near 80% recidivism rate within the prison system.

To this end, Kids At Risk Action strongly supports the efforts of Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota

www.safepassagemn.com and the CASA guardian ad litem volunteer program www.casamn.org

Fostering Special Needs & Dying Children (a special kind of parent)

Too many children know tremendous suffering without getting to experience most of the joys and wonders of childhood.

For paralyzed, chronically or terminally ill children life is very different and extremely demanding on the parent caregiver.

In Los Angeles county’s department of Children and Family Services, there are 600 children (out of the 35,000 monitored by the county) who have severe medical needs and have been abandoned by their birth parents.

Whether it is the sadness and trauma of abuse or the inability of a parent to care for a child a judge has ordered the child be removed from the only home she has ever known.

What kind of person has the courage to say, “I want to be your father, I want to be your mother” to a child in a county welfare system who cannot walk, or play, suffer daily seizures and cannot speak?

Mohamed Bzeek, a quiet, devout Muslim foster father and his wife Dawn in Azusa CA have fostered dozens of traumatized and seriously disabled children. Mohamed has buried about ten children, some died in his arms.

Punishing Traumatized Children (the beatings will continue until the morale improves)

Thank you Chris Serres & Star Tribune for identifying how severely the St Cloud Children’s home for children fails abused and neglected kids.

Children live here because a judge found their birth homes so dangerous that the child needed to be removed from the home and placed at the St Cloud Children’s Home.

Instead of providing a safe haven, this facility has been tagged repeatedly with multiple violations over many years. Children having sex in the presence of a staff member, head banging to the point of black eyes, swollen faces and abrasions.

To put a human face on what these violations look like;
As a volunteer CASA guardian ad litem, one of my 11 year old child protection boys (call him John) was misbehaving at a Cambridge Children’s Home.

John was forced outside by a low paid, undertrained staff member, on a ten degree MN night and told that he would be allowed back inside in an hour.

Instead, John walked home, in a T shirt, on the highway from Cambridge (35 miles). 11 year-old traumatized youth don’t often make good decisions (especially children on multiple psychtropic medications).

John was in child protective services (and this group home) because his father tied him to a bed and left him alone for days without food or water from the ages of four to seven.

John was regularly sexually abused, beaten & starved over 4 years living with his dad. When I met him, this 7 year-old boy was covered in bruises from head to foot and on both sides of his body.

International Child Protection News January 2017

Uganda: This former Ugandan child soldier is accused of war crimes. But is he also a victim? (Opinion)
Washington Post – December 06, 2016
More than two decades ago, Dominic Ongwen was a boy on his way to school in northern Uganda when he was abducted by the brutal rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army and turned into a child soldier. On Tuesday, he took a seat before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for the first day of a trial in which he is charged with 70 war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, torture and sexual slavery, mostly committed in attacks on camps for internally displaced people.

January 2017 Sad Stories Part II

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

American states are struggling to find answers for saving at risk children and reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect. Today, many state ward children are the 4th and 5th generation of abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Compilation of information and writing on this page is the hard work of David Vang, Mike Toronto, Jamar Weston, Adolf Nchanj and Blaz Zlate, Callie Benscoter, (student volunteers at Century College) Katie Frake, Boston College, Julie O, and KARA.

Florida Child Protection News for January 2017

Beautiful white heron hunting

Florida Child Protection News is gathered for KARA by Dr. Denise R. Womer, Ph.D., a former law enforcement officer for 17 years and former DCF Investigator for the State of Florida. Dr. Womer has taught in higher education for 14 years and currently is a Professor for Kaplan University teaching in the School of Social and Behavior Sciences.

In Florida, fourteen news articles reviewed revealed infants and children suffered either abuse, neglect, or death from parents and or their caretakers. These parents or caretakers were discovered in some cases to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, engaged in some form of domestic violence, left an infant or children unsupervised or intentionally physically assaulted the victim. This is only part of the story in Florida.

Criminalizing Elementary School Children (policing our schools & punishment)

Federal Funding, Zero Tolerance and Inadequate Alternatives mean that more states are policing schools with armed officers. Before the 1970’s police were almost absent from elementary and junior high schools.

