December 2016 Sad Stories Part 1

MD: Youth homelessness in Baltimore higher than previously thought
The Baltimore Sun – November 30, 2016
More than 1,400 young people under the age of 25 were unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, without a safe, stable, affordable place to live, according to data collected by homeless advocates, service providers, the University of Maryland, the city and other stakeholders.
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-homeless-youth-20161130-story.html
NY: ‘What Did They Do?’ Officials Question ACS Response in Jaden Jordan Case
DNAinfo – December 01, 2016
Law enforcement officials probing the nearly fatal beating of a 3-year-old boy are questioning why a city child welfare caseworker – and not a trained investigator or the NYPD – was called days before the tragedy to check out a tip that the toddler was being kept in a dog cage by a Brooklyn man, DNAinfo New York has learned.
https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20161201/gravesend/jaden-jordan-administration-for-childrens-services-salvatore-lucchesse
NY: A Better, But Still Broken, NYC Child Welfare System Means Another Child Murdered (Opinion)
The Huffington Post – November 30, 2016
As CEO’s of three of the oldest and largest charities serving New York City’s children, we are determined to learn any lesson we can to protect children from harm. We stand with all New Yorkers in demanding accountability, and we want to see pragmatic and meaningful reform that truly protects children.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeremy-christopher-kohomban-phd/a-better-but-still-broken_b_12501974.html

Pennsylvania Child Protection News Sept – November 2016

Pennsylvania officials reveal improved service to child abuse hotline
Philly Voice – September 15, 2016
In 2015, the department reported a 14-percent increase in phone calls from 164,911 to 188,357, a 39-percent increase in cases of suspected child abuse and a 162-percent increase in requests for child-abuse history clearances. DHS admitted that 43 percent of calls were abandoned or deflected and 48 percent of clearances were processed within 14 days as required by law.
http://www.phillyvoice.com/pennsylvania-officials-reveal-improved-service-child-abuse-hotline/

Pennsylvania couple waives arraignment in child-giving case
ABC 27 News – September 2, 2016
A Pennsylvania couple and a Philadelphia-area man to whom they allegedly gave their 14-year-old daughter in exchange for money have waived their arraignments.
http://abc27.com/2016/09/02/pennsylvania-couple-waives-arraignment-in-child-giving-case/

Minnesota At Risk Children’s News November 2016

Recommendations Announced For Improving Child Services
CBS Local
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hennepin County leaders are making new recommendations to help protect children in Minnesota. A child protection …
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Hennepin County discussing $26 million child protection plan that would add nearly 250 new staffers
Minneapolis Star Tribune
No longer would children need to endure maltreatment before they get social services in Minnesota’s most populous county. … Hennepin County has had 15,400 child protection reports so far this year, but county leaders expect to …
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Hennepin County shifts child protection mission with new model
Minneapolis Star Tribune
No longer will a child need to endure maltreatment before they get social services in Minnesota’s most populous county, an unprecedented step in the …
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The Election & Children (from Safe Passages For Children of Minnesota)

This recent piece from Safe Passages for Children of Minnesota paints a more positive picture for Minnesota’s at risk children than can be seen in the rest of the nation.

It’s good to know that MN politicians on both sides of the isle care about the youngest and most vulnerable among us. They recognize that healthy children become healthy adults creating a safe and productive community.

The rest of the nation’s children are at risk as attacks on healthcare and education will dismantle working programs and the well-being of millions of America’s poorest and youngest citizens.

Politicians blaming educators and other service providers replace objective discussions about what it takes to improve safety nets and troubled institutions. It hurts me to see just how quickly children’s services become wasted money that some states have been all too ready to reduce for political benefits.

Thank you Minnesota legislators for doing the right thing. Your critical thinking skills and the ethical standards you have maintained to accomplish so many of the recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on Child Protection Services and Mental Health will benefit this state for decades to come.

As the holiday season approaches, let’s all be grateful for the hard work of these two task forces (and the people that volunteered to staff them) and the results they have accomplished this year.

Minnesota At Risk Children’s News October 2016

Teen Arrested In Mpls. Shooting That Killed Man, Baby
CBS Local
Teen Arrested In Mpls. Shooting That Killed Man, Baby … Minnesota History Center Highlights Football Past, Present And FutureThe Minnesota …
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Lakeville parents charged with child neglect
Minnesota Public Radio News
A couple that was reported missing from Lakeville last week has been charged with neglecting their two young children during the five days they spent …
Charges: Minnesota parents lived in car 5 days, didn’t bathe or feed 2 boys – Duluth News Tribune
Full Coverage
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November 2016 Sad Stories Part I

