If there is a core meaning to all religious teaching, it is being seen this week at Cretin Durham High School in St Paul. Thank you from Kids At Risk Action
“We have children dying in our region and we are awarded with recognition of system improvement. Really?” he wrote. “The timing of this award is hard to accept given the recent tragic death of 10-year-old Tramelle Sturgis.
“How many more kids will die before we all take a deep look at what is going on with child welfare services in Indiana and reverse the draconian cuts in funding and see how those cuts are negatively affecting the safety net of child welfare?”
This BBC report (video link) articulates the sorrowful truths that this guardian ad-Litem has reported on over the years.
It’s frightening and moving proof of the epidemic that is preventable child death in America and the fast growing army of future child abusers.
Why is it that important reporting like this are created by other nations (and not right here in America)?
To appreciate the meanness of some states I point to (Mitch Daniels) Indiana’s stealing (redirecting) the funding promised to parents that adopted abandoned special needs children (after they had been adopted) & the fiscally irresponsible de-funding of subsidized daycare which forced the county to place children in foster homes because their father’s job did not pay enough to afford daycare.
It costs way more to place children in foster care than it would have to subsidize his daycare payments. Thank you Tim Pawlenty.
It cost Hennepin County millions of dollars to pay for the care of the four year old boy the court thought would be better off with his father even though dad had a court order to stay away from young boys because of what he did to them. My client is now is now 23, has AIDS, and has been in over 30 foster homes and he will be a ward of the state until he dies. He was been tied to a bed, starved, beaten, sexually abused and left alone for days at a time from 4 to 7 years of age. That never made the paper. Nor did the four year old girl who I visited in the suicide ward of Fairview hospital (her sister’s story was much worse).
Grace Brown created “Project Unbreakable” in October, 2011, and the tumblog appears to really be gathering momentum. The idea: “Use photography to help heal those who were sexually abused by asking them to write a quote from their attacker on a poster and photographing them holding the poster.”
So many stories from so many different people. Men, too, not only women. I was so moved by this post, which includes both a photograph and an audio narrative by an elderly woman who was sexually abused as a 12-year-old girl during World War II in Germany. Do listen to her story.
It is up to communities to understand the nature and scope of these issues and treat children with sufficient care and resources to end the madness as stated by MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz; “The difference between that poor child and a felon is about eight years”.
Let’s all get behind child friendly programs and politics and end the pipeline to prison & preteen pregnancies that America now promotes.
Annual Justice Week Cretin Derham HS – An Important Educational Event – Feb 9-13 – 2012 Common People Creating Uncommon Change.
This is the most tuned in high school I am aware of-digging deeply into social justice issues from Africa’s child soldiers to American juvenile justice. I will speak to classes on Weds the 15th.
There are two nations (of the 196 nations in the world) that have not ratified the Universal Rights of the Child. Somalia and America.
Somalia, because it has no functioning government, and the U.S. because we will not stop training child soldiers*.
Americans are proud of and outspoken about spirituality, values, and freedom – making proclamations about human rights, women’s rights, and so on.
I am unable to respond quickly as my normal work can keep me away for days at a time. This site and my efforts are designed to provide information and resources on and about child abuse and at risk children.
The Blogroll, Links, & Resources links on the right side of the page (located below the comments section) provide telephone numbers and contact information for organizations that have staff and can be of help (KARA has no staff).
KARA board member David Strand has written a powerful article in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune pointing out how America’s politics continue to bring communities generational poverty that has resulted in the problems this CASA volunteer has worked with over many years.
“Their methods for leveling the economic playing field start with providing all young children with healthy conditions for physical and mental development. Surprisingly, much of the research they rely on comes from America’s best universities.
The proof is that it works — these countries have broken the link of intergenerational poverty that afflicts our country.”
It Costs Way Less To Hire & Train Social Workers;$68 Million Settlement Proposed for 10 Children Fraudulently Adopted and Abused
It would be far less expensive (see the studies & long term costs) and the right thing to do to see that foster & adoptive parents were well funded, well regulated, and early childhood programs set up to insure that every child had a chance to have a meaningful life in America.
