If It Wasn’t For The Lawyers (and no, I’m not)

The State of Arizona just lost seven million dollars in legal fees fighting a lawsuit demanding better care for foster children. The good news is the State lost.

It’s a tiny victory though.  Arizona, like Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana and a few other states, have long sat at the bottom of child well-being statistics in the U.S. 

Abused children don’t have any power in America today. At a Federal level, they don’t have many rights either as America is the only nation in the world to not have ratified the United Nation’s Rights of the Child Treaty of the 1980’s.

They have no voice in their homes, the media, courts that rule their lives or the State House.

It hurts me to think that some states would rather spend seven million dollars fighting against making life more bearable for their most troubled and vulnerable young citizens than using those wasted dollars to provide resources and healing for them.

It’s worse yet to think that in some states, lawyers or the threat of lawsuits, accomplish more for the well-being of at risk children than the people in charge of making public policy to safeguard our children.

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A Marshall Plan For Children Post COVID

Post-COVID, children having lived with increased and more severe abuse will need help healing and learning the skills they will need to succeed with their peers in school.  Young families need help and our teachers need more resources, help and training to be successful teaching larger numbers of children damaged by trauma and abuse.

Our small efforts can save these children.

Communities need a Marshall Plan for investing in children and young families &

if we support the people doing the work of

social work, education, public health and public safety we can make this happen.

It will just take a few minutes for you to copy this note and send it to your

State Representative or other government official. 

Become a voice for children.

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Leaving the Field (teachers disappearing & we don’t know why?)

Today’s Star Tribune article by Erin Golden should put the shivers into all of us for several reasons.

Only half of our State’s licensed teachers are teaching,
Some rural school districts are receiving as few as six applications for open teaching positions where they used to find 100,
More than a third of districts were unable to fill teaching positions in the 2019-2020 school year,
About a third of teachers quit teaching within the first five years on the job (a long term trend),
This data is pre-COVID (projections for the 2021 year will likely be worse as the politics & realities of the pandemic become known)
It appears there is little available data as to why so many teachers are not in the classroom or sending in applications to fill vacant teaching positions.  We  don’t know why and more troubling, it could be that there may be a question about the State Legislature’s willingness to spend 25-50 thousand dollars to find out why…

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Collateral Damage – ACEs – Education – COVID

This pre-COVID Star Tribune article, Teachers Turning to Other Careers shines a light on the punishing effects  of ACES on education in our state (thank you Rochelle Olson).

The violence & chaos brought to school by increasing numbers of abused children (ACEs) creates classroom chaos, puts students and teachers in danger and makes teaching. The COVID pandemic is making this a bigger problem.

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We Are A Nation of Child Abusers

Nicholas Christof’s article in the NYTimes today points a finger at “pro-family” people “preserving” child poverty in America.

Lest you believe this a stretch, America stands out as the country with the highest child poverty rate and one of the lowest levels of social expenditure.  This has been true for many years.

This means food insecurity for five year olds, and the statistical probability that homeless ten year olds are three times more likely to be sexually abused than other children.

There is a heartlessness behind the politics of separating immigrant babies from their mother (over 5000) and not returning those children to their birth parents (over 1000 still are separated today).

We the people now have public policies that have led to the sad reality that;

37% of children are reported to child protection agencies in this nation by their 18th birthday.
almost one third of American children will have a criminal record by their 23rd birthay
80% of youth aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives

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Child Abuse & Soul Murder (chapter 2)

I’ve come to know 50 beautiful babies and children that have had their souls murdered.

All fifty of my caseload children lived with chronic and serious beatings, rape, starvation and neglect repeatedly over a period of years.

They all died a tragic death of self.

Some watched their mothers being beaten or raped repeatedly, others were beaten, neglected or raped repeatedly.  Some of them were regular drug users by 8 or 9 years old.

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Pilgrims, Punishment and ACEs (why we have what we have)

America’s pilgrims brought with them a punishment model that remains the heart of our civic and group think today.

Puritans stoned, burned and drowned witches and shunned and hung people for being different and for what were often minor infractions.

Over the years, our violent punishment model has come down hard on American Indians, African Americans and other people of color.

We fought a civil war over the right to enslave and abuse people and sell their children & spouses for profit….

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Our Creeping Mental Health Crisis (& statistics)

As a new CASA guardian ad Litem volunteer I was stunned by the Prozac, Ritalin and other psychotropic medications prescribed to my seven, eight and nine year old State Ward children. About 1/3 of all state ward children (nationally) are forced onto psychotropic medications. Suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death among 10 to 24 year olds.

Over 1 million children under 6 are prescribed psychiatric drugs in America today. In 2014, 20,000 one and two year old’s were on Prozac like drugs & *Johnson & Johnson was fined billions of dollars for illegally selling those drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children…

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Impossible Questions & Painful Statistics

Are children property of their parents even if those parents

re violent, addicted, severely mentally ill or dangerously criminal?

Harder question.

Do teen and preteen mothers own their fetuses & babies

even if they abuse their children,

are addicted and out of control with little understanding of how

or ability to raise a child safely?…

Is this child’s child doomed prior to birth?

Children have no voice at the legislature, the media or in the home they are born into.  They have no choice in who raises them or what is done to them.

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2021 – A More Responsive New Year For At Risk Children

If there is a silver lining in this time of worldwide pain and anxiety, it will be a recognition that rebuilding families is necessary for a healthy community.

Amid the chaos of our pandemic, the trauma and misery of children locked in toxic homes is hard to see. The media, politics and confusion on a worldwide basis are focused on vaccines, reporting and management of this frightening virus.

