The Child Neglect Dilemma (from Safe Passage For Children)

Contrary to a common assumption, neglect is not less damaging than abuse. Research shows neglect victims have lifelong problems because they miss developmental milestones around language, self-control, and bonding with others.

A constant dilemma in neglect cases is whether to traumatize children by removing them from their families, or leave them in situations where their brains aren’t developing normally.

Quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs can make it possible to leave children at home while helping their parents improve parenting skills.

This study documents that neglect victims who got ECE moved quickly from having a language deficit to the normal range. Language development is critical to academic success and positive interpersonal relationships.
ECE can help many children avoid foster care and still obtain the baseline skills they need to thrive.

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The Commonality Of Child Sex Abuse

Like many small towns and families, people do not like to deal with child sexual assault and child abuse, in their communities and/or in their homes.

Despite the fact, that 1 in 3 girls, and 1 in 6 boys will be abused before their eighteenth birthday; despite the fact that only 10% tell and the other 90% are still living in a cloak of denial and secracy; despite the fact that 5 children die a day, due to child abuse and child sexual assualt!

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The Cost Of Ignoring Reality

I repeat Pliny’s quote often because I believe it clearly articulates how almost every problem our nation has ties directly to his point; “What we do to our children, they will do to society”, Pliny the Elder, 2500 years ago.

The rest of the industrialized world has recognized the value of healthy citizens. Maybe because the second world war left Europe with such horrific death and ruins, those nations rebuilt their societies with the understanding that poverty stricken crazy people are something to avoid, not produce.

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The Cost of Saving Money

at the time, argued that subsidized daycare was unnecessary (like bus service and bridge maintenance—his words) and he diverted all the money allocated to subsidized daycare for poor families and children into a “general fund.”

The waiting list for low-cost daycare climbed from 34 to over 7,000 families. People quit applying.

My state was saving money at the expense of 1- and 2-year-olds. Drunk uncles and boyfriends became daycare providers overnight, and terrible things happen to children when that occurs…
“What we do to our children, they will do to society” (Pliny the Elder 2000 years ago)

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The Economics of Mental Illness (from KARA 2005)

Treating mental health issues in children is far more effective than letting the problems grow into adulthood, where the evidence clearly indicates a continued social failure and institutional dependence (whether prison, hospital, or state sponsored programs) for people denied help in their youth.

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The Election & Children (from Safe Passages For Children of Minnesota)

This recent piece from Safe Passages for Children of Minnesota paints a more positive picture for Minnesota’s at risk children than can be seen in the rest of the nation.

It’s good to know that MN politicians on both sides of the isle care about the youngest and most vulnerable among us. They recognize that healthy children become healthy adults creating a safe and productive community.

The rest of the nation’s children are at risk as attacks on healthcare and education will dismantle working programs and the well-being of millions of America’s poorest and youngest citizens.

Politicians blaming educators and other service providers replace objective discussions about what it takes to improve safety nets and troubled institutions. It hurts me to see just how quickly children’s services become wasted money that some states have been all too ready to reduce for political benefits.

Thank you Minnesota legislators for doing the right thing. Your critical thinking skills and the ethical standards you have maintained to accomplish so many of the recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on Child Protection Services and Mental Health will benefit this state for decades to come.

As the holiday season approaches, let’s all be grateful for the hard work of these two task forces (and the people that volunteered to staff them) and the results they have accomplished this year.

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The Ghost Of Christmas Future

TAt a Governor’s Task Force Oversight Meeting (on Child Protection in MN in 2014) the head of Hennepin County Commissioners Jan Callison showed genuine anger and concern when she found out* that Social workers weren’t available on weekends or evenings for abused and neglected children and that she directed the department to “fix it”.

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The Ghost of Christmas Past (the value of healthy children)

If we knew the costs abused children carry with them through a lifetime and the cost of multiple generations of abused children there would be

They proved that by investing in early childhood programs children became much more likely to succeed in school and lead a productive life. This research was the most practical approach to the economics of childhood development this nation has ever seen.

