Good Bye David Strand – Founding KARA Board Member and Best Friend

KARA’s Founding Board member and best friend David Strand has passed away after a long illness.

He brought a wealth of experience, passion and commitment to the cause of America’s abused and neglected children.

David came to know a great deal about how children are treated in other advanced nations because he helped to craft public policies on children’s issues while living and working in Northern Europe.

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.

Schools Closed – What We Need to Know

Poor districts are suffering more domestic violence & substance abuse from from front line worker stress, poverty and job loss making online learning that much harder for children.

Many poor families are crowded into small spaces, lacking necessary internet access and hardware for adequate online learning.

This NY Times article barely acknowledges the social and economic costs of abused and neglected children locked into toxic homes during COVID.  Abused children have no teacher or other mandated reporter to recognize and respond to their traumas.  There is no comparison to having a trusted teacher to privately speak to in school and a video chat with the abuser in the room or nearby.

LGBTQ Foster Care & Ground Truths

Recent surveys by the Casey Foundation and the NY Administration of Children’s Services show that about a third of kids in NY’s foster care identify as LGBTQ and nationally, about 24% do.  40% of homeless kids in NY City identify as LGBTQ and 42% of them had been in foster care.

This NY Times article focuses on how hard life is for them.  Many of these youth and children are in foster care because their parents rejected them.

Many are homeless, depressed and leading dysfunctional lives.

Every year about 12,000 children aged 5-14 years old are admitted to psychiatric hospital units for suicidal behavior. This and all the information following are PRE COVID.

Young children who have attempted suicide are up to 6 times more likely to attempt suicide again in adolescence

Goodbye Joe McCarthy – Founding KARA Board Member & Best Friend

Yesterday, KARA’s best friend and founding board member Joe McCarthy passed away after a long illness.

We will miss him terribly.  Joe had a big heart and remarkable mind.  He was sharp as a tack with an interest in everything and a stunning memory.

20+ years ago, Joe encouraged and then guided me through the writing of the INVISIBLE CHILDREN book and founding of our nonprofit Kids At Risk Action.

Our small board spent many hours sorting through issues and ideas for making life better for abused and neglected children.  We worked together to create our first board meetings and involve more people in the endeavor we are so passionately engaged in today.

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.

Child Care – Brutal Truths & Best Practices

Michele Norris Star Tribune article on MN child care is just the tip of this iceberg. Did you know that the U.S. used to have the best and most affordable daycare in the world?

Today, the COVID pandemic has forced many daycare centers to close and others to raise prices significantly due to social distancing and sanitation requirements.

in many states, single Parents pay over 50% of their income for infant center care and married parents with 2 children pay over 100% of their household income for center based care (or they would if they could make it work).  Minnesotans pay over 15 thousand dollars for infant care (when public college tuition is 11 thousand dollars.  20 years ago, there were 34 names on the waiting list for MN’s subsidized daycare.  That ended when the new governor took those state funds away and the list grew to over 7000 families.  Some states have never provided meaningful help for families struggling to afford daycare.

For a nation claiming to value children – one could argue it’s for the dollars they bring in and not their future role as citizens.  Drunk uncle/boyfriend daycare is a growing sadness the media…

For a nation claiming to value children – one could argue it’s for the dollars they bring in and not their future role as citizens. Drunk uncle/boyfriend daycare is an awful thing the media…

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.

The Death of Arianna Hunziker & Lawsuits

Arianna Hunziker was “starved, dehydrated, bound, immobilized and abandoned in a home littered in trash and smelling of of urine”.  Foster parents Sherrie and Bryce Dirk went to prison for murdering Arianna.  There is something terribly disturbing about a State sanctioned foster family killing a two year old State Ward child that needs to see the light of day.

The lawsuit in today’s paper points out that another MN community is having a hard time with either the resources, training or protocol for keeping at risk children safe.  Being a foster child should not be one more horrific encounter with child abuse.  It’s plenty hard when your birth parents make your suffering so bad that a judge removes you from their home to place you with a family you have never seen before.

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.

Grace’s Story (Thank you ChildrensRights.org)

Grace, a Black 15-year old who was sent to a juvenile detention center for failure to submit schoolwork.