IN: Child re-sentenced for murder: A sign of juvenile justice reform?
Christian Science Monitor – October 31, 2016
Paul Gingerich was 12 years old when he helped fatally shoot a friend’s stepfather in a small Indiana town about 45 miles northwest of Fort Wayne. The boys had planned to flee to Arizona or California after the ambush, but both were caught, convicted, and sentenced to 25 years in prison. The case sparked outrage from child welfare advocates because Mr. Gingerich, now 18, is believed to be the youngest person in Indiana history to be sentenced in an adult court.
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2016/1031/Indiana-child-re-sentenced-for-murder-A-sign-of-juvenile-justice-reform

IN: Drugs could be to blame for rise in foster care cases, officials say (Includes video)
WDRB – October 31, 2016
As the number of kids in foster care in the United States goes up, Indiana is among the states seeing the largest increase in new cases.
http://www.wdrb.com/story/33534207/officials-say-drugs-could-be-to-blame-for-rise-in-foster-care-cases

200,000 Youth Tried As Adults Each Year; Temple University

My experience with children receiving adequate therapy for the severe trauma and resulting behavior problems that were so indelibly a part of these very young children’s lives was almost non existent.

Once these very troubled children become old enough to impact their surroundings they do so in a most troubling manner. That’s why our jails are full and our schools are troubled.

From the study; “In other words, by one mechanism or another, more than 200,000 individuals under the age of 18 are prosecuted in criminal court each year. There are three trends in the data worth noting.

Children’s Mental Health, Prozac and You (suicide & other self-harming behaviors)

For every successful child-suicide there are an estimated 25 attempts.

The suicidal hanging of six-year old foster child Kendrea Johnson opened my eyes to the fatal flaws of Prozac and very young children and foster care.

The dearth of mental health trained foster families and the number of traumatized children in child protection systems can only lead to exponential growth in dysfunctional and dangerous behaviors that last a lifetime.

Nationally, about a third of children in foster homes take psychotropic medication like Prozac (they have no choice – the drugs are forced on them).

The note seven-year old foster child Gabriel Myers left when he suicided by hanging was specific about his hatred of the drug he was forced to take and that he would rather be dead.

In 2014, America forced Prozac like drugs on 20,000 + one and two-year old children. One manufacturer (Johnson & Johnson) was fined 4 billion dollars for illegally selling these drugs to pediatricians for use on very young children (with 4 thousand cases awaiting trial and that is just one manufacturer).

My first visit to a four-year old child as a volunteer Hennepin County guardian ad Litem was at the suicide ward of Fairview Hospital. I know suicidal ideation by medication and caution anyone using these drugs on children to learn about it.

During my first years as a CASA GAL, I experienced multiple suicidal children in my caseload. All of them were under ten-years old. The amount of Prozac like drugs forced on these children was remarkable. So remarkable that a Hennepin County judge shared the records she kept of medicated children with me and talked openly about her dismay that these drugs were being used on very young children.

There are no records kept of suicide attempts by children in child protection or foster/adoptive homes.

Only successful suicide attempts make the paper or are made public. In 2013, 494,169 Americans were admitted to hospital emergency rooms for self-inflicted injuries.

In Minneapolis MN, our HCMC hospital sees almost one thousand emergency room psychiatric visits each month.

For the first time in our nation’s history, mental health parity (a piece of the Affordable Health Care Act) will make mental health services available to the poor traumatized children I have worked with.

How we treat our most vulnerable children define the heart and soul of this nation.
If there is one thing to fight for in the coming battle over repealing the ACA, please join me in the demand for mental health care for our youngest citizens.

www.Kidsatriskaction.org

International Child Protection News October 2016

U.K. – Sunderland Child Protection Body Apologizes Over Death of Girls.
The Guardian.
The death of two teenage girls under child services were both found hanged 10 days apart. No connection has be found linking the two deaths, however; the similarities in both cases prompted serious case reviews out of fear the children may be experiencing similar unacceptable levels of care.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/14/sunderland-childrens-services-apologise-critical-report-deaths-girls

Raise Your Voice For At Risk Children (Give to the Max Day November 17th)

Thank you all for helping KARA advocate for an end to our public health epidemic child abuse and child trauma. With your help, we are raising awareness for at risk children’s issues and poised and ready to create lasting change.

Like you, I am an advocate. As a founding member of Kids At Risk Action, I have not stopped using my voice for change. And now you can join me in raising your voice by continuing to receive and share our weekly updates, buying KARA’s INVISIBLE CHILDREN book or making a contribution to show your support.

Please consider making a tribute contribution to show your support of those who stand up to say Yes to improving the lives of abused and neglected children.

