Mental Health Month (we all have nutsey behaviors – let’s talk about it)

It hurts me to see people shy away from mental health conversations. By my observation over 60 some years, we could all benefit with a more open and honest discussion on the topic.

Today’s Star Tribune article by Christina Roegies explains how mentally ill people can lead amazing and fulfilling lives.

Long ago I listened to a mental health expert tell his psychologist audience not to think themselves too different from the people they saw daily for treatment. His logic was that we all have idiosyncracies and periods of our lives when our coping skills are low and we act in nutsey/irrational ways.

Assistant Commissioner of MN Department of Human Services, Dr Read Sulik’s “ability to cope” definition is the most understandable and meaningful definition I have heard.

Camp Out For Essex County CASA

Hats off to Essex County high school students bringing a voice to abused and neglected children through a coordinated effort for CASA advocacy & community awareness.

In support of all the children living without a safe and permanent home, Essex County schools pitched tens and slept outdoors Friday night (May 3rd). The County family court Judge Thomas Zampino visited them and gave them an overview of the life of a a child in foster care.

CASA volunteers created the Camp Out For CASA concept to promote child welfare and a more active community.

If your CASA organization has done great and interesting things, send them to me that we can show the rest of the country (we also have readers all over the world).

Bill Murray Stop Child Abuse Now Radio Interview

ill Murray knows the best questions to ask to create a lively and informative discussion on the issues that impact abused and neglected children.

This 90 minute talk is a powerful and comprehensive talk I had with Bill and his panel about our institutions and what needs to change to make our children and communities happier and safer: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bill-murray/2013/05/16/stop-child-abuse-now-scan.mp3 (move the arrow a little bit to skip the music if you wish to start at the conversation).

How To Sell Guns To Five Year Old’s (yes we do)

Mother Earth News this month includes weapons manufacturers marketing materials aimed at very young children. It is disturbing. It was just last week a five year old Kentucky boy killed his two year old sister with his “Crickett” “my first” rifle. You can buy them in hot pink for little girls:

“The Crickett rifle is ideally sized for children four to ten years old and comes in a …Arms manufactures the following youth rifles: Crickett .22WMR Youth Rifles”
Mom was outside & said she did not know the gun was loaded. Gun marketing pictures from the Crickett marketing page (the site was down today when I went to include the link – it will be interesting to see if it has been changed) http://www.crickett.com/

Judges Jailing Children For Money In America (yes it happens)

A second Pennsylvania judge (Michael Conahan) has plead guilty for receiving commissions for each child sent to privately held detention facilities (PA Childcare and Western PA Childcare) .

2.6 million dollars in fees were paid for between one and two thousand children sentenced for things they did not do. Judge Mark Ciavarella was identified some months ago as the primary offender in this case.

This adds a sorrowful twist to Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz statements that “90% of the youth in juvenile justice have passed through child protection” & “”The difference between that poor child and a felon, is about 8 years”.

In Pennsylvania 90% just isn’t filling privately held facilities with enough human prison fodder. I know how hard life is for at risk children and find this kind of crime to be a hanging offense for both the owners of the privately held facilities as well as the corrupters of our legal system.

CASA Clarification – Mike’s Mistake

It has been pointed out to me that in some instances my writing leads readers to think that CASA guardian ad-Litems are part of child protective service when in fact (and I know this inside and out) CASA is child advocacy within the institution of child protection. Forgive me for this error and please appreciate that CASA/GAL is all about child advocacy.

For more information about:

CASAMN

CASA National
CASA your state

State of MN Falls Behind In Abuse Inquiries

State Falls Behind In Abuse Inquiries (today’s Star Trib headlines)

The sentence seems harmless unless you are a five year old child tied to a bed, left alone for days without food, beaten and sodomized, prostituted as a 7 year old, or left alone in a crib for days without food or contact.

These were my first experience with child abuse as a volunteer Hennepin County guardian ad-Litem.

The backlog of 724 cases (double what it was 18 months ago) means that children will wait for their sexual abuse, beatings, and neglect to be investigated.

American Exceptionalism; Child Daycare

This extensive article from the New Republic clearly defines the nightmare that is child daycare for so many American children and infants. Not only is this unregulated field filled with underpaid, under-trained service providers, but poor people (about half of U.S. families) can’t afford or can barely afford any day care for their children.

