14 police calls to foster home led up to near-death

On the 49th call to the home, police removed the children into protective custody (only because the 7 year old was observed trying to kill the 5 year old). As I became involved in the case, the sex abuse of the older girl became apparent. The police were aware of the prostitution taking place on the premises, and it was very likely that the older child had been prostituted.

Details

2 Year Old Shoots Florida Mother To Death (more common than you think)

Most years, more citizens are killed by toddlers with guns than terrorists in America. This time, the toddler shot his mom in a Walmart store.

Gun manufacturers have found really effective marketing tools for selling guns to children (like the pink “Crickett” for five year old’s).

While guns are manufactured all over the world, most guns are sold to American citizens as other nations (except Switzerland) have come to understand the consequences of unregulated marketing of firearms.

In 2010, 18,270 children were killed and injured by gunfire – over 100 accidentally. Florida reported almost five hundred child deaths that occurred after the children were reported to Child Protection Services. A few years ago in Florida, to make matters worse, laws were introduced making it illegal for pediatricians to ask a patient about guns in the house or if they were locked away separately from the ammunition (as a child safety issue). The gun lobby is pretty strong in Florida (the child health and safety lobby is not). The initial bill sought a five million dollar fine and five years in prison for asking a Floridian if there was a gun in the home (that is nuts, right?)

Among the industrialized nations, America has slid to near the bottom of almost every public health indicator with 20 times more gun homicides, and way more mass murders, violent crime, criminals, prisoners, and unsafe streets. If we valued public health more, children more, safe streets more, maybe we could give the gun lobby a little more push-back and secure our communities from some of the sadness making the papers every day.

Details

200,000 Youth Tried As Adults Each Year; Temple University

My experience with children receiving adequate therapy for the severe trauma and resulting behavior problems that were so indelibly a part of these very young children’s lives was almost non existent.

Once these very troubled children become old enough to impact their surroundings they do so in a most troubling manner. That’s why our jails are full and our schools are troubled.

From the study; “In other words, by one mechanism or another, more than 200,000 individuals under the age of 18 are prosecuted in criminal court each year. There are three trends in the data worth noting.

Details

30.2 % of America’s Youth Arrested Before Their 23rd Birthday (25% of us are state wards & special needs people)

Add this to the fact that American youth (as young as 11) are routinely charged as adults (25% nationally) and that cities around the nation arrest extremely high percentages of their minority populations (in 2001 Hennepin County – Minneapolis MN) arrested 44% of it’s adult Black Men – no duplicate arrests/58% of those men were rearrested for a second crime within two years making Minneapolis the Jail & Prison capital of the world.

Many states have funded their prison and jail systems at far greater rates of increase than their schools, daycare, or health systems, either of which could reduce the stresses driving the extreme growth in crime and courts.

Details

477 Child Deaths In FL (preserving families but costing lives)

When 8-week-old Kyla Joy Hall was hospitalized with a bleeding brain and fractures to both legs, both wrists and a foot, police could not determine which of her parents injured her. One thing was certain: Someone had inflicted life-threatening injuries on a newborn.

While Kyla healed in a medical foster home, child-welfare authorities moved to strip both parents of their rights to her. But when her mother bowed out of the picture — to become an actress — her father transformed, without explanation, from abuse suspect into fit parent. Josi Hall, Jacksonville firefighter, was awarded full custody despite the misgivings of his own mother.

Ten months later, Kyla’s father viciously attacked her. Her injuries included a “pulpified” liver, knuckle-sized bruises to her chest and, the decisive blow, a cleaved heart that sustained damage similar to “that of a kick from a horse,” an autopsy said.

Details

5 People / Week Accidentally Shot By Children (thank you Wayne LaPierre)

265 Moms, dads, brothers, sisters and selves were shot by very young children this year.

This is the first time data on people shot by children has been collected in America. I’m guessing it will go up n next year.

