Ethan’s Story

Ethan was 17 years old when I met him. Again, what I know of his story is limited, but the ugliest truths of it seemed to jump off the page and into my brain as I read his file to prepare for our interview. At his first foster care placement, he was sexually and physically abused by his foster father who had an alcohol problem. His foster mother was aware of the abuse going on, but because she was a victim of the domestic violence herself, was unable to stand up for the children in her home. Whether Ethan was removed from this placement (I refuse to refer to it as a “home” given the state of things) before or after this information came to light, is unbeknownst to me.

Child & LGBTQ Suicide & Self-Harm (stories, statistics & trauma informed resources for covid19 quarantine)

What would you say to the 12 year old boy who told you how he plans to suicide by cop? Or to the mother of the young girl you speak for in court that told her child “I wish you’d never been born”?

Words don’t come easy.

This survey of 12,000 LGBTQ youth identifies the extreme stress, anxiety, rejection and overwhelming feeling of danger these children grow up with.

Domestic Violence to a Five Year Old (living in a house of terror)

Watching mom beaten or raped is terror. Homeless mothers and children are many times more likely to be assaulted and molested.

Children of addicted and alcoholic moms and dads are beaten and raped more often too.

Trauma is *torture. Watching mom being raped is torture.

Impossible Questions & Painful Statistics

Are children property of their parents even if those parents

re violent, addicted, severely mentally ill or criminal?

Harder question.

Do teen and preteen mothers own their fetuses & babies

even if they abuse their children,

are addicted and out of control with little understanding of how

or ability to raise a child safely?…

Is this child’s child doomed prior to birth?

Children have no voice at the legislature, the media or in the home they are born into.  They have no choice in who raises them or what is done to them.

Child Care – Brutal Truths & Worst Practices

in many states, single Parents pay over 50% of their income for infant center care and married parents with 2 children pay over 100% of their household income for center based care (or they would if they could make it work). Minnesotans pay over 15 thousand dollars for infant care (when public college tuition is 11 thousand dollars.

For a nation claiming to value children – one could argue it’s for the dollars they bring in and not their future role as citizens. Drunk uncle/boyfriend daycare is an awful thing the media…

When Children Can’t Add (or write, or learn…)

America became a great nation because we educated every citizens children.  Our commitment to public education, developed a very smart and able citizenry that worked hard, invented great things and governed itself well.

Because our population was smart and able we led the world in education, public health and public safety and most other quality of life indicators…

Draft KARA TEDx Talk (14 minute video)

Addressing Generational Child Abuse As A Public Health Issue (14 minute video) & how to heal damaged children to make our communities happy and safe again

Take a moment and share your response to KARA’s short video overview of child abuse & child protection in America as an online comment to this post or by email; info@invisiblechildren.org.

MN Child Abuse/Child Protection Articles, Statistics & Events 2019

KARA gathers news about Minnesota’s at risk children
to provide a snapshot of
how our state
values its children.
Only a fraction of serious child abuse makes the news.
All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

Follow;
Safe Passage For Children MN (Join their legislative volunteer efforts and make child friendly legislation a reality)
CASAMN (become a guardian ad Litem and speak for abused children)

KARA’s Plea For Change (a call to action – with videos)

Significant institutional change happens when those of us that know the critical issues and have seen better answers start to talk about those problems and solutions loudly and often.

By speaking out, more of our friends and neighbors will know that the punishment model is worsening the public health problem of generational child abuse/trauma is causing all our public institutions.

By speaking out, more people will come to understand that the ACEs model is critical for better results in schools, public health, public safety and happier, more livable communities.

As more of us speak out and advocate for these kids (37% of American children are reported to Child Protection by their 18th birthday) our friends and neighbors will understand the ground truth about why these children don’t do well in school and have so much trouble leading productive lives and spend so much time in the courts and jails.

Childhood Trauma – Making Children Crazy

This powerful ACEs Too High article contains tons of statistics and information related to the prevalence of child abuse in America. What has struck me most is the impact abuse has on school engagement and the number of states where being an at risk child can be dangerous. The list of states with a lack of prenatal care and poor services for young mothers, lack of insurance, affordable day care and other early childhood programs has grown to about 1/3 of America.

Helping Homeless Kids In the Metro

Today, there are about 100 youth shelter beds for the almost 5000 youth that experience homelessness every year in our state.

Sad facts;

15% of homeless youth have traded sex for shelter and food.

Over 20% of homeless youth have been physically or sexually attacked while homeless.

Almost 1/3 of homeless youth have been sexually abused.

Almost 40% of homeless youth have stayed in abusive homes because they had no where else to go.

The Y’s host program matches friendly families willing to share their safe homes with homeless youth as the Y staff helps these kids attain self-sufficiency.

Healthy Students – Healthy Schools

1/3 of foster children have mental health issues serious enough to be forced onto psychotropic medications.

Of the 2 million youth arrested in America every year, 70% or them have mental health issues – half of them have severe, chronic and often multiple diagnosis.

That’s what teachers and schools face every day with one school nurse if they are lucky enough to have one.

