Punishing The Mentally Ill (Minnesota is not alone)

Today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune article supports a position I’ve held for years. By ignoring or under-serving people with mental health problems we are manufacturing state wards, preteen moms, and felons and this is making our cities dangerous and unsafe.

Our current policies of dumping the mentally ill in detention, jail, and prison places a huge burden on educators & juvenile, criminal justice workers, and especially the families (often grandparents, and foster and adoptive parents) that live with them.

Not much teaching gets done in a classroom populated with disturbed youth on Prozac. Safety and behavior management becomes the teachers primary concern at the expense of educating all the other youth. Our nations miserable graduation and drop out rates, STD rates (we lead the world), and crime rates (we also lead the world) are all tied to how we ignore and under-serve people with mental health issues.

Forcing foster/adoptive parents and service providers (educators, social workers, juvenile & criminal justice workers) to be the front line in managing mental health issues of the children and youth in their charge is an overwhelming task that rarely ends well for the children and youth. These children need professional guidance to overcome the serious issues that have triggered dangerous behaviors and the explosive increase in psychotropic medicating of five and ten year old children in our society.

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What Makes Us So Mean? (just wait til you’re in diapers)

Tennessee Congressman Stephen Fincher (who receives 3.5 million in federal crop subsidies) told the New York Times that his bible states “he who is unwilling to work shall not eat”. Not my kind of religion.

Walmart pays its employees so little that they need food stamps and have been living without health care. So the government gets to support Walmart employees and add to Walmart profits.

New Jersey eliminated mental health workers in its schools a few years ago sending all misbehaving youth to jail. New Jersey school counselor Thomas Kersting told Fox News that denying lunch to low-income children whose parents had not filled out eligibility forms would be a “teaching moment” (ie, a great idea).

No diapers, no mental health services, no food stamps, and no lunch. What makes us so mean?

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Hana’s Story

Still, the Williams verdict has renewed calls for adoption reform in Washington—which to date seems to be the only state studying adoptee abuse. There is also talk of a federal bill to enhance post-adoption services for families and require better data collection on failed adoptions, and some adoption agencies, including the country’s largest, Bethany Christian Services, have called for action against rehoming. And a new website, Betaseb, is attempting to provide a place for older Ethiopian adoptees to talk with each other privately and learn about their rights.

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Pope Blasts Capitalism

In a new Evangelii Gadium, Pope Francis has condemned doctrinaire capitalism, “deified markets,” trickle-down economics, and the finance industry. He decried the growing gap between the rich and the poor, tax evasion by the wealthy, and characterized ruthless free-market economics as a killer that was inherently sinful.

“I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centered mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth,” the pope wrote.

He also launched a broadside against former President Ronald Reagan’s signature economic theory, which continues to serve as conservative Republican dogma.

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” Pope Francis wrote. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

The pope lamented that people had “calmly accepted (the) dominion” of money over themselves and society, which he said was expressed in the recent financial crisis and the continuing promotion of consumer-based economies.

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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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Big Pharma – Who Do We Blame?

The root of the problem is that each and every (almost) abused and neglected child in the system has severe mental health issues and there are almost no useful alternative medical systems in place to address this – instead we use drugs.

The World Health Organization defines torture as “Extended exposure to violence and deprivation”. Every child I worked with as a CASA guardian ad-Litem (about 50) experienced extended exposure to violence and deprivation.

Only the worst of the worst cases make it into the system. When I started in 1996, 2/3’s of the reports were investigated. Today because of budget cuts, 1/3 are being investigated.

Half the kids in my case load had been sexually abused. That is a trauma that no five or ten year old gets over without professional help. When they come of age, they get into trouble because they can’t cope. They did not learn how to read, play well with others, or learn to sit quietly in a room – they have been traumatized.

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How We Treat Children

From the annals of Rikers Island comes a document titled, “Three Adolescents With Mental Illness in Punitive Segregation in Rikers Island.” Punitive segregation means solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. Schoolwork, if it comes, is passed through a slot in the cell door. Toothpaste is available once a day.

