KARA has been reporting and speaking on critical issues impacting abused and neglected children for many years.
this article submitted by long time CASA guardian ad Litem Mike Tikkanen
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The negative squeaky wheels on radio & TV railing about mistakes and news of bad teachers and low performing schools & child protection failures are damaging our perception of the people doing the work and impacting the support we have for these critical services in our communities.
The politics of the squeaky wheel play well for policy makers blaming teachers for troubled schools, social workers when a horrid thing happens to a State Ward child or when a cop shoots a 12-year-old.
The people doing the work, heads down grinding away at the impossible task of saving traumatized children and dysfunctional families are noticeably absent in the news.
The work is hard, draining and long hours followed by exhaustion and often poorly understood secondary trauma.
It’s tough leaving the problems of a five-year old rape victim at work.
Few people besides the teacher experience the ground truth of how a single traumatized child can disrupt a classroom for an entire year causing all students and the school suffer.
One of my 12 year old CASA guardian ad Litem children stabbed other students with a pencil and kicked his teacher so hard she quit teaching because of it.
The art teacher at the May Day parade began crying when she told me her story of why she quit teaching because of violence in her classroom.
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.
Secondary trauma is real and the stress of being forced to show up every day and deal with that child, juvenile or adult trauma is putting our service providers in therapy and on Prozac.
Imagine going to work every day and facing a classroom of 30 children you have to keep safe from one, two or three uncontrollable and often violent 9 year old’s.
Try being an police officer without mental health training dealing with a suicidal 12 year old that really wants you to shoot him.
High turnover rates are a huge financial cost to taxpayers and the human cost to children and the families they serve is profound.
This is just a part of the public health crisis of childhood trauma and abuse all of us must face if we are to make our communities safe and healthy again.
Be a squeaky wheel for children and the people doing the work.