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.

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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).

 

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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.

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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?

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Another Screened Out Of Child Protection Baby Dies In MN

February 22, 2014 in Child Death, Crime and Courts, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources by Mike Tikkanen

babies best everToday’s Star Tribune article reports the death of White Bear Lake’s unnamed 8 month old baby boy due to smothering by drunken mom.   Freda Perdue had been reported twice for child neglect for the same behavior.  Star Tribune reporters called me a few years ago when the 18 month old baby was drowned in the bathtub after 12 calls to the home.

Like most baby homicides, we blame the mom and the child protection system that screened out children endangered by dangerous parents.  This solves nothing.  In a few months, a baby will be found in a dumpster and the mom will be incarcerated, the social worker fired.

This repeats itself in every state on a very predictable schedule.  One of my first cases as a CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem I witnessed a prostituted seven year old (by her mother) left in the home through 48 police calls to the home over a two year period (she was removed from her mom on the 49th call.

Where there is no public will, there will not be public resources to care for other peoples children.  

 

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Snakes In Guatemala vs Guns In America

February 21, 2014 in Crime and Courts, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

moutain view on horsebackMy favorite horseback ride of all times happened during a trip to Guatemala.  On the ride, I asked the question of my Guatemalan horseman guide why we saw no snakes during our daylong ride through the mountains and tropical forests.   He stated that snakes were poisonous and they bit people, and the people of Guatemala had killed all the snakes to make sure snakebite deaths would not be a problem anymore.  Friends of PETA, please appreciate that this is part of a larger conversation, and metaphorical at some level (no snakes were killed for this article).

Are we not as smart as Guatemalans?  How many children have to die because the NRA likes to promote dangerous lethal toys that machismo boys like to spend their money on.  This article is the smartest piece of writing I have seen on the topic (ever).  Really worth your time.  Happy Friday.

 

 

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Best Videos From The ACE’s Study (short & long)

February 21, 2014 in Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Resources, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

Friends, even if you are aware of the Adverse Childhood Experience Studies, these are worth revisiting (and sharing with others) and don’t miss the ACE Study Preview (3 minutes).

Featured Public Videos

Autism; From My Cousin (Thank You Debbie)

January 11, 2014 in Health and Mental Health, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

Chrysanthemum

Land Of The Free?

January 8, 2014 in Crime and Courts, education, Health and Mental Health, Public Policy, Resources by Mike Tikkanen

Richard Ross roomPhoto courtesy Richard Ross          By the age of 23, half of America’s young black men have been arrested (as have 40% of young white men.  In 2001 Minneapolis MN (Hennepin County) arrested 44% of its adult black men (in one year).  There were no duplicate arrests and 58% of those arrested went on to be arrested for a second crime within two years.  25% of youth (some as young as 11 & 12 years old) charged with crimes in this country are prosecuted as adults.

The absence of child friendly programs, harsh drug laws, and ignoring mental health and generational  poverty have more to do with the racial disparity of school failure, packed prisons, and dangerous streets than anything else.

Paraphrasing Pliny The Elder, Greek Educator 2500 years ago; If we treated children better, they would treat us better.

or, as he stated it, “what we do to our children, they will do to society”  

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Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/KidsAtRisk  Read the rest of this entry →

California Children’s Report Card

January 7, 2014 in education, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

children down hill having fun2014 CALIFORNIA CHILDREN’S REPORT CARD - The Report card released by Children Now rates the state according to 27 total categories in the areas of education, health and child welfare.  CATEGORY SUBCATEGORY GRADE
EDUCATION 
Infant and toddler care D
Preschool C+
Kindergarten transition B-  Read the rest of this entry →

A Fantastic TED Talk (learn a whole new perspective on healing)

January 5, 2014 in Health and Mental Health, Links To Helpful Orgs, links to video, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

Roses on WallJane McGonigal’s TED talk takes an approach to life and trauma that is very different, uplifitng, and perhaps the most remarkable insights I have experienced on this topic in years.   

When game designer Jane McGonigal found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she had a fascinating idea for how to get better. She dove into the scientific research and created the healing game, SuperBetter. Reality is broken, says Jane McGonigal, and we need to make it work more like a game. Her work shows us how. Full bio »

http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_the_game_that_can_give_you_10_extra_years_of_life.html

 

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Punishing The Mentally Ill (Minnesota is not alone)

December 11, 2013 in Crime and Courts, education, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

Today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune article supports a position I’ve held for years.  By ignoring or under-serving people with mental health problems we are manufacturing state wards, preteen moms, and felons and this is making our cities dangerous and unsafe.

