Court Rules American Children Will No Longer Be Incarcerated For Life (& we recently quit executing juveniles)

Some states still charge 11 year old children as adults in this nation (25% of youth are charged as adults in America).

MN Supreme Courts former Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz is remembered for her statements about how abused and neglected children correlate to crime & prison.

“The difference between that poor child and a felon is about 8 years” &

“90% of the youth in juvenile justice have passed through child protection” are 2 powerful Justice Blatz statements that should cause us to reflect on how we treat the youngest and most vulnerable among us.

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COVID & Child Protection, Foster Care & Privatized Group Homes

The State of Minnesota forcibly closed the privatized group home at St Cloud for repeated violations  including head banging that caused concussions & sex in front of staff.  2 St Paul boys group homes have been closed recently and there has long been a shortage of qualified foster homes in outstate Minnesota (as it is all around the nation).

This video demonstrates how terrible privatized group homes can become (Florida forces 48% of their state wards onto Prozac like drugs and now lives with eleven year old’s prostituting themselves out of their foster group homes).

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COVID & Child Suicide November 2020

KARA (Kids At Risk Action) tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and  attention to our youngest and most vulnerable  citizens.  The COVID pandemic has interrupted most major media reporting of child abuse issues.

KARA’s reporting is only sampling of what should be reported –  the great majority of child trauma & abuse is never known. Major media and institutional reporting on children’s issues are much lower due to the COVID pandemic.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

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COVID and Foster Care

The COVID crisis is stretching all of our community resources.  Every state is struggling to provide safe homes for foster children.

Fixing the problems this article brings to light will require an informed and involved community and government…

Click here to find out how to begin to make this happen where you live.

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COVID Burnout; Health Care, Teachers, Law enforcement, Social workers & what we could do

Our communities are only as safe and healthy as the institutions that create the environment we live in.

A brief search of front line workers in education, health care, law enforcement or social work shows a growing exodus by retirement, medical leave or just walking away as COVID is making the work they do an even more extreme sacrifice than it was pre pandemic.

For those of us that live with, know or love a person engaged in keeping our children educated or the rest of us safe and healthy,we know the stresses facing these people and the fear and danger of bringing a secondary trauma or risk of COVID home at the end of the shift.

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COVID Child Abuse Update for July – August 2020

Almost every school building in the country is closed
Fewer than half of students are participating in online learning in some schools,
The reporting of child abuse is dropping by as much as 70% since schools shut their doors.
Between March and April almost 90% of children entering Children’s Hospital in Washington DC had to be hospitalized because of injuries suggesting child abuse (compared to 50% in the same period prior year).
A majority of Americans are not reporting parental child abuse (only 19% say they are “very Likely” to report and only 36% would report if it were a stranger doing the same thing.
It’s time the rest of us gave voice to invisible children.

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Crime and Justice & a Great Sadness

What do you feel when a baby is found dead in a dumpster, a young person deliberately murders innocent people, or some other insane tragedy fills the headlines?

Do you feel a sense of loss and sadness for the suffering of the parties involved?

Or are you filled with judgment and a need to blame someone and a desire for punishment?

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Criminalizing Elementary School Children (policing our schools & punishment)

Federal Funding, Zero Tolerance and Inadequate Alternatives mean that more states are policing schools with armed officers. Before the 1970’s police were almost absent from elementary and junior high schools.

Today, armed officers are dealing with an escalation of violence and criminal prosecutions for children as young as 6, 7 and 8. Prosecuting kids in place of using resources to help them adapt destroys the fabric of a child’s life and achieves the exact opposite of what children need and society expects from an elementary or junior high school experience.

There are a significant number of us who believe it more important to punish bad behavior in children than it is to help them develop the skills they need to live among us. When these folks hold sway in education, the institution suffers, the child suffers, and the community gains one more troubled adult a few years later. For too long, America has led the world in crime, incarceration, violence and troubled schools. While not the only reason, treating at risk children with behavioral problems as offenders instead of troubled youth has played a big role.

The articles below are obvious examples of policing and education gone wrong. No child should have to live with this kind of institutional abuse. ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

When 14-year-old Ryan Turk cut ahead of the lunch line to grab a milk, he didn’t expect to get in trouble. He certainly didn’t plan to end up in handcuffs. But Turk, a black student at Graham Park Middle School, was arrested for disorderly conduct and petty larceny for procuring the 65-cent carton. The state of Virginia is actually prosecuting the case, which went to trial in November.

