Today’s Star Tribune article by Jeremy Olson points out just how abandoned at-risk children really are in our city.

Fairview Masonic Children’s hospital has been overwhelmed with 145 emergency pediatric psych cases since September. This is just one metro hospital. Hennepin Health care reported over 1000 emergency psych cases/month a few years ago (prior to COVID).

A makeshift shelter in an ambulance garage is all that’s available at Fairview Masonic to protect children suffering from the traumas of child abuse and homelessness.

As a CASA volunteer guardian ad Litem advocate for children in Child Protective Services, I’ve come to know dozens of children with trauma based behavioral problems that needed help they did not get. My first visit to a four year old was at a psych ward.

Trauma changes the brain and creates severe often behaviors that can often be dangerous to the child and people around them.

Six year-old foster child Kendrea Johnson suicided by hanging a few years ago in Brooklyn Park. It’s hard for six-year olds to understand the mechanics of suicide. For every successful child suicide about 200 attempts are made. This does not include self-harm of cutting and other dangerous behaviors that are seldom reported and poorly understood.

It’s not just a cliche that children are our future. 25% of Black Minneapolis 3rd graders are reading at grade level.  Nationally, prison recidivism is reaching 90% at 9 years. These two things are related in several ways. First, children without trauma based mental health problems struggle more in school than healthy children. Second, trauma based mental health issues and the behaviors attendant to trauma, do not heal in a vacuum and impact behaviors for a lifetime.

For those of us concerned with school performance, street crime and community safety, we need to support, maybe scream for more early childhood programs including trauma based mental health services for at-risk children and youth.

What we do to our children, they will do to society” (Pliny the Elder, 2000 years ago).


This article submitted by long time CASA guardian ad Litem Mike Tikkanen

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