Our current policies of dumping the mentally ill in detention, jail, and prison places a huge burden on educators & juvenile, criminal justice workers, and especially the families (often grandparents, and foster and adoptive parents) that live with them.

Not much good comes from incarcerating people with mental health issues.  Recidivism is now 70 percent after many years at 66 percent.

Not much teaching gets done in a classroom populated with disturbed youth on Prozac.  Safety and behavior management becomes the teachers primary concern at the expense of educating all the other youth.  Our nations miserable graduation and drop out rates, STD rates (we lead the world), and crime rates (we also lead the world) are all tied to how we ignore and under-serve people with mental health issues. Follow us on Twitter  Sample 4 minute video of Mike’s awesome talk on child protection   Support KARA

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What Makes Us So Mean? (just wait til you’re in diapers)

November 29, 2013 in education, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

ocean wedding at sunsetFrom the Nation 9.30.13 write up on Yale University Study on poor families; Diapers cost between 70 & 120 dollars monthly (for one sweet lovable baby) and diaper services are even more expensive.

30% of low income women with very young children can’t afford an adequate supply of diapers.  Because poor moms don’t often own homes, they don’t own washing machines and their children suffer from dirty diaper issues like urinary tract infections, chafing, and rashes from wet and dirty bottoms.

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Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/KidsAtRisk    Read the rest of this entry →

6000 Child Abuse Cases Not Examined In Arizona (putting AZ in 48th place for child well being)

November 26, 2013 in Crime and Courts, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

babies best everClarence Carter the Director of AZ Department of Economic Security told the oversight committee that child protection was suffering from lack of funding and resources and has been only investigating the worst of the worst cases.

Skyrocketing case loads and very late (too late in many cases) review of unexamined reports of child abuse make it extremely hard to keep children safe in Arizona, a state that ranks 48th in child well being.   Read More to see the huge pile of AZ child protection case histories documents discarded in an alley (a very bad sign for AZ’s abused and neglected children).

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Big Pharma – Who Do We Blame?

November 24, 2013 in CASA, education, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

mn panorama leaves turned 2This is part of a recent correspondence with a friend asking how to fix the overuse of Psychotropic Medications proscribed to children.  It forced me to think through the complicated web of how we have come to proscribing Prozac to five year olds (yes it happens – I’ve written on this blog about the 7 year old foster child that hung himself and left a note about how he hated Prozac).

Friend,  You misinterpret me.  First, please don’t confuse kids living with functioning families and insurance with the children in child protection services.

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How We Treat Children

November 20, 2013 in Crime and Courts, education, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

boy in stripesPhoto courtesy of Richard Ross

If you are an adolescent with mental health issues in New York, you might end up at Riker’s Island.

If your issues are severe and you are disruptive, you could be locked away in the punitive solitary confinement cage for 23 hours a day for hundreds of days at a time.

(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   Read the rest of this entry →

Children’s Survival Network (watch this)

November 17, 2013 in education, Health and Mental Health, Links To Helpful Orgs, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

instagram-amazinggrayce-catsFriends, this practical approach of the Children’s Survival Network to dealing with child abuse and the misunderstood and underfunded agencies that treat it impresses me greatly.

Watch this brief video & pass it on to your friends;

Children’s Survival Network, Inc.

Thank you Hayley Foster for showing me the Children’s Survival Network.

 

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Sample 4 minute video of Mike’s awesome talk on child protection in America

 

What We Think Of Children In America

November 4, 2013 in education, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

cardinal best everSkipping Crisis nurseries, paying daycare workers less than food service workers (nationally) & students in Colorado taking classes in a bus garage using thin plastic to separate them from the stink of unhealthy diesel fumes (and no tutors for math or reading troubled kids) is bound to result in more troubled youth, bigger jails & unhappy families and communities.

These are not economically viable public policies and it is making Flint Michigan’s out of dozens of American communities.  Flint MI is where if you don’t have a body in the yard when you call the police, they don’t come (and if you call after 5pm, no one answers – no police protection).

