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

This 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…

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

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.

Teachers being forced to become social workers and mental health providers 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.

Reporting Maltreatment Of Children; How Minnesota Does It (State Statute – 626.556)

The difference between mandated reporters and the rest of the world is this; my friend who knew the 7 year old girl across the hall was being sexually abused was not a mandated reporter, and he did not report it. He feared for his life, as these were gang type neighbors, and while he was miserable about it, he never did speak out. Instead he knew for a long time what was happening next door and did nothing to stop it. It was a confession he made to me long after the events had occurred.

The only real hope this little girl (or any other children) being prostituted, pounded on, or otherwise horrifically treated, are mandated reporters. Hopefully, a teacher, hospital worker, or some other service provider will discover the horrors this little girl’s lived through and make help available so she might be healed and lead a better life. This is the statute that all mandated reporters should understand if they are to execute their jobs according to MN law.

If the resources were made available to enforce this statute, and make available the resources suggested within it, the prisons would empty, schools would perform at a much higher standard, and our communities would become the warm and friendly places we all want them to be. Take a moment and review the statute. It is valuable information for any citizen;

626.556 REPORTING OF MALTREATMENT OF MINORS.

Subdivision 1.Public policy.

Riverside CA, 6 Investigations – Case Workers Find The Abuse Allegations “Unfounded” (but the 8 year old boy is dead)

Over the last ten years, six investigations involving Pearl Fernandez found no reason to take her son, Gabriel Fernandez, into protective custody.

Gabriel’s suicide note about repeated sexual abuse & his circular face welts were part of a long list of ignored information from mandated reporters.

California Child Protection workers were very familiar with Gabriel’s history.

Today, Pearl and her boyfriend were charged with murder and torture for the gruesome death of their 8 year old boy.

82% of Riverside’s 44,737 cases were investigated (this is impressive) 21 % were substantiated. More than 20 children are murdered each year as open cases within the Riverside CA child protection system. Blaming social workers won’t solve this. Providing them training and resources might.

Justice For Children In Atlanta Is Suffering Under Judge John Goger

Why would a guardian ad litem make $150,000 suppressing evidence, Why would a custody evaluator make $65,000 on a case where the evidence was overwhelming?

Apparently, to prevent a child from being protected against the man who had twice been arrested for molesting her (five independent assessments supported the girls story of repeated abuse.

Atlanta judge John Goger ordered the girl to live with her pedophile father. When asked by CBS Atlanta News, the judges assistant stated that the judge had “no comment”.

This kind of abuse lasts forever. Someone should comment.

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

A 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 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, for instance, all the mental health services were removed a few years ago, and all those youth 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

Sex With Children Not A Serious Crime In South Carolina

A recent study of South Carolina’s child protective services indicates that sex with children is not a crime here. There is no serious enforcement of child sex abuse laws in the state.

Trials don’t happen for years, church’s stand in the way of helping sexually abused children (South Carolina is the 4th most religious state in the nation). Raped children that are reported to child protection aren’t interviewed for weeks. Justice delayed is justice denied. It is also probably that South Carolina has few mandated reporters and that most people just don’t want to talk about it (there is very little reporting of the crime in SC compared to states that care for their children).

To be fair, the South has come a ways since the 1960’s when the age of consent was between 11 and 13. Rock singer Jerry Lee Lewis married a 13 year old (he was about 40 at the time).

Mandated Reporting, or Basic Responsibility (it’s absence is killing Wisconsin & Pennsylvania children)

Leilani and Dale Neumann allowed their daughter to die a painful and lengthy death from fully treatable disease on Easter Sunday of 2008. Relatives were aware of the wacky faith healing beliefs that were soon to kill 11 year old Kara Neumann.

Medical experts testified at the trial that Kara would have lived if her parents had brought her to a doctor at any time before she stopped breathing.

Wisconsin (and 12 other states) don’t charge parents who murder their children in this fashion of child abuse.

Last May, Herbert and Catherine Schaible murdered their second child in Philadelphia by faith healing treatable pneumonia, just 3 years after killing their 2 year old son by faith healing his pneumonia until he died.

The most frightening element of these stories is that children that suffer from horrific negligence and terrible abuse only make the paper when they die. 6 million children are reported to child protection agencies in this nation annually. Only a few get the help they need.

Children Of The Incarcerated; Collateral Damage

About 3 out of 100 Americans are incarcerated, on the way to being incarcerated, or have been released from incarceration. When broken out by race, these numbers are dramatically worse for people of color.