Today, armed officers are dealing with an escalation of violence and criminal prosecutions for children as young as 6, 7 and 8. Prosecuting kids in place of using resources to help them adapt destroys the fabric of a child’s life and achieves the exact opposite of what children need and society expects from an elementary or junior high school experience.

There are a significant number of us who believe it more important to punish bad behavior in children than it is to help them develop the skills they need to live among us. When these folks hold sway in education, the institution suffers, the child suffers, and the community gains one more troubled adult a few years later. For too long, America has led the world in crime, incarceration, violence and troubled schools. While not the only reason, treating at risk children with behavioral problems as offenders instead of troubled youth has played a big role.

The articles below are obvious examples of policing and education gone wrong. No child should have to live with this kind of institutional abuse. ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

When 14-year-old Ryan Turk cut ahead of the lunch line to grab a milk, he didn’t expect to get in trouble. He certainly didn’t plan to end up in handcuffs. But Turk, a black student at Graham Park Middle School, was arrested for disorderly conduct and petty larceny for procuring the 65-cent carton. The state of Virginia is actually prosecuting the case, which went to trial in November.

Changing the rules of the game requires federal, state, and local reforms. With little evidence that police in schools make students safer and plenty that they facilitate harm to students’ liberty and well-being, the Department of Justice should end the cops program’s SRO grants to districts. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for billions that promote unjust school conditions and put kids at greater risk of future involvement with the criminal justice system. And students should feel like they can talk to school officials when they have problems without forfeiting their constitutional rights and winding up in the back of police cars.

Interrupting Child Abuse (thank you Jan Callison & thank you Star Tribune)

It should be big news* that Hennepin County Commissioner Jan Callison** stood up for abused and neglected children when she found out County Child Protection service providers did not respond to abused & neglected children on weekends, late nights or holidays.

You could tell Commissioner Callison was upset when a service provider at a Task Force Oversight Committee meeting described the County’s procedure of leaving children in violent and abusive homes for days because public policy favored social workers not working holidays, late nights and weekends over the safety of children in dangerous circumstances.
The good news is that Governor Mark Dayton created a task force to investigate Child Protective Services and that many of the worst failures are being addressed instead of ignored.

The bad news is that four, five and six year old children had to die tortured deaths to attract the media and outrage a public before terrible public policy could be exposed and corrected.

None of the 50 children I worked with in Child Protection ever made the newspaper.

Teaching In a Strange Land (mental health workers without training)

What struck me hardest in today’s INVISIBLE CHILDREN presentation at a suburban elementary school was the dedication and desire my audience of 60 educators have for the children in their classrooms. Even the most difficult kids.

Martin Luther King Day was a train the trainer day for these teachers. Our discussion on trauma and dealing with traumatized children sparked keen conversation and shined a light on the depth and scope of the mental health issues students bring to school.

Did you know that 37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18. (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

This a particularly American problem and it is growing. Educators, like social workers, law enforcement, adoptive and foster parents, must grasp the new mental health reality if they are to succeed in their work with this population.

Most of my audience today “got it” when I talked about child abuse, foster homes, and what it takes to get into Child Protective Services and why abused and neglected children exhibit irrational and sometimes dangerous behaviors and need to be understood if learning is to occur.

January Sad Stories Part I (thru 1.13.17)

river-vista-double-exposureSign Up Here For KARA’s Free Friday Morning Real Story

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

American states are struggling to find answers for saving at risk children and reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect.  Today, many state ward children are the 4th and 5th generation of abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues

37% of children overall and 57% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18.  (American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

12 million children a year are reported to child protection services each year and in many states, 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Compilation of information and writing on this page is the hard work of  David Vang, Mike Toronto, Jamar Weston, Adolf Nchanj and Blaz Zlate,  Callie Benscoter, (student volunteers at Century College) Katie Frake, Boston College, Julie O, and KARA.

SUPPORT KARA HERE (5$/mo suggested)   

Dear Elementary School Teacher (I’m sorry for being such a problem)

I may look like the other 4th graders in your classroom, but I am not. I’m very different. My birth family’s repeated traumatic sex assaults and beatings have had a powerful and lasting impact on my body and mind. I don’t love or trust anyone and don’t feel loved or trusted at all.

