The Unspoken Truth (from Kristin Rode)

My name is Robert Hamelin and when I was 4 years old I entered the Foster Care System. My stepmother began to physically and mentally abuse me. I was taken out of the home I lived in, with her and my father and moved into the first foster home. When I was 9 years old my father was killed. He was the only good memory I had left. His loss had such a deep impact on me. I knew now that I was completely alone. By the time I reached the 6th grade I began acting out for attention. My behaviors became worse. The abuse had continued worse than ever, as now, I was being sexually abused. By the time I was 18 years old I joined the Marine Corps. I needed stability but even more important, I needed to find out if I could overcome my past and succeed, despite 14 years of violent child abuse.

The system failed me but it did not beat me!

Today I am a successful Regional Vice President for Transamerica. I have raised 5 beautiful daughters, 4 of which have already graduated from college. What is disheartening is 32 years after I got out of the Child Protection System, it continues to fail children and the abuse, still all too common. We need to come together to fix a broken system.

Each year, about six hundred thousand abused and neglected American children are removed from their homes, placed into group homes, foster homes, and adoptive homes with minimal mental health counseling and often not much history or training provided to the new care giver. These children are expected to adjust well into society, succeed in school and with their peers

Children in child protective services are only removed from their homes if their lives are in imminent harm. These children are often returned to their homes by Child Protective Services if changes are made. Many children are returned to abusive homes, with little to no follow-up.

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Child Protection News Gathered Nationally (find your state here)

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN Most of our news for this page (300 + articles) is gathered from; Child Welfare in the News is distributed at no charge by Child Welfare Information Gateway (www.childwelfare.gov), a service of the Children’s Bureau/ACF/HHS (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb). It features news stories on topics of interest to child welfare…

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The Sadness Of Child Protection – 2 Year Old’s Murdered by Caregivers

These past weeks have been awful for vulnerable children in MN.

Stomped on, kicked, torn liver kidney & pancreas Sophia O’Neill was violently murdered by 17 year old Cary Faran-Baum died because she wouldn’t stop crying. There’s been way too many violent child deaths in MN this past year – many of these children were known to child protection services.

Sophia was known to child protection (they didn’t investigate the case because caseloads are high and resources did not allow it).

In a family video taken before her death, Sophia explains that Faran-Baum had hit her in the face and left bruises noticible in the video. Sophia died not only of Cary Faran-Baum’s violent mindless attack. She died because there are too few crisis nurseries, inadequate daycare facilities and a general lack of concern in my community for other people’s children.

Too many of these children are known to child protection, a poorly understood and undervalued system fraught with serious problems. It’s wrong to blame the people doing the work – the problems begin with us – the people making the rules and designing the system.

As a long time volunteer Hennepin County guardian ad-Litem, it’s clear to me that my community has never cared much for the problems of young families (or their babies & 2 year olds).

If we did, there would be more crisis nurseries and daycare and children would not be left in the care of drunk uncles, violent boyfriends and child molesters.

As it is today, we only read about the dead kids. Thousands of children traumatized by violence and abuse inflicted on them by their care givers don’t make the paper (unless there is a death).

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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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Child Death and Child Abuse Articles (for July 2015 – find your state/country here)

KARA tracks child abuse and death articles from around the nation (and some international cases).  Most non death child abuse cases never make it into the media.  This page is KARA’s discovery of information through July 26 2015 and is only a fraction of this child welfare news around the nation.  For a look farther…

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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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Brandon Stahl’s investigating and Safe Passage’s volunteers are changing lives

  Brandon Stahl’s reporting (September 2014) on the tortured death of 4 year old Eric Dean and his  powerful Star Tribune articles about tortured children & the “catastrophic failure” of child protection in Minnesota (Governor Dayton’s words), shine light into the invisible world of child abuse that is so hard to talk about and so…

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Institutional Argle Bargle – Paperwork vs Meaningful Relationships

As a volunteer guardian ad-Litem, the program forbade me from driving a child to a burger joint for a hamburger or taking a kid horseback riding (insurance reasons). I call it the ten foot pole rule. It makes abused children feel even more unwanted.