Best wishes,

Mike Tikkanen

October Sad Stories Part II

WA: Can this tool fix our troubled foster care system?
Crosscut Seattle – October 28, 2015
Anyone who has filed a tax return by hand knows that filling out bureaucratic forms can be a dreary, time-consuming enterprise. For child welfare and youth homeless social service providers, it can be a hindrance to the very outcomes those forms are trying to achieve: providing quality care for the state’s most vulnerable kids. Partners for our Children, a group out of University of Washington’s School of Social Work, is trying to solve that problem.
http://crosscut.com/2016/10/can-this-tool-fix-our-troubled-foster-care-system/

US: Modernizing Foster Care (Opinion)
Chronicle of Social Change – October 28, 2016
The shortage of foster families will continue to increase. Previous blogs have discussed ways to lessen the need for temporary homes by preventing unnecessary removals and by hastening the time to a permanent home through reunification or adoption. In addition, foster parents should be more adequately compensated.
https://chronicleofsocialchange.org/blogger-co-op/modernizing-foster-care/21957

Go To Jail Go Directly To Jail (and be branded for life)

Minnesota’s former Supreme Court Chief Justice has stated that 90% of the youth in the Juvenile Justice system have passed through Child Protective Services and that “The difference between that poor child and a felon is about eight years”.

Marion Wright Edelman calls this the pipeline to prison & from this volunteer CASA guardian ad Litems perspective it is absolutely true. No other industrialized nation treats its children and juveniles so harshly.

The simple truths below now define our communities and our nation – share them with your legislators (really – if you don’t share this with them they may never know).

Charging juveniles as adults

Privatized Detention Centers (why judges sometimes go to jail)

Ten Cents An Hour

Never Vote Again (stay away)

King Pin Laws

Women In Prison (shackled while giving birth?)

The Face of 12 Year Olds In Jail

Prozac, Children, Juveniles & the Criminal Justice System

Minnesota Child Protection Stories September 2016

Protesters call for boycott of Varsity Theater, Loring Pasta Bar
Minnesota Daily
The protest was meant to educate the campus community of sexual abuse … The lawsuits were filed under the Child Victims Act, which extended the … any of it,” said first-year University of Minnesota neuroscience student Mary Ellen …
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Mother and boyfriend charged in MN toddler’s death
KFGO
ANOKA, Minn. (AP) – Authorities have filed charges against the mother of a Blaine toddler who died and her boyfriend. Anoka County Attorney Tony …
Couple charged in child death – Valley News Live
Two adults charged in connection with toddler’s death – White Bear Press
Full Coverage
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Charges filed in murder of Blaine, Minnesota toddler
KMSP-TV
A man wanted in the murder of a toddler and kidnapping of a 5-year-old girl in Blaine, Minnesota was arrested Wednesday morning by the Missouri …
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Around the state: Mother, boyfriend charged in toddler’s death
Post-Bulletin
MINNEAPOLIS — A trial in Minnesota district court will test whether suburban … The toddler died at the scene from injuries that authorities say were …
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Unintended Consequences (KARA & abused children thank you Brandon Stahl & Star Tribune)

From today’s Brandon Stahl article,

“Janine Moore, the area director of the county’s children and family services department, said earlier this month that child protection has a backlog of nearly 300 unreviewed reports, up from 111 in February. Moore said staff examine all cases to determine which ones need immediate response.

Earlier this year, Moore told the committee there were 15 children on a shelter waiting list, meaning they needed to be taken into protective custody but child protection workers had nowhere to put them. At one point, the committee learned, there were 30 such cases, with a wait of up to two weeks before a safe home opened up for a child.

“Quite frankly,” Moore told the committee, “we’ve been struggling with this for over a year now.”

Hennepin County CASA guardian ad litem Calvin McIntyre says that in this overwhelmed child protection system (highest caseload in more than six years), “I’ve had kids get worse”.

“About two dozen children in the past year who had nowhere else to go were admitted to the pediatric ward of Hennepin County Medical Center, said the ward’s director, Dr. Frances Prekker. Some, said Prekker, had to be confined to the ward because they might run away. Some of the children stayed in the ward for a month, Prekker said.”“It’s quite stressful [for the children]. The hospital is a really boring place to live,” Prekker said. “They feel quite isolated.”

“Brooklyn Park Police Chief Craig Enevoldsen said his officers have brought young children they suspected were abused to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.”

These sad truths would be a little more understandable if this community hadn’t allocated a billion dollars for a stadium, a billion + dollars for transportation & almost a billion dollars to rebuild a bridge that fell in the river because we were too cheap to make the 5 million dollars in repairs repeatedly requested by County and Federal engineers.

The unintended consequences of saving the 5 million dollars in bridge maintenance were 14 deaths, 144 seriously injured people, and pain and disruption for thousands of metro residents

Without community support, children don’t learn to cope and often fail in school and public life (state wards forever).

The unintended consequences of saving the effort and money it will take to build a more effective child protection system include failing schools, high teacher turnover, dangerous city streets and filled prisons along with a growing public concern that our institutions are creating exactly what they were designed to stop.

