COVID & Child Suicide November 2020

KARA (Kids At Risk Action) tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and  attention to our youngest and most vulnerable  citizens.  The COVID pandemic has interrupted most major media reporting of child abuse issues.

KARA’s reporting is only sampling of what should be reported –  the great majority of child trauma & abuse is never known. Major media and institutional reporting on children’s issues are much lower due to the COVID pandemic.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

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A Free & Powerful Mental Health Resource For Minnesota Children

KARA has partnered with a leading mental health company, Praestan Health, to provide at risk youth free access to a  digital and coaching mental health and wellbeing services for at-risk youth.

Portages is a powerful new tool for youth struggling with trauma and other mental health issues.

Homeless & LGBTQ youth, foster children, and youth in juvenile justice will be given preference for this project.

Winning the War Against At Risk Children (& saving our city)

and 63 recent car-jackings (over the last 39 days) many include vicious assaults & mostly committed by teens – kids as young as 12, puts the lie to that belief.

For decades, the vast majority of serious and violent crime has been committed by youth and young adults.  In these 63 recent car-jackings, women are beaten, one man was shot dead and another dragged as he tried to stop them from stealing his car with his wife and child inside.

During this time of pandemic and civil unrest, it’s apparent that our city is much more dangerous than it was a year ago.

What is less apparent, are the key drivers that have needed our attention for a very long time that (if addressed) could dramatically reduce the anxiety, violence and unrest in our communities.

Before, when schools, health care and public safety seemed to work, we have had little concern with how or why things work and the luxury of not paying attention to the people, programs and policies involved.

Children, Politics & Voting On Tuesday

Americans have always talked big about supporting equality, keeping children safe, supporting schools & better conditions for young families.

Today, our pro-child, pro-family discourse has become so vicious that many Americans rationalize our government taking immigrant babies and children from their mothers and then losing them so that these mothers may never see their children again.  Children have become political footballs in immigration, education, health care and law enforcement and this should disturb us.

A great deal of money and political will has gone into denigrating immigrants, public schools, teachers and the front-line workers trying to keep children healthy and safe.

Tuesday’s election is about this.

Which candidates support more access and more resources for education, health and mental health and an end to racial injustice?

“What we do to our children, they will do to society” (Greek philosopher Pliny the Elder 79 AD)

Please vote – the next generation needs you to speak for them.

Restorative Justice – Veterans & Children (saves money and lives)

Woo Hoo – MN passed a restorative justice act for veterans – diverting at-risk veterans toward probation and social service programs instead of jail time when they commit certain crimes.

Why wouldn’t we?

The World Health Organization defines torture as extended exposure to violence and deprivation. Living in a war zone, bombs going off nearby or a buddy shot dead in front of you changes the brain.

Most of us want soldiers that have experienced traumas in the service of this nation to be treated for their mental health issues and have a path to rebuild their lives as productive citizens.

New CDC Youth Data – STD’s, Mental Health, Drug Use & Suicide

This 2020 report examines 24 variables and includes three new health behaviors—recent prescription opioid misuse, STD testing, and HIV testing. It also provides data on the health behaviors and experiences of sexual minority youth from the 2015, 2017, and 2019 cycles of the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), allowing trends to be reported for this population for the first time.

Child Suicide Reporting (3 weeks ending 10.17.20)

These articles reflect current trends in child suicide & self-harm in America today. Only a fraction of child/youth suicides are successful. The vast majority of self-inflicted harm remains invisible. Mental health services are badly needed by young people today as the COVID pandemic is locking children into toxic homes with little or no access to the adults that could help them.

Fetal Alcohol Babies (FASD) & the Harm in Minimizing Realities

This JAMA article indicates that we continue to underestimate the prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders by a factor as high as 10. If this is true, 5% of American children are born with a wide range of permanent and lifelong physical & mental health deficits that will result in school & life failure and premature death.

