America has long failed to understand and address the underlying issues that drive behaviors of traumatized children. Many end up suspended, expelled or in juvenile justice. Teen and preteen pregnancies are significantly more common among them than with their peers also.
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.
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.
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.
Congo – Apple, Good, Microsoft, Dell, Tesla sued over allged child labour in Congo.
A class action lawsuit has been filed, on behalf of anonymous plaintiffs, who are described as guardians of children that have been killed or maimed in tunnel or wall collapses in cobalt mines. Cobalt is one of the main parts of lithium ion batteries, batteries which are used in rechargeable electronic gadgets. Young children are often used in the mining of cobalt for their cheap and unregulated labour. It is claimed that the named companies are knowingly benefitting and aiding and abetting the use of child labour to mine cobalt.
The Protect Our Children Act of 2008 was intended to curb photos and videos of child sexual assaults posted on the internet. The number of reported images increased from 100,000 in 2008 to 45 million last year.
With almost half the population of the U.S. (138M v 326M) Japan reported 33,308 cases of abuse reported in 2005 compared to about 3 million cases reported in the U.S.
KARA tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. This is only a sampling of what should be reported – the great majority of child trauma & abuse never gets reported. ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN – Join The KARA Team (and…
Almost half of Canada’s youth correctional services is made up of Indigenous youth, but they represent less than 10% of the general population. Self-harming behaviors and suicide rates among Indigenous youth are 11 times the national average and are the highest in the world.
We all look to the government to provide support in order to protect our children.
Eshanee’s reporting points to a disturbing trend of state inaction in preventing or even intervening in child welfare violations.
To hold our governments accountable and to ensure the well-being of children, more of us need to
contact our local politicians and policy makers and make our concerns known.
Children have no voice in politics, law or the media.
We must be relentless to effect change.
Be the Squeaky Wheel for Children
Minnesota’s abused and neglected children need our voices. Share this with your networks;
Recently some legislators and child protection agencies began theorizing that an underlying cause of caseload increases is screening families into the system not because of maltreatment, but as a way to get them scarce social services.
Statistically, this seems unlikely.
According to the Department of Human Services, last year counties screened in 45% of 84,000 maltreatment reports. Since the screen-in rate for states nationally is 60%, this suggests that nearly 12,000 Minnesota children are still being inappropriately denied child protection help.
Every day, Every thought, Every act
Tainted by prior trauma
That part of the mind effortlessly calculating numbers, finding words and laughing at funny things
Is absent in a tortured child*
The darkness from before
Spits out bad words, regrettable behaviors and violent reactions to unexplainable triggers
And small brain space left for math, trust or coping
For other children
Sitting in the chair at the desk in the classroom
Is a peaceable journey of learning and friend-making
Not so for me
PTSD is a foul meaningless nonword
Raped and traumatized by a monster many times my size deserves a more meaningful definition
A bit more understanding from the rest of you
*The World Health Organizations definition of torture is “extended exposure to violence & deprivation”
Preferred child protection practices currently allow alleged abusers opportunities to coach and intimidate children before workers can interview them individually. These include giving advance notice of the worker’s visit, and interviewing children in front of their parents as the first step in the process. Safe Passage is weighing state legislation to end these practices
We understand our proposal raises concerns about parental rights.
But consider this: there are no similar situations – such as domestic violence or sexual harassment – where alleged perpetrators are provided access to their purported victims before fact-finding is completed.
We believe keeping children safe takes priority, and that shielding children from potential intimidation gives workers the best chance to get the information needed to protect them.
We welcome your views on this issue. Please share them here.
Reviewing the Child Abuse and Protection report on Canada written by KARA’s volunteer Macalaster College student (Lelde), I am struck by a few key facts:
* Close to one third of Canadian teen agers reported some kind of abuse or neglect,
* Children know their abusers in eight out of ten cases,
* Canada experiences 2200/100,000 investigations of child abuse (about half the U.S. statistic 4500/100,000),
Dear Safe Passage Advocate,
This is the final week of the legislative session and the two bills that will have the most benefit to children are still in play and being negotiated by the Governor and legislative leaders.
Let’s do everything we can to make sure funding for these priorities ends up in the final package.
Please call or email the Governor’s Office, your state Senator, and your state Representative now with the brief message below.
If you prefer to leave a phone message, an easy way to get phone numbers for your legislators is to send a text to #520 – 200 – 2223 with your zip code, you will receive numbers back for your state and federal representatives.
The Governor’s number is #651 – 201 – 3400.
Early intervention is vital – not only in ensuring that fewer and fewer children grow up in abusive or neglectful homes, but also to help as many children as possible reach their full potential.
The Audit Commission has estimated that, if effective early intervention had been provided for just one in ten of those young people sentenced to custody each year, public services alone could have saved over £100 million annually.
“converting the American figures for direct comparison with Sweden (2001), a comparative picture of the reported incidence of child abuse in Sweden and America is as follows:
Sweden – 57/l00,000
America – 4,500/100,000. ”
To rebuild the Minnesota child welfare system so children are safe and reach their full potential.
