Remembering Mark Proctor

Mark Proctor passed away this past week and Minnesota lost one of its most committed and effective advocates for children in the child protection and foster care system. I know of no one more dedicated to making life better for abused and neglected children. Mark brought depth, wit and a deep working knowledge of the child protection system to our CASAMN board meetings. He was a truly positive force and a joy to work with.

Mark supported guardians ad litem as a former director of the Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA program in South Dakota, and as a member of the CASA Board of Directors here. He got the first legislation ever proposed by Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota introduced in the state Legislature in 2010.

He was always present when any advocacy for children needed to be done.

Mark will be greatly missed not only by his colleagues but by the children of Minnesota, many of whom did not know him but still benefited from his work.

Here is the information about his memorial services this coming Saturday, September 17th:

Mark Proctor passed away in Mendota, MN September 6, 2016.

An “Irish Wake” Celebration of Life will occur at 1:00 PM on Saturday, September 17, 2016 at the Mendota VFW in Mendota, MN. Buffet lunch will be beforehand from 10:45 AM-12:30 PM; please let me know if you plan to attend the lunch and how many people to prepare for by emailing drkaylazp@yahoo.com.

Memorials can be given to the Mark Proctor Scholarship at Black Hills State University (http://www.bhsu.edu/)or to Safe Passage for Children of MN (http://safepassagemn.com/donate/).

Thank you for your support at this time.

Kayla Zirpel-Proctor and Family/Friends of Mark Proctor

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Minnesota Child Protection News August 2016

the mine lakes

 

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 the Protectors of All Children

 

KARA Star Tribune Articles; Child Protection Who Will Speak For Children?  

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Child Death & the Definition of Child Abuse (thank you Safe Passage for Children and DR Mark Hudson)

his morning’s update from Safe Passage for Children includes DR Mark Hudson’s informed understanding of why children die of abuse in our state and how to fix it. He points out that way more children die of abuse every year than they do from cancer. Statistically, it’s a big problem. Ethically, it’s hard to argue against DR Hudson’s prior injury observations and that “Approximately 40% of fatal/near fatal injuries occur in children who have a history with Child Protective Services”.
The letter is worth reading in it’s entirety – please share this with your state rep and your contacts. Creating awareness for the problems of our most vulnerable citizens is the only way to help them.

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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Pennsylvania Child Protection News July & August 2016

fair slingshot rideKARA 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

Compilation of information and writing on this page is the hard work of  Krista Neuner

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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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Using Bibles In Defense of Child Abuse (not the Jesus I knew)

Indiana Governor and Vice Presidential Candidate Mike Pence’s Religious Freedom signature law RFRA allows beating 7 year old’s with a coat hanger leaving bruises and bleeding severe enough to cause the child’s doctor to have mom arrested.

It will be a very sad thing an Indiana Court uses Pence’s law to rule that bibles can be used to torture and traumatize children.

A few years ago I spoke to adoptive parents in Indiana where the prior Governor, Mitch Daniels redirected the funding promised to families adopting special needs children (after the adoptions were completed) to his appointees in social services who could cut the most from social services programs.

Mitch was also running for Vice President at the time. My conversations with those families were really sad (really, really sad).

For the second time in just 3 election cycles, Indiana Governor’s have shown children just how little they matter to the State.

Tiny stepping stones to higher political office; kids can’t vote and only make the media under the most tragic of circumstances. A clear win for Indiana Governor’s (and a few other states too).

If there is a silver lining in Indiana Governor’s political abuse of children, it is that Indiana’s helpless kids are the only youth voice in America’s most important political battle (there is no other meaningful child friendly discourse in our presidential election).

Know anyone in Indiana? Share this with them and suggest that using children as political stepping stones should be a crime.

All Adults are the Protectors of All Children

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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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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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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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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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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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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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CASAMN October 26th Fundraiser (save the date & help us find sponsors)

We need your help! Your sponsorship of this event will be essential to the fundraiser’s success and will enable CASA Minnesota to continue providing volunteer Guardian Ad Litem’s to abused and neglected children involved in Juvenile Court proceedings in our communities & to help fund CASA Cares for kids! We would be most grateful for your sponsorship at any level (including live and silent auction items). Join us for a celebration and a great cause.

CASA volunteers – also known as Guardians ad Litem in the State of Minnesota—are everyday citizens whom judges appoint to advocate for the safety and well-being of children who are in the court system as a result of abuse and/or neglect. They stand up for these children and change their lives.

CASA Cares is a grant program, formerly known as Friends of Children that benefits children in foster care by providing bikes, helmets, camps, school supplies, and other items that allow them to enjoy a positive childhood experience and further help them to overcome adversity by seeing that we as a community can help meet their needs!

CASA Minnesota is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that supports Minnesota CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) programs and the volunteers who have helped more than two million children find safe, permanent homes. Your contributions are tax-deductible! Share this with your friends and networks (All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children)

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Important Child Protection News From Safe Passage For Children – Outside Review Needed

Representatives of counties and the Department of Human Services recently presented the Minnesota legislature with a revised plan for implementing the Governor’s Child Protection Task Force recommendations. It proposed $500,000 for an already agreed-upon outside review of screening practices (Recommendation #25).

This price tag could discourage legislators from funding the project. But the actual cost would probably be under $100,000 – more like $25K.

The review would address issues that are blocking progress on other recommendations, including whether to continue interviewing children in front of their alleged abusers. It would also provide a framework for developing a fact-finding protocol, which workers would be trained in to determine the most appropriate child protection response.

We encourage the Department to include this review in their 2017 budget using the most accurate number possible.

Join the Discussion on Facebook

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CASA Guardian ad Litem News From Around the Nation July 2016

FIND YOUR CASA here – This page tells the stories of  CASA’s around the U.S.  If you are not listed, send me your info and we will include it.  Thank you KARA volunteers for your research and writing on this page.