Most people in the fields of education, law enforcement or social work know the explosive growth of mental health issues of children in their in schools, homes and squad cars. We are all becoming mental health workers.

The greater and sadder truth reflected in these studies is the continued minimizing, euphemizing and obfuscation of how America treats its children and troubled young families.

The ground truth is that children can’t speak for themselves, the media sees this as a negative story and the institutions involved benefit through non-transparency and under-reporting.

These sad truths insure generation after generation of child abuse and children born of drug and fetal alcohol abuse. The cost to society and taxpayers is horrendous. We would all benefit by understanding these grim truths.

1 In 3 Children Investigated For Child Abuse by 18 (Washington University Study)

As a long time volunteer County CASA guardian ad Litem it has been hard to comprehend the explosive growth of child abuse in my lifetime. This study (lead author Hyunil Kim PhD Student at the Brown School at Washington University St Louis) published in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health is troubling on several levels.

First, to reach numbers this high by only including reports of child abuse that met County standards for a case to be investigated, indicates that this already high number (37% overall & 53% for Black Children) is possibly even higher

Children & The Supreme Court (from the Children’s Defense Fund)

The impact of the Supreme Court’s decisions in the coming year are huge.  If the Court overturns the ACA, Millions of children will be uninsured or lose affordable coverage that does not meet their pediatric-specific needs.

Children aging out of the foster cares system will lose affordable health coverage, mental health and substance abuse coverage and access to preventative services because of pre-existing conditions and there will lifetime limits on care for the seriously ill.

Foster care children will see the pool of highly qualified foster and adoptive parents shrink if

Criminalizing Elementary School Children (policing our schools & punishment)

Federal Funding, Zero Tolerance and Inadequate Alternatives mean that more states are policing schools with armed officers. Before the 1970’s police were almost absent from elementary and junior high schools.

Today, armed officers are dealing with an escalation of violence and criminal prosecutions for children as young as 6, 7 and 8. Prosecuting kids in place of using resources to help them adapt destroys the fabric of a child’s life and achieves the exact opposite of what children need and society expects from an elementary or junior high school experience.

There are a significant number of us who believe it more important to punish bad behavior in children than it is to help them develop the skills they need to live among us. When these folks hold sway in education, the institution suffers, the child suffers, and the community gains one more troubled adult a few years later. For too long, America has led the world in crime, incarceration, violence and troubled schools. While not the only reason, treating at risk children with behavioral problems as offenders instead of troubled youth has played a big role.

The articles below are obvious examples of policing and education gone wrong. No child should have to live with this kind of institutional abuse. ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

When 14-year-old Ryan Turk cut ahead of the lunch line to grab a milk, he didn’t expect to get in trouble. He certainly didn’t plan to end up in handcuffs. But Turk, a black student at Graham Park Middle School, was arrested for disorderly conduct and petty larceny for procuring the 65-cent carton. The state of Virginia is actually prosecuting the case, which went to trial in November.

Changing the rules of the game requires federal, state, and local reforms. With little evidence that police in schools make students safer and plenty that they facilitate harm to students’ liberty and well-being, the Department of Justice should end the cops program’s SRO grants to districts. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for billions that promote unjust school conditions and put kids at greater risk of future involvement with the criminal justice system. And students should feel like they can talk to school officials when they have problems without forfeiting their constitutional rights and winding up in the back of police cars.

Police vs Social Worker and what happened to an autistic child when the wrong one showed up

Police encounters with mentally ill people can have deadly consequences: according to the nonprofit Treatment Advocacy Center, people suffering from untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed in interactions with law enforcement. Earlier this month in Utah, a 13-year-old boy with autism was shot several times by police after his mother dialed 911 to request help as her son was experiencing a mental breakdown.

Signs That You Are a Mental Health Worker

Andy Steiner’s social workers as backbone of the mental health workforce Minnpost article belies a much deeper truth about the depth and scope of mental health in our communities at this time.