There will always be a group of Minnesota citizens who advocate on behalf of victims of child maltreatment, and who will hold counties and the state accountable for continuously improving outcomes for these children and their families.
Our goal is to build a child protection and foster care system in Minnesota that
continuously improves the lives of children, as demonstrated by objective, measurable outcomes. If the system is working well children’s outcomes will improve over time.
The following are major milestones for achieving this goal:
By 2017 all children will be periodically assessed for their level of trauma starting when they first enter child protection.
By 2019 all children in the system will be periodically assessed for improvements in their cognitive and physical development, as well as in measures of behavioral and mental health.
Workers and supervisors will be accountable for improving these outcomes for individual children as monitored through quality reviews and updates to the courts.
Counties will be accountable for improving outcomes for children in their caseloads overall as shown by summary reports.
In subsequent years our goal is to continue to monitor outcomes at the county and state levels, and advocate for necessary budget allocations, practice improvements, and related resources to ensure that the child protection system is continually improving its response to 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.
Occasionally KARA publishes works from other authors. This is a strong argument for reforming the Foster Care System before fixing the Criminal Justice System (author & contact info below). Before we reform the Criminal Justice System, we need to take a closer look at the Foster Care System
Substance abuse is a major contributing factor to domestic violence in the United States. The link between the use of alcohol and narcotics, and the use of aggression, physical and mental violence against partners is part of a desperate cycle in our society. It is a cycle that can, and does, affect our children too – one that can make them future abusers.
Studies are showing that a high proportion of adult abusers and victims have some kind of addiction to alcohol or drugs. Here’s some stats:
25-50% of men who commit domestic violence have an addiction issue
90% of these men used a substance on the day they abused/attacked someone
42% of victims have a substance abuse problem
75% of those victims have an abusive partner who also has a substance abuse problem
In May of 2012, at the tender age of 3, Kilah Davenport was cruelly beat by her stepfather. She had to have emergency brain surgery that involved removing a portion of her skull to relieve swelling on her brain but was still left with permanent brain damage and in a wheelchair. The injuries she sustained caused complications that led to Kilah’s death in March of 2014, just a few weeks before her 5th birthday.
Sign KARA’s Petition to make health, education, and well being available to Minnesota children
I have been part of government reorganizations. People have to redesign logos, develop new civil service positions, decide about fonts for the stationery…. It takes years. In the meantime, programs often tread water.
A better plan is to focus all that energy on improving outcomes. Counties should regularly measure and report how their children are doing regarding mental health, level of trauma, cognitive skills, and physical development.
The 2014 state legislative session is almost here! It will start on Tuesday February 25th.
Safe Passage for Children is proposing a bill with two provisions. See a summary here.
The legislature plans to get all the bills through the committees and onto the floor of the House and Senate in 3 ½ weeks, so we need to be ready to communicate our support for the bill.
The key events for volunteers will be:
1. Training sessions to prep you for the session (see options below)
2. Visits with your state Representative and Senator.
3. Day on the Hill on Wednesday, March 5th.
Zero Kids Waiting is the monthly eNewsletter of Minnesota Adoption Resource Network, a 33-year old organization that creates and supports lifelong nurturing families for children needing permanency.
As an email subscriber to Zero Kids Waiting, you will receive a monthly update about what our organization and others are doing to promote adoption of Minnesota children and teens.
To opt out of receiving Zero Kids Waiting and other announcements from Minnesota Adoption Resource Network including MN ADOPT training emails for parents and professionals, please click SafeUnsubscribe at the bottom of this newsletter.
Your email is solely used for the distribution of MARN newsletters, trainings and other news and will not be shared or broadcast.
To learn more about Minnesota’s waiting children and our goal to reach Zero Kids Waiting visit State Adoption Exchange
Sexual abuse is likely the most horrific crime a young child can endure.
Almost 10% of children today are exposed to sexual abuse; from rape, incest, pornography, touching, fondling or sodomy.
According to the Childhelp organization, the most common ages that child sexual abuse acts are committed are ages 7 to 13.
Within child protection systems, these percentages are much higher and the children’s ages are lower when the abuse begins.
As a CASA guardian ad-Litem in Hennepin County, about half of the fifty children in my caseload were sexually abused. After almost 20 years as a County volunteer in child protection, I think it is the most under-reported crime in our nation.
Six million children are reported to child protection agencies in the U.S. each year. About 10% of them receive services. The other 90% are left to fend for themselves.
A value proposition is the amount you are willing to pay for a certain level of quality.
Take McDonalds for instance. The value proposition is to pay a low price for acceptable quality. If you get it, that’s a good value. (Except for the French fries, which are a great value!)
The current value proposition in child welfare is similar. We pay staff modest amounts and they meet basic requirements such as investigating reports in 24 hours and getting kids to court every three months.
If that’s all we want, it’s a good value.
But it’s the wrong value proposition.
We want high quality outcomes for children and will have to pay a realistic price to get them. That will cost more, but the results will be worth it.