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Children’s Survival Network (watch this)

Friends, this practical approach of the Children’s Survival Network to dealing with child abuse and the misunderstood and underfunded agencies that treat it impresses me greatly.

Watch this brief video & pass it on to your friends;

Children’s Survival Network, Inc.

Thank you Hayley Foster for showing me the Children’s Survival Network.

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The Science Of Neglect (Harvard University 6 Minute Video)

This scientific approach to child neglect is a strong argument for early childhood programs like crisis nurseries and subsidized daycare. The costs of not providing these things far outweighs the front end investment is children.

http://www.cmhnetwork.org/news/science-of-neglect

The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has published a new 6-minute video,InBrief: The Science of Neglect (2013), which explains how significant neglect can harm to a young child’s development, including cognitive delays, impairments in executive functioning, and disruptions of the body’s stress response. It also looks at why effective interventions are likely to pay significant dividends in better long-term outcomes in learning, health, and parenting of the next generation. The video provides an overview of The Science of Neglect: The Persistent Absence of Responsive Care Disrupts the Developing Brain (2012), a working paper by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. A two-page summary is also available.

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KARA’s Rare Annual Request

Thank you for donating to the Kids At Risk Action, KARA nonprofit. You are wonderful!

It’s easy to ignore our fundraising banners, and I’m really glad you didn’t. This is how KARA pays its bills — people like you giving us money, so we can keep the site freely available for everyone around the world.

People tell me they donate to KARA because they find it useful, and they trust it because even though it’s not perfect, they know it’s written for them. KARA isn’t meant to advance somebody’s agenda or push a particular ideology, or to persuade you to believe something that’s not true. We aim to tell the truth, and we can do that because of you. The fact that you fund the site keeps us independent and able to deliver what you need and want from KARA. Exactly as it should be.

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KARA Invisible Children Presentation Saturday Nov 23, 10AM Minnetonka

He identifies the financial and physical disaster happening daily to children, schools, and neighborhoods because of poor public policy and the dysfunction created by well-meaning people and institutions.

His conversations clarify how American institutions are creating exactly what they were designed to stop and how we can make things better

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Join Me & CASAMN Nov 15, 6-930 For Silent Auction, Great Food & Wine Tasting

Help us continue the good work of CASA by enjoying an evening at our annual fundraiser.

Where; St Mary’s Orthodox Church 3450 Irving AV South Minneapolis 55408

Huge array of silent auction items, good food, and wine tasting.

A Great Evening For A Great Cause

Click here for Invite & RSVP card

Visit the CASAMN website

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What We Think Of Children In America

In one poor school district in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, students take classes in a bus garage, using plastic sheeting to keep the diesel fumes at bay. In another, there is no more money to tutor young immigrants struggling to read. And just south of Denver, a district where one in four kindergartners is homeless has cut 10 staff positions and is bracing for another cull.

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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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Important News From Safe Passage For Children

What if everyone agreed to get behind some of the same best practices for children? It would improve chances of state funding, be easier to track outcomes, and create economies of scale.

This may be possible. Safe Passage research indicates common interest in some of the same programs across child welfare, early childhood development, and children’s mental health. These approaches have a solid track record and strong research base, including Triple P (Positive Parenting Program), Parent Child Interaction Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

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Let’s Start The Conversation

Because we don’t like to talk about it, there is little understanding of the core problems that are driving the terrible statistics of public safety, crime, school performance, and public health (diabetes, obesity, psychotropic medication).

At risk children & their stories are being overwritten by the loud public noise of war, economic distress, and the extremely high volume of mean spirited political rhetoric of today’s media. Kids are really suffering today.

For years, the data reflecting children’s abuse, poverty, sexually transmitted diseases, public safety, health and mental health, child protection, and juvenile justice indicate a significant trend in the wrong direction.

The correlation between juvenile justice and criminal justice has long been established (almost all felons came through the juvenile justice system).