Until then, let’s sue the pants off of states and counties that refuse to care for children.
Yesterday Was A Bad Day For At Risk Children In Minneapolis; 11 year old boy stabs his dad after repeated beatings & abuse;
Terrell has a fund set up at M & I Bank: Re-post from Don Samuels: A special fund has been established at M&I bank for the family of Terrell Mayes. Call (612) 904-8000 and mention the Terrell Mayes Fund.
I expect that the same is true all across America; families are finding it harder to support at risk children on lower incomes; http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_19628951
It just seems to me that America’s children should all have a chance to have a childhood.
I find it hard to accept that on top of being abused, having special needs, or neglected, these children are punished again by a society too cheap to make a place for them at the table.
Guardian ad litem program needs volunteers in Anderson area Anderson Independent Mail Trained volunteers in the Cass Elias McCarter Guardian ad Litem Program helped more than 10000 abused or neglected South Carolina children last year, and the numbers will probably be even higher this year, according to officials. …
A powerful 90 minute conversation addressing the strengths and weaknesses of today’s child protection systems and the civil rights of youth in America today.
Brutal truths and best practices.
I will be talking about my experiences as a CASA child protection volunteer on an upcoming interview with Bill Murry & his Stop Child Abuse Now / Community Matters Radio Show http://naasca.org/index.html on December 12th Monday Night 730pm Call in phone: 323-552-6150
From California, as if life for poor children were not difficult enough, State sponsored Indentured Servitude:
Lawsuit Seeks to Stop State Welfare Agencies from Illegally Forcing Children to Repay Money Paid to Parents MarketWatch November 23, 2011
As a long time guardian ad-Litem I’ve encountered too many suicides and suicide attempts that are a direct result of child rape.
I have not read the suicide note written by the seven year old foster child that hung himself in Florida, but I have read the most powerful suicide note ever written by a person raped as a child and it is printed below.
Molesters like Sandusky destroy the lives of hundreds of children over their lifetime. The child remains severely damaged year after year until help comes from somewhere (usually nowhere). I’ve said about several of the sex abuse children in my caseload that this child has never had a nice day in her life.
Anxiety, terror, Prozac & Ritalin are predictable parts of the life of an abused child. They feel dirty and often blame themselves for the crime. Not being able to function normally in school makes life miserable and too often criminal or sexually active & a preteen mother or father. Just how does one un-teach sexual behavior to a nine year old without professional help?
The mission of CASA Minnesota is to broadly support volunteer advocacy on behalf of abused and neglected children in our state. We believe that every abused and neglected child in Minnesota court proceedings should have a volunteer advocate working for their best interests. In pursuit of this goal, we do the following:
Assist in the recruitment and retention of Minnesota volunteer guardians ad litem
Provide initial and continuing education and support to Minnesota volunteer guardians ad litem
Increase public awareness about child welfare and guardians ad litem
Provide a network for communication among Minnesota volunteer guardians ad litem
Advocate for legislative change, public policies and best practices that enhance the quality of advocacy and care for abused and neglected children
I’ve written on the police tasering ten and twelve year olds, the growing movement to try very young children as adults, and the chronic over representation of African Americans in jails & prisons everywhere.
In my experience as a guardian ad-Litem, all children want to be “normal” and lead nice lives, but too many of them are born into toxic homes and their communities are quick to punish and incarcerate instead of nurture & enhance their lives.
How can America’s youth ever hope to lead normal lives when so many of them have serious criminal records & drug problems (legal and illegal) by the time they are eighteen?
U.S. states where children are worse off than if they lived in emerging nations. http://boingboing.net/2011/11/02/video-judge-beats-disabled-daughter-for-using-the-internet.html Pass this on & support public advocacy for at risk children (they need your help). Support KARA’s effort to stop punishing children; sponsor a conversation in your community (invite me to speak at your conference) / Buy our book…
It was clear after talking with adoptive and foster families at their annual conference that Indiana’s failure to protect it’s children is due to the politicizing of children’s issues and not the hard work being done by foster & adoptive parents, educators, & social workers that are trying to provide homes, education, and services.