International Child Protection News September 2016

Despite child labour being illegal, the Burkina Faso government overlooks the use of children in mining and extracting gold. It’s willingness to overlook the use of child labour is based on its dependency on gold exports for revenues. Children are sometimes pulled from school to work alongside with their parents to earn money for the family.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/burkina-faso-gold-mines/

To Maintain Supply of Sex Slaves, ISIS Pushes Birth Control.
New York Times.
Girls from religious and ethnic minority groups are captured, bought and sold by Islamic State (IS) members. The girls are repeatedly raped and given birth control to ensure the girls are not pregnant while the girls are bought, sold, or passed around. The girls are given oral or injectable contraception, sometimes they are given both. To ensure the girl is not pregnant, they are taken to the hospital to test for HCG hormone, which is indicative of pregnancy if it is present. If she is not pregnant, the captors continue to rape the girl or sell her to other captors for similar purposes.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/13/world/middleeast/to-maintain-supply-of-sex-slaves-isis-pushes-birth-control.html?_r=1

Child Abuse A National Overview (Sarah Westall Radio Show – Share This Widely)

arah Westall’s serious research gives her chops to ask the hardest and most in depth questions diving deep into the heart of the matter she is investigating.

This interview is the best I have had in the almost two decades of speaking and writing for Kids At Risk Action. Don’t miss it.

Share this interview with your connections – it will open their eyes to the depth and scope of child abuse and child protection in our communities (& make life better for at risk children).

Sarah Westall Interview

All Adults are the protectors of All Children

September Sad Stories (part 1 through September 15)

Homeless woman accused of child neglect, children covered in filth, lice, suffering health problems
Bennington Banner (subscription)
BENNINGTON >> A homeless woman is facing charges after her children were found covered in filth, infested with lice, and suffering numerous health …
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Calgary hosts international anti-child abuse, neglect conference
CBC.ca
Former Flames hockey player Sheldon Kennedy gave a keynote speech to the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect …
Calgary conference focused on preventing child abuse kicks off at Telus Convention Centre – Calgary Sun
More than 1100 delegates in Calgary to attend international conference on preventing child abuse – Calgary Herald
International conference battling child abuse meeting in Calgary – CTV News
Full Coverage
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Child neglect case of Unionport-area man now includes molestation charges
Winchester News Gazette
Both McKinney and his wife, Amy, were charged Tuesday with three counts each of neglect of a dependent, a Level 6 felony. At initial hearings, they …
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August 2016 Sad Stories (Part 3 through August 31)

AZ: Report: Foster Care Rates Sky-Rocket, More Arizona Children Living In Poverty (Includes audio)
KJZZ – August 18, 2016
“Fifty-one percent, so more than half of the kids in Arizona are in low income families,” she said. “And that’s a concern because we know that there are a number of other factors that are affected by that particular benchmark.” Arizona Kids Count Data Book: http://kjzz.org/sites/default/files/8-17-16AZKidsCount-2016_FINAL_for-web-1_0.pdf
http://kjzz.org/content/352635/report-foster-care-rates-sky-rocket-more-arizona-children-living-poverty

CA: First of three bills to protect foster kids passes Assembly
Daily Democrat – August 18, 2016
Legislation that would create a more rigorous process for the prescribing of potentially harmful psychotropic drugs to foster children easily passed off the Assembly floor Thursday afternoon.
http://www.dailydemocrat.com/article/NI/20160818/NEWS/160819882

CA: Lawmakers advance bill to decriminalize prostitution for minors
Los Angeles Times – August 18, 2016
SB 1322, authored by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), would make the crimes of solicitation and loitering with intent to commit prostitution misdemeanors inapplicable to children younger than 18. It also would allow law enforcement to take sexually exploited children into temporary custody if leaving them unattended would pose an immediate threat to their health or safety.
http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-sac-essential-politics-updates-california-lawmakers-reject-bold-step-1471556676-htmlstory.html

CASA guardian ad Litem News & Stories for August 2016

Jan. 17 trial date set in Sullivan County homicide
Terre Haute Tribune Star
Tribune-Star/Lisa TriggDefendant Joshua Travis Hall is led from the Sullivan Superior courtroom by Sheriff Clark Cottom following a hearing Monday …
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Attorney Janie Lindamood leaves mark on community, children, legal profession
Johnson City Press (subscription)
She represented children in delinquency cases and was often appointed as a child’s guardian ad litem, which in Tennessee is a licensed attorney …
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Family Court: abused children need more advocates
The News Journal
The CASA is appointed as the child’s guardian ad litem, which involves being party to any court agreement or court plan for the child and is …
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Judge notes ‘disturbing evidence’ in wards of court application
Irish Times
The alleged sexual abuse and brutal treatment of two children, both aged under 10, was “the most disturbing evidence I have read in 20 years on the …
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Best ACEs Articles for August 2016

Why Many People Don’t Talk About Traumatic Events Until Long After They Occur [TheConversation.com]
After traumatic events, such as physical or sexual assault, domestic violence or combat, that threaten to rob us of our dignity and spirit, people typically don’t tell others. In fact, many trauma survivors either never speak to anyone about what happened to them or wait a very long time to do so. The reasons for this are multi-fold and likely include shame, perceived stigma of being a “victim,” past negative disclosure experiences and fears of being blamed or told that the event was somehow their fault. And when it comes to reporting sexual harassment, women fear for their jobs, promotions or placements.