The reptilian, fear activated part of my brain, the amygdala, is much larger than other children’s. This interferes with my ability to sit still in a classroom and I’m unable to concentrate on the things you are talking about. My mind is always filled with fearful thoughts and anxiety about the next bad thing that’s about to happen. It couldn’t be otherwise. The Prozac I’m forced to take (about a third of all foster children are medicated by psychotropics) makes me stupid and slow and I hate that. Some seven year olds know what the suicidal ideation on the side of the Prozac box actually means (fully formed thoughts of self harm and suicide delivered in waking moments).

I don’t have the coping skills to handle small personal things in the classroom like other children. Certain words and behaviors by others trigger a violent learned fear response in me that other kids don’t seem to have. I can be violent and did not learn social interaction at home, My reactions to minor things do not come from the executive function of my brain. I can’t control myself, things just happen.

Please understand that foster children are not foster children because a parent tired of caring for them or someone hit a child once or twice. At least I’ve not seen that among the foster kids I know. I’ve come to know many foster children through the County system as I’ve moved from foster home to foster home. It is the “Imminent Harm Doctrine”, that let’s a judge remove a child from a birth home. Literally, a child’s life must be in danger before the court will take a child away from birth parents. It really is almost as traumatic to be removed from the home as it is to stay and suffer the abuse. No matter how bad the abuse is, the fear of waking up in a strange place, with no one you have ever seen before is extremely frightening to a seven year old.

I became a state ward because my mother, who had been horribly abused as a child herself, had very violent boyfriends who thought sex with children was acceptable behavior. One of the boyfriends kicked me so hard I went into convulsions & needed an ambulance ride to the hospital (I was seven). The medical staff saw the awful bruises and placed me in child protection.

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

Dear Doctor,

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

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

Pennsylvania Child Protection News December 2016

children down hill having funKARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and  attention to our youngest and most vulnerable  citizens.  Please note that what you see here is only a sampling of what should be reported –  the great majority of child trauma & abuse never gets reported.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Compilation of information and writing on this page is the hard work of  Krista Neuner

KARA is looking for children’s news in other states – contact us to see if you would like to grow awareness in your state; mike@invisiblechildren.org (include writing and research in the subject line)

Minnesota 7 Year Old Dies as a Martyr to a Parents Religion

Adopted seven-year old Seth Johnson has suffered terribly for years and it appears has died a painful (avoidable) death at the hands of Tim and Sarah Johnson. Thank you Paul Walsh, Brandon Stahl & Star Tribune.

The parents have moved to New Zealand and will most likely use a religious exemption defense that is very often successful as this case proceeds.

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

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

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

A Modest Proposal For The New Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transforming the System: A Call For Action

Grounded in compassion and learning, we must act forcefully to promote transparency, understanding and change to reform how abused and neglected children find safe permanent homes and deal with the traumas that brought them into child protection. Beginnng this year, the ACA makes advanced mental health services available to traumatized children giving them a chance to heal and thrive.

This effort requires focused support for achievable objectives.

When we’ve done that, we will have transformed the System.

Possible actions include:

Activist organizations uniting in every community to push for awareness of and changes in policies that are failing or demonstrably superior.

Action teams in each Congressional district communicating regularly with their Congressperson (support these teams where they are and create them where they don’t exist).

Child-affirming activist communities whose members build awareness and understanding of programs and policies impacting at risk children can improve those laws and policies.

With this approach, we can address the child, the family and the system.

December 2016 Sad Stories Part 1

MD: Youth homelessness in Baltimore higher than previously thought
The Baltimore Sun – November 30, 2016
More than 1,400 young people under the age of 25 were unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, without a safe, stable, affordable place to live, according to data collected by homeless advocates, service providers, the University of Maryland, the city and other stakeholders.
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-homeless-youth-20161130-story.html
NY: ‘What Did They Do?’ Officials Question ACS Response in Jaden Jordan Case
DNAinfo – December 01, 2016
Law enforcement officials probing the nearly fatal beating of a 3-year-old boy are questioning why a city child welfare caseworker – and not a trained investigator or the NYPD – was called days before the tragedy to check out a tip that the toddler was being kept in a dog cage by a Brooklyn man, DNAinfo New York has learned.
https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20161201/gravesend/jaden-jordan-administration-for-childrens-services-salvatore-lucchesse
NY: A Better, But Still Broken, NYC Child Welfare System Means Another Child Murdered (Opinion)
The Huffington Post – November 30, 2016
As CEO’s of three of the oldest and largest charities serving New York City’s children, we are determined to learn any lesson we can to protect children from harm. We stand with all New Yorkers in demanding accountability, and we want to see pragmatic and meaningful reform that truly protects children.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeremy-christopher-kohomban-phd/a-better-but-still-broken_b_12501974.html

