Promoting Prisons As Public Policy

I recently toured Richard Ross Juvenile In Justice museum display in Reno NV. Heart rending photos of ten and twelve year old children in America’s justice system. So powerfully does his photographers eye catch the meaning of former MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz statement that “The difference between that poor child & a felon is about 8 years”.

Chief Justice Blatz other quote hangs with me also, “90 % of the youth in juvenile justice have come through child protection services”, reminds me of just how much trauma has been suffered by abused and neglected children & how by not helping them we pretty much guarantee a pipeline to prison for them and the dangerous streets & failing schools that they leave along the way.

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Prosecuting Legislators (can this work?)

A single Minneapolis hospital, HCMC sees 800 to 1000 emergency psychiatric visits a month (one of many metro hospitals).

There have never been enough beds and there will never be enough Prozac to humanely treat the people suffering from terrifying mental health problems.

When 6 year old foster child Kendrea Johnson suicided by hanging, her grandmother sued the County. After Jeff Weis shot dead his grandfather, himself and 8 others at Red Lake MN the community built a modern mental health facility so that it wouldn’t happen again.

The only stories that come to our attention are the most horrific.

There are thousands of stories left unknown except to the DHS staff, social workers and law enforcement, foster and adoptive parents, teachers & health workers dealing with severe, chronic and often dangerous people that would benefit with the help we are talking about.

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Protect Children In the Justice System

Support youth reentry – An estimated 100,000 people under the age of 18 have left secure facilities only to turn around and reenter the system. The report says, “Youth are often discharged from care back to families struggling with domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and unresolved mental health disabilities.” Also highlighted is the issue of public safety being compromised when the released youth is not afforded necessary planning and supportive services.
NJJDCP”s full report and recommendations can be viewed at:http://promotesafecommunities.org/images/pdfs/NJJDPC_RecstoCongress_03122013_web.pdf?utm_source=Copy+of+NJJDP+Report+-Congress&utm_campaign=WNR+2-8-2013&utm_medium=email

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Protect Our Kids Act Passed By Congress (with tiny funding; 2M)

For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know I am critical of the lack of protection (concern) this nation has for its most vulnerable citizens. Other than the “Imminent Harm Doctrine” which allows the court to take children from life threatening circumstances, there is no federal protection for children in this nation. This is a step in the right direction. Thank you Texas Rep Lloyd Doggett for introducing this bill.

From the Alliance for Children & Families website;

The law creates a national commission to examine child fatalities, which the findings state are both preventable and significantly underreported, while the states lack a national standard for reporting. In previous hearings, members of Congress heard testimony about the significant gaps in reporting that prevent effective policies and practices from being implemented.

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Protecting Children From Bad Politics (a note from the Child Welfare League of America)

Protecting Children in Changing Times   Our Children at Risk Never before in the Child Welfare League of America’s (CWLA) 100-year history has there been a higher level of anxiety and uncertainty about the fate and well-being of our children. The plans and policies of the new leadership in Washington, DC, will do egregious damage to social…

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Prozac, Poison & Children (May 2018)

Dramatic rise in ADHD medication mishaps among kids, report finds
ABC News
Nationwide, more than 156,000 calls were placed to poison control centers for exposure to ADHD drugs among those 19 or younger between 2000 …
New study released on ADHD sheds light on rising calls of medication exposure: Experts stress … – WMBF

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Psych Drugs Action Campaign (from the National Center for Youth Law)

On April 14th four bills will be heard before the Health and Human Services Committee of the California State Legislature that improve oversight and monitoring of psychotropic medication treatment for children in foster care. We are writing to request your support. Will you or your organization help? Please send your support letters by end of…

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Public Records (the mystery of child abuse and child protection)

My story is triggered by a graphic demonstration of malfeasance by a public servant (Harper’s Magazine article below) and my response to conversations with Brandon Stahl at the Star Tribune and a former administrator at Hennepin County.  Both told me how inaccessible important child protection public records become when someone decides for no good reason to…

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Punishing Mental Health Problems With Horrid Juvenile Justice; In Many States, This Is The Rule, Not The Exception

Thank the legal community for shining a light on the abhorrent conditions facing mentally troubled California youth.

There’s good reason the Feds are denying California’s request to extend the time for compliance within their jails and prisons and this is a prime example.

14 years old, bipolar and placed in solitary for 22 1/2 hours daily for one hundred days. Read the whole article below. Mean people in a mean system.