Changing the rules of the game requires federal, state, and local reforms. With little evidence that police in schools make students safer and plenty that they facilitate harm to students’ liberty and well-being, the Department of Justice should end the cops program’s SRO grants to districts. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for billions that promote unjust school conditions and put kids at greater risk of future involvement with the criminal justice system. And students should feel like they can talk to school officials when they have problems without forfeiting their constitutional rights and winding up in the back of police cars.

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Criminalizing Mental Illness (statistics & stories)

It is upsetting that the only significant authoritative voice speaking to the horrific practice of criminalizing mental illness is Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.

Stanek’s Star Tribune article today paints the ugly picture of mentally ill patients not charged with any crime, locked up in a tiny, isolated, empty cell for 23 hours a day for months at a time because there is no other place for them.

HCMC downtown is seeing 800 to 1000 emergency psych visits/month, MN hospitals are turning away mental health patients and a very large percentage of people in the juvenile and criminal justice system suffer from diagnosable mental health problems.

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Crisis Nurseries & Colleges

From the book, How Children Succeed, Paul Tough, I learned that 68% of wealthy high school graduates with at least one parent that had graduated from college went on to achieve their own BA degree, while students in the lowest economic quartile without college graduate parents achieve a BA degree at less than 10%. Gotta admit that is a big spread.

From the Consortium on Chicago Schools Research, one in thirty African American Boys that graduate from Chicago schools will go on to achieve 4 year college degree before they are 25.

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Critical Perspectives On Child Abuse (updated regularly – send KARA your insights)

Adverse Childhood Experiences ACES NEWS Top notch reporting on research and news about abuse politics, programs and stories locally, nationally and internationally. Current and focused trauma informed news.

Richard Ross has devoted ten years of his life to documenting America’s hidden gulag of 71,000 teenagers in lockdown and solitary confinement. His photographs are eloquent and deeply upsetting.

ACE Study Preview – The most compelling video about child abuse ever. The medical communities elegant effort to reduce 30 years of research into 3 minutes. Powerful.

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

FOSTER SHOCK This Frontline quality video documentary uncovers unspeakable failures in Florida’s Privatized Group Homes. THE PASSWORD IS ” foster ” or download the video

Does Your State Have Safe Passage For Children (is there a voice for the safety and well being in your state for at risk children?)

Do Your State Ward Children Have a Voice In the System That Rules Their Lives? (National CASA Here)

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Cruel & False Savings Are Cheating America’s Abused & Neglected Children (again)

Because the State refused to spend the $500 to do a basic background check on his father before assigning dad custody, even though dad had a court order in an adjacent state forbidding him from being around young boys because of what he did to them and even though dad had spent 2/3’s of his adult life in prison, Andy (the child) was taken from a loving foster home to spend 4 years (from 4 to 7 years of age) sexually abused, beaten and starved by his biological father. From 4 to 7 years old, Andy was left alone in an apartment for days at a time without food or drink, tied to a bed.

Bruised from head to toe when dad finally brought him to school (at 7 years old), placed into child protection services and not treated for mental health issues, Andy became a very disturbed young man.

Prozac, Ritalin, & other psychotropic medications, multiple suicide attempts and intermittent months of sporadic & very expensive “suicide watch” therapy (including airplane trips to emergency facilities) & group homes were the State’s underfunded, misguided attempts to manage a terrifically damaged beautiful young boy were too little and too late.

Andy has been a ward of the state now for 16 years & will most likely remain a ward of the state for the rest of his life.

If he lives to 60, he could be a 10 to 20 million dollar burden to the state, without calculating any amount for his violence, the people he hurts, & the damage he does.

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Cry Me A River (but let’s not change anything)

thought my friend David Strand was kidding when he told us that all Europeans needed to do to raise taxes for sensible legislative reforms was to hold up a copy of the New York Times and point out what could happen otherwise. You tell me;

More Cops in Schools Is the Wrong Answer to Mass Shootings

Across the country, school districts are quietly arming teachers for the …
After Sandy Hook, More Than 400 People Have Been Shot in Over …

Toddlers Killed More Americans than Terrorists in 2015 – Snopes.com
Armed toddlers kill twice as many Americans each year as terrorists …

How America Values Children (guns and drugs)

Kids Killed & Injured in Your State (8369 2015 America)

Will Florida Jail Doctors for Speaking About Gun Safety?