Pennsylvania Child Protection News Sept – November 2016

Pennsylvania officials reveal improved service to child abuse hotline
Philly Voice – September 15, 2016
In 2015, the department reported a 14-percent increase in phone calls from 164,911 to 188,357, a 39-percent increase in cases of suspected child abuse and a 162-percent increase in requests for child-abuse history clearances. DHS admitted that 43 percent of calls were abandoned or deflected and 48 percent of clearances were processed within 14 days as required by law.
http://www.phillyvoice.com/pennsylvania-officials-reveal-improved-service-child-abuse-hotline/

Pennsylvania couple waives arraignment in child-giving case
ABC 27 News – September 2, 2016
A Pennsylvania couple and a Philadelphia-area man to whom they allegedly gave their 14-year-old daughter in exchange for money have waived their arraignments.
http://abc27.com/2016/09/02/pennsylvania-couple-waives-arraignment-in-child-giving-case/

Minnesota At Risk Children’s News November 2016

Recommendations Announced For Improving Child Services
CBS Local
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hennepin County leaders are making new recommendations to help protect children in Minnesota. A child protection …
Flag as irrelevant

Hennepin County discussing $26 million child protection plan that would add nearly 250 new staffers
Minneapolis Star Tribune
No longer would children need to endure maltreatment before they get social services in Minnesota’s most populous county. … Hennepin County has had 15,400 child protection reports so far this year, but county leaders expect to …
Flag as irrelevant

Hennepin County shifts child protection mission with new model
Minneapolis Star Tribune
No longer will a child need to endure maltreatment before they get social services in Minnesota’s most populous county, an unprecedented step in the …
Flag as irrelevant

International Child Protection News November 2016

Africa – SADC Model Law Key Step Towards Ending Child Marriages.
The Zimbabwean.
A new model aimed at ending child marriages, provides guidance at all levels of the decision making process. Parliamentarians, ministries of justice and policy makers will work together

November 2016 Sad Stories Part II

peekaboo-red-pandaSign Up Here For Friday morning news updates (free)

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

 

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Compilation of information and writing on this page is the hard work of  David Vang, Mike Toronto, Jamar Weston, Adolf Nchanj and Blaz Zlate,  Callie Benscoter, (student volunteers at Century College) Katie Frake, Boston College, Julie O, and KARA.

The Election & Children (from Safe Passages For Children of Minnesota)

This recent piece from Safe Passages for Children of Minnesota paints a more positive picture for Minnesota’s at risk children than can be seen in the rest of the nation.

It’s good to know that MN politicians on both sides of the isle care about the youngest and most vulnerable among us. They recognize that healthy children become healthy adults creating a safe and productive community.

The rest of the nation’s children are at risk as attacks on healthcare and education will dismantle working programs and the well-being of millions of America’s poorest and youngest citizens.

Politicians blaming educators and other service providers replace objective discussions about what it takes to improve safety nets and troubled institutions. It hurts me to see just how quickly children’s services become wasted money that some states have been all too ready to reduce for political benefits.

Thank you Minnesota legislators for doing the right thing. Your critical thinking skills and the ethical standards you have maintained to accomplish so many of the recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on Child Protection Services and Mental Health will benefit this state for decades to come.

As the holiday season approaches, let’s all be grateful for the hard work of these two task forces (and the people that volunteered to staff them) and the results they have accomplished this year.

Minnesota At Risk Children’s News October 2016

Teen Arrested In Mpls. Shooting That Killed Man, Baby
CBS Local
Teen Arrested In Mpls. Shooting That Killed Man, Baby … Minnesota History Center Highlights Football Past, Present And FutureThe Minnesota …
Flag as irrelevant

Lakeville parents charged with child neglect
Minnesota Public Radio News
A couple that was reported missing from Lakeville last week has been charged with neglecting their two young children during the five days they spent …
Charges: Minnesota parents lived in car 5 days, didn’t bathe or feed 2 boys – Duluth News Tribune
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

November 2016 Sad Stories Part I

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

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

200,000 Youth Tried As Adults Each Year; Temple University

My experience with children receiving adequate therapy for the severe trauma and resulting behavior problems that were so indelibly a part of these very young children’s lives was almost non existent.