Remembering Mark Proctor

Mark Proctor passed away this past week and Minnesota lost one of its most committed and effective advocates for children in the child protection and foster care system. I know of no one more dedicated to making life better for abused and neglected children. Mark brought depth, wit and a deep working knowledge of the child protection system to our CASAMN board meetings. He was a truly positive force and a joy to work with.

Mark supported guardians ad litem as a former director of the Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA program in South Dakota, and as a member of the CASA Board of Directors here. He got the first legislation ever proposed by Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota introduced in the state Legislature in 2010.

He was always present when any advocacy for children needed to be done.

Mark will be greatly missed not only by his colleagues but by the children of Minnesota, many of whom did not know him but still benefited from his work.

Here is the information about his memorial services this coming Saturday, September 17th:

Mark Proctor passed away in Mendota, MN September 6, 2016.

An “Irish Wake” Celebration of Life will occur at 1:00 PM on Saturday, September 17, 2016 at the Mendota VFW in Mendota, MN. Buffet lunch will be beforehand from 10:45 AM-12:30 PM; please let me know if you plan to attend the lunch and how many people to prepare for by emailing drkaylazp@yahoo.com.

Memorials can be given to the Mark Proctor Scholarship at Black Hills State University (http://www.bhsu.edu/)or to Safe Passage for Children of MN (http://safepassagemn.com/donate/).

Thank you for your support at this time.

Kayla Zirpel-Proctor and Family/Friends of Mark Proctor

Minnesota Child Protection News August 2016

  KARA gathers news about abused Minnesota’s abused children every month and works to provide a snapshot of Child Protection and how our state values its children. If you are an aspiring writer/reporter, KARA needs you to help gather and report on these stories.  Contact mike@invisiblechildren.org with REPORTING in the subject line. All Adults Are…

Child Death & the Definition of Child Abuse (thank you Safe Passage for Children and DR Mark Hudson)

his morning’s update from Safe Passage for Children includes DR Mark Hudson’s informed understanding of why children die of abuse in our state and how to fix it. He points out that way more children die of abuse every year than they do from cancer. Statistically, it’s a big problem. Ethically, it’s hard to argue against DR Hudson’s prior injury observations and that “Approximately 40% of fatal/near fatal injuries occur in children who have a history with Child Protective Services”.
The letter is worth reading in it’s entirety – please share this with your state rep and your contacts. Creating awareness for the problems of our most vulnerable citizens is the only way to help them.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

International Child Protection News August 2016

Syria – Caught in the civil war, Syrian children receive make-do education.
The Wire.
The ongoing civil war has displaced several children and their families. A husband and wife has opened their home to teach some of the children who have been displaced by the war. Although the conditions are not optimal, Syrian children receive education in subjects like Arabic, English, maths and religion. With schools being targets of air strikes and with the growth of insurgent groups children have been displaced and recruited by armed personnels, limiting their access of education. One problem they face is inadequate learning material, i.e. books, and the presence of war planes flying above the makeshift schools scaring the children.
http://thewire.in/46581/caught-in-the-civil-war-syrian-children-receive-make-do-education/

Syria – UN says children caught in Syria’s civil war suffer ‘unspeakable’ abuse.
PBS News Hour.
A United Nations report finds that the Syrian government is responsible for thousands of child deaths and the imprisonment of several children where they suffer physical and mental abuse. While thousands of children have been killed or imprisoned, thousands more have been displaced forcing some to flee to other countries or have been recruited by armed groups and the government to fight in the war.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/un-children-syrias-civil-war-suffer-unspeakable-abuse/

Indonesia – Unicef report finds female genital cutting to be common in Indonesia.
The New York Times.
The United Nations Children’s Fund finds that millions of girls in Indonesia has fallen victim to female genital cutting, a cultural ritual practice. The official Indonesian government definition of female genital cutting defines the practice as a less harsh and less intensive practice than what is often seen in parts of Africa and Middle East. Although numbers has declined in some countries, the rate of decline is not fast enough to keep up with population growth. If rates of female genital cutting is to continue the number of women and girls subjected to female genital cutting will rise significantly over the next 15 years. While female genital cutting is regarded as a cultural practice in Indonesia, conflict persists between religious and secular attitudes towards the practice.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/05/health/indonesia-female-genital-cutting-circumcision-unicef.html