In an email to Grace’s caseworker, her teacher stated that Grace was “not out of alignment with most of my other students.”

Tens of thousands of children have struggled to adjust to the online learning environment the coronavirus created. ProPublica cites 15,000 high schoolers in Los Angeles alone failing to log in or complete schoolwork. Yet, a judge presiding for Oakland County Family Court Division, ruled in May that not completing schoolwork violated Grace’s probation.

It’s impossible to determine the frequency of cases like Grace’s, but one thing is clear. Children’s health and safety must be prioritized. We will continue urging states to stop admissions and to release kids from juvenile facilities. No child should be in juvenile detention for missing homework.

Policing, COVID & Abused Children (share with your law enforcement contacts & save a child)

Conflicts between officer training and the children they are policing.

Policing youth with mental health problems is a growing problem.  This article sheds light on solutions to this intractable core community problem.

From a law enforcement perspective, police officers are at significant risk for injury and even

October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Watching your mother being beat up or raped is the same trauma as being beaten or raped to a five or nine year old.  Untreated trauma lasts forever and it changes a person forever.

The United Nation’s-Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that being confined with abusive partners during the pandemic has led to a “horrifying global surge in domestic abuse”.  This well organized domestic violence reporting and resource guide with hotlines and practical advice …

International Child Well-Being 9.16 – 9.30 2020

The United Nations Secretary General Anonio Guterres warned that we are seeing a horrifying global surge in domestic violence

all over the world and is urging leaders to include protective measures in their pandemic plans.

The depth and scope of violence against children was a terrible problem before the pandemic.

Generational child abuse has grown exponentially for decades overwhelming schools, justice systems and communities.

 ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Abused Children, COVID & Law enforcement

This article addresses the depth and scope of a problem that has been and still is growing at exponential rates, all over America.
The current approach to policing at risk youth is creating exactly what we want to stop. Even partial success in ending the current model will give results to save us from building more jails and prisons and the steady growth in crime and recidivism rates.

America leads the industrialized world in gun deaths, unsafe streets, prison populations, cost of crime and recidivism rates.

The choice we are facing is imminent.  There is a tipping point that we cannot see, and it is too serious to ignore.

What Child Abuse Looked Like in America Last Week (a snapshot)

Those of us that know about the traumas abused children suffer need to say more if we are ever to reverse the trend of generational child abuse in America. These articles were compiled over the last week. The COVID pandemic has reduced reporting and increased domestic violence & child abuse. Read these short articles and help KARA spread the word about the problems facing at risk children.

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.

Sign KARA’s Petition Demanding Congress Ratify the Children’s Rights Treaty of 1989

America is the only nation on earth that is not a party to the international rights of the child treaty of 1989.

This reqest for action submitted by long time CASA guardian ad Litem Mike Tikkanen

Sign KARA’s Petition for American Lawmakers to Ratify the UN Rights of the Child Treaty

This Saturday (9.19.20) KARA’s Twin Cities NonViolent Event (2pm)

Friends of KARA, This Saturday at 2pm Central Time, KARA presenting at the TWIN CITIES NON VIOLENT event.

Link to participate (free)

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0sdOitpjIoE91gdtyUTY82STHThprRe7xc

Link to Mike and Damon’s time and presentation

https://twincitiesnonviolent.org/virtual-10-days-free-from-violence/virtual-10-days-detailed-schedule/

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.

Kids At Risk Action August Update

It’s been a busy summer for Kids At Risk Action.  A Good morning shout-out and Thank You to KARA’S 30 new volunteers plus 2 new university engagements (thank you Sarah and Alyssa).

We are working with over 40 student interns (Melbourne Australia welcome Trevor, Anh Pham & all), MN, and 180 degrees – Canada welcome Vivian) and KARA’s new full-time administrator (welcome Darcy).

Most college students are engaged in the research and…

Adoption & Foster Care In America – (their stories, your state)

Foster Care; Every state is struggling to make life safe for traumatized state ward children. Here are their stories from October & November 2017;

KS: Nowhere Else to Go: Why Kids Are Sleeping in Child Welfare Offices (Commentary)

Governing – October 11, 2017

Every month, there are kids in Kansas forced to sleep on cots or couches in a foster care contractor’s office because they don’t have anywhere else to stay that night.