New documents obtained by KCAL9 detail previous allegation of abuse in the case of a now- deceased 8-year-old Palmdale boy who investigators say was tortured and beaten to death. Gabrieal Frenandez suffered a skull fracture, several broken ribs and severe burn marks over various spots of his body before he was hospitalized last month, according to the La County Sheriff’s Department. He died from injuries may 24. The mother confessed that she had been abusing the boy from time to time. His mother Pearl Fernandez and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre have been charged for murder.
The Republican governor last week defended O’Day’s leadership, even after the agency told a federal judge it couldn’t say with any certainty how many children died while in its custody.
The department previously reported the deaths of 151 children in their custody between January of 2009 and July of 2012 but retracted that number after a third party reported that number to be less than exact.
They now say they are not sure how many have died.
According to the Tennessean in the first six month of 2012 there were 31 deaths among children, ranging from newborns to teenagers.
Abdifatah Mohamud was bludgeoned to death by his stepfather a year after the boy called 911 to report he was being abused. Mother of drowned toddler speaks out
January 28, 2013. Washington DC, Maryland.
The mother of a 15 month old boy has commented that the court, judges, and police failed to help her son when his death could have so easily been prevented. The father of the boy, despite being under investigation for abuse, was granted unsupervised visits by a judge. Shortly thereafter, he killed the child.
Other policies protecting children include prohibitions on trying children as adults in court, and targeting of children up to 12 in advertising. Also drug abuse is treated as a disease and not a crime.
The result of all these social investments is that criminal behavior is minimized. Denmark has 8 prisons. If they had the incarceration rate of the US they would need 80. Think about the tremendous savings in correcting anti-social behavior. By the way, they refuse the concept of for-profit prisons as it is considered a dangerous idea. And people in prison do not lose their right to vote. The election participation is about the same as the general population.
Another aspect of the child friendly society is to elevate teaching to the highest regarded profession. Teachers generally outrank even judges in respect. An important benefit to teachers with children is that they do not have to concern themselves with saving for college and university costs. All children who qualify academically are awarded taxpayer paid college education. As a result teachers generally teach for life.
Help prevent child abuse and neglect
Although not every Minnesotan is by law a mandated reporter, Minnesotans are greatly encouraged to report suspected child abuse and neglect to their county social service agency or law enforcement agency, and help in the following ways:
• Host neighborhood/community conversations and small get-togethers about how to strengthen and support families
• Reach out and connect parents to local resources, including parenting education programs, mental health/chemical health counseling, childcare, or financial assistance
• Provide support to your stressed, overworked, tired neighborhood parents by baby-sitting, inviting their children over to play, helping the youth with homework or volunteer to help out at school functions
• Join, or start, a local child abuse prevention council
* a mentoring program; pairing an adult over 55 years of age with each youth between ages 9 and 13. The mentor spends at least two hours per week with the child doing recreational activities, providing tutoring, counseling, and assistance with community service (Across Ages, 2010).
* each youth spends one to two hours every week performing community service.
* social competence training; 26 weekly lessons that teach cognitive and behavioral approaches to dealing with problems and decisions. In particular, these skills are applied to the prevention of substance abuse and high-risk sexual behavior.
* involvement in family activities; Across Ages hosts monthly events that engage the youth, their families, and their mentors to strengthen the relationships between the children and the adults in their lives (Across Ages, 2010).
Drug use and sale in American schools has been the highlight of much research. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University conducts a survey each year aimed at discovering trends in teenage drug use. The survey this year has identified a drastic increase in the percentage of children attending middle schools considered “drug-infested,” meaning that drugs are kept, used, or sold on school property. This year’s survey showed that 32 percent of middle school students were attending drug infested schools, compared to 23 percent in 2009.
The need for strong education programs should be a primary concern for state and local governments. In addition to improving students’ chances for success in college and their subsequent careers, effective education programs can help keep juveniles from engaging in delinquent activities. This, in turn reduces costs to taxpayers for funding court proceedings and, if necessary, housing juvenile offenders.
Few problems facing children of all ages have been discussed as often as that of substandard education. More specifically, the American education system has been under attack from a number of sources.
However, the situation has yet to improve, possibly because the programs that work are not highlighted, instead only those that have failed are.
Portia died shortly after being brought into the operating room. Leroy called me early in the morning and told me that the surgery had been delayed too long. There was no way the doctors could save her at that point.
I am the Grandmother of Amy* And we are in desperate need of many new/more voice’s of everyone of the grandparents that have lost our right to be able to see our grandchildren! Either because of the other parent getting custody or just because.
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Art Rolnick through extensive research has proved that rates of return on money spent on early childhood programs are greater than tax money spent on malls and stadiums (FedGazzette, March 2003).
But who reads the FedGazzette?
The economic impacts of bad contemporary policy making will disable our communities for years to come if we continue to ignore the critical physical, emotional and mental health needs of these vulnerable children. By continuing to operate in the same haphazard fashion, medicating and incarcerating at risk children, who deserve so much better, we doom ourselves to continued crisis, crime, teenage pregnancy, drug use and overcrowded prisons.
The author packed the book with his passion and purpose: society’s involvement in children’ in abusive and dysfunctional homes’ foster care and the system in general. If you care about your community’s welfare, it is a “must read.”