Generational child abuse has been growing exponentially for years creating millions of traumatized children treated with Prozac like drugs with minimal or no effective mental health therapies to heal their traumas.

In 2014, America put 20,000 one and two-year old’s on Prozac like drugs and big pharma paid billions of dollars for illegally selling those drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children.

Foster Children On Psychotropic Medication – 1/2 of group home children use them

A national foundation focused on child welfare is footing at least $75,000 of the bill to figure out the best way to conduct an independent clinic exam of children taking mind-altering drugs.

Better oversight of antidepressants, mood stabilizers and other psychotropic medications given to foster children is expected to reduce their usage — and their hefty price tag.

“You are going to save money, and you’re going to provide good medical care,” said Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur.

What’s It Like?

For a teenager at home with your laptop and 7th grade course work with too many people making too much noise or drunk uncle William downstairs screaming at the TV set?

If your mom and dad are fighting and the atmosphere is toxic?

or your uncle is hurting you?

Can safety be found?

Can I call for help?

What if you are a single working parent or two parents working and no child care and no money and spending long days and troubling nights wondering about safety, food, the next day, next week and what’s next.

Tackling ACEs & Building Resilience (thank you ACEs Too High news)

The issues (the danger) of working in a job serving severely traumatized people are hard to comprehend for most of us.

This article from the ACEs Too High website provides an everyday guide with must know information.  With too many children not being afforded an escape to the safety of a classroom because of the Covid19 virus, there will be a growing danger as substantially more badly abused children fill our classrooms in the fall (or winter or spring) of next year.  This is powerful information and worth sharing with friends engaged with at risk children.

30.2 % of America’s Youth Arrested Before Their 23rd Birthday (25% of us are state wards & special needs people)

Add this to the fact that American youth (as young as 11) are routinely charged as adults (25% nationally) and that cities around the nation arrest extremely high percentages of their minority populations (in 2001 Hennepin County – Minneapolis MN) arrested 44% of it’s adult Black Men – no duplicate arrests/58% of those men were rearrested for a second crime within two years making Minneapolis the Jail & Prison capital of the world.

Many states have funded their prison and jail systems at far greater rates of increase than their schools, daycare, or health systems, either of which could reduce the stresses driving the extreme growth in crime and courts.

A Modest Proposal (satire & similarities)

300 years ago, an Irish Minister wrote an explosive satire that was misinterpreted by many readers of his day (printed in its entirety below).

In a gruesome and widely read logical argument, Jonathan Swift clearly articulated a plan that would relieve the suffering of Irish families and their youngest children by selling babies to the English to be eaten (in a stew that he included the recipe for).

Back in the day, these writings were the modern equivalent of you tube or a precursor to Twitter and consumed voraciously by all who could read (or read them to others).

Public policy treated poor Irish more like animals than people and Irish children were doomed to lives of crime, prostitution, and abject poverty.

Was Swift’s underlying argument that death might be preferable to children doomed to disease, crime, prostitution, & the cruelties suffered by abandoned children of his time?

People That Know Child Abuse

Know how traumatized children respond to more punishment

We know how valuable the ACES, Adverse Childhood Experience healing methods are in mending children and ending the growing public health problem generational child abuse has become.

We are familiar with, 3 strikes you’re out, Lock’em up, and throw away the key

As references to the litany of punishment practices our nation is built on –

and the damage more punishment does to millions of damaged children that are living in abusive homes.

Child Sex Abuse & The Most Powerful Suicide Note Ever (Bill Zeller from 2011)

This is the longest and most powerful and articulate suicide note I’ve ever read and it has great meaning to me for its power to relate these two incomprehensible sorrows (abuse & suicide).

I could not read Bill Zeller’s last letter without feeling the terror, physical and mental impediments, and daily reminders of his childhood nightmares and adult confusion and suicide.

The Cost of Saving Money

at the time, argued that subsidized daycare was unnecessary (like bus service and bridge maintenance—his words) and he diverted all the money allocated to subsidized daycare for poor families and children into a “general fund.”