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

Foster Care Day Rates vs Dog Care Day Rates (it just doesn’t seem right)

For decades it has been true that people engaged in the keeping of pets are perceived to be more valuable than foster families caring for State Ward children.  Doggy day care is (and has been for a very long time) as or more expensive (on average $40/day) than child care (on average $30/day) should make us think a little harder about the hope we have for the future of at risk children.

MN Foster Care During COVID

Fewer children are entering the foster care system during the pandemic.

This is not because there is less child abuse and trauma.

Families are more stressed than before COVID.

Drug and alcohol use, domestic violence and child abuse are up because of this.

The following information is gathered from local MN news sources over the last 60 days.

Peter Hutchinson’s School Fix Is Easy and Overdue (share this)

Former Minneapolis School Superintendent Peter Hutchinson’s classroom fix for remote learning COVID problems is a terrific and necessary solution that can be implemented economically and quickly.  It’s a simple and will be popular in every community.

We should not wait – this is truly an expanding crisis for school children in many communities.

Here’s why; Pre-COVID, Minnesota schools have for years maintained an over the top student achievement gap with some of the lowest reading, math and history scores in the nation.

Facebook Replacing Mandated Reporters for Child Abuse?

40-day old Aiden Braden’s mother Kristina reported Aiden’s death on Facebook 38 days after social workers had responded to a child abuse hotline in Tollhouse California.  Only after Aiden died did the County workers visit the home and remove Aiden’s twin brother.

Kristina Braden had already lost custody of her 3 oldest children because of her drug addiction and a long history of child neglect.

Blaming social workers for not physically intervening when they were in lockdown solves nothing.

When Hope Dies (child suicide & self harm – can reading this help us protect at risk children?)

Kendrea (6) and Gabriel (7) successfully hung themselves a few years ago.  They came from different states but suffered the same afflictions.  Kendrea lived not far from me.

As a CASA guardian ad Litem, the commonality of self hate by the children I worked with in child protection – being so different, so unlovable that even your mother abandoned you, is devastating.

Minnesota Child Protection Stories, Statistics & COVID – June 2020

The nightmare of George Floyd’s murder and the burning, street violence and social upheaval continuing as this already too hot summer gets underway is raining down extra hard on children already suffering the traumas of toxic circumstances.

Closed schools locked abused children with their abusive caregivers.

This additional social violence creates more fear, pain and stress that leads to more drug & alcohol use & more domestic violence, more trauma and less escape from it.

A Powerful Resource for Minnesota’s Vulnerable Children (Safe Passage for Children of MN)

For many years Rich Gehrman and Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota have organized and delivered support for Minnesota’s abused and neglected children.  All Minnesotan’s should be aware of this organization’s efforts to improve services, transparency & policy for the states at risk children.

Below are their most recent blog posts.  Join them.

America vs. the Rest of the World (how we treat children)

KARA Signature Video (4 minute) Public Service Announcement( 30 Second)   25 years ago, KARA board member David Strand went from CASA guardian ad litem volunteer to writing his PHD student thesis “NATION OUT OF STEP” comparing America to the rest of the Industrialized World in how we treat children.  At the time, we ranked…

Domestic Violence Statistics, Covid & Child Abuse Trends June 2020

It is not maltreatment, the word maltreatment does not describe traumatic violence to a child – to a child, the trauma of watching your mother being beaten or raped is very much the same as being beaten or raped – being left in a crib alone for days at a time with no touching, no food or love is also a trauma that lasts forever.
Kids At Risk Action writes and reports on child abuse issues
providing a passionate voice for at risk children
All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

Ethan’s Story

Ethan was 17 years old when I met him. Again, what I know of his story is limited, but the ugliest truths of it seemed to jump off the page and into my brain as I read his file to prepare for our interview. At his first foster care placement, he was sexually and physically abused by his foster father who had an alcohol problem. His foster mother was aware of the abuse going on, but because she was a victim of the domestic violence herself, was unable to stand up for the children in her home. Whether Ethan was removed from this placement (I refuse to refer to it as a “home” given the state of things) before or after this information came to light, is unbeknownst to me.

