254 Children, 220,000 Crimes, 12 Months

Drug use and sale in American schools has been the highlight of much research. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University conducts a survey each year aimed at discovering trends in teenage drug use. The survey this year has identified a drastic increase in the percentage of children attending middle schools considered “drug-infested,” meaning that drugs are kept, used, or sold on school property. This year’s survey showed that 32 percent of middle school students were attending drug infested schools, compared to 23 percent in 2009.

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Abused Children In MN

Help prevent child abuse and neglect

Although not every Minnesotan is by law a mandated reporter, Minnesotans are greatly encouraged to report suspected child abuse and neglect to their county social service agency or law enforcement agency, and help in the following ways:

• Host neighborhood/community conversations and small get-togethers about how to strengthen and support families

• Reach out and connect parents to local resources, including parenting education programs, mental health/chemical health counseling, childcare, or financial assistance

• Provide support to your stressed, overworked, tired neighborhood parents by baby-sitting, inviting their children over to play, helping the youth with homework or volunteer to help out at school functions

• Join, or start, a local child abuse prevention council

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Across Ages, Youth Substance Abuse & Programs That Work

* a mentoring program; pairing an adult over 55 years of age with each youth between ages 9 and 13. The mentor spends at least two hours per week with the child doing recreational activities, providing tutoring, counseling, and assistance with community service (Across Ages, 2010).

* each youth spends one to two hours every week performing community service.

* social competence training; 26 weekly lessons that teach cognitive and behavioral approaches to dealing with problems and decisions. In particular, these skills are applied to the prevention of substance abuse and high-risk sexual behavior.

* involvement in family activities; Across Ages hosts monthly events that engage the youth, their families, and their mentors to strengthen the relationships between the children and the adults in their lives (Across Ages, 2010).

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Advocating For Minnesota Children Right Now (thank you Safe Passage for Children)

Dear Safe Passage Advocate,

This is the final week of the legislative session and the two bills that will have the most benefit to children are still in play and being negotiated by the Governor and legislative leaders.

Let’s do everything we can to make sure funding for these priorities ends up in the final package.

Please call or email the Governor’s Office, your state Senator, and your state Representative now with the brief message below.

If you prefer to leave a phone message, an easy way to get phone numbers for your legislators is to send a text to #520 – 200 – 2223 with your zip code, you will receive numbers back for your state and federal representatives.

The Governor’s number is #651 – 201 – 3400.

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Aging Out of Foster Care (lawmakers ignoring a growing problem)

MN Law Makers are ignoring a growing demographic at great social and economic cost.
Foster care shortcomings are a social problem that is systematically forgotten, specifically for the 23,000 youth that age out of foster care, that is, turn 18 without a permanent family and are no longer eligible for government care, each year according to U.S Newswire.

The lack of government commitment and action to this cause has put our communities at risk for an abundance of overlapping economic and social costs.
The most concerning fault is the rate of homelessness for these youth, with one third of aged out youth spending their first night on the streets. Furthermore, 14 to 26 percent of homeless adults in Minneapolis were former foster care participants according to research conducted by the Hennepin County Community Services Department.

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America’s Science Phobia Ravages Children

The facts of recent demographic studies are mind boggling. In 2008, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shocked the nation with the news that fully a fourth of America’s teen girls now have a sexually transmitted disease, with rates still rising. Earlier the Alan Guttmacher Institute announced results of a study comparing teens in the U.S. with Great Britain, Canada, France and Sweden. By far U.S. teenagers have the highest rates of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs), pregnancy, births and abortions. For example, the teen pregnancy rate of the U.S. is four times the French rate, three times the Swedish rate and twice as high as Great Britain and Canada. America’s policy of turning its back on our youth is nothing short of shocking in its irresponsibility.

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Better Futures for Minnesota Children (from Safe Passage For Children MN)

Mission:

To rebuild the Minnesota child welfare system so children are safe and reach their full potential.

Vision:
There will always be a group of Minnesota citizens who advocate on behalf of victims of child maltreatment, and who will hold counties and the state accountable for continuously improving outcomes for these children and their families.

Goal:
Our goal is to build a child protection and foster care system in Minnesota that

continuously improves the lives of children, as demonstrated by objective, measurable outcomes. If the system is working well children’s outcomes will improve over time.

The following are major milestones for achieving this goal:

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By 2017 all children will be periodically assessed for their level of trauma starting when they first enter child protection.
By 2019 all children in the system will be periodically assessed for improvements in their cognitive and physical development, as well as in measures of behavioral and mental health.
Workers and supervisors will be accountable for improving these outcomes for individual children as monitored through quality reviews and updates to the courts.
Counties will be accountable for improving outcomes for children in their caseloads overall as shown by summary reports.
In subsequent years our goal is to continue to monitor outcomes at the county and state levels, and advocate for necessary budget allocations, practice improvements, and related resources to ensure that the child protection system is continually improving its response to children.

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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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Canada Child Protection & U.S.