Art Rolnick and the Federal Reserve Bank have proven the high rate of return on early childhood programs and throughout my years as a CASA guardian ad-Litem, I have experienced the high cost of troubled youth, whether measured as state wards or the damage they do.

It is so much less expensive to care for children to help them attain the coping skills that will launch them into a nice life that it is to let them sink deeper and deeper into mental health and social trouble.

Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/KidsAtRisk  Sample 4 minute video of Mike’s awesome talk on child protection in America

Read the stories below to get a clearer picture of what America thinks of its children;

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Important News From Safe Passage For Children

October 25, 2013 in education, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

 

rabbit yawningLet’s Agree on What to Invest In

What if everyone agreed to get behind some of the same best practices for children?  It would improve chances of state funding, be easier to track outcomes, and create economies of scale.

This may be possible.  Safe Passage research indicates common interest in some of the same programs across child welfare, early childhood development, and children’s mental health.  These approaches have a solid track record and strong research base, including Triple P (Positive Parenting Program), Parent Child Interaction Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

This fall we are meeting with leaders in each of these sectors and will float the idea of a common legislative agenda to fund some of these highly regarded best practices.  Stay tuned.

We need your support to continue moving forward.  Please make a contribution now to Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota.  Just click on the ‘visit’ link to the right and the Donate button on our website.

 

 

 

 

 

To donate and learn more visit us at safepassagemn.org

 

Previous e-briefs:

 

This is It!

 

Credit Where Credit is Due

 

 

 

 

Target Practice On The Mentally Ill

October 4, 2013 in Crime and Courts, education, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

image001America seems to own the market of mistreating people with mental health problems.  Whether Tasering 12 year olds in Chicago or shooting disturbed people in just about any circumstance, we just don’t care enough to make health services available to stop the carnage.

As a long time volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem working with *tortured children (about half the fifty children removed from their homes in my caseload had been sexually abused), I’m really sensitive to how lack of treatment, sporadic treatment, and the use of psychotropic medications on five year olds is filling prisons and damaging schools with our troubled youth.

16 year old Jeff  Weise’s father committed suicide a few years before Jeff started writing about his homicidal and suicidal thoughts and listening to his mother’s wishes that he had never been born.

A few months later he shot dead his grandfather and 14 other people before killing himself.  Talk about warning signs.

The year after the carnage, Red Lake found 3 million dollars to fund a mental health facility for the community.

Michael Swanson’s mom (an educated and very capable person) worked for years to find mental health services for her tragically disturbed boy before he drove to an adjacent state and murder 2 convenience store clerks for shits and giggles.

My friend adopted 4 children from a county that assured her they came from fairly normal backgrounds.  If being sexually abused at very young ages is normal, then the county did not lie.  Here family fought for years to find any mental health services for the children.

20 years later, the mental health issues this family still endures make me hate our institutional habits of obfuscating and lying.

When it is your family or friend that is visited by violence or other forms of insanity the sensation is unbelievably painful.  Until then, let’s just not care about affordable health care. Read the rest of this entry →

Worst State For Moms (and their children) Louisiana Again

September 26, 2013 in Crime and Courts, education, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

pre vader headressMy 2012 report about the last place in the nation to raise a child was reaffirmed today (Huffington Post) with another study ranking the state dead last for women.  One in five Louisiana women live in poverty & they earn 67% of what men earn (a little more than half of a man’s wage).

One OB-GYN for every 13,136 women & nearly 20% of non-elderly women are uninsured.  Waiting periods and counseling are required for women seeking an abortion.  Louisiana has the highest rates of poverty, infant mortality, child death, teen births, and no health insurance in the nation.

Other states that earned an “F” overall in these categories are Utah, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, South Dakota, Indiana and Georgia.

Louisiana is also the Prison Capital of The World, where for profit prisons are making a fortune for their investors.  They have found that by offering almost no rehabilitation, crowded conditions and easy incarceration statutes (one in eighty six adult Louisiana residents are in the prison system), profits are extraordinary and recidivism is through the roof.

Please share this with your contacts that it might find its way to Louisiana (change only comes from awareness).

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Support KARA buy our book or donate (Invite me to speak)

 

 

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Pope Francis Has Joined Our Cause (yea for the Catholic Church)

September 21, 2013 in Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

shipwreckI have never before written about politics for this site but I think the topic most important today.

This article may not look like it’s about children but it is (read to the end).