The waiting list for low-cost daycare climbed from 34 to over 7,000 families. People quit applying.

My state was saving money at the expense of 1- and 2-year-olds. Drunk uncles and boyfriends became daycare providers overnight, and terrible things happen to children when that occurs…
“What we do to our children, they will do to society” (Pliny the Elder 2000 years ago)

Be A Squeaky Wheel For Children

Annual teacher turnover is highest in Arizona (24%) and New Mexico (23%) Minnesota is 14th highest in teacher turnover.

After my workshop in New York at the United Nations Annual Youth Assembly, a line of ex social workers formed to tell me their stories of why they quit. Annual social worker turnover has been 20 to 40% for many years with individual agency rates as high as 65%.

Police officer turnover rates fall in the middle of teacher/social turnover rates (about 14%) but their suicide, divorce & substance abuse rates are significantly higher.

Early Learning Scholarships (thank you Safe Passage for Children)

Please take a moment and connect to your legislator through this Safe Passage Link and let your legislator know you want children to have access to quality early learning. It only takes a few minutes and gets the message to your representative.

This program reduces child abuse and builds healthy children and communities (and we all want that).

Child Abuse – Minnesota’s Public Health Issue

Today’s edition presented multiple articles (linked below) on at risk children and mental health.

It has taken some years to get here but it is apparent to this volunteer CASA guardian ad Litem that my state is waking up to the public health crisis of child protection and children’s mental health.

County Sees Drop in Child Protection Caseloads (by almost half) is the best news I’ve seen about child abuse since the Governor’s Task Force on Child Protection was formed in 2014.

Investing in social workers (adding 262 workers) and transforming the system means…

Mistaking Childhood Trauma for ADHD

6.4 million American youth are diagnosed with ADHD. This article from ACEs Too High by Rebecca Ruiz makes clear the overdiagnosis of ADHD and underreporting of childhood trauma. This goes a long way in explaining the overdosing of youth in foster care with psychotropic medications and giant fines paid by big pharma for illegally selling these drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children.

National Workshop On Adult & Juvenile Female Offenders

Last year, 33 states held children and juveniles with mental illness in detention centers without any charges.

In 2001, nearly 2/3 of California local law enforcement departments did not have written guidelines governing the care of children whose sole caretaker had been arrested (Marilyn Moses, article in Police Chief, Sept 2005

The Ghost Of Christmas Future

TAt a Governor’s Task Force Oversight Meeting (on Child Protection in MN in 2014) the head of Hennepin County Commissioners Jan Callison showed genuine anger and concern when she found out* that Social workers weren’t available on weekends or evenings for abused and neglected children and that she directed the department to “fix it”.

The Ghost of Christmas Past (the value of healthy children)

If we knew the costs abused children carry with them through a lifetime and the cost of multiple generations of abused children there would be

They proved that by investing in early childhood programs children became much more likely to succeed in school and lead a productive life. This research was the most practical approach to the economics of childhood development this nation has ever seen.

KARA believes that this federal reserve study has not had the impact it should have had because;

We don’t respond to how much money is saved as powerfully as we do to how much things cost,
Almost no one knows the short or long term costs abused children carry with them through a lifetime or,
The cost of multiple generations of abused children

Teachers As First Responders

What’s it like to be a first grade teacher frightened by an out of control little boy who kicks, punches or stabs classmates with pencils? Is the principal trauma informed? Are their teams of trauma informed teachers or sufficient mental health resources that can lessen the chances of expelling a seven or nine year old from the school?

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.

California Child Protection Updates thru May 2017

KARA gathers news about abused abused children in America and around the world to provide a snapshot of Child Protection and how states and nations value their children.

Kids At Risk Action needs an aspiring writer/research to help gather and report on these stories.

