These past weeks have been awful for vulnerable children in MN.

Stomped on, kicked, torn liver kidney & pancreas 2 year old Sophia O’Neill was violently murdered by 17 year old Cary Faran-Baum died because she wouldn’t stop crying. There’s been way too many violent child deaths in MN this past year – many of these children were known to child protection services.

Sophia was known to child protection (they didn’t investigate the case because caseloads are high and resources did not allow it).

In a family video taken before her death, Sophia explains that Faran-Baum had hit her in the face and left bruises noticible in the video.

Sophia died not only of Cary Faran-Baum’s violent mindless attack. She died because there are too few crisis nurseries, inadequate daycare facilities and a general lack of concern in my community for other people’s children.

Too many of these children are known to child protection, a poorly understood and undervalued system fraught with serious problems.  It’s wrong to blame the people doing the work – the  problems begin with us – the people making the rules and designing the system.

As a long time volunteer Hennepin County CASA guardian ad-Litem, it’s clear to me that my community has never cared much for the problems of young families (or their babies & 2 year olds).

If we did, there would be more crisis nurseries and daycare and children would not be left in the care of drunk uncles, violent boyfriends and child molesters.

As it is today, we only read about the dead kids.  Thousands of children traumatized by violence and abuse inflicted on them by their care givers almost never make the paper (unless there is a death).

Except for social and health workers and foster and adoptive parents, the effects torture* and trauma leave on vulnerable children remain unseen until schools fail, crime & violence happen and prisons become just a little bigger – and we don’t see the connection to generation after generation of abused children without parenting skills, having their own soon to be troubled families.

Un-teaching violent behavior, drug use and sexual behavior to a five or nine year old or helping a tortured child make sense out of a brutal life that cannot be explained in normal human terms requires more than my community is interested in doing.

I am grateful for Governor Dayton’s outrage about the death of Eric Dean and his Child Protection Task Force and the changes that are coming but lasting change can’t occur until more of us begin to care about other people’s children.

We as a community need to care for children (it’s the right thing to do) and recognize that Pliny was right; “what we do to our children they will do to society”

Pliny the Elder 2500 years ago.
* The World Health Organization defines torture as “extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.

All the children in my caseload at Hennepin County suffered from extended exposure to violence and deprivation.

All adults are the protectors of all children (a worthy motto share it with a friend).