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.

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

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

Helping Homeless Kids In Minnesota

About 6000 youth that experience homelessness on any given night in our state.

Sad facts;

15% of homeless youth have traded sex for shelter and food.

Over 20% of homeless youth have been physically or sexually attacked while homeless.

Almost 1/3 of homeless youth have been sexually abused.

Almost 40% of homeless youth have stayed in abusive homes because they had no where else to go.  Resources below;

COVID Child Abuse Update for July – August 2020

Almost every school building in the country is closed
Fewer than half of students are participating in online learning in some schools,
The reporting of child abuse is dropping by as much as 70% since schools shut their doors.
Between March and April almost 90% of children entering Children’s Hospital in Washington DC had to be hospitalized because of injuries suggesting child abuse (compared to 50% in the same period prior year).
A majority of Americans are not reporting parental child abuse (only 19% say they are “very Likely” to report and only 36% would report if it were a stranger doing the same thing.
It’s time the rest of us gave voice to invisible children.

What We Should Know About Child Suicide & Self-Harm

Only one out a hundred very young children are successful in their suicide attempts.  Most child suicides are not by guns (the primary means of adult suicides), but by hanging and poison.  Kendrea (6) and Gabriel (7) successfully hung themselves a few years ago.  They came from different states but suffered the same afflictions. 

Many child suicides are by children that have

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.

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…

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.

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.

COVID & Child Protection, Foster Care & Privatized Group Homes

The State of Minnesota forcibly closed the privatized group home at St Cloud for repeated violations  including head banging that caused concussions & sex in front of staff.  2 St Paul boys group homes have been closed recently and there has long been a shortage of qualified foster homes in outstate Minnesota (as it is all around the nation).

This video demonstrates how terrible privatized group homes can become (Florida forces 48% of their state wards onto Prozac like drugs and now lives with eleven year old’s prostituting themselves out of their foster group homes).

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?

Violence Against Children & Covid19 – (it’s own pandemic) part IV

speaking on critical issues impacting abused and neglected children for many years.
Shelter In Place locks abused children in toxic homes
With no escape to the safety of a classroom
Domestic violence is rising and law enforcement & social workers are having a hard time keeping up.
CLICK HERE FOR RESOURCES & STRATEGIES FOR PREVENTING CHILD ABUSE DURING COVID19

Violence Against Children & Covid19 – (it’s own pandemic) part II

Shelter In Place locks abused children in toxic homes

With no escape to the safety of a classroom

Domestic violence is rising and law enforcement & social workers

are having a hard time keeping up.

CLICK HERE FOR RESOURCES & STRATEGIES FOR PREVENTING CHILD ABUSE DURING COVID19

Child & LGBTQ Suicide & Self-Harm (stories, statistics & trauma informed resources for covid19 quarantine)

What would you say to the 12 year old boy who told you how he plans to suicide by cop? Or to the mother of the young girl you speak for in court that told her child “I wish you’d never been born”?

Words don’t come easy.

This survey of 12,000 LGBTQ youth identifies the extreme stress, anxiety, rejection and overwhelming feeling of danger these children grow up with.

Child Care – Brutal Truths & Worst Practices

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.

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…

When Children Can’t Add (or write, or learn…)

America became a great nation because we educated every citizens children.  Our commitment to public education, developed a very smart and able citizenry that worked hard, invented great things and governed itself well.

Because our population was smart and able we led the world in education, public health and public safety and most other quality of life indicators…

Draft KARA TEDx Talk (14 minute video)

Addressing Generational Child Abuse As A Public Health Issue (14 minute video) & how to heal damaged children to make our communities happy and safe again

Take a moment and share your response to KARA’s short video overview of child abuse & child protection in America as an online comment to this post or by email; info@invisiblechildren.org.

MN Child Abuse/Child Protection Articles, Statistics & Events 2019

KARA gathers news about Minnesota’s at risk children
to provide a snapshot of
how our state
values its children.
Only a fraction of serious child abuse makes the news.
All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

Follow;
Safe Passage For Children MN (Join their legislative volunteer efforts and make child friendly legislation a reality)
CASAMN (become a guardian ad Litem and speak for abused children)

KARA’s Plea For Change (a call to action – with videos)

Significant institutional change happens when those of us that know the critical issues and have seen better answers start to talk about those problems and solutions loudly and often.

By speaking out, more of our friends and neighbors will know that the punishment model is worsening the public health problem of generational child abuse/trauma is causing all our public institutions.

By speaking out, more people will come to understand that the ACEs model is critical for better results in schools, public health, public safety and happier, more livable communities.

As more of us speak out and advocate for these kids (37% of American children are reported to Child Protection by their 18th birthday) our friends and neighbors will understand the ground truth about why these children don’t do well in school and have so much trouble leading productive lives and spend so much time in the courts and jails.

Healthy Students – Healthy Schools

1/3 of foster children have mental health issues serious enough to be forced onto psychotropic medications.

Of the 2 million youth arrested in America every year, 70% or them have mental health issues – half of them have severe, chronic and often multiple diagnosis.

