If It Wasn’t For The Lawyers (and no, I’m not)

The State of Arizona just lost seven million dollars in legal fees fighting a lawsuit demanding better care for foster children. The good news is the State lost.

It’s a tiny victory though.  Arizona, like Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana and a few other states, have long sat at the bottom of child well-being statistics in the U.S. 

Abused children don’t have any power in America today. At a Federal level, they don’t have many rights either as America is the only nation in the world to not have ratified the United Nation’s Rights of the Child Treaty of the 1980’s.

They have no voice in their homes, the media, courts that rule their lives or the State House.

It hurts me to think that some states would rather spend seven million dollars fighting against making life more bearable for their most troubled and vulnerable young citizens than using those wasted dollars to provide resources and healing for them.

It’s worse yet to think that in some states, lawyers or the threat of lawsuits, accomplish more for the well-being of at risk children than the people in charge of making public policy to safeguard our children.

We Are A Nation of Child Abusers

Nicholas Christof’s article in the NYTimes today points a finger at “pro-family” people “preserving” child poverty in America.

Lest you believe this a stretch, America stands out as the country with the highest child poverty rate and one of the lowest levels of social expenditure.  This has been true for many years.

This means food insecurity for five year olds, and the statistical probability that homeless ten year olds are three times more likely to be sexually abused than other children.

There is a heartlessness behind the politics of separating immigrant babies from their mother (over 5000) and not returning those children to their birth parents (over 1000 still are separated today).

We the people now have public policies that have led to the sad reality that;

37% of children are reported to child protection agencies in this nation by their 18th birthday.
almost one third of American children will have a criminal record by their 23rd birthay
80% of youth aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives

Child Abuse & Soul Murder (chapter 2)

I’ve come to know 50 beautiful babies and children that have had their souls murdered.

All fifty of my caseload children lived with chronic and serious beatings, rape, starvation and neglect repeatedly over a period of years.

They all died a tragic death of self.

Some watched their mothers being beaten or raped repeatedly, others were beaten, neglected or raped repeatedly.  Some of them were regular drug users by 8 or 9 years old.

The Calculus of COVID, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse

What is the equation for a healthy human being or a healthy community?

If there is an equation, the wrath of COVID is becoming a huge negative central to the calculation.

We will need to find an equal positive to offset the negative if we are to manage the stress and trauma this pandemic is visiting upon millions of at risk children and their families today.

Caring for others when times are stressful and fearful becomes harder for all of us and the institutions created to do so.

Pilgrims, Punishment and ACEs (why we have what we have)

America’s pilgrims brought with them a punishment model that remains the heart of our civic and group think today.

Puritans stoned, burned and drowned witches and shunned and hung people for being different and for what were often minor infractions.

Over the years, our violent punishment model has come down hard on American Indians, African Americans and other people of color.

We fought a civil war over the right to enslave and abuse people and sell their children & spouses for profit….

Our Creeping Mental Health Crisis (& statistics)

As a new CASA guardian ad Litem volunteer I was stunned by the Prozac, Ritalin and other psychotropic medications prescribed to my seven, eight and nine year old State Ward children. About 1/3 of all state ward children (nationally) are forced onto psychotropic medications. Suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death among 10 to 24 year olds.

Over 1 million children under 6 are prescribed psychiatric drugs in America today. In 2014, 20,000 one and two year old’s were on Prozac like drugs & *Johnson & Johnson was fined billions of dollars for illegally selling those drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children…

2021 – A More Responsive New Year For At Risk Children

If there is a silver lining in this time of worldwide pain and anxiety, it will be a recognition that rebuilding families is necessary for a healthy community.

Amid the chaos of our pandemic, the trauma and misery of children locked in toxic homes is hard to see. The media, politics and confusion on a worldwide basis are focused on vaccines, reporting and management of this frightening virus.

Struggling families facing poverty, job loss, combative politics, distrust of institutions and the steady increase of COVIDs scary reality need help to survive.

