America’s Definition of Abuse

Child abuse redefines the way a child thinks and sees the world. Abused children have severely limited learning and coping skills. An abused child’s mental development has been arrested by an anxiety and fear that supercede the learning of other personal and social skills. Without personal and social skills, and a lessening of the anxieties and fears, Abused children fail at school, don’t make friends, and keep a terribly low self image.

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Unhappy Schools

Investing in early childhood programs and mental health services could actually save us money, and certainly make our streets safer, and our communities more pleasant to live in.

It’s not so much about money– Minnesota’s 2001 GDP (gross domestic product) ranks greater than Austria, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Hong Kong, Denmark, and a hundred other nations.

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Torture vs. Child Abuse

Children in American child protection systems are only removed from their homes if their lives are in imminent harm. The average length of child sex abuse in America is four years.

Abused children and torture victims suffer from the same kinds of trauma. They exhibit many of the same kinds of problems. They need the same kinds of long term mental health therapies to allow them to rebuild their traumatized mental states, learn coping skills, and how to function in our communities.

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Dear Judge John

There have been over one hundred social workers, foster parents, and other adults in my life since I left my dad. None of them have stayed for more than a few years. My feelings of abandonment have been reinforced over one hundred times. I have lived with twenty-seven foster families and group homes. My explosive personality and lack of trust make it hard for me to stay in one place too long.

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A Finished Book

The book is finished. It just arrived from the publisher. Books are always neater and cleaner than the process that makes them. Hundreds of hours, stacks of paper, and dozens of edits. I’m genuinely embarrassed by some of the poorly edited pages that I sent to people to review and comment on what I had been writing.

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Book review: Armchair Interviews

The author packed the book with his passion and purpose: society’s involvement in children’ in abusive and dysfunctional homes’ foster care and the system in general. If you care about your community’s welfare, it is a “must read.”

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Child Summit

Managing child protection cases, she said, “means one judge, one family. It means you don’t [delay] these cases because someone is sick. You don’t make a kid wait in foster care three months while we tend to adult problems. It means that when parents leave the courthouse, they have a written notice of the next court hearing and a written case plan so they’re not wondering what the judges meant.”

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guardian conference

Most women drew longer sentences (under federal mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines) than the perpetrator, they lost custody of their children, and in almost all cases, they had not profited from the criminal’s activity. See Incarcerated Mothers and Their Children.

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Children’s Defense Fund Training

And most of all, how we can become comfortable being “the voice” for At Risk Children in our communities.

I have delusions about how to be helpful to CDF for Item B.

Half of an experience like this is meeting so many smart and committed people from every corner of the country. We can learn so much by just sitting next to someone from Missouri, Chicago, or even St. Paul.

The nice lady from Missouri understood why her state was getting such terrific results from their Juvenile Justice system. She could have taught us some very important things (but she was not on the agenda).

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Day Care; The Bargain

Because the waiting list for subsidized daycare is one year into the future for the father of the children I represent (as a county guardian ad-Litem) there is a good chance that his two small children will be taken from him by the county and adopted by someone he has never met.
It is also possible that he may not be able to visit his children if they are adopted.

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Speak Up For Children

More importantly, supporting day care for disadvantaged children is the right thing to do for all Minnesota’s kids.

In a public meeting at Hamline, Rolnick lamented that this ‘no brainer’ idea is overshadowed at the Capitol by wasteful sports stadiums (and cries for lower taxes*).

More of us need to raise our voices for children if there is going to be a change in public policy toward the weakest and most vulnerable among us (children have no voice but ours in this political system).
* authors words

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By Definition

A recent study indicates that up to 80% of children aging out of foster care are leading dysfunctional lives. A Minnesota judge has provided me the Prozac, Ritalin, and other psychotropic medication prescriptions taken by children in her courtroom (most of them under ten years old) and it points at one of the key issues thay might explain why so many youth leaving the foster care program find it hard to cope with life.

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California Dreaming

Last week the State of California achieved perfect synchronicity in its public policy making when it announced that criminals would be released early because the state could no longer afford to keep them incarcerated.
This news reminded me that when I began my work as a guardian ad Litem there were states predicting the need for prison expansion based on the number of failed third grade reading scores within its schools.
Instead of investing in reading for third graders (and early childhood education), California began investing in a third strike punishment model and building tens of thousands of prison beds.

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Yes, We Do Know

If there is one thing we should know about American children that have been removed from their birth homes, it is that they have suffered extended exposure to violence and deprivation.
This is the definition of the “Imminent Harm Doctrine” which is the legal statute that allows children to be removed from their family.
Extended exposure to violence and deprivation is also the World Health Organizations definition of torture. Children are not removed from their birth parents unless the home environment has endangered the life of the child. That is the law.
Of the 50 children I have advocated for over twelve years, all had experienced severe and chronic violence and neglect. Sexual abuse of children is not uncommon. Their stories would make you cry www.invisiblechildren.org
To express wonder at why abused children develop emotional problems as they age is misleading and unfair to these children.

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From Child Protection to Soldier

Pressed by the demands of the “global war on terrorism”, theUnited States is violating an international protocol that forbids the recruitment of children under the age of 18 for military service, according to a new report released Tuesday by a major civil rights group that charged that recruitment practices target children as young as 11 years old.

The 46-page report, “Soldiers of Misfortune”, was prepared by theAmerican Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for submission to the U.N. Committeeon the Rights of the Child.

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Brutal Truths and Best Practices Forum

Our Child Protection System
Brutal Truths and Best Practices Forum at Century College

Join our focused and energetic conversation about children in need of protection and the people, programs, and policies that impact them. Have your views and questions heard.

After the panel discussion, attendees will form small working groups and helped to identify and investigate their own issues, discovering better answers, and ultimately creating an action plan, which they will share with the larger group.

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Another CASA volunteer voice

Even considering four decades of exhilarating professional life, my most powerful lesson followed retirement in 1996. This happened when I volunteered as a guardian ad-litem for Hennepin County from 1998 to 2000.

Guardians are court-appointed advocates assigned to help Juvenile Court judges decide the fate of children removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. It is part of the Child Protection System in our state.

The hardest was to look into the eyes of these unlucky kids and realize that they had no chance for a normal life. I could only take that for two years. It was a “kick in the pants” that opened my eyes.

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