Texas Wins Again (Criminalizing 300,000 students / year)

Cursing, farting, or an honors student spraying perfume on her neck, all valid reasons for being arrested in Texas schools (citations to six year old’s even).

Does the nation need more disadvantaged youth in the criminal justice system? Texas thinks so.

Texas, the state eliminating higher order thinking from it’s schools & teaching that premarital sex has fatal consequences, and that getting plenty of rest and avoiding condoms saves one from sexually transmitted diseases (& leads all states and many third world nations in the incidence of STD’s among youth) now rests comfortably ahead of all states and the rest of the world in criminalizing students.

Texas also leads in Executions (including of the mentally ill – ignoring federal mandates), juvenile incarceration, uninsured children, child poverty (including food insecurity/starvation of children), preteen pregnancies (and the highest rates of repeat births to teen moms).

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Thank God For Lawyers, Lawsuits & the Star Tribune

Today’s Star Tribune reporting on the civil rights lawsuit for abused children (by reporter Chris Serres) validates my belief that child rape and other crimes against children are the most ignored and cruelest reality in our community.  We hate the conversation so we avoid it and children suffer continued awful traumas because of us.

I know far too many children that have suffered these crimes repeatedly over many years.  All this because we don’t talk about child abuse unless the child dies and makes the news.  Our overwhelmed and misunderstood child protection system is simply unable to provide change or justice until we have this talk.

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Thank You Canada (for your clear speaking about child protection)

This CBS report on child protection in British Columbia is direct and to the point. It’s honesty and tone would be instructive for many U.S. states that suffer from the same issues without the will to face them head on.

It hurts me that we don’t talk more openly about child abuse and how life changing it is for children. Until we do, there’s little chance that the changes required to make our systems work will occur.

I really liked this quote from the report; “In the future, we must accept and act on a simple principle: child protection is one of the most difficult jobs in government and it should be recognized and rewarded with higher compensation.” It is.

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Thank You Century College

This weeks KARA presentation for Century College Luncheon Speaker Series prompted good questions and brought a solid discussion to the critical issues facing at risk children.

We are all seeking better and happier endings.

It will take some participation by all of us to shift the culture to where it respects and cares for America’s children, for that to happen.

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Thank You Colorado Springs Gazette For Your Excellent Child Protection Reporting

A three-part series where The Gazette explores how the child protection system works, how El Paso County ranks in terms of child abuse and how child neglect differs from child abuse in the eyes of prosecutors who handle the cases.

• Chidl protection system isn’t flawless

• Not all child abuse referrals become cases

• Child abuse cases likely to land in family court

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Thank You Critical Thinking Club Of Minnetonka

superior shipTiffini and I enjoyed your groups all out participation in our Saturday KARA presentation immensely.

More questions were asked than answered (always a good sign) and there was a powerful feeling that better answers were important to this group.  We covered a great many of the thorniest questions facing at risk youth and our communities attempts to improve the programs and policies that impact their lives.

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Thank You Governor Dayton (shining a light on Minnesota’s Child Protection system)

mn panorama leaves turned 2It took real courage for Minnesota’s Governor to use the phrase “Colossal Failure” when describing the role child protective services played in the tortured death of four year old Eric Dean.  The politics of child protection are not favorable to politicians.

Plenty of Governors would have let the story die down without making too much fuss about it.  For instance, prior MN Governor Pawlenty stated that “Children that are the victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem, nor are they the problem of the state of MN” &  Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana removed the funding that had been set aside for families adopting special needs children (after 500 adoptions had been completed – counting on that financial assistance for help with the children’s transportation, education, and health care).

After all, children can’t vote and there is no real political price to pay when bad things happen to them (like the screening out of 70 to 90% of child abuse reports, disappearance of subsidized daycare, under funding of child protective services (MN is 47th among the states in funding children in child protective services), or incarcerating juveniles as adults to name just a few).  The only CP children that make the paper are those that die alarming deaths or are children of celebrities.  As a guardian ad-Litem, I have 50 stories way more awful than the violence suffered by Adrian Peterson’s child and not one of them ever made the paper.

There will be a review of the state’s child protection policies.  Let’s hope they discover that investigating child abuse reports by mandated reporters is important and that keeping records of child abuse claims allows CP workers to know the history of troubled families, and that public scrutiny of heretofore hidden public information is not only wrong (and against federal laws), it has consequences.

What the public does not know hurts children.  Without this review, there would be no further conversation.  Without the conversation, nothing will change.  6 million children are reported abused in the U.S. each year.  58,000 in MN.  They need our awareness, understanding, and some empathy.

It is up to us, the voting public, to vote for the people, policies, and programs that will benefit children that so desperately need out attention and understanding.

