As budgets shrink, more states and counties have fewer resources to save abused and neglected children from the immediate dangers they face in their homes and the future problems that come along with the abuse (preteen pregnancy, adolescent felons, dropouts, chronic illness & mental illness).
My experience in the CASA guardian ad-Litem program was impacted by the harsh realities that become part of an abused child’s life after experiencing the trauma of extended exposure to violence and deprivation. Their lives are damaged in a manner that makes it hard to make friends, learn in school, or lead a productive life.
* Foster children are twice as likely as war veterans to develop PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder);
* 25% of U.S. youth in the Juvenile Justice System are tried as adults;
* 50-75% of U.S. youth in the Juvenile Justice System have a diagnosable mental illness;
* 25% of high school graduates in the United States are illiterate;
* Most states are growing prison spending much faster than higher education spending;
* firearms deaths of children in the U.S. are more than 10 times higher than all the other industrialized nations combined.
* a mentoring program; pairing an adult over 55 years of age with each youth between ages 9 and 13. The mentor spends at least two hours per week with the child doing recreational activities, providing tutoring, counseling, and assistance with community service (Across Ages, 2010).
* each youth spends one to two hours every week performing community service.
* social competence training; 26 weekly lessons that teach cognitive and behavioral approaches to dealing with problems and decisions. In particular, these skills are applied to the prevention of substance abuse and high-risk sexual behavior.
* involvement in family activities; Across Ages hosts monthly events that engage the youth, their families, and their mentors to strengthen the relationships between the children and the adults in their lives (Across Ages, 2010).
Bishop Gene Robinson draws attention to youth suicide & particularly that seven students in one Minnesota school district have taken their own lives, including three teens.
GLBT issues underly most of the suicide the Bishop writes about. The idea that life can be made so unbearable for children so young is incomprehensible unless you have been near someone living the nightmare.
“I’m sorry, Javaris,” I said after sentencing. “I can’t excuse your crimes, but somehow I think that we failed you too. Your family failed you, the system failed you.”
Drug use and sale in American schools has been the highlight of much research. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University conducts a survey each year aimed at discovering trends in teenage drug use. The survey this year has identified a drastic increase in the percentage of children attending middle schools considered “drug-infested,” meaning that drugs are kept, used, or sold on school property. This year’s survey showed that 32 percent of middle school students were attending drug infested schools, compared to 23 percent in 2009.
MN governor Tim Pawlenty said to Andy Dawkins and David Strand several years ago that “Children that are the victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem or the problem of the state of MN”.
That a major political party would make this a keystone of its platform indicates a gross misunderstanding of the most basic issues facing abused and neglected children. This shows a lack of compassion as well as a misunderstanding of the economics of failing to help children while they are young enough to make a difference in their behaviors and development.