All Adults Are the Protectors Of All Children

Join the Conversation at Linked In & receive weekly updates from around the nation

Guardian ad Litem Presentation for Prospective Volunteers

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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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MN Child Protection News July 2016

Hundreds of Minnesota teens confined, abused for no … – Star Tribune

www.startribune.com/confined…teenager…minnesota…/389387061/

Star Tribune

4 days ago – Confined without charges, a teenager’s ordeal reveals strains within … Hundreds of Minnesota teens with mental health problems are winding …

Moms emerge as force for change at Minn. state mental … – Star Tribune

www.startribune.com/mothers…as-a…minnesota…mental…/388084502/

Star Tribune

Jul 24, 2016 – Mothers emerge as a force for change at Minnesota state mental hospital … to advocate for their sons who are psychiatric patients at the hospital Tuesday, July …. Delta cancels hundredsmore flights in wake of Monday outage · Lynx head off … A black teenager encounters racism in the Twin Cities suburbs.

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International Child Protection News July 2016

Pakistan – Pakistani teenage girl burned alive in ‘honour killing’ after helping friend elope.

Independent.

The event of honour killing is not strange to Pakistan. The traditional assembly of leaders in a Pakistani village kidnapped, assaulted and killed a teenage girl for helping her friend flee the village to marry of her own free will. This was seen as being bringing dishonour to the girl’s family and village. The punishment of strangling and being shot up with drugs before being burned was presented as being a deterrent to girls. Efforts by the Pakistani government in Punjab to protect women against physical, financial and psychological abuse are being countered by religious groups for promoting obscenity and the destruction of the country’s traditional family system.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/pakistan-honour-killing-girl-set-alight-helped-friend-elope-ambreen-abbottabad-a7016451.html

India – India is in denial about its rape culture – but then so are we.

The Independent.

Government officials in India choose to ignore the issue of rape culture in hopes that the issue just goes away. Funding for rape crisis centres in India has been cut in the belief that local authorities are equipped to deal with rape cases. Responsibility of being rape and for the nature of the assault is placed entirely on the victim, more than likely a female. The rape culture in India and other similar countries are perpetuated by ideas about how proper females should conduct themselves and that if attacked no one would listen to the victim for the reason that the victim was unbecoming or irresponsible.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/india-is-in-denial-about-its-rape-culture-but-then-so-are-we-10093481.html

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Minnesota’s Back Story; Treating Children’s Mental Health

Today’s Star Tribune article (thank you Chris Serres) exposing the violence done to Minnesota’s youngest citizens while in state care reminded me of my own experiences growing up.

In my middle class 1977 neighborhood, the family next door’s 15 year old grandson became psychotic and behaved dangerously.

Mom and dad tried to find him mental health help to no avail.

The only option that provided treatment for their son was the Juvenile Justice system. The boy’s entrance into the system required he be charged with a crime. Their son killed himself a few years later.

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I’ll Be There Next Year Too (CASA Cares Golf Tournament for Foster Children)

Thank You Steve Betchwars for your seventh fun and most terrific year supporting the needs of foster children with your Birdies, Bogies & Bratwurst event.

Everyone had fun, almost everyone won something and everyone did just fine on the course (far as I could tell).

Savory food, great weather and wonderful people (see you again next year).

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Best ACEs Articles for July 2016

Register for the 2016 Conference on Adverse Childhood Experiences [ACEsConnection.com]
Join Center for Youth Wellness October 19-21 for the 2016 Conference on Adverse Childhood Experiences in San Francisco. The conference is a unique opportunity for every expert and practitioner committed to advancing the ACEs movement to come together to build a better future for children exposed to early adversity and trauma.

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Why Schools Fail (another year of bad results)

Another year of disappointing educators, children and parents (Star Tribune 7.28.16)

Don’t blame the teachers (it’s us).

The once a straightforward concept of public schools has morphed into a complex institution unable to respond to the double whammy of a massively changed student body and the unprecedented un-building of support for public education (especially science).

Our student body has changed;
First, immigration and the challenges of language and culture have always turned out well. American education has successfully educated millions of immigrants.

Yes, it’s a struggle, but it is what teachers do and they have always succeeded. My grandparents did not speak the language when they arrived – all of their children successfully finished a public school education.

Second and most critical, generally unknown and poorly understood even by those in the trenches of teaching, social work and justice. The rest of us (including legislators) are clueless.

Identifying and responding to the mental health issues shaping this generation of American citizens is decades late in coming and it has overwhelmed our schools, courts and other public institutions.

The explosion of homelessness, suicides, violence among veterans with PTSD have shown us the long lasting and severe damage trauma does to a person. Untreated or undertreated trauma almost always ends badly (80% of youth aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives).

As a 20 year volunteer CASA guardian ad Litem removing children from traumatizing homes it’s impossible not to see how children beaten, molested, starved and neglected need way more help than they are now getting to succeed in school or in life.

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Let’s Make Child Protection Great Again (thank you Safe Passage for Children)

This article by Safe Passage for Children about the need to re-engineer child protection reporting so that social workers can concentrate on the child and not data entry could be an important first step in modernizing a very troubled institution.

As a longtime volunteer CASA guardian ad litem, it hurts me that social workers with extraordinary caseloads are expected to work miracles with traumatized children and abusive families without the right resources or training in a system that can’t (or won’t) track results and make them public.

If the public knew how well or poorly children and families were responding to the institutional efforts of child protection workers, they could tell their legislators who then could support the people, programs and policies necessary for improving the lives of millions of American children.

This short TED talk hits the nail on the head

All Adults are the Protectors of All Children

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