There are 28 states that hold gun owners criminally liable if children access their guns. There is at least one state that fines doctors (Florida- the initial bill called for a five million dollar fine and & 5 years in prison for the doctor) for counselling parents to take preventative measures with their guns if children are in the home. It’s the law. A very crazy law enforced to the detriment of children (most children accidentally shoot themselves).

Facts about children & guns;

More Americans are shot by toddlers (265) with guns than terrorists (151) just this year. This has been true for many years.

Every 30 minutes a child is killed or wounded by guns in America
Our nation leads the world in gun death
This Mother Jones Article included 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“

Americans killed by terrorists in the last decade (175) Americans killed by guns in the last decade (280,024)

Details

6000 Child Abuse Cases Not Examined In Arizona (putting AZ in 48th place for child well being)

Clarence Carter the Director of AZ Department of Economic Security told the oversight committee that child protection was suffering from lack of funding and resources and has been only investigating the worst of the worst cases.

Skyrocketing case loads and very late (too late in many cases) review of unexamined reports of child abuse make it extremely hard to keep children safe in Arizona, a state that ranks 48th in child well being.

Details

70 Child Abuse Deaths In California’s Child Protection System

When paramedics arrived, eight-year old Gabriel Fernandez was not conscious. His skull was cracked. Three ribs were broken. Bruises and burns covered his body. Two teeth were knocked out of his mouth. X-rays would later show that the third-grader had BB pellets embedded in his lung and groin. Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, 29, and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre, 32, told the paramedics that Gabriel’s injuries were self-induced. Later Aguirre said that he delivered ten or so blows to Gabriel’s stomach for lying and “being dirty.”

Before Gabriel’s death, his mother was the target of six investigations of child abuse. One of Gabriel’s teachers reported the boy coming to school battered. One of Gabriel’s therapists reported that Gabriel said that he was forced to perform oral sex on a family member. Gabriel told a teacher he’d been beat with a belt buckle until he bled and his mother shot him with a BB gun. Gabriel wrote a suicide note, found by his teacher.

According to documents obtained by the LA Times and a recent wrongful death lawsuit filed by Gabriel’s grandparents, Gabriel was never interviewed privately by a social worker about his abuse. Fernandez and Aguirre have been charged with first degree murder of a child. The two have yet to enter their pleas. Two months after Gabriel’s death, four DCFS employees related to his case were fired.

Details

A #ProtectChildrenToo Movement? (Thank You Safe Passage For Children of MN)

This morning’s ebrief from Safe Passage for Children of MN is spot on. Their legislative efforts to stop the practice of advance notice of child protection visits to perpetrators is crucial in ending child abuse. Putting perpetrators in the room with a child during the interview is traumatizing for the child and has a profound impact on what the child will say. Giving perpetrators prior notice of investigations allows them time to threaten and cohearse a child. As a long time CASA guardian ad Litem, this is all too familiar.

Most children are not aware of how wrong their abuse is – what happens at home is by definition normal. My youngest sexual abuse case was 2 years old.

Details

A Law Late In Coming, Not Enough, But Glad It’s Here (Thank You Governor Mark Dayton)

In my experience, in the cases above for example, none of the people in the child protection system recommended bringing charges against the perpetrators because the damaged very young children would have had to testify in these trials (and children make terrible witnesses as they are easily confused and their testimonies are almost always useless).

As the guardian ad-Litem on these cases, I was told by the judges & my superiors that my choice was to remove the children from the home (and away from the perpetrator) with good odds of winning the long term safety of the children, or to go to battle with a 5 or 7 year old as my witness against a legal system stacked against the child.