Minneapolis, MN for instance, arrested 44% of its adult Black men in 2001. There were no duplicate arrests and 58% of those men went on to be rearrested for a second crime within 2 years. America now leads the world in incarceration; 5% of the earth’s population and 25% of its prison population.

The children of incarcerated parents have higher rates of pregnancy, dropout and expulsion rates from school, STDs, mental health issues & criminal behavior. In fact, the children of incarcerated parents have more involvement with the criminal justice system than their offending parent did.

It Can’t Happen Here

This article shines light on a serious social failure not uncommon in America. 6 year Sarah Elizondo has been forced by the court to live with a pedophile parent (Nicholas Elizondo served 6 years for the crimes he committed upon very young girls).

One of my first cases as a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem was a 7 year old boy that had been forced by the court to live with his pedophile father (who had spent 2/3 of his adult life in prison for the crimes he was about to commit on his son – and there was a court order forbidding him to be near young boys).

This boy had spent 4 years tied to a bed, sexually abused, starved, and left alone for days at a time in a small apartment (what do you think it would be like at 4,5,6, or 7 to be tied to a bed and left alone for days at a time without food?)

The boy was covered from head to foot in severe bruises when he entered the child prote

How Things Get Worse

What makes life worse for sexually abused five and seven year old’s is not talking about it. Not reporting it. Not disclosing it publicly or privately. The fewer people that know about the wretched things that are happening to NJ children, the smaller the problem appears to be and the less will be done to support the agencies chartered to help New Jersey Children.

New Jersey has taken a big step forward in making sure that the abuse is worse and lasts longer for its youngest citizens;

NJ: Child welfare agency proposes less disclosure of fatal child abuse cases.

The Star –Ledger- June 12, 2013.

The Department of Children and Families Plans to limit the information it publicly discloses when a child die or suffers life threatening injuries from abuse and neglect

Join The PeaceMaker Walk in the South St. Paul Parade Friday, June 28th 6pm

Walkers are needed to help raise contributions for school-based violence prevention efforts. Join PeaceMaker Minnesota in the South St. Paul Parade on Friday June 28 at 6:00 and help build community awareness about the importance of violence prevention programs. PeaceMaker MN provides the candy to hand out.

Before the walk, raise or contribute $50 or more and receive a free t-shirt. Walkers choose the school to benefit from their efforts. Contributions help schools teach to kindness, prevent bullying and to reach out to at risk kids. Learn more at www.peacemakermn.org and click on “Join Us” or

call 651-631-1604.

Most Recent KARA Presentation (video)

Watch KARA’S recent Invisible Children presentation at the DFL Stone Arch Education Foundation; (video – 23 minutes)

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

Invite us to start a conversation at your organizations next function

Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org

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

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”.

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

Free College Tuition For Foster Children and other good news for at risk youth

Here are recent positive developments in support of people, policies, and programs for abused and neglected children;

Arizona has granted free tuition for foster children

California; Overwhelming response to request for more foster homes

New Mexico offers free home visits to first-time families (including fathers and adoptive families)

Oregon legislates a Foster Children’s Bill of Rights

Pennsylvania DHS receives U.N. award for improvements

U.S. Senate provides automatic citizenship to all persons born outside the U.S. and were adopted by American Citizens

Stone Arch Foundation Audio Presentation – 30 minutes + questions (recorded by iDream.tv)

Working with abused and neglected children as a volunteer county guardian ad-litem, Mike speaks directly about the financial and physical disaster happening daily to children, schools, and neighborhoods because of poor public policy and the dysfunction of well- meaning people and institutions.

Visit www.InvisibleChildren.org and www.CasaMN.org

Twin Cities Marathon & CASA MN (a great combination)

We are proud to announce that, for the second year in a row, CASA Minnesota is a participating charity in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on October 6, 2013. We are reaching out to runners and supporters to fundraise for Team CASA Minnesota.
CASA Minnesota is a local nonprofit whose mission is to support and promote volunteer advocates to ensure that every abused and neglected child in Minnesota has a safe, stable and permanent family. Our advocates are everyday citizens who become extraordinary volunteers.

San Francisco: 1 in 3 Gay School Youth Attempt Suicide & 1 in 2 Transgender Students (Center for Disease Control)

My stepfather was gay and had served in the military in the 1940’s. He experienced no kindness and very little acceptance for his sexuality during his time on this planet.