We all know that healthy children become healthy adults & contributing members of our community & that unhealthy children become preteen mothers & juvenile felons that cost our cities and states a fortune over a lifetime.
Wake up Indiana politicians. Your citizens depend on you to understand basic humanity and economics.
Citizens, wake up your politicians (the children can’t do it without your help).
Children have no lobby, no voice, & can’t fight back when a MN Governor* states that “children that are victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem, nor are they the problem of the State Of Minnesota”.
There’s nothing a five year old can say to the governor of Indiana about the elimination of the state’s newborn screening fund (paid for by birth fees collected from parents), or the retroactive termination of adoption subsidies to the five hundred families that adopted special need children based on the promise that they would have assistance for their special needs children.
I doubt that a nine year old could clearly explain the problem facing California foster children because 1,000 state-licensed facilities match sex offenders’ addresses;
I was impressed with the tenacity and commitment of Indiana’s foster and adoptive parents in the face of this state’s mean spirited children’s politics.
The evening before my talk I listened to story after story of the “fluid” nature of Department of Child Services policy, families not being allowed to question decisions or policy for fear of being blackballed, and what it’s like to watch long established, workable policies disappear to be replaced by whimsy and bullying.
he Indiana Foster Care and Adoption Association (IFCAA) is a statewide non-profit membership organization that supports foster and adoptive families. IFCAA promotes awareness about the needs of children who have experienced trauma and the needs of the foster and adoptive parents who raise them.
The following article brings to light the commonality of for profit youth prisons and I think the abundance of meanness and poor management that combine to further damage the lives of America’s youth.
30.2 % of America’s Youth Arrested Before Their 23rd Birthday (25% of us are state wards & special needs people)
Add this to the fact that American youth (as young as 11) are routinely charged as adults (25% nationally) and that cities around the nation arrest extremely high percentages of their minority populations (in 2001 Hennepin County – Minneapolis MN) arrested 44% of it’s adult Black Men – no duplicate arrests/58% of those men were rearrested for a second crime within two years making Minneapolis the Jail & Prison capital of the world.
Many states have funded their prison and jail systems at far greater rates of increase than their schools, daycare, or health systems, either of which could reduce the stresses driving the extreme growth in crime and courts.
A pathological lack of empathy is driving parts of our political body and ensures that generation after generation of dysfunctional families will continue to maintain the statistical truth that the U.S. has five percent of the world’s population and twenty five percent of the world’s prison population.
As a guardian ad-Litem, I know that most child abuse cases are not reported. Recently an acquaintance admitted to witnessing the prostitution of a very young girl and not reporting it. He had remorse and felt endangered.
The best hope for these babies would have been a more responsive community with more compassion, more daycare, more crisis nurseries, and more child protection services.
Local CASA Volunteer’s Success Story
Contributed by: Fran G.
I was given my first case in February of this year a family of three children: A 13-year-old boy with mild autism, a 9-year-old girl, and a 4-year-old, all living with a Great Grandmother (74 years old).
The children have lived with their great grandmother for 4 years. There were so many questions that needed to be answered and I found that I had the time to find those answers. The lawyers, and social workers all cared for the family but lacked the time to get to know the family as well as I could.
I found, for example, that the 13-year-old boy had missed 54 days of school and had been late for his first hour class 34 times. There were several reasons, and all were easy to fix.
He needed an alarm clock, needed to stop spending the night at his favorite Aunt’s house, and needed to take responsibility. I told him he was not allowed to be late or miss school anymore. I was able to check daily via a computer how his grades were and his attendance, and so was he.
A settlement has been reached in the civil lawsuit surrounding the disappearance of a 2-year-old foster child. The natural parents of Everlyse Cabrera sued Clark County when their daughter went missing from her North Las Vegas foster home three years ago.
The economics of abandoning the weakest and most vulnerable among us simply do not work. Making productive citizens by helping children achieve does work.
