ACES Connection (articles from April)

MARC Advisor: Brenda Jones Harden, PhD, ACEsConnection.com
Dr. Brenda Jones Harden is Associate Professor in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology at the University of Maryland College Park. Her research examines the developmental and mental health needs of children at environmental risk, especially those who have suffered maltreatment or trauma.

Colleges Need to Do More to Support Poor Students, PSMag.com
A new report from the Department of Education calls on schools to improve the graduation gap.

Mental Illness Mostly Caused by Life Events Not Genetics, Argue Psychologists, Telegraph.co.uk
While there has been some success in uncovering genes which make people more susceptible to various disorders, specialists say that the true causes of depression and anxiety are from life events and environment, and research should be directed towards understanding the everyday triggers.

The Growth of Concentrated Poverty Since the Recession, in 3 Infographics, CityLab.com
A new analysis by the Brookings Institution shows increases in two-thirds of the largest U.S. metros.

Don’t Let Defensiveness Stand in the Way of Personal Growth, PsychCentral.com
Defensive walls go up quickly when we feel unappreciated or disrespected. The walls are meant to keep out unfairness and negative evaluations of our choices and behaviors. But what it often shuts out is self improvement.

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Abused To Death While Child Protective Services Observed – 1000+ American Children in six years (AP report)

Brandon Stahl, the intrepid Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter spoke to KARA on camera about how difficult he found it to gather information on abused and murdered children in MN. Not making public information relevant to how a child died serves no good purpose. Who are we protecting by this secrecy?

When there is transparency, issues can be identified, addressed, and resolved. Until then, America’s child protection issues will remain under-reported, under-discussed, under-addressed, misunderstood, and never resolved.

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Abused and Neglected Children’s News (thank you Child Welfare In The News)

MA: Patrick To Address Controversy Surrounding Child Welfare Agency
Associated Press – January 27, 2014
The failure of the Department of Children and Families to keep track of a missing 5-year-old boy whose family had been under its supervision is inexcusable but has given the state an opportunity to re-examine the agency and make changes, Gov. Deval Patrick said Monday. Also: Gov. Patrick: DCF review to be completed by the spring: http://www.myfoxboston.com/story/24554144/2014/01/27/gov-patrick-to-discuss-dcf-probe#ixzz2rh7CVuAs
http://www.wbur.org/2014/01/27/patrick-speak-dcf-controversy

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About Women In Prison (most are primary caregivers, many lose their children forever)

I had the good fortune of meeting Tom Daly who wrote a history of Shakopee women’s prison and he told me how women benefited from the educational offerings and the ability to visit with their children while in prison (his book featured below). It was Tom’s opinion that the the recidivism rate stayed well below thirty…

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Abandoning Abandoned Children

The list of inner city schools struggling to educate the children of those who could not get to (or for reasons of loyalty, love, or ethics) decided not to, escape to the suburbs where the schools still function is long.

My old high school, Edison, graduates less than 50% of its students, its sister school across town has graduated less than 30% of its students for five years.

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A New Standard For Disaster; Tennessee (802 child deaths in 2011)

It’s painful to watch any children and family services system in turmoil, but the goings on in Tennessee right now might be setting a new standard for disaster. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (TDCS) is locked in a high-profile battle with the state’s most prominent newspaper, The Tennessean, which has published a series of articles questioning the department’s performance in analyzing and reporting on child fatalities.

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A MN guardian ad-Litem speaks to Montana about child abuse.

Law enforcement officials said statistics show survivors of child abuse or neglect are likely to commit a violent crime later in life. A new strategy is being developed to stop both.

In 2010, Montana received nearly $3 million in grants to battle child abuse and neglect. “I’ve been around this business for over twenty years, and I’ve seen some pretty sad cases, and it’s just not good. If we can prevent even one case, then we’re doing our job. I think with a program like this we’re going to see more prevention,” Sheriff Mike Linder said.

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A Law Late In Coming, Not Enough, But Glad It’s Here (Thank You Governor Mark Dayton)

In my experience, in the cases above for example, none of the people in the child protection system recommended bringing charges against the perpetrators because the damaged very young children would have had to testify in these trials (and children make terrible witnesses as they are easily confused and their testimonies are almost always useless).

As the guardian ad-Litem on these cases, I was told by the judges & my superiors that my choice was to remove the children from the home (and away from the perpetrator) with good odds of winning the long term safety of the children, or to go to battle with a 5 or 7 year old as my witness against a legal system stacked against the child.

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A KARA Guide To Understanding Texas Approach To Education

begin with a puritans early world view that corporal punishment & abstinence works (think Cotton Mather & the WitchCraft trials) and denouncing the teaching of “higher order thinking”.