Struggling families facing poverty, job loss, combative politics, distrust of institutions and the steady increase of COVIDs scary reality need help to survive.

Many moms and dads do not have coping skills for managing the pressure and fear of this moment. Stressed out families drink and drug more, experience more tension, conflict and domestic violence – inflicting severe collateral damage on their children.

If we can grasp the simple reality that “What we do to our children, they will do to our society” (Greek Philosopher Pliny 2000 years ago) America can rebuild communities and a nation that once led the world in quality of life.

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Thank You & Happy Holidays

For the New Year, KARA is asking everyone to support the people, policies and programs that make life better for struggling families and children.

Call and write policy makers where you live and let them know about conditions for and needs of at risk children where you live.

Let’s all strive to make this a better, safer year for at risk children everywhere.

Stay on top of the issues by signing up and sharing KARA’s Free weekly email updates with people that can make a difference for the children that need it the most.

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SPEAK FOR A CHILD (be a voice for a child)

Learn about the CASA guardian ad-Litem program and how your can make life better for abused and neglected children – Today, there are 500 abused and neglected children in Ramsey & Hennepin County child protective services without a guardian ad-Litem. Being a State Ward child is painful. Being a voice for that child is rewarding and makes a difference in the life of that child.

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children; learn more here;

CASA MINNESOTA

CASA NATIONAL

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Can You Imagine?

What’s it like for the social worker or guardian ad Litem knowing that the child they are talking to online is living in a toxic home of violence, neglect and drugs and it’s not possible to visit or confirm or remove that child to safety because of the COVID restrictions?

What’s it like knowing that a caregiver is watching the child answering the social workers questions leaving little chance for that child’s honest answers to the hard questions a social worker will ask?

What is occurring in too many homes to too many children at this time of crisis will be with us forever as a growing number of traumatized children are stamped with the mental health and behavioral problems that follow beatings, sexual abuse and neglect in the home.

Yes, these things were happening prior to this pandemic, but at least there was some escape to school with a chance for shelter, normalcy and a caring adult that would listen.

Today, the abuse and trauma continue uninterrupted.

These short public service announcements are hard to watch, but they could save lives by provoking support for at risk children and their families.

Please support KARA’s INVISIBLE CHILDREN local public Service Announcement program

Kids At Risk Action advocates for abused and neglected children – this website has over one thousand articles about trauma and the issues of child abuse.  Please share these stories widely,  contribute your questions and insights through our onsite comments and send us your suggestions for future topics.

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Avoiding the Mental Health Conversation (nothing to be proud of)

Thank you Chris Serres for reporting on the troubling development at St Joseph’s Hospital in Brainerd.

This is one of our community’s (nation’s) most serious health problems.

St Joe’s failure to admit mental health crisis patients reflects the growing nightmare of how medical institutions are dealing with mental health at a management level.

Refusing help to our most troubled citizens (people in crisis) means more sad & awful things happen to the rest of us.

People in crisis…

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COVID Burnout; Health Care, Teachers, Law enforcement, Social workers & what we could do

Our communities are only as safe and healthy as the institutions that create the environment we live in.

A brief search of front line workers in education, health care, law enforcement or social work shows a growing exodus by retirement, medical leave or just walking away as COVID is making the work they do an even more extreme sacrifice than it was pre pandemic.

For those of us that live with, know or love a person engaged in keeping our children educated or the rest of us safe and healthy,we know the stresses facing these people and the fear and danger of bringing a secondary trauma or risk of COVID home at the end of the shift.

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Good Bye David Strand – Founding KARA Board Member and Best Friend

KARA’s Founding Board member and best friend David Strand has passed away after a long illness.

He brought a wealth of experience, passion and commitment to the cause of America’s abused and neglected children.

David came to know a great deal about how children are treated in other advanced nations because he helped to craft public policies on children’s issues while living and working in Northern Europe.

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Schools Closed – What We Need to Know

Poor districts are suffering more domestic violence & substance abuse from from front line worker stress, poverty and job loss making online learning that much harder for children.

Many poor families are crowded into small spaces, lacking necessary internet access and hardware for adequate online learning.

This NY Times article barely acknowledges the social and economic costs of abused and neglected children locked into toxic homes during COVID.  Abused children have no teacher or other mandated reporter to recognize and respond to their traumas.  There is no comparison to having a trusted teacher to privately speak to in school and a video chat with the abuser in the room or nearby.

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LGBTQ Foster Care & Ground Truths

Recent surveys by the Casey Foundation and the NY Administration of Children’s Services show that about a third of kids in NY’s foster care identify as LGBTQ and nationally, about 24% do.  40% of homeless kids in NY City identify as LGBTQ and 42% of them had been in foster care.

This NY Times article focuses on how hard life is for them.  Many of these youth and children are in foster care because their parents rejected them.

Many are homeless, depressed and leading dysfunctional lives.

Every year about 12,000 children aged 5-14 years old are admitted to psychiatric hospital units for suicidal behavior. This and all the information following are PRE COVID.

Young children who have attempted suicide are up to 6 times more likely to attempt suicide again in adolescence

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Goodbye Joe McCarthy – Founding KARA Board Member & Best Friend

Yesterday, KARA’s best friend and founding board member Joe McCarthy passed away after a long illness.

We will miss him terribly.  Joe had a big heart and remarkable mind.  He was sharp as a tack with an interest in everything and a stunning memory.

20+ years ago, Joe encouraged and then guided me through the writing of the INVISIBLE CHILDREN book and founding of our nonprofit Kids At Risk Action.

Our small board spent many hours sorting through issues and ideas for making life better for abused and neglected children.  We worked together to create our first board meetings and involve more people in the endeavor we are so passionately engaged in today.

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