Yesterday, the Pope came out against the Catholic Church’s unfriendly & unproductive public policy of repeatedly attacking the poor, the gay, and women’s rights.

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Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/KidsAtRisk    Read the rest of this entry →

I Wish You’d Never Been Born & Other Adverse Childhood Experiences (Videos)

September 19, 2013 in Health and Mental Health, Links To Helpful Orgs, links to video, Public Policy, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

These are the most powerful videos from the Academy on Violence and Abuse www.avahealth.org  They go a long way in explaining our nations consistently low graduation rates, terrifically high murder rates, prison populations, chronic illnesses and leading the world in sexually transmitted diseases.

All of these videos are powerful and worth your time.

Public Videos

America’s Amazingly False Answers To Mental Health Issues

September 8, 2013 in CASA, Crime and Courts, education, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

coneflowersToday’s Star Tribune article (“Criminalizing mental health,…, denied treatment,…Michael Schuler stabbed himself in both eyes after spending 40 days in jail”) identifies the iceberg tip that is the crisis of this nation’s failure to deal with mental health issues.  “Hundreds of inmates with dangerous psychiatric problems languish in county jails” is repeated in hundreds of county jails and hundreds of prison facilities throughout America.

My neighbor committed her son into the juvenile justice system specifically because she was unable to find him mental health services otherwise.  He received no help and was awarded a criminal record instead.

My experience as a long time CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem showed me just how much psychotropic medication is pumped into five and ten year old children without adequate mental health services and the sorrowful results that appear to be inevitable.  My first visit to a four year old CASA charge was at the suicide ward of Fairview hospital.  I’ve written about the seven year old foster boy who hung himself and left a note about the horrors of Prozac.

Because our institutions repeat this failed mental health approach throughout child protection and juvenile/criminal justice we are guaranteed big numbers of dysfunctional people that will stress our schools & communities and fill our jails and prisons for decades to come.

Jeff Weiss pleaded for help from his community as he fought with and wrote about his severe psychosis and homicidal/suicidal thoughts prior to killing his grandfather, himself, and 14 others at Red Lake MN a few years ago.

Michael Swanson’s mother spent years trying to find mental health services for her severely troubled son before he drove to Iowa and mindlessly murdered clerks in two separate stores.  Had any part of the health system been humane & functional, all these families could have been spared the horrendous grief that accompanies these behaviors.

As long as we the people continue to so successfully implement public policies providing the worst possible outcomes (terrible crimes, full prisons, failing schools, and a growing population that can’t cope with or without psychotropic medications) money will pour into perpetually overburdened law enforcement, courts, and prisons instead of health and mental health services (that could actually improve our quality of life – not to mention the people/families needing the services).

The blame/hate politics behind these core issues remain powerful and from child protection to criminal justice departments,  there is little appetite by the public to make things better.  The status quo for decades now has been to punish people born into terrifically dysfunctional families and continue the blaming and hating through 40 or 50 years of incarceration, parole, state ward costs and unhappiness for the communities they live in.

Let’s all take a deep breath and revisit Dr Read Sulik’s definition of mental health;”the ability to cope with our peers in school, at home, and in the community”.

These are teachable skills and we the people can make this happen (as has the rest of the industrialized world) by supporting early childhood programs and becoming concerned with the youngest and most vulnerable among us.

 

This would cost us far less in crime and social disruption, and we would save billions in insurance and the immeasurable personal pain we visit upon ourselves with our current heartless non-working policies. Read the rest of this entry →

Fetal Alcohol Update (from Safe Passage For Children)

August 23, 2013 in Health and Mental Health, Links To Helpful Orgs, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

cardinal best everIf you know one of the 600,000 Fetal Alcohol Syndrome children born each year in America, you know how much harder life is for them.

In both my family and friendships, I have come to know the great challenges faced by the parents and the children due to the lifetime effects of this devastating destruction of early brain development.

Today’s article from Safe Passage For Children takes issue with the Hennepin County Physicians that have exempted themselves from reporting a pregnant woman’s addiction to cannabis or alcohol based on the theory that good relationships are more effective than reporting this serious form of child abuse.

Safe Passage points out that the Ramsey County Mothers First program is operating at 85% drug-free births.  and asks the question if Hennepin physicians can match that.

This seems like an important and fair question to ask considering the consequences.