Colombia – Stolen youth: combating commercial sexual exploitation of children in Cartagena, Colombia.
Global Affairs Canada.
A city in Colombia is a destination for sex tourism and sexual exploitation of children. Although illegal, commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth is entrenched in the city because of the well established crime syndicates. Groups have taken action together to clean up the city and promote the idea that the city can not develop on the basis of sexual tourism. Legal action has been taken in some cases but it yields few results.
http://www.international.gc.ca/development-developpement/stories-histoires/columbia-colombie/youth-jeunes.aspx?lang=eng

Using Bibles In Defense of Child Abuse (not the Jesus I knew)

Indiana Governor and Vice Presidential Candidate Mike Pence’s Religious Freedom signature law RFRA allows beating 7 year old’s with a coat hanger leaving bruises and bleeding severe enough to cause the child’s doctor to have mom arrested.

It will be a very sad thing an Indiana Court uses Pence’s law to rule that bibles can be used to torture and traumatize children.

A few years ago I spoke to adoptive parents in Indiana where the prior Governor, Mitch Daniels redirected the funding promised to families adopting special needs children (after the adoptions were completed) to his appointees in social services who could cut the most from social services programs.

Mitch was also running for Vice President at the time. My conversations with those families were really sad (really, really sad).

For the second time in just 3 election cycles, Indiana Governor’s have shown children just how little they matter to the State.

Tiny stepping stones to higher political office; kids can’t vote and only make the media under the most tragic of circumstances. A clear win for Indiana Governor’s (and a few other states too).

If there is a silver lining in Indiana Governor’s political abuse of children, it is that Indiana’s helpless kids are the only youth voice in America’s most important political battle (there is no other meaningful child friendly discourse in our presidential election).

Know anyone in Indiana? Share this with them and suggest that using children as political stepping stones should be a crime.

All Adults are the Protectors of All Children

Children Feeling Betrayed (thank you Safe Passage for Children & PBS)

Children who are badly abused sometimes seek help from teachers, extended family, or social workers. When they get none they feel profoundly betrayed by adults. This can have lifelong consequences for the children and society, as this PBS story illustrates.

Today’s dominant political view is that children are nearly always better off with their families. This creates systemic pressures to leave children where they are even when abuse is extreme.

Decisions should be based on each child’s best interests. Children shouldn’t be vehicles for the politics of ideology, culture or race. They don’t care about these things. They just want the pain to end.

Children don’t participate in policy-making. Their interests can only be factored into child protection practices by adults who comprehend their anguish and speak out for them.

Children Locked Up in America (Radio Interview)

Mass Incarceration: Where it Starts, With Our Youth

Following up from last weeks show on Mass Incarceration, which focused on adults, this week the focus is on mass incarceration of our youth. In contrast to adult incarceration, where there has been bipartisan attention from U.S. Politicians, the youth problem is all but ignored during the campaigns. The issue is a big one so it is hard to understand why it is avoided like the plague by our politicians. In fact, I could not find a single quote on the internet about youth incarceration from politicians.

Perhaps people just do not want to hear about something so depressing. Newspaper and magazine publishers claim that they will lose their readership if they cover these issues. Television believes people will turn the channel or tune out. Maybe people will not read this blog either, but it’s an important subject, so I made the decision to do the right thing and cover the issue. If awareness can increase, the likelihood of positive change can increase too.

Here are some facts:

The U.S. has the worlds highest youth incarceration rate at 225 per 100,000 (as of 2015). The next highest rate amongst developed nations is South Africa at 69 per 100,000. The U.S. is 6 to 10 times that of the other developed nations.

Drugging Our Kids

In 1996 there were 1100 students per counselor in MN high schools and one child psychiatrist for all the children in the Hennepin County child protection system. At that time and now, no child makes it into Child Protection unless he or she has had suffered repeated traumas and needed consistent professional mental health help. As a County Volunteer guardian ad litem, I watched as tons of MN children were forced to take Prozac, Ritalin and other psychotropic medications. These children suffered all the side effects common to those drugs including the suicidal ideation printed on every package of the drug.

In 2014, 20,000 one and two year old children were forced to take these drugs and Johnson and Johnson was fined 4 billion dollars for illegally selling them to pediatricians for use on children (and there are four thousand cases awaiting trial).

This article (and the series within) presents a raw view into the terrible mishandling of children’s mental health.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

Let Me Show You The Money

One of my guardian ad Litem boys Alan – not his real name, was tied to a bed, left alone for days at a time (from 4 to 7 years of age – four whole years), sexually abused, starved and beaten so badly that he was covered head to foot in bruises on both sides of his body when I first met him.

