We Are All Nuts (the costs and dangers of undertreating and ignoring mental health – thank you Star Tribune)

If you have children, grandchildren or just like other people’s children, you should read this to the end. You could help keep them safe from terrible things by understanding the connection between this mental health discussion and those terrible things.

Today’s Star Tribune article by Chris Serres should wake us up as to the cost and danger we all face by ignoring, undertreating and maltreating mentally at risk people. Last week Chris wrote about the broken bones and violence done to children in the justice system because of their mental health struggles. Thank you Chris Serres and the Star Tribune for bringing this long avoided topic to the front page.

Chris’s article concentrates on the logjam and wait periods patients and providers face in this state and the human suffering that that accompanies it.

Not mentioned are the 900-1000 emergency psych visits to HCMC every month and some psych patients are waiting three months to be admitted (and that’s just one MN hospital). Allina Health DR Paul Goering states that “it’s been so paralyzing for the community to say ‘it looks like things are broken,’ and then to say it again next year”.

I agree with Dr Rahul Koranne (Chief Medical Officer for the MN Hospital Association) quote that

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August Sad Stories (part 1)

KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and  attention to our youngest and most vulnerable  citizens.  Please note that what you see here is only a sampling of what should be reported –  the great majority of child trauma & abuse never gets reported. ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN…

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Police Shootings & You and Me

People smarter than me have clearly explained the underlying institutional dysfunctions that ensure the next police shootings.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown accurately stated that law enforcement has become the safety system in schools, a primary community mental health service provider, and of course the armed responder to a growing number of society’s violent problems.

Recently, Minnesota sheriffs from Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington Counties wrote a half page Star Tribunearticle threatening to sue the State for failing to provide timely mental health services to people locked up in their jail cells. This failure has turned law enforcement into a provider of mental health services to a large and growing population of often dangerous people.

MN Law enforcement officers killed 12 people in 2015 and each year are dealing with more unstable people and potentially dangerous encounters with the wrong training needed to slow this racially unbalanced social dysfunction.

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Let Me Show You The Money

One of my guardian ad Litem boys Alan – not his real name, was tied to a bed, left alone for days at a time (from 4 to 7 years of age – four whole years), sexually abused, starved and beaten so badly that he was covered head to foot in bruises on both sides of his body when I first met him.

This boy’s new adoptive caregiver had a court order in place from another state forbidding him contact with young boys because of what he did to them – but this was not found out at the time and custody of this poor four year old boy was granted to this violent sex offender.

Alan was taken from a perfectly fine foster home to be starved, raped and beaten for four years – until his caregiver first brought him to school when he was seven years old and turned into child protection.

Alan already cost the County/State over 3 million dollars by the time he aged out of foster care. This number does not include the teacher he beat up, a school mate he stabbed, or any of the terrible things he did to the 29 foster and adoptive families that tried so hard to save him or the violence he did to people and things in his daily life.

He also had AIDs and was on one of the most expensive medications I had ever encountered (about $40,000 / year for the pills alone).

Alan has always been a state ward and most likely will always be a state ward. We became friends over a 12 year period and I understood why he did what he did, why he hated authority (you get that way when you are horribly abused by a parent or caregiver) and how the rest of his life was most likely going to play out after he aged out of foster care.

80% of youth aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives.

Blaming Alan for violent outbursts and hurting people is like blaming the 35W Bridge for killing and injuring all those men, women and children when it fell in the river a few years ago.

Federal and State engineers said at the time that it was when, not if this bridge would fail for lack of maintenance. The bridge was in the bottom three percent of all bridges in America when it collapsed and it was no surprise to those that know bridges.

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August Sad Stories 2016 (part II)

KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. Please note that what you see here is only a sampling of what should be reported – the great majority of child trauma & abuse never gets reported.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

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Drugging Our Kids (a report I would like to have for MN)

In 1996 there were 1100 students per counselor in MN high schools and one child psychiatrist for all the children in the Hennepin County child protection system. At that time and now, no child makes it into Child Protection unless he or she has had suffered repeated traumas and needed consistent professional mental health help. As a County Volunteer guardian ad litem, I watched as tons of MN children were forced to take Prozac, Ritalin and other psychotropic medications. These children suffered all the side effects common to those drugs including the suicidal ideation printed on every package of the drug.