Once these very troubled children become old enough to impact their surroundings they do so in a most troubling manner. That’s why our jails are full and our schools are troubled.

From the study; “In other words, by one mechanism or another, more than 200,000 individuals under the age of 18 are prosecuted in criminal court each year. There are three trends in the data worth noting.

Children’s Mental Health, Prozac and You (suicide & other self-harming behaviors)

For every successful child-suicide there are an estimated 25 attempts.

The suicidal hanging of six-year old foster child Kendrea Johnson opened my eyes to the fatal flaws of Prozac and very young children and foster care.

The dearth of mental health trained foster families and the number of traumatized children in child protection systems can only lead to exponential growth in dysfunctional and dangerous behaviors that last a lifetime.

Nationally, about a third of children in foster homes take psychotropic medication like Prozac (they have no choice – the drugs are forced on them).

The note seven-year old foster child Gabriel Myers left when he suicided by hanging was specific about his hatred of the drug he was forced to take and that he would rather be dead.

In 2014, America forced Prozac like drugs on 20,000 + one and two-year old children. One manufacturer (Johnson & Johnson) was fined 4 billion dollars for illegally selling these drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children (with 4 thousand cases awaiting trial and that is just one manufacturer).

My first visit to a four-year old child as a volunteer Hennepin County guardian ad Litem was at the suicide ward of Fairview Hospital. I know suicidal ideation by medication and caution anyone using these drugs on children to learn about it.

During my first years as a CASA GAL, I experienced multiple suicidal children in my caseload. All of them were under ten-years old. The amount of Prozac like drugs forced on these children was remarkable. So remarkable that a Hennepin County judge shared the records she kept of medicated children with me and talked openly about her dismay that these drugs were being used on very young children.

There are no records kept of suicide attempts by children in child protection or foster/adoptive homes.

Only successful suicide attempts make the paper or are made public. In 2013, 494,169 Americans were admitted to hospital emergency rooms for self-inflicted injuries.

In Minneapolis MN, our HCMC hospital sees almost one thousand emergency room psychiatric visits each month.

For the first time in our nation’s history, mental health parity (a piece of the Affordable Health Care Act) will make mental health services available to the poor traumatized children I have worked with.

How we treat our most vulnerable children define the heart and soul of this nation.
If there is one thing to fight for in the coming battle over repealing the ACA, please join me in the demand for mental health care for our youngest citizens.

www.Kidsatriskaction.org

High Hopes For Hennepin County’s New Child Protection Model

Today’s heartening Star Tribune article gave me hope that I’ve not had in decades for the saving of abused and neglected children from extended traumas and ruined lives.

“No longer will a child need to endure maltreatment before they get social services in Minnesota’s most populous county, an unprecedented step in the state”.

Thank you Task Force on Child Protection, Safe Passage For Children, Governor Dayton and all the legislators and supporters standing for the weakest and most vulnerable children in our community.

Additional funding for staff, reduced caseloads, responding to child abuse reports at all hours (including weekends) and focusing on the child’s well-being instead of the crisis mode required after traumatic abuse has been endured (usually for years) will make a huge difference in the lives of these kids.

By making services available to struggling families and insuring that very young children reported as abused receive face-to-face assessments and the help they need, we will be interrupting patterns of behavior that can ruin a child’s life forever and making their lives safer and happier.

The ACE’s (Adverse Child Experience) medical studies have proven the negative mental health outcomes of childhood trauma.