Children in child protection come to know that meaningful relationships with this person or that provider are rare and if they happen, they quickly disappear.

As social workers, educators, health workers & other service providers slide in and out of a child’s life and the continued changing of key relationships becomes accepted and predictable, the child learns that they are just a small mechanical piece within a giant unstoppable system*.

Child protection is a State function and state ward circumstances demand “special” treatment that serves a seemingly larger purpose outside of the child.

Through the eyes of that child, the critical parent – adult relationship has been shattered and replaced with 40 new service providers.

Add to that the now accepted overuse of psychotropic medications and often harsh treatment by law enforcement and other authority figures (behavior problems are endemic to traumatized children). Does anyone care if you have suffered rape as a five year old or other horrible traumas or that you are now in your 13th foster home with behaviors that accurately reflect your childhood.

Add to that law enforcement violence against mentally troubled citizens of all ages is on the rise. Expecting law enforcement to manage our societies mental health problems may be an answer – is this reasonable or even possible?

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Sad Stories October 2015

Find information about child protection, child endangerment & child well-being in your state here. For past months, click here AR: Arkansas’s child welfare system discriminates against relatives of neglectful or abusive parents Arkansas Times – October 29, 2015 When parents fail their children, relatives often want to step up. But Kimberlee Herring and Karisa Hardy…

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Help KARA Spread the Word – 3 Simple Things

Sharing KARA news/videos/articles with your social media and networks – the more people become aware of how serious a problem child abuse is in America & how broken our child protection systems are, the more pressure will be put on legislators to support the people, programs and policies that work.

KARA needs dollars, subscribers (members), volunteers & promotors to make this happen.

Become part of the KARA grassroots army – share our information widely to promote programs, policies & the people striving to improve the lives of abused and neglected children.

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What Do You Wish For Today?

For Thanksgiving this year, let’s all wish really hard to make life better for at risk children.

As a long-time Volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I wish for; The implementation of the recommendations by the Governor’s Task Force on Child Protection and the additional attention and resources necessary to make children safe in my community (and yours too).

Fewer ten and twelve year old children charged as adults in our judicial system,

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Sad Stories November 2015

CA: Six children are dead. Could these needless deaths have been prevented?
Los Angeles Times – November 24, 2015
There are community-based services he could have tapped, but they’re fragmented and hard to navigate without professional help, said USC child welfare professor Jacquelyn McCroskey.
http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-1124-banks-troubled-parents-20151124-column.html

FL: Mistakes detailed in Janiya Thomas death
Southwest Florida Herald Tribune – November 24, 2015
Child protection investigators closed probes prematurely, turned in crucial paperwork late and failed to adequately identify safety concerns when they investigated incidents involving the mother of an 11-year-old found dead in a freezer this past October, a Department of Children and Families report released Tuesday found.
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20151124/NEWS/151129803?Title=Mistakes-detailed-in-Janiya-Thomas-death
– See more at: https://www.invisiblechildren.org/2015/11/26/sad-stories-november-2015/#sthash.uuJlOpd4.dpuf

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Worthy Reader Questions

Mike,

Your anguish at the pain and suffering of children is laudable and this site great. And these hearings only show the safety net is torn and clearly failing children, isn’t time to broach the subject of parenting while asserting the “rights of the Child?”

A.R.,

Thank you for the kind words and very good question – it gets to the heart of what KARA is.

KARA is the voice of abused and neglected children removed from their homes* & this editor tries hard to tell their stories and report on the people, policies and programs that impact their lives.

Time and resources in a small nonprofit require outside volunteer effort to accomplish this goal with any regularity or depth. Thank you Century College for continuing to include Kids At Risk Action in your volunteer program.