 

 

Committed To Children’s Issues – Aitkin DFL

August 16, 2013 in David Strand, Guardian ad-Litem, Health and Mental Health, Links To Helpful Orgs, Politics and Funding, The States by Mike Tikkanen

beautiful MN lake sceneTuesday I spoke at the Aitkin DFL club and enjoyed an hour of spirited conversation around what we can do as organizations and as individuals to make life better for abused and neglected children.

Everyone in this group got it.  They appreciated just how serious under-serving babies & children can be and what a great investment programs that improve at risk children are.

Why has subsidized daycare remained unobtainable for 95% of Minnesotans that need it?

Why were no mental health services available for Jeff Weiss (Red Lake) or Michael Swanson’s mother (years of fruitless searching for mental health services for her son).

The sadness that remains decades after the violence committed by children in need of services is never measured, never considered by the media or politicians and rarely spoken of outside the cost of jails and prisons that so often become the cornerstone of at risk children’s lives.

I’m hopeful that the Aitkin DFL club will continue our conversation and the battle to speak out for children to give them a voice in a world that today doesn’t hear them.

I enjoyed this visit, great people, and the terrific discussion on a most important subject.

 

 

 

 

Thank God For The Teaching Militia (arming Arkansas teachers)

July 30, 2013 in Crime and Courts, education, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

cheetah cub pulling tailClarksville High School has armed its staff and teachers with concealed weapons this week. In a prior life, I owned a scrap yard and carried a 32 Colt semi automatic pistol that tucked into a pants or coat pocket (no holster necessary).

This was years ago, so no need to worry that I’m bad company these days.

What I remember most about those years and that gun, was the advice I got from a policeman friend I had grown up with.  He was alarmed with my circumstances and potential for what I might harm with the weapon.  He spent time talking about police weapons training and the difficulty for the average Joe or JoAnn to effectively carry off a successful self defense action with a gun.

Ken’s conversations left me knowing that cops and soldiers go through intensive training, and not just the shooting range practice.  The real training is all about when you draw the gun and what you do with it as you make your life and death decision.

My business had been the target of multiple thefts, break ins, and on one occasion, my dog was beaten to death with a pipe to make the job look like it was not an employee (and it was of course, an employee).

The take away from Ken’s conversations was that you don’t draw unless you shoot, and with a small pistol, you shoot until the victim is prostrate on the ground. I did not abandon the firearm even though Ken convinced me that most non-cop, non-soldier gun toting warriors make a mess of the self defense thing and shoot the wrong person, often a family member or unarmed innocent (because the gun is with you always and things just happen).

Staring down a crazy person who is also armed is not a valid option for most people. I’m so glad to be out of the tough business of crushed car bodies and auto parts and grease.  The guns (by the end there were many) were all given new homes and I never hurt anyone or went to jail for trying.  That is not to say I did not come close.

Forcing Arkansas school teachers to weaponize is not much different than arming doctors or social workers.  People who have chosen a profession that serve people are being trained to shoot them.  How incongruous.  How Daft.

While there may exist a percentage of gun toting teachers capable of exchanging fire with a well armed crazy person, I will still put my money on the police, the military, and a sound emergency system for evacuation.

5000 more George Zimmerman’s will not make a more safe or livable society. Arkansas should fire its teachers and replace them with soldiers.

It would be safer for everyone and from what can be seen today, the population would continue to learn at the rate that it has been learning. Read the rest of this entry →

Making It Happen – Safe Passage For Children

July 30, 2013 in education, Health and Mental Health, Links To Helpful Orgs, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

Every state needs a Safe Passage For Children organization to foster the well being of children in child protection, foster care, and public adoptions programs,

We all know that healthy children become capable adults and contributing members of society.

Let’s all of us make an effort to promote this organization to hold public officials accountable for the children of our communities.  Donate to Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota

Safe Passage for Children MN

  • Safe Passage is a Minnesota nonprofit corporation created to protect and improve the well being of children in child protection, foster care, and public adoption programs.
  • We recruit and train citizen volunteers to be advocates of effective practices in these programs with elected officials.
  • We hold public officials accountable for improving the lives of abused and neglected children in measurable ways.