International Child Protection News October 2016

U.K. – Sunderland Child Protection Body Apologizes Over Death of Girls.
The Guardian.
The death of two teenage girls under child services were both found hanged 10 days apart. No connection has be found linking the two deaths, however; the similarities in both cases prompted serious case reviews out of fear the children may be experiencing similar unacceptable levels of care.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/14/sunderland-childrens-services-apologise-critical-report-deaths-girls

October Sad Stories Part II

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

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

October Sad Stories Part I

Drugging Our Kids: Governor signs bills to curb prescribing of psych drugs to California foster youth
The Mercury News
Joymara Coleman, a 24-year-old Cal State East Bay student, displays two of the psychotropic medications she was prescribed while in foster care.
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Minnesota Child Protection Stories September 2016

Protesters call for boycott of Varsity Theater, Loring Pasta Bar
Minnesota Daily
The protest was meant to educate the campus community of sexual abuse … The lawsuits were filed under the Child Victims Act, which extended the … any of it,” said first-year University of Minnesota neuroscience student Mary Ellen …
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Mother and boyfriend charged in MN toddler’s death
KFGO
ANOKA, Minn. (AP) – Authorities have filed charges against the mother of a Blaine toddler who died and her boyfriend. Anoka County Attorney Tony …
Couple charged in child death – Valley News Live
Two adults charged in connection with toddler’s death – White Bear Press
Full Coverage
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Charges filed in murder of Blaine, Minnesota toddler
KMSP-TV
A man wanted in the murder of a toddler and kidnapping of a 5-year-old girl in Blaine, Minnesota was arrested Wednesday morning by the Missouri …
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Around the state: Mother, boyfriend charged in toddler’s death
Post-Bulletin
MINNEAPOLIS — A trial in Minnesota district court will test whether suburban … The toddler died at the scene from injuries that authorities say were …
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It’s Inevitable (foster care rates below dog care)

In America, the average cost of foster care for dogs is between $30 & $35/day.

Foster care for children in this nation run from $8.07 / day (Nebraska) to $30 / day (DC) with an average of about $18 / day.

Dogs (owners) must bring dog food and don’t need to supply diapers.

Foster parents must buy food and sometimes diapers for these children (and pay for transportation costs to doctors, schools and the broken and worn out things that will be broken and worn out by this foster child).

Dogs require 30 to 60 minutes / day of a caregiver time – traumatized children* require 12 to 24 hours of caregiver time daily.

Any foster mom or dad that’s stayed awake all night to monitor a violent or sexualized state ward on psychotropic medications to insure that the rest of the family stay safe from unpredictable behaviors of a dangerous traumatized child can tell this story with greater impact (I know, I’ve heard it many times).
No dog** ever carries lighter fluid or has the intention of burning down the house.

Raped and tortured children not getting adequate help for their traumas often exhibit terrorizing behaviors that hurt themselves (cutting, suicide attempts) and others (lighting fires, stabbing pets and other children).

International Child Protection News September 2016

Despite child labour being illegal, the Burkina Faso government overlooks the use of children in mining and extracting gold. It’s willingness to overlook the use of child labour is based on its dependency on gold exports for revenues. Children are sometimes pulled from school to work alongside with their parents to earn money for the family.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/burkina-faso-gold-mines/

To Maintain Supply of Sex Slaves, ISIS Pushes Birth Control.
New York Times.
Girls from religious and ethnic minority groups are captured, bought and sold by Islamic State (IS) members. The girls are repeatedly raped and given birth control to ensure the girls are not pregnant while the girls are bought, sold, or passed around. The girls are given oral or injectable contraception, sometimes they are given both. To ensure the girl is not pregnant, they are taken to the hospital to test for HCG hormone, which is indicative of pregnancy if it is present. If she is not pregnant, the captors continue to rape the girl or sell her to other captors for similar purposes.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/13/world/middleeast/to-maintain-supply-of-sex-slaves-isis-pushes-birth-control.html?_r=1

Child Abuse A National Overview (Sarah Westall Radio Show – Share This Widely)

arah Westall’s serious research gives her chops to ask the hardest and most in depth questions diving deep into the heart of the matter she is investigating.

This interview is the best I have had in the almost two decades of speaking and writing for Kids At Risk Action. Don’t miss it.

Share this interview with your connections – it will open their eyes to the depth and scope of child abuse and child protection in our communities (& make life better for at risk children).