The correlation between child protection services and juvenile justice is less well known, but equally significant.

In the words of MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz, “The difference between that poor child and a felon is about eight years” and, “90% of the youth in Juvenile Justice have come through Child Protection Services”.

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Mental Health Public Policy – Seeking Your Input

A giant change in mental health public policy will soon be felt by all of us from the effects of the Affordable Health Care Act.

We hope it is all positive, but we know better and must be vigilant to avoid painful mistakes.

In KARA’s pursuit of better answers and a more public discourse on the topic, we invite your insights, experiences, and articles to clear the air. Thank you Consulthardesty.com for this correspondence. KARA might take a different view, but Hardesty’s commentary applies directly to the mental health conversation;

The City of Portland, Oregon, has been found by the DOJ to be using police to violate the constitutional rights of those perceived to be in mental health crisis. This blog post explores a new force that may begin targeting this vulnerable population. The public does not yet know the power about to accrue to care providers, as mandatory insurance provides an incentive to fill hospitals.

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Target Practice On The Mentally Ill

America owns the market of mistreating people with mental health problems. Whether Tasering 12 year olds or shooting disturbed people, we just don’t care enough to make health services available to stop the carnage.

16 year old Jeff Weise’s father committed suicide a few years before Jeff started writing about his homicidal and suicidal thoughts and listening to his mother’s wishes that he had never been born.

A few months later he shot dead his grandfather and 14 other people before killing himself. Talk about warning signs.

The year after the carnage, Red Lake found 3 million dollars to fund a mental health facility for the community.

Michael Swanson’s mom (an educated and very capable person) worked for years to find mental health services for her tragically disturbed boy before he drove to an adjacent state and murder 2 convenience store clerks for shits and giggles.

My friend Patti adopted 4 children from a county that assured her they came from fairly normal backgrounds. If being sexually abused at very young ages is normal, then the county did not lie.

20 years later, the mental health issues this family still endures make me hate our institutional habits of obfuscating and lying.

When it is your family or friend that is visited by violence or other forms of insanity the sensation is unbelievably painful. Until then, let’s just not care about affordable health care.

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Tracking America’s Most At Risk Children (through the media, the states & CASA)

Follow these pages to keep up with the most current stories about the people policies & programs working with and reporting on abused and neglected children;

Connect to the most recent media stories
Connect to CASAs (around the nation)

Connect to the states (stories of at risk children in your state)

Children Are Not Burgers (send this to your friends)

4 minute Video on being an abused child in America
Richard Ross photographs juvenile in justice (remarkable)

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Worst State For Moms (and their children) Louisiana Again

My 2012 report about the last place in the nation to raise a child was reaffirmed today (Huffington Post) with another study ranking the state dead last for women. One in five Louisiana women live in poverty & they earn 67% of what men earn (a little more than half of a man’s wage).

One OB-GYN for every 13,136 women & nearly 20% of non-elderly women are uninsured. Waiting periods and counseling are required for women seeking an abortion. Louisiana has the highest rates of poverty, infant mortality, child death, teen births, and no health insurance in the nation.

Other states that earned an “F” overall in these categories are Utah, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, South Dakota, Indiana and Georgia.

Louisiana is also the Prison Capital of The World, where for profit prisons are making a fortune for their investors. They have found that by offering almost no rehabilitation, crowded conditions and easy incarceration statutes (one in eighty six adult Louisiana residents are in the prison system), profits are extraordinary and recidivism is through the roof.

Please share this with your contacts that it might find its way to Louisiana (change only comes from awareness).

Follow KARA on Twitter http://twitter.com/KidsAtRisk

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Reading Test Scores & Prison Populations

Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.BegintoRead.com
Urging young people to read more when there is little available to read makes as much sense as urging starving people to eat, when no food is available. Krashen, 2007
In middle-income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children. Neuman, Susan B. and David K. Dickinson, ed. Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Volume 2. New York, NY: 2006, p. 31.
80% of preschool and after-school programs serving low-income populations have no age-appropriate books for their children

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