Details

A Wish List For At Risk Children

Subsidized day care (tens not thousands of families on state’s waiting list); more mental health services (consistent and better control and use of psychotropic medications)

BA degree, mental health training & higher wages for day care workers; more training, smaller caseloads, & greater resources for social workers and school counsellors

removing law enforcement from the front lines of dealing with mentally unhealthy people & eliminating jails and prisons as housing for mentally unstable people

fail safe programs ending child death by caregiver; more and better training and resources for handling child abuse in rural MN; End child suicide

interrupt generational child abuse; expand programs for children aging out of foster care; stop courts from trying children as adults

create support, training, and alternatives for adoption and foster families; expand kinship searches & support;

encourage media to report on the state of mental health and child protection in your community

make ACEs & trauma informed policies the rule not the exception; stop child trafficking;

reduce psychotropic medication use by young children and children in child protection;

involve the community in the safety and well-being of all children;

through adequate access to mental health services);

End child abuse and mental health stigmatizing

Help KARA find and engage the brightest minds

and improved perspectives in

the search for more effective

Child Protection &

children’s

Mental

Health

Details

About Women In Prison (most are primary caregivers, many lose their children forever)

an-onlooker-watches-the-annual-solar-eclipse-in-albuquerque-new-mexicoI had the good fortune of meeting Tom Daly who wrote a history of Shakopee women’s prison and he told me how women benefited from the educational offerings and the ability to visit with their children while in prison (his book featured below).

It was Tom’s opinion that the the recidivism rate stayed well below thirty percent when the prison was in a “reform” mode.  Today it hovers around 70 percent, like the rest of American prisons (now that the reforms are gone).

Most women in America’s prisons today are incarcerated under the Kingpin laws.  Most of these women are primarily guilty of being in love with or afraid of, some man (the kingpin).  The Kingpin has had years sawed off of his drug dealing sentence for each new “assistant/dealer/co conspirator that he gives us to prosecutors.  Most of these women never see the money, not a threat to society, never posing any real threat to society.

The average tenure of women prison wardens is under one year.  I spoke at a women’s prison warden’s conference in Bloomington MN a few years back and heard the stories of how awful it is to face these women and continue the grossly unfair conditions and punishment that the law requires.

Pregnant women are or can be shackled in childbirth in 29 states.

Most imprisoned women are incarcerated for Drug Offenses

The sexual abuse of women in prison is a huge problem

Most women in prison are parents and were primary caregivers prior to incarceration

The number of children with an incarcerated mother has doubled between 1991 and 2007

The trend is getting worse and no one benefits.  Counties spend millions of dollars to find homes for the children of incarcerated moms and it makes childhood much worse for children than a public health approach to the drug laws would.

 

Details

ACE Study, Crime & Ramsey County (reprinted from 2006)

ACE research shows a strong historical pattern of criminality in families of child delinquents. Using Cohen’s estimates, we calculate the multi-generational “multiplier effect” to be between $3.4 and $11.5 million. In these families, criminality is likely to grow exponentially.

Details

Admitting I Have Problem Is The Hardest Part (thank you Brandon Stahl for identifying the problem)

Brandon Stahl’s reporting has been the best thing to happen for Minnesota’s abused and neglected children in my lifetime.

As a longtime volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I have seen an underfunded and not too healthy child protection system become sclerotic, insular, and unresponsive to the needs of our most vulnerable children.

The slow tortured death of Eric Dean was only reported in a newspaper because he died. Had he lived, we would not know about it. I have children in my CASA guardian ad-Litem caseload that suffered just like Eric, and no one knows about their suffering but me (and people that read my words).

Over the past twenty years, I have watched underfunded, under-trained, under-resourced child protection workers (including judges, educators, day care and health providers, foster and adoptive families, try to work with cold and unresponsive systems that are now creating exactly what they were designed to stop.

I have seen lives of very young children destroyed forever because easily available information was ignored. Plenty of children in Minnesota have had Eric Dean type torture that no one knows about (because our systems are overwhelmed and unresponsive).

Governor Dayton’s proposed investigation should uncover the sad truth that no child protection information gets public attention unless a child has died violently.

The fact that most counties don’t keep past reports of screened out cases and are prohibited from considering past reports when evaluating new charges of child abuse should be seen for the awful impact it is having on children living in toxic homes (it leaves children in homes where they are molested, neglected, tortured, and murdered).

That Minnesota Counties don’t report death and near death of children as required by Federal Law is misfeasance, nonfeasance, or malfeasance and should be viewed as a crime worth punishment.

Details