Arming Teachers/Shooting Students (advocating for less violence and a more civil society)

Active shooter drills are giving kids a lifetime of anxiety.  Emergency gun violence drills are for adults – not 6 year olds.  Port-a-potties in classrooms as a public surrender to the coming gun violence.

How many teachers have combat training or signed up to pack a weapon when they entered the profession?  Turnover in education is already a huge problem.  Packing a gun is what police and soldiers do. Shooting someone takes training – shooting the right person takes extensive training.

American Crime Costs & Statistics

Louisiana (the World’s Prison Capitol), Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma & several other states have incarceration rates 20 times that of incarceration rates in most other industrialized nations. The best prisons in the world release good neighbors back into the community American prisons release hardened criminals with mental health problems and an 80% change of recidivism within five years.

Federal Prisons are 131% of design capacity – 2015 18 states are over capacity. 800% increase in women in prison since 1980.

These statistics and research calculate crime in America today and its cost…

It Didn’t Start In a Vacuum (crime – impact & statistics)

DJ Tice Star Tribune article recently made crime very real by describing his wife’s rape, his own assault and home burglary along with the awful Barry Latzer assumption that 80% of Americans could become victims of a violent crime in their lifetime.

No obfuscation here.

Crime hurts when it happens to you or someone you love.

What best should be done about crime and punishment is our national conundrum.

Damn the data, “hanging’s too good for em’ and “lock em up” our national chant for fifty years bringing us such data as;

Hard to Watch; Immigration & Children as Political Footballs

Dropping napalm on children and families in Vietnam (PBS video) was an unforgivable evil. Thousands of small children died by napalm.

Burned alive is the most painful death anyone can suffer. Survivors live with scars and trauma that never end.

Today, my government takes helpless babies & children from parents and places them in the custody of money driven defense contractors who warehouse them in cages at vacant shopping centers by the thousands.

The American Psychological Association condemns this act as needlessly cruel threatening “the mental and physical health of both the children and their caregivers”.

*Torturing immigrant children for political reasons is a vile act and it needs to be called out. *The World Health Organization defines torture as “extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.

Ensuring Children Will Die Lawsuit in Indiana (the other way of getting better public policy)

I visited Indiana a few years ago after the governor redirected funding from parents adopting special needs children after the adoptions had been completed (AFTER). Then governor mitch daniels directed those dollars to people most successful in dismantling services to abandoned children.
The complaint (new lawsuit) alleges that Indiana removes children from their homes to be placed into foster care at a “staggering rate — more than double the national rate” and then fails to keep them safe while in DCS custody “often placing them in inappropriate, unstable or overly restrictive placements; fails to provide necessary support services and medical and mental health care; and fails to provide meaningful case management.”

Taxes 2 Year Olds (what the feds know that we should)

It turns out that investing in children and young families provides the highest return on investment a government can make.

It’s apparent how terrible many government investments are and it’s easy to see how providing skills and basic needs for children and you families are superior investments to giving the homeless bus tickets to other states so they would be a burden elsewhere.

June Sad Stories (I) 2019 (find your state here)

American states are struggling to find answers for ending adverse childhood experiences and saving at risk children by reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect.

Today, many state ward children are 4th and 5th generation abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and with 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)

6 to 12 million children a year are reported to child protection services and in most states, 1/3 of foster children still forced onto psychotropic medicines

Be A Squeaky Wheel For Children

Annual teacher turnover is highest in Arizona (24%) and New Mexico (23%) Minnesota is 14th highest in teacher turnover.

After my workshop in New York at the United Nations Annual Youth Assembly, a line of ex social workers formed to tell me their stories of why they quit. Annual social worker turnover has been 20 to 40% for many years with individual agency rates as high as 65%.

Police officer turnover rates fall in the middle of teacher/social turnover rates (about 14%) but their suicide, divorce & substance abuse rates are significantly higher.

KARA’s Top Stories The Week of 5.17.19

AZ: Child-welfare cases are private. Does that protect the kids, or the state officials? (Commentary)
Arizona Republic – May 03, 2019
When news broke that a Maricopa woman had been accused of starving, pepper-spraying, and otherwise abusing seven adopted children, questions immediately turned to what the Department of Child Safety knew and when the agency knew it.

Child Abuse – Minnesota’s Public Health Issue

Today’s edition presented multiple articles (linked below) on at risk children and mental health.

It has taken some years to get here but it is apparent to this volunteer CASA guardian ad Litem that my state is waking up to the public health crisis of child protection and children’s mental health.

County Sees Drop in Child Protection Caseloads (by almost half) is the best news I’ve seen about child abuse since the Governor’s Task Force on Child Protection was formed in 2014.

Investing in social workers (adding 262 workers) and transforming the system means…

Child Suicides & Self Harm Stories & Statistics (a hidden public health crisis)

Please share this with teachers, law enforcement and social workers in your circles

Current literature reporting included below

What to do when a six year old climbs out the window of your kindergarten classroom threatening to jump three stories to the concrete below?