In 2014, 20,000 one and two year old children were forced to take these drugs and Johnson and Johnson was fined 4 billion dollars for illegally selling them to pediatricians for use on children (and there are four thousand cases awaiting trial).

This article (and the series within) presents a raw view into the terrible mishandling of children’s mental health.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

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Children Locked Up in America (Radio Interview)

Mass Incarceration: Where it Starts, With Our Youth

Following up from last weeks show on Mass Incarceration, which focused on adults, this week the focus is on mass incarceration of our youth. In contrast to adult incarceration, where there has been bipartisan attention from U.S. Politicians, the youth problem is all but ignored during the campaigns. The issue is a big one so it is hard to understand why it is avoided like the plague by our politicians. In fact, I could not find a single quote on the internet about youth incarceration from politicians.

Perhaps people just do not want to hear about something so depressing. Newspaper and magazine publishers claim that they will lose their readership if they cover these issues. Television believes people will turn the channel or tune out. Maybe people will not read this blog either, but it’s an important subject, so I made the decision to do the right thing and cover the issue. If awareness can increase, the likelihood of positive change can increase too.

Here are some facts:

The U.S. has the worlds highest youth incarceration rate at 225 per 100,000 (as of 2015). The next highest rate amongst developed nations is South Africa at 69 per 100,000. The U.S. is 6 to 10 times that of the other developed nations.

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Children Feeling Betrayed (thank you Safe Passage for Children & PBS)

Children who are badly abused sometimes seek help from teachers, extended family, or social workers. When they get none they feel profoundly betrayed by adults. This can have lifelong consequences for the children and society, as this PBS story illustrates.

Today’s dominant political view is that children are nearly always better off with their families. This creates systemic pressures to leave children where they are even when abuse is extreme.

Decisions should be based on each child’s best interests. Children shouldn’t be vehicles for the politics of ideology, culture or race. They don’t care about these things. They just want the pain to end.

Children don’t participate in policy-making. Their interests can only be factored into child protection practices by adults who comprehend their anguish and speak out for them.

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International Child Protection News August 2016

Syria – Caught in the civil war, Syrian children receive make-do education.
The Wire.
The ongoing civil war has displaced several children and their families. A husband and wife has opened their home to teach some of the children who have been displaced by the war. Although the conditions are not optimal, Syrian children receive education in subjects like Arabic, English, maths and religion. With schools being targets of air strikes and with the growth of insurgent groups children have been displaced and recruited by armed personnels, limiting their access of education. One problem they face is inadequate learning material, i.e. books, and the presence of war planes flying above the makeshift schools scaring the children.
http://thewire.in/46581/caught-in-the-civil-war-syrian-children-receive-make-do-education/

Syria – UN says children caught in Syria’s civil war suffer ‘unspeakable’ abuse.
PBS News Hour.
A United Nations report finds that the Syrian government is responsible for thousands of child deaths and the imprisonment of several children where they suffer physical and mental abuse. While thousands of children have been killed or imprisoned, thousands more have been displaced forcing some to flee to other countries or have been recruited by armed groups and the government to fight in the war.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/un-children-syrias-civil-war-suffer-unspeakable-abuse/

Indonesia – Unicef report finds female genital cutting to be common in Indonesia.
The New York Times.
The United Nations Children’s Fund finds that millions of girls in Indonesia has fallen victim to female genital cutting, a cultural ritual practice. The official Indonesian government definition of female genital cutting defines the practice as a less harsh and less intensive practice than what is often seen in parts of Africa and Middle East. Although numbers has declined in some countries, the rate of decline is not fast enough to keep up with population growth. If rates of female genital cutting is to continue the number of women and girls subjected to female genital cutting will rise significantly over the next 15 years. While female genital cutting is regarded as a cultural practice in Indonesia, conflict persists between religious and secular attitudes towards the practice.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/05/health/indonesia-female-genital-cutting-circumcision-unicef.html