As a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I have come to know a good many GLBT youth and identify with the exclusion and cruelty they face on an all too regular basis.

This report from the Center for Disease Control delivers a clear picture of the extent to which GLBT issues are overwhelming millions of children in our nation today.

Not being accepted by society is it’s own kind of perpetual torture and a whole lot of innocent children suffer to the point that they want to die. San Francisco is a relatively progressive community. If it is this bad there, what’s it like in Texas, or Alabama?

Kids At Risk Action Discussion Saturday, June 8, 8 – 930am Gardens of Salonica Restaurant, Minneapolis

Join us for coffee and treats and an enlightening conversation about improving the lives of at risk children and the quality of life in our community.

Saturday, June 8 at 8:00am -930am Stone Arch Discussion Group

Where: Gardens of Salonica, 19 5th St NE, Minneapolis, MN‎ (map) Good coffee & treats and easy parking.

(4 minute) Short Speaking Video

Please share this with your network, anyone that wants to know how to make life better for at risk children, lower crime rates, and improve schools and the quality of life in our communities.

KARA is working to make this national conversation. Help us deliver a good turnout for this event and put these issues front and center for a more public discussion on a greater scale.

CASA guardian ad-Litem News From Around The Nation

Without court appointed CASA volunteers, America’s abused and neglected children have no voice in the homes they are raised in or the homes they live in foster care.

States like Virginia are now forcing children back into homes where they have been sexually abused, or otherwise tortured.

The World Health Organization defines torture as “extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.

Every child in my CASA guardian ad-Litem caseload had been tortured (many of them at two and four years old. Beaten, tied to a bed, sexually abused, left alone without food for days at a time, and one 7 year old had been prostituted. Every child deserves a safe home and a voice in our community.

Six million children are reported to child protection services in America each year. Only a fraction of them receive help from their community. Current and former CASA guardian ad-Litems can have a major impact on building awareness and protecting our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

Religious Freedom In Philadelphia Kills 2 Young children (4 years apart, same home)

In April, 2 year old Kent Schailble died of treatable pneumonia because his parent’s fanatical religion demanded it. Kent’s 4 year old brother Brandon died for the same reason in the same home just a few years earlier (he was also denied medical treatment for a completely treatable disease).

As a CASA guardian ad-Litem, I witnessed 49 police calls to a home where a seven year old had been prostituted and the only reason the children (girls 4 and 7) were removed from the home on the 49th call, was that the 7 year old tried to kill the 4 year old in the presence of police officers (it was a child’s cry for help).

Somewhere in this conversation we need to discuss child protection and the civil rights of children.

Mental Health Month (we all have nutsey behaviors – let’s talk about it)

It hurts me to see people shy away from mental health conversations. By my observation over 60 some years, we could all benefit with a more open and honest discussion on the topic.

Today’s Star Tribune article by Christina Roegies explains how mentally ill people can lead amazing and fulfilling lives.

Long ago I listened to a mental health expert tell his psychologist audience not to think themselves too different from the people they saw daily for treatment. His logic was that we all have idiosyncracies and periods of our lives when our coping skills are low and we act in nutsey/irrational ways.

Assistant Commissioner of MN Department of Human Services, Dr Read Sulik’s “ability to cope” definition is the most understandable and meaningful definition I have heard.

Camp Out For Essex County CASA

Hats off to Essex County high school students bringing a voice to abused and neglected children through a coordinated effort for CASA advocacy & community awareness.

In support of all the children living without a safe and permanent home, Essex County schools pitched tens and slept outdoors Friday night (May 3rd). The County family court Judge Thomas Zampino visited them and gave them an overview of the life of a a child in foster care.

CASA volunteers created the Camp Out For CASA concept to promote child welfare and a more active community.

If your CASA organization has done great and interesting things, send them to me that we can show the rest of the country (we also have readers all over the world).

Bill Murray Stop Child Abuse Now Radio Interview

ill Murray knows the best questions to ask to create a lively and informative discussion on the issues that impact abused and neglected children.

This 90 minute talk is a powerful and comprehensive talk I had with Bill and his panel about our institutions and what needs to change to make our children and communities happier and safer: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bill-murray/2013/05/16/stop-child-abuse-now-scan.mp3 (move the arrow a little bit to skip the music if you wish to start at the conversation).