What do you say to a seven year old girl with scarred arms that is obviously cutting herself repeatedly with a knife or razor?

Recent Stories, Statistics & Articles About Adoption & Foster Care

After a 9 day trial, foster mom Melissa Sondrol was convicted of of assaulting her infant state ward child, breaking multiple bones and withholding medical information from providers. The court was not allowed to hear her prior histories of abuse. This infant has suffered for years in MN and will live a life very different from other children due to the traumas visited upon him as a foster child – and the things that happened to him prior to entering child protection.

Stories about the shortage of foster care providers, lack of training and resources and transparency within the system are not uncommon – remember, we only read about the very worst cases – the sadness in foster care goes much deeper.

Preteen Moms & Why (stories & statistics)

May had her first child while living as a state ward in a group home when she was 16 and her second child when she was 18 before aging out of foster care.

Her mother was 17 when May was born.

Her grandmother was even younger when May’s mother was born. How old will her daughter be when she has her first baby?

Abused children suffer traumas that last forever and leave a child feeling devoid of love with an emotional void that cannot be filled by social workers, teachers or kind foster parents.

All girls want love in their life. A baby is love. The difference between that poor child and a preteen mom with no parenting skills, a drug problem and a violent boyfriend is about 8 years.

Mistaking Childhood Trauma for ADHD

6.4 million American youth are diagnosed with ADHD. This article from ACEs Too High by Rebecca Ruiz makes clear the overdiagnosis of ADHD and underreporting of childhood trauma. This goes a long way in explaining the overdosing of youth in foster care with psychotropic medications and giant fines paid by big pharma for illegally selling these drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children.

International Child Well-Being (stories, statistics and videos)

We all look to the government to provide support in order to protect our children.

Eshanee’s reporting points to a disturbing trend of state inaction in preventing or even intervening in child welfare violations.

To hold our governments accountable and to ensure the well-being of children, more of us need to

contact our local politicians and policy makers and make our concerns known.

Children have no voice in politics, law or the media.

We must be relentless to effect change.

Be the Squeaky Wheel for Children

The Real World of Child Abuse (statistics)

There is more to child abuse than bruises, rape and starvation.

27 states allow withholding life saving medical treatment from children if you tell people your religion forbids it . Criminal and civil immunity means it is not murder when the child dies.

A few years ago, Kansas State Rep Gail Finney vowed to pass a bill that allowed caregivers to leave bruises and cause bleeding. Arkansas State Rep Charles Fuqua promoted the death penalty for rebellious children (based on religious grounds).

Teachers As First Responders

What’s it like to be a first grade teacher frightened by an out of control little boy who kicks, punches or stabs classmates with pencils? Is the principal trauma informed? Are their teams of trauma informed teachers or sufficient mental health resources that can lessen the chances of expelling a seven or nine year old from the school?

September 2018 Child Sex Abuse & Trafficking (I)

KARA (Kids At Risk Action) tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.
Human trafficking is rapidly growing crime across Tennessee
In Tennessee alone, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 110 cases were reported in 2017. Those are the ones we know about.

Man accused of trafficking teens for sex in North Texas arrested by feds

A Texas man known as “Iceberg” was arrested for allegedly engaging in child sex trafficking, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in …

Ex-senator may get life in prison for child sex trafficking
ABC News

A former Republican state senator in Oklahoma was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison Monday on a child sex trafficking charge. U.S. District …
Former Oklahoma senator convicted of child sex trafficking sentenced to 15 years in prison – kfor.com
Former Oklahoma senator sentenced to prison for child sex trafficking – NewsOK.com

Child Rape & Sex Trafficking – Church vs. Family (stories & statistics)

It is good to know that someone is advocating for raped and trafficked children.

If not for the research, reporting and press about priests molesting children, there would not be much attention or understanding of the trauma suffered by sexually abused children or their numbers.

It’s not clear how many children have been abused by priests in the U.S. these past 20 years, but a reasonable guess might be 50,000 to 100,000.

Using the higher total of 100,000 children abused over 20 years by priests means that about 5000 children a year have been molested annually.

Statistically, this number is a tiny fraction of the sexual violence & trafficking done to American children in their own homes by family members and caregivers each year.

Between 63,000 & 400,000 of the 7.4 million children reported abused in America each year have suffered sexual violence. Of the 50 children I helped remove from toxic homes as a volunteer CASA guardian ad Litem, about half of them had suffered sexual violence. One as young as two, several that were four and the rest under ten when their abuse started.

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

As 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

Judge Kavanaugh, The Catholic Church, Statistics & Child Sex Abuse

The miserable politics of rape at the highest level in our government are playing out today. Once more, sexual violence is in the spotlight as America’s second recent Supreme Court nominee (Kavanaugh) is being questioned about horrid behaviors of a sexual nature.

This topic has few friends. It remains under the surface until someone makes a painful accusation and the community accepts or rejects the accuser.

Our attention lately has been on the tens of million and hundreds of million dollar verdicts awarded to victims of church sanctioned child abuse (3 billion to date).