Sarah Westall Interview

All Adults are the protectors of All Children

September Sad Stories (part 1 through September 15)

Homeless woman accused of child neglect, children covered in filth, lice, suffering health problems
Bennington Banner (subscription)
BENNINGTON >> A homeless woman is facing charges after her children were found covered in filth, infested with lice, and suffering numerous health …
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Calgary hosts international anti-child abuse, neglect conference
CBC.ca
Former Flames hockey player Sheldon Kennedy gave a keynote speech to the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect …
Calgary conference focused on preventing child abuse kicks off at Telus Convention Centre – Calgary Sun
More than 1100 delegates in Calgary to attend international conference on preventing child abuse – Calgary Herald
International conference battling child abuse meeting in Calgary – CTV News
Full Coverage
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Child neglect case of Unionport-area man now includes molestation charges
Winchester News Gazette
Both McKinney and his wife, Amy, were charged Tuesday with three counts each of neglect of a dependent, a Level 6 felony. At initial hearings, they …
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September Sad Stories Part II (through September 30)

Murder charge in Burke baby death
The Augusta Chronicle
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has charged a man with murder after the death of an infant in Waynesboro. The Burke County Sheriff’s Office …
UPDATE | Waynesboro man accused of murder in death of 6-month-old – WRDW-TV
Murder charge filed in death of 6-month-old baby – WTVM
Full Coverage
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Woman enters mental disease plea in baby death
The Sheboygan Press
SHEBOYGAN – A Sheboygan Falls woman pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect on Monday to charges she killed her 2-year-old …
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Parents want answers over baby’s death
Perth Now
THE grieving parents of a baby boy who died days after he was sent home from two Perth hospitals and a doctor’s surgery say they want answers over …
WA parents demand answers over baby death – NEWS.com.au
Perth baby dies after being sent home from two hospitals – Yahoo7 – Yahoo7 News
Parents blast Perth hospitals after death of baby Malakai Matui Paraone – WAtoday
Full Coverage
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CASA guardian ad Litem News & Stories for August 2016

Jan. 17 trial date set in Sullivan County homicide
Terre Haute Tribune Star
Tribune-Star/Lisa TriggDefendant Joshua Travis Hall is led from the Sullivan Superior courtroom by Sheriff Clark Cottom following a hearing Monday …
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Attorney Janie Lindamood leaves mark on community, children, legal profession
Johnson City Press (subscription)
She represented children in delinquency cases and was often appointed as a child’s guardian ad litem, which in Tennessee is a licensed attorney …
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Family Court: abused children need more advocates
The News Journal
The CASA is appointed as the child’s guardian ad litem, which involves being party to any court agreement or court plan for the child and is …
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Judge notes ‘disturbing evidence’ in wards of court application
Irish Times
The alleged sexual abuse and brutal treatment of two children, both aged under 10, was “the most disturbing evidence I have read in 20 years on the …
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Minnesota Child Protection News August 2016

the mine lakes

 

KARA gathers news about abused Minnesota’s abused children every month and works to provide a snapshot of Child Protection and how our state values its children.

If you are an aspiring writer/reporter, KARA needs you to help gather and report on these stories.  Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org with REPORTING in the subject line.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

 

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

Deliberate Burns Make Up 10 % of All Childhood Burn Cases

This government study shows the frequency of children, most under two, almost all under ten, that are deliberately burned by their caregivers. It is striking in that it gives clear definition & how to interpret a child’s burns. This is perhaps a more technical/professional piece than is usually found here, but I think it is important.

Pennsylvania Child Protection News July & August 2016

fair slingshot rideKARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and  attention to our youngest and most vulnerable  citizens.  Please note that what you see here is only a sampling of what should be reported –  the great majority of child trauma & abuse never gets reported.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Compilation of information and writing on this page is the hard work of  Krista Neuner

International Child Protection News August 2016

Syria – Caught in the civil war, Syrian children receive make-do education.
The Wire.
The ongoing civil war has displaced several children and their families. A husband and wife has opened their home to teach some of the children who have been displaced by the war. Although the conditions are not optimal, Syrian children receive education in subjects like Arabic, English, maths and religion. With schools being targets of air strikes and with the growth of insurgent groups children have been displaced and recruited by armed personnels, limiting their access of education. One problem they face is inadequate learning material, i.e. books, and the presence of war planes flying above the makeshift schools scaring the children.
http://thewire.in/46581/caught-in-the-civil-war-syrian-children-receive-make-do-education/