It Can’t Happen Here (Sally’s Story)

This had to have been one of the most detailed Childline referrals the county had ever seen, not to mention Sally had a wonderful, dedicated psychiatrist. As the time went by, the treatment team eagerly awaited the results of her abuse referral, as she had won over the hearts of all the hospital staff and we all wanted to see her safe and free from harm.

The referral came back as unfounded.

Due to her intellectual and neurodevelopmental disabilities, she was deemed in-credible.

Child Abuse, Covid & What We Know (stress and domestic violence)

Kids At Risk Action writes and reports on child abuse issues & provides a passionate voice for at risk children All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children Support KARA’s Public Service Announcements KARA Signature Video (4 minute) Public Service Announcement( 30 Second) Struggling families in America have never had it easy.  The stresses of…

Being a Voice For an Abused Child – CASA guardian ad Litems speak for the child

In America today, children have no federal rights except under the “doctrine of imminent harm” which allows the child to be taken from the family if the child’s life is endangered by the parent.  For the most part, being responsible for killing your own child, unless it’s for religious reasons it is against the law.

At least 30 states still allow parents to withhold lifesaving medical care to their children for religious reasons and children do die because of it. This may sound hyperbolic, but if you did withhold lifesaving medical care in a state that did not allow it for religious reasons, you’d be charged with killing your child.  Parents have all the rights and children have no voice except for the guardian ad litem that speaks for them.

COVID and Foster Care

The COVID crisis is stretching all of our community resources.  Every state is struggling to provide safe homes for foster children.

Fixing the problems this article brings to light will require an informed and involved community and government…

Click here to find out how to begin to make this happen where you live.

KARA Is Unable To Provide Direct Services

Dear Readers,

KARA regularly receives requests for help from families and children about child abuse issues.

We do not have staff and ask you to use our Links Button to find the services you need.

Contact your State Representatives and let them know your story and engage them in this conversation. Give them ideas for what needs to change.

Use articles from KARA to educate them and support your argument – you will find over 1200 articles at this site (they are searchable by category)

The Pandemic Impacting Child Abuse and Foster Care (state by state)

Because schools are closed, after-school activities are canceled and churches aren’t having youth groups and community activity with trusted adults outside the home have evaporated – the chances an abused child can find help to interrupt abuse in the home are dramatically reduced. 

Add to that, families living with troubled children are finding the COVID environment much harder now.

More anxiety, substance abuse and family violence are happening because of lost jobs and the 24/7 close quarters of people locked into toxic homes because of the pandemic.

Every state is struggling with child protection, domestic violence and foster care.  What’s it like to be a foster child or a foster parent in your state?  The following articles are arranged by state.  Check out your state here;

Poverty, Structural Racism and Children (thank you Safe Passage for Children of MN)

Today’s Safe Passage short post about the impact of poverty and racism on children hits the nail on the head.  Decades and generations of children living without enough to eat, access to health and mental health care and all the stress that accompanies people in fear of homelessness and hunger.

Does you community accept young children being expelled from daycare and elementary school?  The violence and trauma visited upon us at this time is a direct result of how America treats its children.  Life would be way better for all of us if we cared more for other people’s children.

You’re Hurting Me – Children Living In Toxic Homes During The Covid Lockdown (domestic violence statistics)

TThe absence of reports of violence against children in the media does not reflect the amount of trauma and suffering of children in toxic homes in our communities today.

The COVID lockdown has almost ended domestic violence abuse reporting in the media and for children, there are no classrooms to escape to.  Social workers can’t get into the homes to talk to or look at children to hear their stories and see their bruises. 

International Child Abuse June 2020 (child abuse & trauma during COVID)

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres warned that we are seeing a horrifying global surge in domestic violence

all over the world and is urging leaders to include protective measures in their pandemic plans.

The depth and scope of violence against children was a terrible problem before the pandemic.

Child abuse during COVID is growing exponentially – overwhelming our schools, justice systems and communities.

Child Suicides, Self Harm & Statistics (a hidden public health crisis)

Please share this with teachers, law enforcement and social workers in your circles

Current literature reporting included below

What to do when a six year old climbs out the window of your kindergarten classroom threatening to jump three stories to the concrete below?

What do you say to a seven year old girl with scarred arms that is obviously cutting herself repeatedly with a knife or razor?