The Accountability Gap in Child Protection (Thank you Safe Passage For Children)

July 21, 2013 in Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, Wonderful People by Mike Tikkanen

T4 little kittens..his article copied from the Safe Passage For Children newsletter clearly articulates the importance of record keeping as it pertains to reports of repeated calls of child abuse.  Unfortunately, the system is overwhelmed, and it is all too easy to simply not keep good records.

What we don’t know can’t hurt us.  But it certainly hurts at risk children.  Please support Rich Gehrman’s efforts to raise the bar of accountability for counties tracking child abuse.  It is the right thing to do.  

 

Data is the Work of the DevilWhen I was in government I teased my social work colleagues that they thought data was the work of the devil.Not much has changed.This year we introduced legislation requiring counties to keep enough information on maltreatment reports to identify repeat calls.  This is important because some situations are not evident from a single report, for instance emotional abuse and failure to thrive.In response the Department of Human Services said that counties aren’t required to report any identifying information – only the number of children involved.These guidelines are contrary to state law.  They also conflict with the Legislative Auditor recommendations (see p. 51), and with current practice for most child protection workers.

This policy exposes children to ongoing abuse and shields counties from accountability.  Some children have been reported up to 25 times with no record of how the county responded.

Minnesota must plug this accountability gap before it can improve outcomes for kids.   www.safepassage.com

Mental Health & Education (thank you Star Tribune for this honest conversation)

July 21, 2013 in education, Health and Mental Health, Kids At Risk Action (KARA), Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

an-onlooker-watches-the-annual-solar-eclipse-in-albuquerque-new-mexicoWhen I wrote the book Invisible Children as a volunteer County guardian ad-Litem in 2005, I interviewed many teachers and have continued these conversations even today.  What has been most striking, and until  today’s candid article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, most under-reported and single biggest factor in most classrooms, is the “thousands of students afflicted with mental health problems … flooding into schools because they have no where else to go”.

Almost all of the 50 abused and neglected children in my caseload as a volunteer guardian ad-Litem suffered from mental health issues.

About half of my GAL caseload had experienced sexual abuse, and all of them had experienced torture as defined by the  World Health Organization (WHO) “extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.

The majority of these children had been forced to use psychotropic medications, and many of them were made to take a cocktail of multiple mind numbing drugs that have not been deemed safe for children.

I write often about my visit to the suicide ward to visit a suicidal 4 year old girl, and the 7 year old foster boy who hung himself and left note about how he hated Prozac and the judge that provide me with a list of the very young children that had been forced to take these drugs during her courtroom that year.

The complex needs of abused and neglected children are a giant, and I argue, the primary challenge facing America’s education system today.  Different states handle the problem in different ways, but very states make the public aware of the depth and scope of the mental health issues like Minnesota has.  New Jersey  incarcerates youth that act out in school.  Expulsion is common in many other states.

Teachers being forced to become social workers and mental health providers with almost no resources,  is a severe and growing problem in all American schools.  Educators speaking openly about the dangers and fear of recurring outbursts by deeply troubled students injuring themselves or other children is a rarity in today’s media, but the data, including crime, graduation rates, test scores, and international achievement comparisons, would indicate otherwise.

There is little question that this problem is impacting the quality of education in our communities and needs to be addressed with adequate understanding and resources.  The full Star Tribune article appears below, and I encourage you to read it, share your comments, and & make it available to educators you know.

Teachers deserve more support and a better understanding of the issues impacting education in America today. Read the rest of this entry →

A Big Step For Mental Health In Minnesota (and hopefully your state next)

July 12, 2013 in Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

invisible children picture web 11.09A few years ago, Red Lake MN added a 3.5 million dollar mental health facility to insure that the 15 people that died in the terrific Jeff Weise homicide / suicide never happens again.  16 year old Jeff Weise had written, blogged, and talked (with many people ) about his violent mental health delusions for months before his horrific acts.  His mother had told him that “she wished he had never been born”.

Michael Swanson’s mother on the other hand, had been desperately trying for years to find her son mental health services prior to his pointless and cold blooded murder of the 2 innocent Iowa store clerks.

If you search this blog under health and mental health, you will find a great many suicide and homicide stories of youngsters and their parents desperately seeking help.  In New Jersey schools, for instance, mental health services were removed a few years ago, and troubled youth acting out in school were sent to jail.

This year, Minnesota legislators discussed mass shootings and violent unstable youth and decided that it is time to add mental health professionals, training, services and treatment for our children.  Thank you MN state legislators.