In 2011, Representative Michael Villarreal proposed that sex education taught in public schools be medically accurate (the bill never made it out of committee). In its place Texas Republicans approved Corporal punishment, refusing federal funding for schools, and denying pre-school and kindergarten, as a step forward for Texas children.

At least 3 Texan school districts teach that;

Premarital sex can have fatal consequences,

If a woman is dry, the sperm will die,

3 of the 4 text books used in 30% of Texan school districts never mention condoms but do promote “getting plenty of rest” to avoid contracting Sexually Transmitted Disease.

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A Glimmer Of Hope (push for preschool)

Preschool is having its moment, as a favored cause for politicians and interest groups who ordinarily have trouble agreeing on the time of day. President Obama devoted part of his State of the Union address to it, while the deeply red states of Oklahoma and Georgia are being hailed as national models of preschool access and quality, with other states and cities also forging ahead on their own.

With a growing body of research pointing to the importance of early child development and its effect on later academic and social progress, enrollment in state-funded preschool has more than doubled since 2002, to about 30 percent of all 4-year-olds nationwide. In just the past year, Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and the city of San Antonio have enacted new or expanded programs, while in dozens of other places, mayors, governors and legislators are making a serious push for preschool.

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A Call To Action; The System Will Succeed When The Public & Private Sectors Work Together

It was clear after talking with adoptive and foster families at their annual conference that Indiana’s failure to protect it’s children is due to the politicizing of children’s issues and not the hard work being done by foster & adoptive parents, educators, & social workers that are trying to provide homes, education, and services.

We all know that healthy children become healthy adults & contributing members of our community & that unhealthy children become preteen mothers & juvenile felons that cost our cities and states a fortune over a lifetime.

Wake up Indiana politicians. Your citizens depend on you to understand basic humanity and economics.

Citizens, wake up your politicians (the children can’t do it without your help).

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A Brief History of Four Year Olds and Prozac

Medicating very young children with psychotropic drugs is accepted protocol in foster homes and child protective services throughout America.

States vary, but 33% of state ward children appears to be the lowest percentage of children being medicated. Florida is at 50% Texas has had 67’% of its state ward children between the ages of 13 & 17 medicated).

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A Big Step For Mental Health In Minnesota (and hopefully your state next)

A few years ago, Red Lake MN added a 3.5 million dollar mental health facility to insure that the 15 people that died in the terrific homicide / suicide never happens again. 16 year old Jeff Weise had written, blogged, and talked (with many people ) about his violent mental health delusions for months before his horrific acts. His mother had told him that “she wished he had never been born”.

Michael Swanson’s mother on the other hand, had been desperately trying for years to find her son mental health services prior to his pointless and cold blooded murder of the 2 innocent Iowa store clerks.

If you search this blog under health and mental health, you will find a great many suicide and homicide stories of youngsters and their parents desperately seeking help. In New Jersey, for instance, all the mental health services were removed a few years ago, and all those youth were sent to jail.

This year, Minnesota legislators discussed mass shootings and violent unstable youth and decided that it is time to add mental health professionals, training, services and treatment for our children

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70 Child Abuse Deaths In California’s Child Protection System

When paramedics arrived, eight-year old Gabriel Fernandez was not conscious. His skull was cracked. Three ribs were broken. Bruises and burns covered his body. Two teeth were knocked out of his mouth. X-rays would later show that the third-grader had BB pellets embedded in his lung and groin. Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, 29, and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre, 32, told the paramedics that Gabriel’s injuries were self-induced. Later Aguirre said that he delivered ten or so blows to Gabriel’s stomach for lying and “being dirty.”

Before Gabriel’s death, his mother was the target of six investigations of child abuse. One of Gabriel’s teachers reported the boy coming to school battered. One of Gabriel’s therapists reported that Gabriel said that he was forced to perform oral sex on a family member. Gabriel told a teacher he’d been beat with a belt buckle until he bled and his mother shot him with a BB gun. Gabriel wrote a suicide note, found by his teacher.

According to documents obtained by the LA Times and a recent wrongful death lawsuit filed by Gabriel’s grandparents, Gabriel was never interviewed privately by a social worker about his abuse. Fernandez and Aguirre have been charged with first degree murder of a child. The two have yet to enter their pleas. Two months after Gabriel’s death, four DCFS employees related to his case were fired.

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7$ Child Daycare? (hint – gotta go north)

It’s over now, but for years, universal child daycare has been the rule (at $7.30) in Quebec.

I just can’t help pointing out that some of our neighbors to the North feel very strongly that children’s daycare is worth government subsidy. $75,000 is the low income threshold and $200,000 is the high income threshold.