Syria – UN says children caught in Syria’s civil war suffer ‘unspeakable’ abuse.
PBS News Hour.
A United Nations report finds that the Syrian government is responsible for thousands of child deaths and the imprisonment of several children where they suffer physical and mental abuse. While thousands of children have been killed or imprisoned, thousands more have been displaced forcing some to flee to other countries or have been recruited by armed groups and the government to fight in the war.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/un-children-syrias-civil-war-suffer-unspeakable-abuse/

Indonesia – Unicef report finds female genital cutting to be common in Indonesia.
The New York Times.
The United Nations Children’s Fund finds that millions of girls in Indonesia has fallen victim to female genital cutting, a cultural ritual practice. The official Indonesian government definition of female genital cutting defines the practice as a less harsh and less intensive practice than what is often seen in parts of Africa and Middle East. Although numbers has declined in some countries, the rate of decline is not fast enough to keep up with population growth. If rates of female genital cutting is to continue the number of women and girls subjected to female genital cutting will rise significantly over the next 15 years. While female genital cutting is regarded as a cultural practice in Indonesia, conflict persists between religious and secular attitudes towards the practice.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/05/health/indonesia-female-genital-cutting-circumcision-unicef.html

Colombia – Stolen youth: combating commercial sexual exploitation of children in Cartagena, Colombia.
Global Affairs Canada.
A city in Colombia is a destination for sex tourism and sexual exploitation of children. Although illegal, commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth is entrenched in the city because of the well established crime syndicates. Groups have taken action together to clean up the city and promote the idea that the city can not develop on the basis of sexual tourism. Legal action has been taken in some cases but it yields few results.
http://www.international.gc.ca/development-developpement/stories-histoires/columbia-colombie/youth-jeunes.aspx?lang=eng

Children Feeling Betrayed (thank you Safe Passage for Children & PBS)

Children who are badly abused sometimes seek help from teachers, extended family, or social workers. When they get none they feel profoundly betrayed by adults. This can have lifelong consequences for the children and society, as this PBS story illustrates.

Today’s dominant political view is that children are nearly always better off with their families. This creates systemic pressures to leave children where they are even when abuse is extreme.

Decisions should be based on each child’s best interests. Children shouldn’t be vehicles for the politics of ideology, culture or race. They don’t care about these things. They just want the pain to end.

Children don’t participate in policy-making. Their interests can only be factored into child protection practices by adults who comprehend their anguish and speak out for them.

Children Locked Up in America (Radio Interview)

Mass Incarceration: Where it Starts, With Our Youth

Following up from last weeks show on Mass Incarceration, which focused on adults, this week the focus is on mass incarceration of our youth. In contrast to adult incarceration, where there has been bipartisan attention from U.S. Politicians, the youth problem is all but ignored during the campaigns. The issue is a big one so it is hard to understand why it is avoided like the plague by our politicians. In fact, I could not find a single quote on the internet about youth incarceration from politicians.

Perhaps people just do not want to hear about something so depressing. Newspaper and magazine publishers claim that they will lose their readership if they cover these issues. Television believes people will turn the channel or tune out. Maybe people will not read this blog either, but it’s an important subject, so I made the decision to do the right thing and cover the issue. If awareness can increase, the likelihood of positive change can increase too.

Here are some facts:

The U.S. has the worlds highest youth incarceration rate at 225 per 100,000 (as of 2015). The next highest rate amongst developed nations is South Africa at 69 per 100,000. The U.S. is 6 to 10 times that of the other developed nations.

Drugging Our Kids (a report I would like to have for MN)

In 1996 there were 1100 students per counselor in MN high schools and one child psychiatrist for all the children in the Hennepin County child protection system. At that time and now, no child makes it into Child Protection unless he or she has had suffered repeated traumas and needed consistent professional mental health help. As a County Volunteer guardian ad litem, I watched as tons of MN children were forced to take Prozac, Ritalin and other psychotropic medications. These children suffered all the side effects common to those drugs including the suicidal ideation printed on every package of the drug.

In 2014, 20,000 one and two year old children were forced to take these drugs and Johnson and Johnson was fined 4 billion dollars for illegally selling them to pediatricians for use on children (and there are four thousand cases awaiting trial).

This article (and the series within) presents a raw view into the terrible mishandling of children’s mental health.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children