Help KARA change this.   KARA TV interview at Catherine’s Crossings.  WCCO radio interview   (12 minutes)

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Sample 4 minute video of Kids At Risk Action talk on child protection in America (invite KARA to speak at your conference – Mike@invisiblechildren.org )

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Help KARA break through the veil of invisibility that surrounds abused children today and create public awareness and outrage at what is happening to so many of our at risk youth. 

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Thank You Houston Texan Receiver Andre Johnson

Wow, what a swell guy and great example for the rest of us; Andre bought $19,521 worth of Toys R Us gifts for children in Child Protective Services today. Here’s the link (you can see the very long receipt).

I like his message too;

“A lot of these kids get discouraged because of where they grew up and things like that. I grew up in a single-parent home and I was fortunate to achieve my goals. So, whatever goals you have, just keep them out in front of you, don’t let anybody distract you away from them, because there will be distractions that try to detour you away from your goals. That’s the biggest thing.”

Pass it on to your friends (it may give them ideas)

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Thank You Indiana

I was impressed with the tenacity and commitment of Indiana’s foster and adoptive parents in the face of this state’s mean spirited children’s politics.

The evening before my talk I listened to story after story of the “fluid” nature of Department of Child Services policy, families not being allowed to question decisions or policy for fear of being blackballed, and what it’s like to watch long established, workable policies disappear to be replaced by whimsy and bullying.

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Thank You Judge Kevin Burke

Judge Keven Burke shares a letter from an 8 year old outlining his plans to escape with his toddler brother should the parents reunite (the swearing & fighting are violent & unbearable).

I’ve written about the 7 year old that hung himself and left a note & the 4 year old I visited at the suicide ward in Fairview hospital (as a volunteer guardian ad-Litem).

Judge Burke quotes children that are not in the child protection system & draws our attention to the needs (and I would offer “civil rights”) of the large numbers of children that suffer because their communities don’t offer effective child protection services.

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Thank You Prairie Care & Washburn Center For Children’s Mental Health (the uphill battle in addressing children’s mental health in Minnesota)

Prairie Care’s new 50 bed hospital for Children’s mental health is a tiny step in providing badly needed services for the traumatized children passing through Minnesota institutions.

HCMC alone sees 800 to 1000 emergency psychiatric visits each month and many of them are traumatized children. I’m guessing that an equal number of terrifically disturbed youth get no help at all in our state because there are no children’s mental health hospitals where they live.

The disparity between available beds and needy children will remain huge with this addition but it’s a nice thought that it signals a trend towards valuing the well being of the youngest and most vulnerable among us.

Would six year old foster child Kendrea Johnson have hung herself last year by her jump rope if child protection services had identified her level of trauma and provided access to the most current pediatric mental health care? As it was, her social worker did not know she was seeing a therapist and the police and medical examiner proclaimed that six year old children were incapable of suicide (little do they know).

Would Jeff Weise have killed all those people and himself at Red Lake a few years ago if someone had read his blog or heard his cries for help and brought him to Prairie Care, Washburn Center or other advanced treatment facilities? His mother told him she “wished he’d never been born” and his homicidal/suicidal blog writings were ample warning that the boy needed help. After the tragedy, Red Lake built a mental health facility in town.

Michael Swanson’s mom tried desperately for years to find help for her terribly disturbed son prior to his killing of Sheila Myers & Vicky Bowman-Hall – two random and innocent Iowa grocery clerks.

In my experience as a volunteer guardian ad-Litem, I had many personal, painful encounters with suicidal very young children. My first visit to a four year old state ward girl was at the suicide ward of Fairview hospital. A reason for my becoming a guardian ad-Litem was the tragedy a dear friend lived after adopting a homicidal state ward boy.

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Thank You Ruben Rosario

In reviewing Minnesota’s past child abuse tragedies to connect the dots between the sadness of four year old Dennis Jurgens murder by his adopted mother of 1965 (Lois Jurgens went on to adopt five other children after that murder) and the Eric Dean murder recently, I discovered the work done by St Paul Pioneer Press reporter Ruben Rosario on the beating death of three year old Desi Irving by her mother in 1997.

Ruben Rosario’s investigation turned up the exact same issues we are facing today and very candid remarks (1998) by then former head of Hennepin County’s Department of Children, Family and Adult Services.

Ruben and David Sanders draw attention to the lack of public transparency, closing cases without investigation, state laws that prohibit discussion of even the most egregious cases of child abuse, deliberately keeping child death cases “off the books” (30 cases in FL recently), and the impossible fact that government data often does not include deaths involving children whose families never came in contact with child protective services.
Ruben’s drew attention to Brown University research demonstrating that 15% of all murders during a 32 year period of investigation were the killing of one or more children by a parent, step-parent, caretaker or other parental figure.

