From Child Protection to Soldier

Pressed by the demands of the “global war on terrorism”, theUnited States is violating an international protocol that forbids the recruitment of children under the age of 18 for military service, according to a new report released Tuesday by a major civil rights group that charged that recruitment practices target children as young as 11 years old.

The 46-page report, “Soldiers of Misfortune”, was prepared by theAmerican Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for submission to the U.N. Committeeon the Rights of the Child.

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Yes, We Do Know

If there is one thing we should know about American children that have been removed from their birth homes, it is that they have suffered extended exposure to violence and deprivation.
This is the definition of the “Imminent Harm Doctrine” which is the legal statute that allows children to be removed from their family.
Extended exposure to violence and deprivation is also the World Health Organizations definition of torture. Children are not removed from their birth parents unless the home environment has endangered the life of the child. That is the law.
Of the 50 children I have advocated for over twelve years, all had experienced severe and chronic violence and neglect. Sexual abuse of children is not uncommon. Their stories would make you cry www.invisiblechildren.org
To express wonder at why abused children develop emotional problems as they age is misleading and unfair to these children.

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California Dreaming

Last week the State of California achieved perfect synchronicity in its public policy making when it announced that criminals would be released early because the state could no longer afford to keep them incarcerated.
This news reminded me that when I began my work as a guardian ad Litem there were states predicting the need for prison expansion based on the number of failed third grade reading scores within its schools.
Instead of investing in reading for third graders (and early childhood education), California began investing in a third strike punishment model and building tens of thousands of prison beds.

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By Definition

A recent study indicates that up to 80% of children aging out of foster care are leading dysfunctional lives. A Minnesota judge has provided me the Prozac, Ritalin, and other psychotropic medication prescriptions taken by children in her courtroom (most of them under ten years old) and it points at one of the key issues thay might explain why so many youth leaving the foster care program find it hard to cope with life.

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Speak Up For Children

More importantly, supporting day care for disadvantaged children is the right thing to do for all Minnesota’s kids.

In a public meeting at Hamline, Rolnick lamented that this ‘no brainer’ idea is overshadowed at the Capitol by wasteful sports stadiums (and cries for lower taxes*).

More of us need to raise our voices for children if there is going to be a change in public policy toward the weakest and most vulnerable among us (children have no voice but ours in this political system).
* authors words

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Saving Ourselves From the Next Virginia Tech

At that time in Minnesota there were 15 child psychiatrists in the entire state (population about 4 million) and the student to counsellor ratio in MN high schools was 900 to 1.
As a child advocate (long time guardian ad Litem) I strongly feel the need for mental health therapy for those who need it. The children I work with have been severely traumatized and need adequate attention paid to their needs.

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Day Care; The Bargain

Because the waiting list for subsidized daycare is one year into the future for the father of the children I represent (as a county guardian ad-Litem) there is a good chance that his two small children will be taken from him by the county and adopted by someone he has never met.
It is also possible that he may not be able to visit his children if they are adopted.

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Children’s Defense Fund Training

And most of all, how we can become comfortable being “the voice” for At Risk Children in our communities.

I have delusions about how to be helpful to CDF for Item B.

Half of an experience like this is meeting so many smart and committed people from every corner of the country. We can learn so much by just sitting next to someone from Missouri, Chicago, or even St. Paul.

The nice lady from Missouri understood why her state was getting such terrific results from their Juvenile Justice system. She could have taught us some very important things (but she was not on the agenda).

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Call To Justice Forum June 28th

Only ten percent of the citations issued in Hennepin County to people of color are prosecuted (90% are dismissed). 44% of African American men living in Hennepin county were arrested in 2001 (without any duplicate arrests). At least six major cities in America have Black male unemployment rates of between 40% and 50% and ex felon rates of between 50% and 60%. There are over 600,000 felons leaving prison each year in America. Minnesota ranks behind only Milwaukee in racial disparity within our courts and prisons (Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas have better records than Minnesota).

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Improving Attachment

Recommended parenting TechniquesTo improve Attachment The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) recently released findings that are endorsed by the American Psychological Association regarding Reactive Attachment Disorder and attachment therapies. A task force formed by APSAC reported that there are many non-controversial interventions designed to improve attachment quality that are based on…

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Wellness and Child Abuse

The following is my synopsis of the Minnesota Medical Associations March 2006 article on Child Maltreatment by Dr. David McCollum. It’s meant for medical professionals, but I found it very well written and understandable; (the article) http://www.mmaonline.net/publications/MNMed2006/March/clinical-mccollum.htm Dr. McCollum clearly articulates the relationship between childhood abuse and a lifetime of physical and mental health issues.…

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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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