Back on the Drugs

Teachers and administrators are being blamed for the high rate of dropouts and low student achievement. I would make the argument that the number of drug using and mentally ill children in our schools today interferes dramatically with the business of education. Don’t blame the teachers or school administrators. What’s wrong is poor public policy.

A discussion around early childhood programs, mental health services, and the use of psychotropic medications is overdue.

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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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Mental Health Issues

“One-quarter of all Americans met the criteria for having a mental illness within the past year, and fully a quarter of those had a “serious” disorder that significantly disrupted their day-to-day lives, according to the largest and most detailed survey of the nation’s mental health…The numbers suggest that the United States is poised to rank Number One for mental illness globally.

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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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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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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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Is Undertreatment of Mental Health Counter-Productive?

Children suffer more abandonment & more trauma when their therapist prematurely leaves (quits the patient) than they would have experienced without treatment. I have yet to witness my county provide timely or adequate mental health therapies to any of the truly damaged children I have come to know through the Court System. Most of them take multiple prescriptions of psychotropic medications with very limited access to mental health professionals. The children’s behaviors and development are living proof of ongoing mental trauma.

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Saving Ourselves From the Next Virginia Tech

At that time in Minnesota there were 15 child psychiatrists in the entire state (population about 4 million) and the student to counsellor ratio in MN high schools was 900 to 1.
As a child advocate (long time guardian ad Litem) I strongly feel the need for mental health therapy for those who need it. The children I work with have been severely traumatized and need adequate attention paid to their needs.

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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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