One third of the victims were under one year old, and two-thirds were six or younger.

The need for a database clearing house, keeping data longer and making it more transparent and accessible are necessary if the public is to have any basis for understanding the depth and scope of child abuse in America today.

From someone who has witnessed child abuse tragedies as a volunteer guardian ad-Litem again and again over many years, it is obvious that our community’s big talk about how we value children is just that – talk and nothing more.

Thank you Ruben for your in depth reporting on child abuse & thank you Governor Dayton for remarking candidly on the “Colossal Failure” of child protective services that cost Eric Dean his tortured and painful four year-old life.

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Thank You Ruben Rosario (for today’s powerful Pioneer Press article supporting our Invisible Children Petition)

“In the spirit of a) enlightened self-interest and b) in order to form a more perfect union, we the people of Minnesota declare that all children have an equal right to preventative health care (the right to see a doctor before they are sick) including prenatal care and to quality early learning (pre-K) programs,” the petition states.

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Thank You Safe Passage For Children

As a long time CASA guardian ad-Litem who finds it impossible to believe that the depth and scope of child abuse in my community (both local and national) is largely unspoken until some poor child is found in a dumpster or has his brains bashed out against a wall by a caregiver, I am excited by the efforts to quantify these sad facts by Safe Passages For Children.

It is precisely because we don’t keep track, or if we do, don’t publish the mountain of unhappy things happening to our children. If these things were recorded, reported, and discussed, our institutions could function more effectively and children would be much safer and happier.

What follows is a major effort by Rich Gehrman and Safe Passages For Children to identify the tip of this iceberg (thank you Rich and company)

Please sign our petition for safe and healthy MN children (even if you are not from MN)

Petition to make health, education, and well being available to all MN children

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The Accountability Gap in Child Protection (Thank you Safe Passage For Children)

This article copied from the Safe Passage For Children newsletter clearly articulates the importance of record keeping as it pertains to reports of repeated calls of child abuse.  Unfortunately, the system is overwhelmed, and it is all too easy to simply not keep good records. What we don’t know can’t hurt us.  But it certainly…

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The Administration That Poisoned the Children of Flint Michigan

It’s hard to believe that a political administration could go so far in negating the value of a city’s children as just happened in Flint Michigan.

For 2 years Flint children have been poisoned with lead and other toxins in the face of scientific evidence, political backlash and community outrage with nothing but misfeasance, malfeasance and non-feasance from the Governor’s office (all 8000 of Flints children).

Flint needs disaster relief from the EPA, CDC and Army Corps of Engineers to stop the State sponsored child abuse that poisoned the children of Flint Michigan.

Elected officials need to be made aware that what happened in Flint was wrong and the people in charge made public, made to resign and be punished. Sign Michael Moore’s petition on Facebook to let Michigan’s Governor know that what he has done to Flint’s children is a crime (if the Michigan State found you knowingly poisoning your children over an extended period of time you would be guilty of second degree felony child abuse)*

Michigan Penal Code, section 750.136b:

“A person is guilty of child abuse in the second degree if…the person knowingly or intentionally commits an act likely to cause serious physical or mental harm to a child,” Michigan Penal Code, section 750.136b states. “[This] is a felony punishable by imprisonment for a first offense of not more than 10 years…[and] for a second or subsequent offense not more than 20 years.”

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The Beatings Will Continue Until the Morale Improves (it’s all your fault)

Historically, we blame educators for failing schools and social workers for murdered children within the child protection system.

This behavior is wrong and counterproductive. It’s like blaming a police officer for the person in the squad car.

If you know police officers, social workers and teachers you know how hard their work is and how dedicated they are to what they do.

The blame for the poor results we have been getting in our schools, child protection and criminal justice system lies with us as voters and policy makers.

Until we understand the depth and scope of the problem and give the people working with the children and youth in our communities the support they need, our problems will continue to grow.

On the bright side, Minnesota has the Washburn Center for Children which is almost 100% successful in treating abused and neglected children. We know how to break the cycle of generational child abuse.

All that is left to do is scale the trauma informed practices to a level that meets the need. The economic reasons for doing this are compelling and it is the right thing to do.

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The Best Article On Child Protective Services Ever (this is worth the read)

the impossible dilemma faced by child protection workers, judges and parents when a child abuse claim is made. What shouldn’t happen and what should happen for the safety of a child and the integrity of the institution of child protection.

Repercussions of a child abuse report last forever (what’s it like for the child to hear the specific abuse charges brought against you), parents sometimes not allowed to say goodbye, what is imminent danger and how long before you get a hearing (in some communities a year is common).

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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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