Colombia – Stolen youth: combating commercial sexual exploitation of children in Cartagena, Colombia.
Global Affairs Canada.
A city in Colombia is a destination for sex tourism and sexual exploitation of children. Although illegal, commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth is entrenched in the city because of the well established crime syndicates. Groups have taken action together to clean up the city and promote the idea that the city can not develop on the basis of sexual tourism. Legal action has been taken in some cases but it yields few results.
http://www.international.gc.ca/development-developpement/stories-histoires/columbia-colombie/youth-jeunes.aspx?lang=eng

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Pennsylvania Child Protection News July & August 2016

KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and  attention to our youngest and most vulnerable  citizens.  Please note that what you see here is only a sampling of what should be reported –  the great majority of child trauma & abuse never gets reported. ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN…

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Deliberate Burns Make Up 10 % of All Childhood Burn Cases

This government study shows the frequency of children, most under two, almost all under ten, that are deliberately burned by their caregivers. It is striking in that it gives clear definition & how to interpret a child’s burns. This is perhaps a more technical/professional piece than is usually found here, but I think it is important.

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Minnesota Child Protection News August 2016

  KARA gathers news about abused Minnesota’s abused children every month and works to provide a snapshot of Child Protection and how our state values its children. If you are an aspiring writer/reporter, KARA needs you to help gather and report on these stories.  Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org with REPORTING in the subject line. All Adults Are…

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Best ACEs Articles for August 2016

Why Many People Don’t Talk About Traumatic Events Until Long After They Occur [TheConversation.com]
After traumatic events, such as physical or sexual assault, domestic violence or combat, that threaten to rob us of our dignity and spirit, people typically don’t tell others. In fact, many trauma survivors either never speak to anyone about what happened to them or wait a very long time to do so. The reasons for this are multi-fold and likely include shame, perceived stigma of being a “victim,” past negative disclosure experiences and fears of being blamed or told that the event was somehow their fault. And when it comes to reporting sexual harassment, women fear for their jobs, promotions or placements.

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CASA guardian ad Litem News & Stories for August 2016

Jan. 17 trial date set in Sullivan County homicide
Terre Haute Tribune Star
Tribune-Star/Lisa TriggDefendant Joshua Travis Hall is led from the Sullivan Superior courtroom by Sheriff Clark Cottom following a hearing Monday …
Flag as irrelevant

Attorney Janie Lindamood leaves mark on community, children, legal profession
Johnson City Press (subscription)
She represented children in delinquency cases and was often appointed as a child’s guardian ad litem, which in Tennessee is a licensed attorney …
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Family Court: abused children need more advocates
The News Journal
The CASA is appointed as the child’s guardian ad litem, which involves being party to any court agreement or court plan for the child and is …
Flag as irrelevant

Judge notes ‘disturbing evidence’ in wards of court application
Irish Times
The alleged sexual abuse and brutal treatment of two children, both aged under 10, was “the most disturbing evidence I have read in 20 years on the …
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September Sad Stories Part II (through September 30)

Murder charge in Burke baby death
The Augusta Chronicle
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has charged a man with murder after the death of an infant in Waynesboro. The Burke County Sheriff’s Office …
UPDATE | Waynesboro man accused of murder in death of 6-month-old – WRDW-TV
Murder charge filed in death of 6-month-old baby – WTVM
Full Coverage
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Woman enters mental disease plea in baby death
The Sheboygan Press
SHEBOYGAN – A Sheboygan Falls woman pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect on Monday to charges she killed her 2-year-old …
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Parents want answers over baby’s death
Perth Now
THE grieving parents of a baby boy who died days after he was sent home from two Perth hospitals and a doctor’s surgery say they want answers over …
WA parents demand answers over baby death – NEWS.com.au
Perth baby dies after being sent home from two hospitals – Yahoo7 – Yahoo7 News
Parents blast Perth hospitals after death of baby Malakai Matui Paraone – WAtoday
Full Coverage
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September Sad Stories (part 1 through September 15)