That’s what teachers and schools face every day with one school nurse if they are lucky enough to have one.

Recent Stories, Statistics & Articles About Adoption & Foster Care

After a 9 day trial, foster mom Melissa Sondrol was convicted of of assaulting her infant state ward child, breaking multiple bones and withholding medical information from providers. The court was not allowed to hear her prior histories of abuse. This infant has suffered for years in MN and will live a life very different from other children due to the traumas visited upon him as a foster child – and the things that happened to him prior to entering child protection.

Stories about the shortage of foster care providers, lack of training and resources and transparency within the system are not uncommon – remember, we only read about the very worst cases – the sadness in foster care goes much deeper.

Childhood Trauma – Making Children Crazy

This powerful ACEs Too High article contains tons of statistics and information related to the prevalence of child abuse in America. What has struck me most is the impact abuse has on school engagement and the number of states where being an at risk child can be dangerous. The list of states with a lack of prenatal care and poor services for young mothers, lack of insurance, affordable day care and other early childhood programs has grown to about 1/3 of America.

Arming Teachers/Shooting Students (advocating for less violence and a more civil society)

After the COVID19 lockdowns are lifted, and children and teachers return to the the classroom after months of fear and isolation, wouldn’t it be wonderful if students and teachers do not have to replace the daily fear of a virus with the daily fear of violence? 

What can the community do to make that happen?

How many teachers have combat training or signed up to pack a weapon when they entered the profession?  Turnover in education is already a huge problem.  Packing a gun is what police and soldiers do. Shooting someone takes training – shooting the right person takes extensive training.  For decades now, guns have been more often used for suicide than self-defense in America.  This is true also for domestic violence.

American Crime Costs & Statistics

Louisiana (the World’s Prison Capitol), Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma & several other states have incarceration rates 20 times that of incarceration rates in most other industrialized nations. The best prisons in the world release good neighbors back into the community American prisons release hardened criminals with mental health problems and an 80% change of recidivism within five years.

Federal Prisons are 131% of design capacity – 2015 18 states are over capacity. 800% increase in women in prison since 1980.

These statistics and research calculate crime in America today and its cost…

It Didn’t Start In a Vacuum (crime – impact & statistics)

DJ Tice Star Tribune article recently made crime very real by describing his wife’s rape, his own assault and home burglary along with the awful Barry Latzer assumption that 80% of Americans could become victims of a violent crime in their lifetime.

No obfuscation here.

Crime hurts when it happens to you or someone you love.

What best should be done about crime and punishment is our national conundrum.

Damn the data, “hanging’s too good for em’ and “lock em up” our national chant for fifty years bringing us such data as;

Hard to Watch; Immigration & Children as Political Footballs

Dropping napalm on children and families in Vietnam (PBS video) was an unforgivable evil. Thousands of small children died by napalm.

Burned alive is the most painful death anyone can suffer. Survivors live with scars and trauma that never end.

Today, my government takes helpless babies & children from parents and places them in the custody of money driven defense contractors who warehouse them in cages at vacant shopping centers by the thousands.

The American Psychological Association condemns this act as needlessly cruel threatening “the mental and physical health of both the children and their caregivers”.

*Torturing immigrant children for political reasons is a vile act and it needs to be called out. *The World Health Organization defines torture as “extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.

Ensuring Children Will Die Lawsuit in Indiana (the other way of getting better public policy)

I visited Indiana a few years ago after the governor redirected funding from parents adopting special needs children after the adoptions had been completed (AFTER). Then governor mitch daniels directed those dollars to people most successful in dismantling services to abandoned children.
The complaint (new lawsuit) alleges that Indiana removes children from their homes to be placed into foster care at a “staggering rate — more than double the national rate” and then fails to keep them safe while in DCS custody “often placing them in inappropriate, unstable or overly restrictive placements; fails to provide necessary support services and medical and mental health care; and fails to provide meaningful case management.”

Taxes 2 Year Olds (what the feds know that we should)

It turns out that investing in children and young families provides the highest return on investment a government can make.

It’s apparent how terrible many government investments are and it’s easy to see how providing skills and basic needs for children and you families are superior investments to giving the homeless bus tickets to other states so they would be a burden elsewhere.

June Sad Stories (I) 2019 (find your state here)

American states are struggling to find answers for ending adverse childhood experiences and saving at risk children by reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect.

Today, many state ward children are 4th and 5th generation abused children raising their own families without parenting skills and with serious drug, alcohol and mental health issues.

37% of children overall and 57% 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 most states, 1/3 of foster children still forced onto psychotropic medicines

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.

KARA’s Top Stories The Week of 5.17.19

AZ: Child-welfare cases are private. Does that protect the kids, or the state officials? (Commentary)
Arizona Republic – May 03, 2019
When news broke that a Maricopa woman had been accused of starving, pepper-spraying, and otherwise abusing seven adopted children, questions immediately turned to what the Department of Child Safety knew and when the agency knew it.

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…