We all care about the best interests of children. Despite what everyone wants – right now, there are too many children suffering from abuse and neglect.

We know that, unless more is done about it, as these kids age, their abuse and neglect will result in decades of increasingly painful problems for the children and our community.

Problems impacting schools, public safety, healthcare, and quality of life for all of us.

My first visit to a 4-year-old CASA case child was at the suicide wing of a local hospital. Her 7-year-old sister (*Ann) had a vocabulary of no more than 10 words. Ann became my case CASA case child for 11 years. The 4-year-old had watched Ann being beaten and raped by the same large violent man her entire young life.

I also worked with five other children in that family over 11 years. They could not be fostered together because they were all sexualized. To them, sex was normal behavior.

I tell you this story because outside of a judge and a few social workers, Ann’s life story and the terrible things done to her, and her siblings remain invisible. Much like the invisible stories of the other 49 children in my CASA caseload over 12 years.

The only reason Ann came into CPS was that the large 40-year-old man kicked her so hard she went into convulsions, and an ambulance was called.

Children have no voice in their homes, the media, or the State House. Most child abuse is invisible and never reported.

When their stories are not told, the public remains unaware of the grave injuries done to them or the years they are forced to live with trauma and abuse.

The unaware public does not see the problem and assumes that child protection is operating just fine.

When the public does not see a problem, there is no need for a solution.

This lack of public awareness is making life unbearable for many thousands of abused and neglected children every day in every state.

This lack of awareness exists for several reasons.

We avoid this conversation because it is uncomfortable. We don’t like talking about it. We often obfuscate and euphemize when we do talk about it.

It’s not child maltreatment as much as it is repeated rape, beatings, and severe violence and neglect. Days in a crib without food or diaper changes – covered in bruises, burns, and broken bones.

Our avoidance of the topic and use of soft language fail to relate the reality that abused and neglected children are living with every day and the impact these traumas have on them.

Another reason for the lack of public awareness is that children have no voice in their homes, the media, or the Statehouse—and even if they did, very young children don’t even know that what is happening to them is wrong.

Without a voice, their stories and statistics are never known outside of CPS.

Most child abuse is never seen or reported. Most abused children go to their graves, never having told anyone about their traumas.

But the biggest reason people know so little about the depth and scope of childhood trauma in our nation is that Child Protective Services is not transparent.

Information comes in, but it doesn’t go out. This is not just a Minnesota problem; it is a national problem and an institutional problem.

MN just finished a comprehensive INVESTIGATIVE report about 200 Children Killed by their Caregivers while in CPS. Everyone concerned about child well-being should read this report and send it to their State Representative. This will have impact on policies and programs that can save lives if it gets traction.

It is likely the most thorough and meaningful report of its kind in the nation. It is a definitive examination of where MN is failing and what changes will save these young lives.

There are 17 States that have begun compiling egregious incident reports, that collect and track terrible things that happen to children in their homes.

However, these egregious incident reports don’t address why it happened, how it happened, and what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again.

Minnesota’s report is not perfect. There was only enough funding to fully investigate 88 of the 200 children killed by their caregivers, and 4 counties refused to participate.

No County offered any information not already public, and nothing was included about child suicide, severe self-harm, or children who suffered near-death experiences at the hands of their caregivers.

This kind of report will shape what people know and drive more of us to advocate for and vote for child-friendly programs and issues that keep children from being killed in their homes.

Don’t forget that a few years before this report, MN”s Governor Mark Dayton called CPS a catastrophic failure in the slow, tortured death of four-year-old Eric Dean. The boy died after largely 14 ignored reports of abuse by mandated reporters. The child was never seen by social workers before he died.


If it had not been for Brandon Stahl, an intrepid newspaper reporter, no one would have ever known how or why that boy died. Brandon’s reporting created an uproar that caused the governor to say strong things and form a task force.

Only when the task force discovered child-unfriendly policies did change occur.

At that time, MN had 4 counties screening out 90% of calls and there was a statute on the books forbidding social workers from reviewing past histories of abusive families in reviewing new cases.

The task force requested many changes but not all of them were made.

Many problems remain, especially around the concept of CPS tracking and reporting child outcomes metrics and overusing family assessments over child instead of family investigations.

“This lack of transparency and overuse of family assessments has been true for far too long and will become apparent if the MN investigative report model can be duplicated in other states.

*Ann, not her real name.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children


“What we do to our children, they will do to our society”

(Pliny the Elder, 2000 years ago)


(They make a big difference in the lives of abused children)