On May 4, 2009 a small crowd of about 100 citizens – social workers, politicians, child advocates, and children – gathered on the lawn of the Minnesota State Capitol to bring attention to Minnesota’s “Forgotten Children.” The 187 children placed in foster care each week in Minnesota all have unique circumstances but they all share one thing in common: They need advocacy in the legislature to address not only their current needs but the future issues they will face as they transition into adulthood.
Learn the key issues facing abused and neglected children, what programs and policies work to improve their lives, and how you can be a better advocate for at risk children.
Periodically I speak in public and record those events in this space.
These children cannot afford high powered lobbyists to plead their case,
In my experience as a CASA guardian ad-Litem working with children over twelve years, I have only rarely seen adequate services provided. A County Judge has provided me with the psychotropic medical prescriptions of the five and ten year old children that have passed through her courtroom in child protection
If there is one thing we should know about American children that have been removed from their birth homes, it is that they have suffered extended exposure to violence and deprivation.
This is the definition of the “Imminent Harm Doctrine” which is the legal statute that allows children to be removed from their family.
Extended exposure to violence and deprivation is also the World Health Organizations definition of torture. Children are not removed from their birth parents unless the home environment has endangered the life of the child. That is the law.
Of the 50 children I have advocated for over twelve years, all had experienced severe and chronic violence and neglect. Sexual abuse of children is not uncommon. Their stories would make you cry www.invisiblechildren.org
To express wonder at why abused children develop emotional problems as they age is misleading and unfair to these children.
“Defining our institutions by what they actually create instead of what they were designed to create”* would be the first step in making the changes necessary to fix our poorly understood and vastly under-resourced system.
A recent study indicates that up to 80% of children aging out of foster care are leading dysfunctional lives. A Minnesota judge has provided me the Prozac, Ritalin, and other psychotropic medication prescriptions taken by children in her courtroom (most of them under ten years old) and it points at one of the key issues thay might explain why so many youth leaving the foster care program find it hard to cope with life.
At that time in Minnesota there were 15 child psychiatrists in the entire state (population about 4 million) and the student to counsellor ratio in MN high schools was 900 to 1.
As a child advocate (long time guardian ad Litem) I strongly feel the need for mental health therapy for those who need it. The children I work with have been severely traumatized and need adequate attention paid to their needs.
Because the waiting list for subsidized daycare is one year into the future for the father of the children I represent (as a county guardian ad-Litem) there is a good chance that his two small children will be taken from him by the county and adopted by someone he has never met.
It is also possible that he may not be able to visit his children if they are adopted.
In a recent national study, 80% of children aging out of foster homes go on to lead dysfunctional lives (drugs, alcoholism, mental illness, crime, no job). In Michigan (where this family lived) the governor stated that 90% of children that have aged out of foster homes were in jail or prison.
From a legal perspective the most under-protected persons in America are sexually abused children.
One study indicated that 11% of judges and 51% of prosecuting attorneys admitted that they had deliberately confused the child (witness) during the proceedings.
What this means in practice, is that the nine-year old girl sitting on the stand in the courtroom is being bullied by intense and deliberately confusing cross-examination about her abuse.
Everyone at the sysmposium agreed that children are not mentally capable of undergoing adult type cross examination, but it is clear that this still happens in many cases.
Pliny the elder, 2500 years ago, “what you do to your children, they will do to your society”
I do not wish to minimize the seriousness of post traumatic stress syndrome in solders.
I only wish to point out the seriousness of post traumatic stress syndrome in children.
Unlearning Child Abuse (or go to prison)
There is no safety net for many of the poor neglected and abused children they care for. There is no child psychiatrist for a sexually abused seven-year old, or for the starved and tortured six-year old. Go to school. Get well. Take these pills. We just don’t have a budget for the services you need.
Investing in early childhood programs and mental health services could actually save us money, and certainly make our streets safer, and our communities more pleasant to live in.
It’s not so much about money– Minnesota’s 2001 GDP (gross domestic product) ranks greater than Austria, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Hong Kong, Denmark, and a hundred other nations.