KARA believes that this federal reserve study has not had the impact it should have had because;

We don’t respond to how much money is saved as powerfully as we do to how much things cost,
Almost no one knows the short or long term costs abused children carry with them through a lifetime or,
The cost of multiple generations of abused children

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The Importance of Performance Measures (from Safe Passage for Children)

  From Safe Passage for Children today; We often emphasize the importance of measuring outcomes for children. But performance measures are important too. They tell us current information about program operations. The metrics currently on the Department of Human Services’ Dashboard Report don’t cover enough parts of the system to give a well-rounded picture. However…

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The Language of Child Abuse (& why it is critical)

It hurts me to hear discussions of child abuse and neglect in the language of business that fails to convey the horror of the thing that was done.

Tiny defenseless human beings in terrifying circumstances written and talked about as if highways or funding issues are the issue.

Language is critical to a clear picture of what happened.

When we don’t talk openly about a terrible thing it just does not exist (or it’s not terrible or not a problem).

Too much of the time we use words that mask painful things because we are uncomfortable speaking about them. hout food or water.

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The Laws We Live By

George Zimmerman, If not prosecuted in Florida for killing 14 year old Trayvon Martin, opens a whole new world of hate, violence, & death for America’s children.

Similar to Brazilian police hatefully murdering street children last year, American vigilantes can now murder at will the children they deem not fit to live. The harm will fall mostly on poor Blacks & Hispanics if history is an indicator.

Now that virtually anyone can conceal and carry a gun on the street in America, the fact that a self-defense claim works in all instances means that murder is a much easier crime to commit.

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The Longest Day

From a legal perspective the most under-protected persons in America are sexually abused children.

One study indicated that 11% of judges and 51% of prosecuting attorneys admitted that they had deliberately confused the child (witness) during the proceedings.

What this means in practice, is that the nine-year old girl sitting on the stand in the courtroom is being bullied by intense and deliberately confusing cross-examination about her abuse.

Everyone at the sysmposium agreed that children are not mentally capable of undergoing adult type cross examination, but it is clear that this still happens in many cases.

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The Only Nation in the Developed World (American Exceptionalism)

Young families in the U.S. don’t have any mandated maternity leave when the new baby arrives (we are the only developed nation in the world to not offer paid leave to new parents). Families and babies really do suffer because of it.
There is almost no paid paternity leave for fathers in America either (almost all of the developed world – and about half of the 167 nations tracked by the International Labor Organization, offer paternity leave to dads).

American exceptionalism has become the opposite of what we want it to be – especially when it comes to young families and children. We talk a big game, but we don’t really value other people’s children.

All adults are the protectors of all children – communities will be safer & happier when this becomes a truism.

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The Power of Coping Skills & Life Without Them

A sad personal email this morning from a grieving mother has caused me to reflect on friends who ended their own lives and the four, five and six year old children I have known, or known about, who tried or succeeded at suicide.

My cousin Ron Mahla (Actor and brilliant person) and my dear friend Tommy Garretson (Vietnam War Vet with a winning smile and great sense of humor) were both gentle and bright souls that were squeezed to death by sadness and a growing inability to cope with their lives.

In both deaths, I’m almost certain that neither told anyone or thought to get help to cope with the events in their lives (there were no signs of impending suicide).

Coping skills are everything. Have them and we can make it – without them, we are at risk.

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The Race To Incarcerate Women (this does not bode well for children)

Why a Prison Birth Project?
Since 1977, the female prison population has increased by 872% (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008). Over 85% of the women in prison were the primary caregivers to their children before incarceration, and approximately 25% of women in prison have either given birth at some point during the year prior to or are pregnant at the time of their arrest (U.S. Department of Justice).These women have little access to services or rehabilitation related to birth preparation and parenting while in prison.
Labor, delivery, and birth rarely involves family, friends, or support, and most often consists of the woman being searched, shackled, and taken to a hospital under the watch of guards. Their babies are taken away from them soon afterwards. Some mothers will not see their children again then until their release; some may never see them again. These women experience shame, powerlessness, and fear during labor, and are left exposed and likely to suffer to post‐partum depression, life‐long parent‐child attachment issues, and an overwhelming insecurity in their ability to be a successful parent.

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The Real World of Child Abuse (statistics)

There is more to child abuse than bruises, rape and starvation.

27 states allow withholding life saving medical treatment from children if you tell people your religion forbids it . Criminal and civil immunity means it is not murder when the child dies.

A few years ago, Kansas State Rep Gail Finney vowed to pass a bill that allowed caregivers to leave bruises and cause bleeding. Arkansas State Rep Charles Fuqua promoted the death penalty for rebellious children (based on religious grounds).

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