How To Sell Guns To Five Year Old’s (yes we do)

Mother Earth News this month includes weapons manufacturers marketing materials aimed at very young children. It is disturbing. It was just last week a five year old Kentucky boy killed his two year old sister with his “Crickett” “my first” rifle. You can buy them in hot pink for little girls:

“The Crickett rifle is ideally sized for children four to ten years old and comes in a …Arms manufactures the following youth rifles: Crickett .22WMR Youth Rifles”
Mom was outside & said she did not know the gun was loaded. Gun marketing pictures from the Crickett marketing page (the site was down today when I went to include the link – it will be interesting to see if it has been changed) http://www.crickett.com/

Judges Jailing Children For Money In America (yes it happens)

A second Pennsylvania judge (Michael Conahan) has plead guilty for receiving commissions for each child sent to privately held detention facilities (PA Childcare and Western PA Childcare) .

2.6 million dollars in fees were paid for between one and two thousand children sentenced for things they did not do. Judge Mark Ciavarella was identified some months ago as the primary offender in this case.

This adds a sorrowful twist to Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz statements that “90% of the youth in juvenile justice have passed through child protection” & “”The difference between that poor child and a felon, is about 8 years”.

In Pennsylvania 90% just isn’t filling privately held facilities with enough human prison fodder. I know how hard life is for at risk children and find this kind of crime to be a hanging offense for both the owners of the privately held facilities as well as the corrupters of our legal system.

CASA Clarification – Mike’s Mistake

It has been pointed out to me that in some instances my writing leads readers to think that CASA guardian ad-Litems are part of child protective service when in fact (and I know this inside and out) CASA is child advocacy within the institution of child protection. Forgive me for this error and please appreciate that CASA/GAL is all about child advocacy.

For more information about:

CASAMN

CASA National
CASA your state

State of MN Falls Behind In Abuse Inquiries

State Falls Behind In Abuse Inquiries (today’s Star Trib headlines)

The sentence seems harmless unless you are a five year old child tied to a bed, left alone for days without food, beaten and sodomized, prostituted as a 7 year old, or left alone in a crib for days without food or contact.

These were my first experience with child abuse as a volunteer Hennepin County guardian ad-Litem.

The backlog of 724 cases (double what it was 18 months ago) means that children will wait for their sexual abuse, beatings, and neglect to be investigated.

American Exceptionalism; Child Daycare

This extensive article from the New Republic clearly defines the nightmare that is child daycare for so many American children and infants. Not only is this unregulated field filled with underpaid, under-trained service providers, but poor people (about half of U.S. families) can’t afford or can barely afford any day care for their children.

A good percentage of America’s 8.2 million children under five spend part of their week in care outside the home.

America’s weakest and most vulnerable citizens are too often left in the care of drunk uncles and worse because low wage parent just don’t earn enough to pay for daycare.

The only time we read about the pain cause by inadequate daycare is when a baby chokes to death on a condom or has its brains dashed out on a wall.

Subsidized day care not only creates a safe place for the child, but a smarter citizen, and a happier and more productive family living in a better community.

More Cheating Fallout From the NCLB Tragedy (DC Schools This Time)

Teachers that lived through the Bush era No Child Left Behind fiasco understand the impossibility of making students succeed and schools look good with inadequate resources and classrooms bulging with kids that can’t read, Prozac, and violence.

The “Texas education Miracle” that lead the NCLB’S deconstruction of America’s schools proved to be as wrong and dysfunctional as the erasures on thousands of test questions executed by hundreds (if not thousands) of teachers in Georgia and now DC (and there may well be other states as yet undiscovered).

If you study the DC memos being made public you will see just how hard it is to identify and pursue this kind of criminal activity (if it weren’t for excellent journalists at the Atlanta Journal, none of this would have been discovered).

Texas Wins Again (Criminalizing 300,000 students / year)

Cursing, farting, or an honors student spraying perfume on her neck, all valid reasons for being arrested in Texas schools (citations to six year old’s even).

Does the nation need more disadvantaged youth in the criminal justice system? Texas thinks so.

Texas, the state eliminating higher order thinking from it’s schools & teaching that premarital sex has fatal consequences, and that getting plenty of rest and avoiding condoms saves one from sexually transmitted diseases (& leads all states and many third world nations in the incidence of STD’s among youth) now rests comfortably ahead of all states and the rest of the world in criminalizing students.

Texas also leads in Executions (including of the mentally ill – ignoring federal mandates), juvenile incarceration, uninsured children, child poverty (including food insecurity/starvation of children), preteen pregnancies (and the highest rates of repeat births to teen moms).

A Different War On Drugs (fought by children)

Every day between six to eight million children take psychotropic medications – about 10% of all U.S. children.