This boy’s new adoptive caregiver had a court order in place from another state forbidding him contact with young boys because of what he did to them – but this was not found out at the time and custody of this poor four year old boy was granted to this violent sex offender.

Alan was taken from a perfectly fine foster home to be starved, raped and beaten for four years – until his caregiver first brought him to school when he was seven years old and turned into child protection.

Alan already cost the County/State over 3 million dollars by the time he aged out of foster care. This number does not include the teacher he beat up, a school mate he stabbed, or any of the terrible things he did to the 29 foster and adoptive families that tried so hard to save him or the violence he did to people and things in his daily life.

He also had AIDs and was on one of the most expensive medications I had ever encountered (about $40,000 / year for the pills alone).

Alan has always been a state ward and most likely will always be a state ward. We became friends over a 12 year period and I understood why he did what he did, why he hated authority (you get that way when you are horribly abused by a parent or caregiver) and how the rest of his life was most likely going to play out after he aged out of foster care.

80% of youth aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives.

Blaming Alan for violent outbursts and hurting people is like blaming the 35W Bridge for killing and injuring all those men, women and children when it fell in the river a few years ago.

Federal and State engineers said at the time that it was when, not if this bridge would fail for lack of maintenance. The bridge was in the bottom three percent of all bridges in America when it collapsed and it was no surprise to those that know bridges.

Police Shootings & You and Me

People smarter than me have clearly explained the underlying institutional dysfunctions that ensure the next police shootings.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown accurately stated that law enforcement has become the safety system in schools, a primary community mental health service provider, and of course the armed responder to a growing number of society’s violent problems.

Recently, Minnesota sheriffs from Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington Counties wrote a half page Star Tribunearticle threatening to sue the State for failing to provide timely mental health services to people locked up in their jail cells. This failure has turned law enforcement into a provider of mental health services to a large and growing population of often dangerous people.

MN Law enforcement officers killed 12 people in 2015 and each year are dealing with more unstable people and potentially dangerous encounters with the wrong training needed to slow this racially unbalanced social dysfunction.

CASAMN October 26th Fundraiser (save the date & help us find sponsors)

We need your help! Your sponsorship of this event will be essential to the fundraiser’s success and will enable CASA Minnesota to continue providing volunteer Guardian Ad Litem’s to abused and neglected children involved in Juvenile Court proceedings in our communities & to help fund CASA Cares for kids! We would be most grateful for your sponsorship at any level (including live and silent auction items). Join us for a celebration and a great cause.

CASA volunteers – also known as Guardians ad Litem in the State of Minnesota—are everyday citizens whom judges appoint to advocate for the safety and well-being of children who are in the court system as a result of abuse and/or neglect. They stand up for these children and change their lives.

CASA Cares is a grant program, formerly known as Friends of Children that benefits children in foster care by providing bikes, helmets, camps, school supplies, and other items that allow them to enjoy a positive childhood experience and further help them to overcome adversity by seeing that we as a community can help meet their needs!

CASA Minnesota is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that supports Minnesota CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) programs and the volunteers who have helped more than two million children find safe, permanent homes. Your contributions are tax-deductible! Share this with your friends and networks (All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children)

Important Child Protection News From Safe Passage For Children – Outside Review Needed

Representatives of counties and the Department of Human Services recently presented the Minnesota legislature with a revised plan for implementing the Governor’s Child Protection Task Force recommendations. It proposed $500,000 for an already agreed-upon outside review of screening practices (Recommendation #25).

This price tag could discourage legislators from funding the project. But the actual cost would probably be under $100,000 – more like $25K.

The review would address issues that are blocking progress on other recommendations, including whether to continue interviewing children in front of their alleged abusers. It would also provide a framework for developing a fact-finding protocol, which workers would be trained in to determine the most appropriate child protection response.

We encourage the Department to include this review in their 2017 budget using the most accurate number possible.

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We Are All Nuts (the costs and dangers of undertreating and ignoring mental health – thank you Star Tribune)

If you have children, grandchildren or just like other people’s children, you should read this to the end. You could help keep them safe from terrible things by understanding the connection between this mental health discussion and those terrible things.

Today’s Star Tribune article by Chris Serres should wake us up as to the cost and danger we all face by ignoring, undertreating and maltreating mentally at risk people. Last week Chris wrote about the broken bones and violence done to children in the justice system because of their mental health struggles. Thank you Chris Serres and the Star Tribune for bringing this long avoided topic to the front page.

Chris’s article concentrates on the logjam and wait periods patients and providers face in this state and the human suffering that that accompanies it.

Not mentioned are the 900-1000 emergency psych visits to HCMC every month and some psych patients are waiting three months to be admitted (and that’s just one MN hospital). Allina Health DR Paul Goering states that “it’s been so paralyzing for the community to say ‘it looks like things are broken,’ and then to say it again next year”.