True, the politics of public service have beat up the program and $20 is becoming the new norm.

Keep in mind that over time, children in quality day care thrive, learn important stuff, and perhaps more importantly, don’t smoke crack cocaine with their out of jail uncle why mom works.

The U.S. expels more children from daycare than any other nation (and has for some time). It’s an issue that bodes badly for the poor educators that later serve these children in public schools and goes a very long way in explaining America’s suffering graduation rates, high crime, and prison populations.
If we valued children half as much as we claim to, there would not be 8000+ children on waiting lists in MN for subsidized daycare.

Do you know who your state legislator is? This will not change until some of us make that call. Share this widely.

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6000 Child Abuse Cases Not Examined In Arizona (putting AZ in 48th place for child well being)

Clarence Carter the Director of AZ Department of Economic Security told the oversight committee that child protection was suffering from lack of funding and resources and has been only investigating the worst of the worst cases.

Skyrocketing case loads and very late (too late in many cases) review of unexamined reports of child abuse make it extremely hard to keep children safe in Arizona, a state that ranks 48th in child well being.

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5 Worst States For Child Homelessness (35% of Mississippi Children Are Impoverished)

From the National Center On Family Homelessness; California has over 500,000 children children lacking stable housing. 35% of Mississippi’s children live in poverty. Arkansas, Alabama, & New Mexico have the next highest rates of child poverty and homelessness in the nation. Homelessness leads to mental health issues, crime, school problems (low performance and graduation rates).…

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5 People / Week Accidentally Shot By Children (thank you Wayne LaPierre)

265 Moms, dads, brothers, sisters and selves were shot by very young children this year.

This is the first time data on people shot by children has been collected in America. I’m guessing it will go up n next year.

There are 28 states that hold gun owners criminally liable if children access their guns. There is at least one state that fines doctors (Florida- the initial bill called for a five million dollar fine and & 5 years in prison for the doctor) for counselling parents to take preventative measures with their guns if children are in the home. It’s the law. A very crazy law enforced to the detriment of children (most children accidentally shoot themselves).

Facts about children & guns;

More Americans are shot by toddlers (265) with guns than terrorists (151) just this year. This has been true for many years.

Every 30 minutes a child is killed or wounded by guns in America
Our nation leads the world in gun death
This Mother Jones Article included weapons manufacturers marketing materials aimed at very young children. It is disturbing. It was just last week a five year old Kentucky boy killed his two year old sister with his “Crickett” “my first” rifle. You can buy them in hot pink for little girls:

“The Crickett rifle is ideally sized for children four to ten years old and comes in a …Arms manufactures the following youth rifles: Crickett .22WMR Youth Rifles“

Americans killed by terrorists in the last decade (175) Americans killed by guns in the last decade (280,024)

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477 Child Deaths In FL (preserving families but costing lives)

When 8-week-old Kyla Joy Hall was hospitalized with a bleeding brain and fractures to both legs, both wrists and a foot, police could not determine which of her parents injured her. One thing was certain: Someone had inflicted life-threatening injuries on a newborn.

While Kyla healed in a medical foster home, child-welfare authorities moved to strip both parents of their rights to her. But when her mother bowed out of the picture — to become an actress — her father transformed, without explanation, from abuse suspect into fit parent. Josi Hall, Jacksonville firefighter, was awarded full custody despite the misgivings of his own mother.

Ten months later, Kyla’s father viciously attacked her. Her injuries included a “pulpified” liver, knuckle-sized bruises to her chest and, the decisive blow, a cleaved heart that sustained damage similar to “that of a kick from a horse,” an autopsy said.

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43 Child Deaths Due Policy Violations In Colorado Social Services

To appreciate the meanness of some states I point to (Mitch Daniels) Indiana’s stealing (redirecting) the funding promised to parents that adopted abandoned special needs children (after they had been adopted) & the fiscally irresponsible de-funding of subsidized daycare which forced the county to place children in foster homes because their father’s job did not pay enough to afford daycare.

It costs way more to place children in foster care than it would have to subsidize his daycare payments. Thank you Tim Pawlenty.

It cost Hennepin County millions of dollars to pay for the care of the four year old boy the court thought would be better off with his father even though dad had a court order to stay away from young boys because of what he did to them. My client is now is now 23, has AIDS, and has been in over 30 foster homes and he will be a ward of the state until he dies. He was been tied to a bed, starved, beaten, sexually abused and left alone for days at a time from 4 to 7 years of age. That never made the paper. Nor did the four year old girl who I visited in the suicide ward of Fairview hospital (her sister’s story was much worse).

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