This compares to 1.2% in Israel, 1.4% in Germany, and .3% in the UK. My concern is mostly the giant percentage of foster care children being forced to take these drugs. The side effects are real and there is little meaningful mental health therapy to coincide with the taking of these drugs. I would argue, that we use these drugs in place of therapy which leads to medicated kids never learning how to cope with their mental health issues (which is why we have so many preteen moms, adolescent felons, and unsafe neighborhoods).

Magic Potions For Children

Teachers, social workers, justice workers, and parents today are forced to collude with big pharma to medicate children who would no more be able to handle suicidal ideation than they could handle rape. If you know someone using psychotropics, ask them if they have had the experience of suicidal ideation.

There is nothing like it. There is no good excuse for ignoring mental health on a national scale (especially where five year old’s are concerned).

Tracking America’s Most At Risk Children (Weekly)

Teen who killed baby sentenced to 90 days

October 18, 2012. Colorado.

Dylan Kuhn had called authorities stating that his 6-month-old daughter was found hanging from her crib by her next and that she wasn’t breathing. Authorities later discovered she had injuries consistent with being “slammed” against a soft and unyielding surface (like a mattress). Kuhn later stated that he did slam his daughter into the bed and she became quiet afterward, that she had never had a blanket around her neck, and that he lied to police initially because he was afraid the mother would hate him for it. Kuhn plead guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 4 years of probation, a parenting class, a mental health evaluation, a drug abuse evaluation, and would not be allowed to be alone with any child under the age of 10.

KARA’s Minnesota Friends of Children Please Support Bill Number SF 704/HF 1106

KARA board members Sam Ashkar and Mike Tikkanen accompanied Rich Gehrman and his Safe Passage For Children colleagues to support a bill at the state capital on thursday supporting child protection screening practices protecting children throughout MN. This bill SF 704 / HF 1106 gives simple guidelines, clarifies standards, and improves accountability for reporting and screening practices for abused children in terrible circumstances. It is the least we can do.

Please forward this to your friends and make a call to your state representative (and to State Senate Republican leader David Hann who is influential on this committee; 651-296-1749 )

The State Of Child Protection In America Today

American institutions are producing exactly that which they were designed to stop. Almost all the youth in juvenile justice have come through child protection programs. Virtually all criminal justice candidates have been juvenile offenders. 2/3’s of these people have mental health problems (fully half of this number have multiple, serious, and chronic conditions (these are the dangerous and dysfunctional folks that so often make the news).

Much of what I write and speak makes people angry. Imagine what it’s like to be child protection worker or volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem and meet a seven year old boy that’s been tied to a bed, left alone for days at a time, starved, sexually abused, and beaten to a pulp with bruised covering his body or come to know very young girl that was prostituted by her mother.

Protect Children In the Justice System

Support youth reentry – An estimated 100,000 people under the age of 18 have left secure facilities only to turn around and reenter the system. The report says, “Youth are often discharged from care back to families struggling with domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and unresolved mental health disabilities.” Also highlighted is the issue of public safety being compromised when the released youth is not afforded necessary planning and supportive services.
NJJDCP”s full report and recommendations can be viewed at:http://promotesafecommunities.org/images/pdfs/NJJDPC_RecstoCongress_03122013_web.pdf?utm_source=Copy+of+NJJDP+Report+-Congress&utm_campaign=WNR+2-8-2013&utm_medium=email

Note To InvisibleChildren Readers

www.avahealth.org You can spend hours listening to the medical professionals address these topics on this site in a very straightforward manner. Their videos are powerful – in particular, study the ACES information.

www.juvenile-in-justice.com This site provides an overview of how our institutions are working together and paints the picture of how at risk children are aging through society today. While it does not speak directly to pre-teen pregnancy, and the many important young women’s issues, it will draw your attention to the racial and economic disparity that is destroying so much of our inner cities.

& of course, Google, Art Rolnick, / Rob Grunewald Federal Reserve Bank Early Childhood Development. Study their report. It makes a statistical / financial argument for taking better care of American children.

A New Standard For Disaster; Tennessee (802 child deaths in 2011)

It’s painful to watch any children and family services system in turmoil, but the goings on in Tennessee right now might be setting a new standard for disaster. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (TDCS) is locked in a high-profile battle with the state’s most prominent newspaper, The Tennessean, which has published a series of articles questioning the department’s performance in analyzing and reporting on child fatalities.