Reviewing the Child Abuse and Protection report on Canada written by KARA’s volunteer Macalaster College student (Lelde), I am struck by a few key facts:

* Close to one third of Canadian teen agers reported some kind of abuse or neglect,

* Children know their abusers in eight out of ten cases,

* Canada experiences 2200/100,000 investigations of child abuse (about half the U.S. statistic 4500/100,000),

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Canada’s Injustice to Indigenous Children (statistics & solutions)

Almost half of Canada’s youth correctional services is made up of Indigenous youth, but they represent less than 10% of the general population. Self-harming behaviors and suicide rates among Indigenous youth are 11 times the national average and are the highest in the world.

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Cancellation of a Successful Education Program

The need for strong education programs should be a primary concern for state and local governments. In addition to improving students’ chances for success in college and their subsequent careers, effective education programs can help keep juveniles from engaging in delinquent activities. This, in turn reduces costs to taxpayers for funding court proceedings and, if necessary, housing juvenile offenders.

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Child Sexual Abuse, Alcohol, & Help

Sexual abuse is likely the most horrific crime a young child can endure.

Almost 10% of children today are exposed to sexual abuse; from rape, incest, pornography, touching, fondling or sodomy.

According to the Childhelp organization, the most common ages that child sexual abuse acts are committed are ages 7 to 13.

Within child protection systems, these percentages are much higher and the children’s ages are lower when the abuse begins.

As a CASA guardian ad-Litem in Hennepin County, about half of the fifty children in my caseload were sexually abused. After almost 20 years as a County volunteer in child protection, I think it is the most under-reported crime in our nation.

Six million children are reported to child protection agencies in the U.S. each year. About 10% of them receive services. The other 90% are left to fend for themselves.

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Child Welfare Policies That U.S. Shun; A Note From David Strand (share this with your state rep)

Other policies protecting children include prohibitions on trying children as adults in court, and targeting of children up to 12 in advertising. Also drug abuse is treated as a disease and not a crime.
The result of all these social investments is that criminal behavior is minimized. Denmark has 8 prisons. If they had the incarceration rate of the US they would need 80. Think about the tremendous savings in correcting anti-social behavior. By the way, they refuse the concept of for-profit prisons as it is considered a dangerous idea. And people in prison do not lose their right to vote. The election participation is about the same as the general population.
Another aspect of the child friendly society is to elevate teaching to the highest regarded profession. Teachers generally outrank even judges in respect. An important benefit to teachers with children is that they do not have to concern themselves with saving for college and university costs. All children who qualify academically are awarded taxpayer paid college education. As a result teachers generally teach for life.

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Expression (the suffering is immense – anonymous)

Every day, Every thought, Every act

Tainted by prior trauma

That part of the mind effortlessly calculating numbers, finding words and laughing at funny things

Is absent in a tortured child*

Instead

The darkness from before

Spits out bad words, regrettable behaviors and violent reactions to unexplainable triggers

And small brain space left for math, trust or coping

For other children

Sitting in the chair at the desk in the classroom

Is a peaceable journey of learning and friend-making

Not so for me

PTSD is a foul meaningless nonword

Raped and traumatized by a monster many times my size deserves a more meaningful definition

And maybe

A bit more understanding from the rest of you

*The World Health Organizations definition of torture is “extended exposure to violence & deprivation”

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Going Backwards on Child Safety? (thank you Safe Passages for Children of MN)

Minnesota’s abused and neglected children need our voices. Share this with your networks;

Recently some legislators and child protection agencies began theorizing that an underlying cause of caseload increases is screening families into the system not because of maltreatment, but as a way to get them scarce social services.

Statistically, this seems unlikely.

According to the Department of Human Services, last year counties screened in 45% of 84,000 maltreatment reports. Since the screen-in rate for states nationally is 60%, this suggests that nearly 12,000 Minnesota children are still being inappropriately denied child protection help.

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International Child Well-Being News (June 1019)

We all look to the government to provide support in order to protect our children.

Eshanee’s reporting points to a disturbing trend of state inaction in preventing or even intervening in child welfare violations.

To hold our governments accountable and to ensure the well-being of children, more of us need to

contact our local politicians and policy makers and make our concerns known.

Children have no voice in politics, law or the media.

We must be relentless to effect change.

Be the Squeaky Wheel for Children

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Invisible Children Around the World; United Kingdom

Early intervention is vital – not only in ensuring that fewer and fewer children grow up in abusive or neglectful homes, but also to help as many children as possible reach their full potential.

The Audit Commission has estimated that, if effective early intervention had been provided for just one in ten of those young people sentenced to custody each year, public services alone could have saved over £100 million annually.

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It Can’t Happen Here (Sally’s Story)

This had to have been one of the most detailed Childline referrals the county had ever seen, not to mention Sally had a wonderful, dedicated psychiatrist. As the time went by, the treatment team eagerly awaited the results of her abuse referral, as she had won over the hearts of all the hospital staff and we all wanted to see her safe and free from harm.

The referral came back as unfounded.

Due to her intellectual and neurodevelopmental disabilities, she was deemed in-credible.

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Kilah’s Law

In May of 2012, at the tender age of 3, Kilah Davenport was cruelly beat by her stepfather. She had to have emergency brain surgery that involved removing a portion of her skull to relieve swelling on her brain but was still left with permanent brain damage and in a wheelchair. The injuries she sustained caused complications that led to Kilah’s death in March of 2014, just a few weeks before her 5th birthday.

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