To your point A.R., I will work at putting more attention to the subject of parenting. We know that parenting skills don’t come from the stork & our community needs to better appreciate the value of healthy children.

Unfortunately, our communities are more willing to put resources and attention to dealing with unhealthy children than building healthy children.

we are very grateful to and supportive of organizations that concentrate on improving the lives of at risk children through better parenting, more attention to improving the lives of young families and helping adoptive and foster parents.

The sadness and pain children and families experience due to generational child abuse can’t end until the voice of abused and neglected children is heard by a larger public and our message to legislators loud enough to force them to listen and do the right thing through better policies and programs.

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Newborns, Death and Drug Addiction (preventable deaths of drug-dependent babies)

Narcotic addicted babies are born every 19 minutes in America. 27,000 in 2013.

A federal law requiring hospitals to report drug addicted moms to child protection services is largely ignored. This heartbreaking series about the preventable deaths of drug-addicted babies ends includes ideas that can solve the problem. Reuters filed more than 200 Freedom of Information Act requests and reviewed almost 6000 child fatality reports to identify these cases.

Only 7 states specifically tracked referrals of newborns in drug withdrawal and only half the number of cases that were diagnosed were tracked in those states. Most states only require reporting only babies exposed to illegal drugs – but prescription drug addiction is growing to become an even larger problem.

In 2005, 598,000 emergency drug related admissions included legal pharmaceutical overdoses. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, teens who abuse prescription drugs are twelve to twenty times more likely to use illegal street drugs than those that don’t abuse prescription drugs.

In 2010 2.4 million Americans used prescription drugs non medically for the first time.

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America’s Science Phobia Ravages Children

The facts of recent demographic studies are mind boggling. In 2008, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shocked the nation with the news that fully a fourth of America’s teen girls now have a sexually transmitted disease, with rates still rising. Earlier the Alan Guttmacher Institute announced results of a study comparing teens in the U.S. with Great Britain, Canada, France and Sweden. By far U.S. teenagers have the highest rates of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs), pregnancy, births and abortions. For example, the teen pregnancy rate of the U.S. is four times the French rate, three times the Swedish rate and twice as high as Great Britain and Canada. America’s policy of turning its back on our youth is nothing short of shocking in its irresponsibility.

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January Sad Stories (2016 KARA reporting)

Every month Kids At Risk Action draws attention to the plight of abused and neglected children by gathering the stories of at risk children from around the nation.  You will find your community on this page.  Please share this page with your friends and networks to make this conversation come alive with the hope that…

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Child Sex Abuse & The Mormon Church (stopping child abuse requires adults report it)

This article from an abused child about the Mormon Church hiding abuse her was another sad and eye opening look into how hard it is to achieve transparency and accountability in children’s rights issues.  Join KARA’s Facebook Page   ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

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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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Think Again MN Feb 16 (includes KARA presentation)

THE IMPACT OF DOMESTIC ABUSE ON CHILDREN
Tuesday, February 16
6 p.m. Light Supper and Social 6:30 P.M. Program
Cafeteria, Hennepin Technical College, 9000 Brooklyn Blvd, Brooklyn Park, Map
RSVP on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1kWpPiG or to CarolWoehrer@usfamily.net

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Progress & Next Steps in County Child Protection (thank you SafePassageForChildren)

This week the Hennepin County Oversight Committee reviewed efforts by child protection managers to implement recommendations in the Casey Report, which was critical of the program.

Progress was reported for example in rolling out a 24/7 child protection response, and adding screening and investigation staff.

In another part of this hearing, Casey staff presented a draft child protection ‘Practice Model’. While it identified child safety as the paramount responsibility of the program, much of the language – as Commissioner Mike Opat and others pointed out – echoed the old Family Assessment philosophy, which is weighted towards the needs and preferences of parents.

The final version of this practice model should reflect more clearly the priority that recent changes in state law and recommended practices gave to child safety and well-being.

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