Hooray.  MinnPost Article

Teachers are now required to have continuing ed on the early warning signs of mental illness, and to learn more about trauma, and other common mental health issues. Read the rest of this entry →

Repeal The Decision to Aware Elizondo Custody Of His Child; Sign This Petition

July 1, 2013 in Crime and Courts, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy, The States by Mike Tikkanen

 

Judge Howard Haralson : Repeal the decision to award Elizondo custody of his child.

Judge Howard Haralson : Repeal the decision to award Elizondo custody of his child.

Please sign the petition below to keep this child in the home she was raised in and safe from the guardianship of a convicted pedophile;

 

http://www.change.org/petitions/judge-howard-haralson-repeal-the-decision-to-award-elizondo-custody-of-his-child

Most Recent KARA Presentation (video)

June 26, 2013 in education, Health and Mental Health, Invisible Children, KARA Events, Links To Audio, Mike Tikkanen, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

ocean wedding at sunsetWatch KARA’S recent DFL Stone Arch Education Foundation presentation; (video – 20 minutes) 

Great audience participation and terrific question and answer period following (audio only)

Invite us to start a conversation at your organization’s next function

Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org

Support Kids At Risk Action & Purchase Amazon Kindle Invisible Children Ebook for 2.99 (support KARA) or Printed Book $16.95

(invite me to speak at your conference) / Buy our book or donate  Watch Our Video

Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/KidsAtRisk  Share This Blog 

 

- See more at: http://www.invisiblechildren.org/#sthash.9hBBW36o.dpuf

Minnesota’s Gaps & Mitch Pearlstein’s Room Full Of Elephants

June 26, 2013 in Crime and Courts, Health and Mental Health, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

children down hill having funIt’s rare that a single Star Tribune article from even the finest and most practiced writer (Mitch Pearlstein) can so effectively slap a race of people and class of service providers, while ignoring or just not knowing (which I don’t believe possible) the underlying reasons for “why” the sad truths he speaks of exist (elephants in the room).

As a long-time volunteer guardian ad-Litem, having watched generation after generation of abused and neglected children create their own families of abused and neglected children, I know that until this community recognizes struggling young families need basic help to raise coping children, schools will remain under-performing, child protection and justice systems overwhelmed, and more and more communities will become unsafe and fall behind in the quality of life factors that once made this nation great.

Six million children a year are reported to child protection agencies in the U.S.

Minnesota’s racial disparity in this area is well established and persistent.

Mr. Pearlstein points out that 84% of African-American babies are born to single moms and that graduation rates for those babies when they become adolescents are about 50%.

I know something about that.

Mental health and coping skills are not delivered by the stork. Mentally unhealthy children don’t often graduate from high school (but they do go to jail and they do have babies).

Unnoticed by Mr Pearlstein, the children we speak of are mostly products of toxic homes and suffering from the traumas suffered in childhood.  That is why they are not ready to learn in school and why they are so often involved in the justice system.

About a third of the children in child protection use psychotropic medications (when tracked – most often not published). Judge Heidi Schellhas provided me with a list of children in her courtroom that were forced on to psychotropics, it was long and children as young at six and seven years old were prescribed Prozac type drugs.

If your sister is born into is drug addicted, abusive, or otherwise toxic family, without community assistance, she will herself raise babies that are soon to be drug addicted, abusive, or toxic to their own children (and so on and so on and so on).

The male side of that statement was made much more eloquently by former MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz “the difference between that poor child and a felon is about 8 years”.

Daycare workers are mostly untrained and paid less than food service workers in this nation.  And even then, most poor and middle income people can’t afford daycare.  There’s many a child left with the drunk uncle or boyfriend because of it.

This reflects poorly on how America values children and goes a long way in explaining what some people would have us believe is beyond our powers of understanding so we should just continue to build more prisons.

The beatings will continue until the morale improves (anonymous)

What we do to our children, they will do to society” Pliny the Elder 2500 years ago Read the rest of this entry →

From Finland; Babies In Boxes

June 16, 2013 in education, Health and Mental Health, International Child Abuse, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

babies best everThe data from almost all quality of life indices shows clearly that children in northern European nations are healthier, live longer, and are happier than American youth.  This article shines a light  into a mundane but meaningful difference in the way the U.S. deals with childbirth.   Read the rest of this entry →