Many moms and dads do not have coping skills for managing the pressure and fear of this moment. Stressed out families drink and drug more, experience more tension, conflict and domestic violence – inflicting severe collateral damage on their children.

If we can grasp the simple reality that “What we do to our children, they will do to our society” (Greek Philosopher Pliny 2000 years ago) America can rebuild communities and a nation that once led the world in quality of life.

Thank You & Happy Holidays

For the New Year, KARA is asking everyone to support the people, policies and programs that make life better for struggling families and children.

Call and write policy makers where you live and let them know about conditions for and needs of at risk children where you live.

Let’s all strive to make this a better, safer year for at risk children everywhere.

Stay on top of the issues by signing up and sharing KARA’s Free weekly email updates with people that can make a difference for the children that need it the most.

SPEAK FOR A CHILD (be a voice for a child)

Learn about the CASA guardian ad-Litem program and how your can make life better for abused and neglected children – Today, there are 500 abused and neglected children in Ramsey & Hennepin County child protective services without a guardian ad-Litem. Being a State Ward child is painful. Being a voice for that child is rewarding and makes a difference in the life of that child.

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children; learn more here;

CASA MINNESOTA

CASA NATIONAL

Can You Imagine?

What’s it like for the social worker or guardian ad Litem knowing that the child they are talking to online is living in a toxic home of violence, neglect and drugs and it’s not possible to visit or confirm or remove that child to safety because of the COVID restrictions?

What’s it like knowing that a caregiver is watching the child answering the social workers questions leaving little chance for that child’s honest answers to the hard questions a social worker will ask?

What is occurring in too many homes to too many children at this time of crisis will be with us forever as a growing number of traumatized children are stamped with the mental health and behavioral problems that follow beatings, sexual abuse and neglect in the home.

Yes, these things were happening prior to this pandemic, but at least there was some escape to school with a chance for shelter, normalcy and a caring adult that would listen.

Today, the abuse and trauma continue uninterrupted.

These short public service announcements are hard to watch, but they could save lives by provoking support for at risk children and their families.

Please support KARA’s INVISIBLE CHILDREN local public Service Announcement program

Kids At Risk Action advocates for abused and neglected children – this website has over one thousand articles about trauma and the issues of child abuse.  Please share these stories widely,  contribute your questions and insights through our onsite comments and send us your suggestions for future topics.

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…

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.

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.

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

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.

A Beginners Guide to Child Abuse

Historically, my community only allows the most extreme cases of extensive, repeated abuse and trauma into the system.  Bruised, raped and bleeding was how one of my administrators termed it.

My family, friends and business associates hated me talking about child abuse.  They would rather not know about this uncomfortable subject. To this day it’s true.

I began speaking to Rotaries and other business, religious and political groups about statistics and my experiences as a volunteer CASA guardian ad litem.

For the first few years, almost no one understood my talk.

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…

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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).

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.

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.

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

Pandemic Weakening Child Protection Safeguards (thank you Safe Passage for Children of MN)

Do parents have a constitutional right to care for their children without interference from the courts or community? Because the U.S. has never ratified the United Nation’s Rights of the Child Treaty (the only nation in the world not to do so), American children have no voice in their homes, the courts, the media or the legislature.

Today, the Covid19 pandemic is keeping social workers from in person visits and there is no classroom for a child to escape to with a personal connection to a caring adult. This Article from Safe Passage for Children of MN should frighten us all.

Preventing Child Abuse During the Lockdown of Covid19

What’s it like for stressed out families living with the profound and immediate changes that keep our children out of school, parents out of work and the pervasive fear of the Covid19 virus?

Social distancing, stay at home orders and fear are driving up 911 calls and police departments are having a hard time responding adequately.  In France, the government is paying for hotel rooms for victims of domestic violence and providing pop-up counseling centres due to the soaring numbers of abuse calls…

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.