California, your justice systems just stink.

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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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Punishing Traumatized Children (the beatings will continue until the morale improves)

Thank you Chris Serres & Star Tribune for identifying how severely the St Cloud Children’s home for children fails abused and neglected kids.

Children live here because a judge found their birth homes so dangerous that the child needed to be removed from the home and placed at the St Cloud Children’s Home.

Instead of providing a safe haven, this facility has been tagged repeatedly with multiple violations over many years. Children having sex in the presence of a staff member, head banging to the point of black eyes, swollen faces and abrasions.

To put a human face on what these violations look like;
As a volunteer CASA guardian ad litem, one of my 11 year old child protection boys (call him John) was misbehaving at a Cambridge Children’s Home.

John was forced outside by a low paid, undertrained staff member, on a ten degree MN night and told that he would be allowed back inside in an hour.

Instead, John walked home, in a T shirt, on the highway from Cambridge (35 miles). 11 year-old traumatized youth don’t often make good decisions (especially children on multiple psychtropic medications).

John was in child protective services (and this group home) because his father tied him to a bed and left him alone for days without food or water from the ages of four to seven.

John was regularly sexually abused, beaten & starved over 4 years living with his dad. When I met him, this 7 year-old boy was covered in bruises from head to foot and on both sides of his body.

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Quality Of Life

There is little that comes easier for a sixty or seventy year old person when it comes to raising children.

The physical and mental demands made on grandparents by their younger charges are tremendous.

From the bottom of my heart, Thank You.

From the rest of us, let’s see to it that they and the children they care for, get adequate help from our communities to make their tasks a little easier and more successful.

Happy Grandparents Day in advance.

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Race To The Bottom, Untrained Social Workers, Over Work & More Dead & Suffering Children In Indiana

“We have children dying in our region and we are awarded with recognition of system improvement. Really?” he wrote. “The timing of this award is hard to accept given the recent tragic death of 10-year-old Tramelle Sturgis.

“How many more kids will die before we all take a deep look at what is going on with child welfare services in Indiana and reverse the draconian cuts in funding and see how those cuts are negatively affecting the safety net of child welfare?”

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Raise Your Voice For At Risk Children (Give to the Max Day November 17th)

Thank you all for helping KARA advocate for an end to our public health epidemic child abuse and child trauma. With your help, we are raising awareness for at risk children’s issues and poised and ready to create lasting change.

Like you, I am an advocate. As a founding member of Kids At Risk Action, I have not stopped using my voice for change. And now you can join me in raising your voice by continuing to receive and share our weekly updates, buying KARA’s INVISIBLE CHILDREN book or making a contribution to show your support.

Please consider making a tribute contribution to show your support of those who stand up to say Yes to improving the lives of abused and neglected children.

Best wishes,

Mike Tikkanen

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Rally To Restore Sanity

MN governor Tim Pawlenty said to Andy Dawkins and David Strand several years ago that “Children that are the victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem or the problem of the state of MN”.

That a major political party would make this a keystone of its platform indicates a gross misunderstanding of the most basic issues facing abused and neglected children. This shows a lack of compassion as well as a misunderstanding of the economics of failing to help children while they are young enough to make a difference in their behaviors and development.

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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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Really Good Child Advocacy Links

AZ: Child abuse isn’t a priority in Arizona
Arizona Daily Star August 31, 2010
Michael is the sixth Pima County child to die in recent years while under the watch of state Child Protective Services. Each killing spurred outrage and demands that things be done better, that children be saved from the relatives who do them harm. “Reforms” were put in place in 2008. Little, it appears, has changed.

http://azstarnet.com/news/opinion/editorial/article_627221d8-c0b6-55f4-b03b-a663abc9e15c.html

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Recent Child Abuse and Child Protection Stories; Arizona/Arkansas

Recent Child Abuse and Child Protection Stories; Arizona/Arkansas
Kids At Risk Action tracks the stories of abused and neglected children and the people, policies and programs that impact them. This is a snapshot of how Arizona and Arkansas value their children.
This is only a small fraction of the stories about the lives of the state’s most vulnerable citizens over the past twelve months.
The vast majority of child abuse and child protection issues are never reported or talked about.
Kids At Risk Action needs an aspiring writer/research to help gather and report on these stories in your state. Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org with REPORTING in the subject line.

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