I agree with Dr Rahul Koranne (Chief Medical Officer for the MN Hospital Association) quote that

MN Child Protection News July 2016

Hundreds of Minnesota teens confined, abused for no … – Star Tribune

www.startribune.com/confined…teenager…minnesota…/389387061/

Star Tribune

4 days ago – Confined without charges, a teenager’s ordeal reveals strains within … Hundreds of Minnesota teens with mental health problems are winding …

Moms emerge as force for change at Minn. state mental … – Star Tribune

www.startribune.com/mothers…as-a…minnesota…mental…/388084502/

Star Tribune

Jul 24, 2016 – Mothers emerge as a force for change at Minnesota state mental hospital … to advocate for their sons who are psychiatric patients at the hospital Tuesday, July …. Delta cancels hundredsmore flights in wake of Monday outage · Lynx head off … A black teenager encounters racism in the Twin Cities suburbs.

International Child Protection News July 2016

Pakistan – Pakistani teenage girl burned alive in ‘honour killing’ after helping friend elope.

Independent.

The event of honour killing is not strange to Pakistan. The traditional assembly of leaders in a Pakistani village kidnapped, assaulted and killed a teenage girl for helping her friend flee the village to marry of her own free will. This was seen as being bringing dishonour to the girl’s family and village. The punishment of strangling and being shot up with drugs before being burned was presented as being a deterrent to girls. Efforts by the Pakistani government in Punjab to protect women against physical, financial and psychological abuse are being countered by religious groups for promoting obscenity and the destruction of the country’s traditional family system.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/pakistan-honour-killing-girl-set-alight-helped-friend-elope-ambreen-abbottabad-a7016451.html

India – India is in denial about its rape culture – but then so are we.

The Independent.

Government officials in India choose to ignore the issue of rape culture in hopes that the issue just goes away. Funding for rape crisis centres in India has been cut in the belief that local authorities are equipped to deal with rape cases. Responsibility of being rape and for the nature of the assault is placed entirely on the victim, more than likely a female. The rape culture in India and other similar countries are perpetuated by ideas about how proper females should conduct themselves and that if attacked no one would listen to the victim for the reason that the victim was unbecoming or irresponsible.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/india-is-in-denial-about-its-rape-culture-but-then-so-are-we-10093481.html

Minnesota’s Back Story; Treating Children’s Mental Health

Today’s Star Tribune article (thank you Chris Serres) exposing the violence done to Minnesota’s youngest citizens while in state care reminded me of my own experiences growing up.

In my middle class 1977 neighborhood, the family next door’s 15 year old grandson became psychotic and behaved dangerously.

Mom and dad tried to find him mental health help to no avail.

The only option that provided treatment for their son was the Juvenile Justice system. The boy’s entrance into the system required he be charged with a crime. Their son killed himself a few years later.

I’ll Be There Next Year Too (CASA Cares Golf Tournament for Foster Children)

Thank You Steve Betchwars for your seventh fun and most terrific year supporting the needs of foster children with your Birdies, Bogies & Bratwurst event.

Everyone had fun, almost everyone won something and everyone did just fine on the course (far as I could tell).

Savory food, great weather and wonderful people (see you again next year).

Best ACEs Articles for July 2016

Register for the 2016 Conference on Adverse Childhood Experiences [ACEsConnection.com]
Join Center for Youth Wellness October 19-21 for the 2016 Conference on Adverse Childhood Experiences in San Francisco. The conference is a unique opportunity for every expert and practitioner committed to advancing the ACEs movement to come together to build a better future for children exposed to early adversity and trauma.

Why Schools Fail (another year of bad results)

Another year of disappointing educators, children and parents (Star Tribune 7.28.16)

Don’t blame the teachers (it’s us).

The once a straightforward concept of public schools has morphed into a complex institution unable to respond to the double whammy of a massively changed student body and the unprecedented un-building of support for public education (especially science).

Our student body has changed;
First, immigration and the challenges of language and culture have always turned out well. American education has successfully educated millions of immigrants.

Yes, it’s a struggle, but it is what teachers do and they have always succeeded. My grandparents did not speak the language when they arrived – all of their children successfully finished a public school education.

Second and most critical, generally unknown and poorly understood even by those in the trenches of teaching, social work and justice. The rest of us (including legislators) are clueless.

Identifying and responding to the mental health issues shaping this generation of American citizens is decades late in coming and it has overwhelmed our schools, courts and other public institutions.

The explosion of homelessness, suicides, violence among veterans with PTSD have shown us the long lasting and severe damage trauma does to a person. Untreated or undertreated trauma almost always ends badly (80% of youth aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives).

As a 20 year volunteer CASA guardian ad Litem removing children from traumatizing homes it’s impossible not to see how children beaten, molested, starved and neglected need way more help than they are now getting to succeed in school or in life.