Homeless woman accused of child neglect, children covered in filth, lice, suffering health problems
Bennington Banner (subscription)
BENNINGTON >> A homeless woman is facing charges after her children were found covered in filth, infested with lice, and suffering numerous health …
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Calgary hosts international anti-child abuse, neglect conference
CBC.ca
Former Flames hockey player Sheldon Kennedy gave a keynote speech to the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect …
Calgary conference focused on preventing child abuse kicks off at Telus Convention Centre – Calgary Sun
More than 1100 delegates in Calgary to attend international conference on preventing child abuse – Calgary Herald
International conference battling child abuse meeting in Calgary – CTV News
Full Coverage
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Child neglect case of Unionport-area man now includes molestation charges
Winchester News Gazette
Both McKinney and his wife, Amy, were charged Tuesday with three counts each of neglect of a dependent, a Level 6 felony. At initial hearings, they …
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Child Abuse A National Overview (Sarah Westall Radio Show – Share This Widely)

arah Westall’s serious research gives her chops to ask the hardest and most in depth questions diving deep into the heart of the matter she is investigating.

This interview is the best I have had in the almost two decades of speaking and writing for Kids At Risk Action. Don’t miss it.

Share this interview with your connections – it will open their eyes to the depth and scope of child abuse and child protection in our communities (& make life better for at risk children).

Sarah Westall Interview

All Adults are the protectors of All Children

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International Child Protection News September 2016

Despite child labour being illegal, the Burkina Faso government overlooks the use of children in mining and extracting gold. It’s willingness to overlook the use of child labour is based on its dependency on gold exports for revenues. Children are sometimes pulled from school to work alongside with their parents to earn money for the family.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/burkina-faso-gold-mines/

To Maintain Supply of Sex Slaves, ISIS Pushes Birth Control.
New York Times.
Girls from religious and ethnic minority groups are captured, bought and sold by Islamic State (IS) members. The girls are repeatedly raped and given birth control to ensure the girls are not pregnant while the girls are bought, sold, or passed around. The girls are given oral or injectable contraception, sometimes they are given both. To ensure the girl is not pregnant, they are taken to the hospital to test for HCG hormone, which is indicative of pregnancy if it is present. If she is not pregnant, the captors continue to rape the girl or sell her to other captors for similar purposes.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/13/world/middleeast/to-maintain-supply-of-sex-slaves-isis-pushes-birth-control.html?_r=1

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Minnesota Child Protection Stories September 2016

Protesters call for boycott of Varsity Theater, Loring Pasta Bar
Minnesota Daily
The protest was meant to educate the campus community of sexual abuse … The lawsuits were filed under the Child Victims Act, which extended the … any of it,” said first-year University of Minnesota neuroscience student Mary Ellen …
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Mother and boyfriend charged in MN toddler’s death
KFGO
ANOKA, Minn. (AP) – Authorities have filed charges against the mother of a Blaine toddler who died and her boyfriend. Anoka County Attorney Tony …
Couple charged in child death – Valley News Live
Two adults charged in connection with toddler’s death – White Bear Press
Full Coverage
Flag as irrelevant

Charges filed in murder of Blaine, Minnesota toddler
KMSP-TV
A man wanted in the murder of a toddler and kidnapping of a 5-year-old girl in Blaine, Minnesota was arrested Wednesday morning by the Missouri …
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Around the state: Mother, boyfriend charged in toddler’s death
Post-Bulletin
MINNEAPOLIS — A trial in Minnesota district court will test whether suburban … The toddler died at the scene from injuries that authorities say were …
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October Sad Stories Part I

Drugging Our Kids: Governor signs bills to curb prescribing of psych drugs to California foster youth
The Mercury News
Joymara Coleman, a 24-year-old Cal State East Bay student, displays two of the psychotropic medications she was prescribed while in foster care.
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October Sad Stories Part II

WA: Can this tool fix our troubled foster care system?
Crosscut Seattle – October 28, 2015
Anyone who has filed a tax return by hand knows that filling out bureaucratic forms can be a dreary, time-consuming enterprise. For child welfare and youth homeless social service providers, it can be a hindrance to the very outcomes those forms are trying to achieve: providing quality care for the state’s most vulnerable kids. Partners for our Children, a group out of University of Washington’s School of Social Work, is trying to solve that problem.
http://crosscut.com/2016/10/can-this-tool-fix-our-troubled-foster-care-system/