A good percentage of America’s 8.2 million children under five spend part of their week in care outside the home.

America’s weakest and most vulnerable citizens are too often left in the care of drunk uncles and worse because low wage parent just don’t earn enough to pay for daycare.

The only time we read about the pain cause by inadequate daycare is when a baby chokes to death on a condom or has its brains dashed out on a wall.

Subsidized day care not only creates a safe place for the child, but a smarter citizen, and a happier and more productive family living in a better community.

More Cheating Fallout From the NCLB Tragedy (DC Schools This Time)

Teachers that lived through the Bush era No Child Left Behind fiasco understand the impossibility of making students succeed and schools look good with inadequate resources and classrooms bulging with kids that can’t read, Prozac, and violence.

The “Texas education Miracle” that lead the NCLB’S deconstruction of America’s schools proved to be as wrong and dysfunctional as the erasures on thousands of test questions executed by hundreds (if not thousands) of teachers in Georgia and now DC (and there may well be other states as yet undiscovered).

If you study the DC memos being made public you will see just how hard it is to identify and pursue this kind of criminal activity (if it weren’t for excellent journalists at the Atlanta Journal, none of this would have been discovered).

Texas Wins Again (Criminalizing 300,000 students / year)

Cursing, farting, or an honors student spraying perfume on her neck, all valid reasons for being arrested in Texas schools (citations to six year old’s even).

Does the nation need more disadvantaged youth in the criminal justice system? Texas thinks so.

Texas, the state eliminating higher order thinking from it’s schools & teaching that premarital sex has fatal consequences, and that getting plenty of rest and avoiding condoms saves one from sexually transmitted diseases (& leads all states and many third world nations in the incidence of STD’s among youth) now rests comfortably ahead of all states and the rest of the world in criminalizing students.

Texas also leads in Executions (including of the mentally ill – ignoring federal mandates), juvenile incarceration, uninsured children, child poverty (including food insecurity/starvation of children), preteen pregnancies (and the highest rates of repeat births to teen moms).

A Different War On Drugs (fought by children)

Every day between six to eight million children take psychotropic medications – about 10% of all U.S. children.

This compares to 1.2% in Israel, 1.4% in Germany, and .3% in the UK. My concern is mostly the giant percentage of foster care children being forced to take these drugs. The side effects are real and there is little meaningful mental health therapy to coincide with the taking of these drugs. I would argue, that we use these drugs in place of therapy which leads to medicated kids never learning how to cope with their mental health issues (which is why we have so many preteen moms, adolescent felons, and unsafe neighborhoods).

Magic Potions For Children

Teachers, social workers, justice workers, and parents today are forced to collude with big pharma to medicate children who would no more be able to handle suicidal ideation than they could handle rape. If you know someone using psychotropics, ask them if they have had the experience of suicidal ideation.

There is nothing like it. There is no good excuse for ignoring mental health on a national scale (especially where five year old’s are concerned).

Tracking America’s Most At Risk Children (Weekly)

Teen who killed baby sentenced to 90 days

October 18, 2012. Colorado.

Dylan Kuhn had called authorities stating that his 6-month-old daughter was found hanging from her crib by her next and that she wasn’t breathing. Authorities later discovered she had injuries consistent with being “slammed” against a soft and unyielding surface (like a mattress). Kuhn later stated that he did slam his daughter into the bed and she became quiet afterward, that she had never had a blanket around her neck, and that he lied to police initially because he was afraid the mother would hate him for it. Kuhn plead guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 4 years of probation, a parenting class, a mental health evaluation, a drug abuse evaluation, and would not be allowed to be alone with any child under the age of 10.

KARA’s Minnesota Friends of Children Please Support Bill Number SF 704/HF 1106

KARA board members Sam Ashkar and Mike Tikkanen accompanied Rich Gehrman and his Safe Passage For Children colleagues to support a bill at the state capital on thursday supporting child protection screening practices protecting children throughout MN. This bill SF 704 / HF 1106 gives simple guidelines, clarifies standards, and improves accountability for reporting and screening practices for abused children in terrible circumstances. It is the least we can do.