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Day Care; The Bargain

Because the waiting list for subsidized daycare is one year into the future for the father of the children I represent (as a county guardian ad-Litem) there is a good chance that his two small children will be taken from him by the county and adopted by someone he has never met.
It is also possible that he may not be able to visit his children if they are adopted.

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Daycare In America (more sad stories)

A South Carolina woman who allegedly operated an unlicensed daycare out of her home faces multiple charges after a child under her care died. But investigators say that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Pamela Clark Wood, 49, was arrested March 6. Police began investigating Wood last month after Greenville County Sheriff’s deputies received a call about anunresponsive 3-month-old baby girl, who later died.

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Dear At Risk Kids Army (part of the plan for 2017)

Kids At Risk Action is pleased to report over 185,665 reader minutes spent learning about child protection issues on KARA’s website this past year. This represents 50,907 of you (way more than last year).

Many thousands of you are also sharing KARA information on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Our goal for next year is to double these numbers and turn learning into action.

For the New Year KARA is requesting your participation in creating a positive vision & plan for system reform that is effective and easy to begin using in your community.

The latest draft will always be here (share your ideas as comments on this page).

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Dear Elementary School Teacher (I’m sorry for being such a problem)

I may look like the other 4th graders in your classroom, but I am not. I’m very different. My birth family’s repeated traumatic sex assaults and beatings have had a powerful and lasting impact on my body and mind. I don’t love or trust anyone and don’t feel loved or trusted at all.

The reptilian, fear activated part of my brain, the amygdala, is much larger than other children’s. This interferes with my ability to sit still in a classroom and I’m unable to concentrate on the things you are talking about. My mind is always filled with fearful thoughts and anxiety about the next bad thing that’s about to happen. It couldn’t be otherwise. The Prozac I’m forced to take (about a third of all foster children are medicated by psychotropics) makes me stupid and slow and I hate that. Some seven year olds know what the suicidal ideation on the side of the Prozac box actually means (fully formed thoughts of self harm and suicide delivered in waking moments).

I don’t have the coping skills to handle small personal things in the classroom like other children. Certain words and behaviors by others trigger a violent learned fear response in me that other kids don’t seem to have. I can be violent and did not learn social interaction at home, My reactions to minor things do not come from the executive function of my brain. I can’t control myself, things just happen.

Please understand that foster children are not foster children because a parent tired of caring for them or someone hit a child once or twice. At least I’ve not seen that among the foster kids I know. I’ve come to know many foster children through the County system as I’ve moved from foster home to foster home. It is the “Imminent Harm Doctrine”, that let’s a judge remove a child from a birth home. Literally, a child’s life must be in danger before the court will take a child away from birth parents. It really is almost as traumatic to be removed from the home as it is to stay and suffer the abuse. No matter how bad the abuse is, the fear of waking up in a strange place, with no one you have ever seen before is extremely frightening to a seven year old.

I became a state ward because my mother, who had been horribly abused as a child herself, had very violent boyfriends who thought sex with children was acceptable behavior. One of the boyfriends kicked me so hard I went into convulsions & needed an ambulance ride to the hospital (I was seven). The medical staff saw the awful bruises and placed me in child protection.

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Dear Governor Dayton’s Task Force On Child Protection (for the record)

Dear Governor’s Task Force People,

I’ve been a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem since 1996 and witnessed many terrible things being done to children both in and out of child protective services (none of them ever made the paper or received any public awareness). I helped found and remain on the board at CASA MN and wrote the book INVISIBLE CHILDREN on this topic in 2005.

Nothing in this letter is meant to reflect badly on adoptive or foster families, GALs/social workers, the courts/police/juvenile justice, educators, task force members, or others directly involved in trying to help children in need of protection. We are doing what we can with the training, resources, and understanding we have.

This letter is intended to bring to your attention the depth and scope of the problems and the high level failures that cause the terrible data and Governor Dayton’s “colossal failure” language for describing child protection in MN. I have inserted a few personal CASA stories (MT) to exhibit specific system faults that need addressing by your task force.

Until Brandon Stahl took it upon himself to convince his employer (the Star Tribune) that this story was worth covering, no one paid any attention to child protection. Eric Utne of the Utne Reader told me ten years ago that there was no public appetite for this topic and it would ruin his magazine if he printed my stories. The Star Tribunes extensive reporting is a rare and positive turn of events that may not be repeated for a very long time.

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