US: Modernizing Foster Care (Opinion)
Chronicle of Social Change – October 28, 2016
The shortage of foster families will continue to increase. Previous blogs have discussed ways to lessen the need for temporary homes by preventing unnecessary removals and by hastening the time to a permanent home through reunification or adoption. In addition, foster parents should be more adequately compensated.
https://chronicleofsocialchange.org/blogger-co-op/modernizing-foster-care/21957

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International Child Protection News October 2016

U.K. – Sunderland Child Protection Body Apologizes Over Death of Girls.
The Guardian.
The death of two teenage girls under child services were both found hanged 10 days apart. No connection has be found linking the two deaths, however; the similarities in both cases prompted serious case reviews out of fear the children may be experiencing similar unacceptable levels of care.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/14/sunderland-childrens-services-apologise-critical-report-deaths-girls

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Children’s Mental Health, Prozac and You (suicide & other self-harming behaviors)

For every successful child-suicide there are an estimated 25 attempts.

The suicidal hanging of six-year old foster child Kendrea Johnson opened my eyes to the fatal flaws of Prozac and very young children and foster care.

The dearth of mental health trained foster families and the number of traumatized children in child protection systems can only lead to exponential growth in dysfunctional and dangerous behaviors that last a lifetime.

Nationally, about a third of children in foster homes take psychotropic medication like Prozac (they have no choice – the drugs are forced on them).

The note seven-year old foster child Gabriel Myers left when he suicided by hanging was specific about his hatred of the drug he was forced to take and that he would rather be dead.

In 2014, America forced Prozac like drugs on 20,000 + one and two-year old children. One manufacturer (Johnson & Johnson) was fined 4 billion dollars for illegally selling these drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children (with 4 thousand cases awaiting trial and that is just one manufacturer).

My first visit to a four-year old child as a volunteer Hennepin County guardian ad Litem was at the suicide ward of Fairview Hospital. I know suicidal ideation by medication and caution anyone using these drugs on children to learn about it.

During my first years as a CASA GAL, I experienced multiple suicidal children in my caseload. All of them were under ten-years old. The amount of Prozac like drugs forced on these children was remarkable. So remarkable that a Hennepin County judge shared the records she kept of medicated children with me and talked openly about her dismay that these drugs were being used on very young children.

There are no records kept of suicide attempts by children in child protection or foster/adoptive homes.

Only successful suicide attempts make the paper or are made public. In 2013, 494,169 Americans were admitted to hospital emergency rooms for self-inflicted injuries.

In Minneapolis MN, our HCMC hospital sees almost one thousand emergency room psychiatric visits each month.

For the first time in our nation’s history, mental health parity (a piece of the Affordable Health Care Act) will make mental health services available to the poor traumatized children I have worked with.

How we treat our most vulnerable children define the heart and soul of this nation.
If there is one thing to fight for in the coming battle over repealing the ACA, please join me in the demand for mental health care for our youngest citizens.

www.Kidsatriskaction.org

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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.

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November 2016 Sad Stories Part I

IN: Child re-sentenced for murder: A sign of juvenile justice reform?
Christian Science Monitor – October 31, 2016
Paul Gingerich was 12 years old when he helped fatally shoot a friend’s stepfather in a small Indiana town about 45 miles northwest of Fort Wayne. The boys had planned to flee to Arizona or California after the ambush, but both were caught, convicted, and sentenced to 25 years in prison. The case sparked outrage from child welfare advocates because Mr. Gingerich, now 18, is believed to be the youngest person in Indiana history to be sentenced in an adult court.
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2016/1031/Indiana-child-re-sentenced-for-murder-A-sign-of-juvenile-justice-reform

IN: Drugs could be to blame for rise in foster care cases, officials say (Includes video)
WDRB – October 31, 2016
As the number of kids in foster care in the United States goes up, Indiana is among the states seeing the largest increase in new cases.
http://www.wdrb.com/story/33534207/officials-say-drugs-could-be-to-blame-for-rise-in-foster-care-cases

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