If you are an aspiring writer/researcher with an urge to speak for your communities abused and neglected children,

Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org with REPORTING in the subject line.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

Response to Our Friend Hector

I believe that the challenge addressed in this document has to do with ACES and other escalating problems in our society. Please let me know your thoughts.

Hector,

Sadly, the combination of American “bootstrap” culture, harsh individual freedom driven capitalism and defining success as “more money/winning at any cost” are denigrating social sciences/human services and anything else that gets in the way (including “science”).

Our institutions are paying a terrible price demonstrated by the cost of and underperformance in quality of life indices across the board (public health, public education, public safety).

This nation no longer leads the world in the things that make for a safe and livable society. We lead in teen STDs & pregnancies, prison populations, recidivism & incarcerated juveniles, poverty and in most financially rewarding areas of endeavor.

Add to that, the concurrent explosion of trauma related mental health problems (ACES) facing institutions service providers; educators, social and health workers, law enforcement, court and detention personnel are finding their level of training severely inadequate, jobs much more stressful and dangerous with a lack of success across most institutional venues.

The level of violence in hospitals, care & detention centers, foster homes and schools is high and growing and our reliance on Prozac like drugs in managing these problems bodes ill for any long term solutions (without treatment these problems grow exponentially)

Generational child abuse and trauma is the most misunderstood and powerful social disease present in this nation today and there are few signs of its abatement.

The Economics of Mental Illness (from KARA 2005)

Treating mental health issues in children is far more effective than letting the problems grow into adulthood, where the evidence clearly indicates a continued social failure and institutional dependence (whether prison, hospital, or state sponsored programs) for people denied help in their youth.

Drugging Children (August Sad Stories 2018)

37% of children overall and 54% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18.

(American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

6 to 12 million children a year are reported to child protection services and in many states,

About 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines

Child Abuse & the Developing Brain (thank you Sonya Sasser)

If you knew that being raped at five years old destroys normal brain development and not just a child’s brain & life but the adult he or she becomes, would you make a greater effort to end child rape in your community?

If you knew that half of the children in your community’s child protection system had been raped would you be more likely to support affordable daycare, crisis nurseries and other child safety net programs?

Successful suicides by very young children are rare, but what is not rare is their self loathing, self harm and attempts at suicide. When seven year old Gabriel Myer hung himself in Florida he left a note that could have been written by an adult about how he hated being forced to take Prozac.

Fixing MN’s Broken Mental Health Systems (thank you Sue Abderholden)

Decades of policy makers not understanding or ignoring mental health issues and failing to see the explosive growth of veterans returning with life destroying PTSD, the huge increase of children in child protection resulting from less help for young families suffering from generational child abuse & trauma is coming down hard on schools, law enforcement and health providers. All our institutions and communities are paying the price.

Sue Abderholden (Sunday Star Tribune) is far too kind to legislators and administrators who make the policies impacting young families and other people needing help in our communities.

Lawmakers saving small dollars by not supporting basic services (crisis nurseries, daycare or mental health services) are costing taxpayers decades of state ward status, crime and preteen pregnancies for people that could have been helped, could have become self-sufficient tax paying community members.

Criminalizing Mental Illness (statistics & stories)

It is upsetting that the only significant authoritative voice speaking to the horrific practice of criminalizing mental illness is Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.

Stanek’s Star Tribune article today paints the ugly picture of mentally ill patients not charged with any crime, locked up in a tiny, isolated, empty cell for 23 hours a day for months at a time because there is no other place for them.

HCMC downtown is seeing 800 to 1000 emergency psych visits/month, MN hospitals are turning away mental health patients and a very large percentage of people in the juvenile and criminal justice system suffer from diagnosable mental health problems.

Child Trauma & Torture, May 2018, find your state here (6)

Iowa sees spike in confirmed child abuse cases
Seattle Times
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officials say publicity around high-profile child abuse cases in Iowa has caused a surge in such reports. Confirmed child …
Iowa sees spike in confirmed child abuse cases – WRAL.com