Please forward this to your friends and make a call to your state representative (and to State Senate Republican leader David Hann who is influential on this committee; 651-296-1749 )

The State Of Child Protection In America Today

American institutions are producing exactly that which they were designed to stop. Almost all the youth in juvenile justice have come through child protection programs. Virtually all criminal justice candidates have been juvenile offenders. 2/3’s of these people have mental health problems (fully half of this number have multiple, serious, and chronic conditions (these are the dangerous and dysfunctional folks that so often make the news).

Much of what I write and speak makes people angry. Imagine what it’s like to be child protection worker or volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem and meet a seven year old boy that’s been tied to a bed, left alone for days at a time, starved, sexually abused, and beaten to a pulp with bruised covering his body or come to know very young girl that was prostituted by her mother.

Protect Children In the Justice System

Support youth reentry – An estimated 100,000 people under the age of 18 have left secure facilities only to turn around and reenter the system. The report says, “Youth are often discharged from care back to families struggling with domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and unresolved mental health disabilities.” Also highlighted is the issue of public safety being compromised when the released youth is not afforded necessary planning and supportive services.
NJJDCP”s full report and recommendations can be viewed at:http://promotesafecommunities.org/images/pdfs/NJJDPC_RecstoCongress_03122013_web.pdf?utm_source=Copy+of+NJJDP+Report+-Congress&utm_campaign=WNR+2-8-2013&utm_medium=email

Note To InvisibleChildren Readers

www.avahealth.org You can spend hours listening to the medical professionals address these topics on this site in a very straightforward manner. Their videos are powerful – in particular, study the ACES information.

www.juvenile-in-justice.com This site provides an overview of how our institutions are working together and paints the picture of how at risk children are aging through society today. While it does not speak directly to pre-teen pregnancy, and the many important young women’s issues, it will draw your attention to the racial and economic disparity that is destroying so much of our inner cities.

& of course, Google, Art Rolnick, / Rob Grunewald Federal Reserve Bank Early Childhood Development. Study their report. It makes a statistical / financial argument for taking better care of American children.

A New Standard For Disaster; Tennessee (802 child deaths in 2011)

It’s painful to watch any children and family services system in turmoil, but the goings on in Tennessee right now might be setting a new standard for disaster. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (TDCS) is locked in a high-profile battle with the state’s most prominent newspaper, The Tennessean, which has published a series of articles questioning the department’s performance in analyzing and reporting on child fatalities.

Supporting America’s Economy With Bigger Prisons & Longer Sentencing (thank you Jonathan Swift)

he stun gunning, choking, obscene language, and over the top violence by police to kids at the Illinois emergency youth center shows just how deplorable America’s policies for At Risk Children are.
Well meaning, often under trained and under resourced youth center staff call on police to help with uncontrollable youth. Under trained police respond with a level of violence appropriate during a prison riot. Note (below) Sheriff Mulch’s attitude towards dealing with children at the youth center. Perhaps he shouldn’t.
– See more at: https://invisiblechildren.org/category/crime-and-courts/#sthash.lLOoRebb.dpuf

Another Sad Truth For Troubled Children

The literature shows that patients with psychiatric illness die up to 25 years sooner than patients without psychiatric illness,” explains program co-founder Dr. Mark Linzer. “While there are multiple causes for this mortality gap, the HCMC Program in Medical Psychiatry is designed to address many of these issues for both inpatients and outpatients with medical and psychiatric illnesses.”

Dr. Linzer, along with Chief of Psychiatry Dr. Michael Popkin and Dr. Ellen Coffey, a senior general internist, designed the program to include:

CASA guardian ad-Litem News From Around The Nation

Without court appointed CASA guardian ad-Litems, America’s at risk children have no voice in the homes they are raised in or for years as state wards in foster care.

Some states (Virginia most recently) are moving toward forcing children back into homes where they have been sexually abused and tortured. The World Health Organization defines torture as “Extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.

Every in my child protection caseload as a CASA volunteer was tortured (most of them for two to four years).

CASA guardian ad-Litems can be (the only) a voice for a child in a toxic home.

Learn more about how you can reach out in your community to help troubled children. If the program doesn’t exist where you live, contact national CASA and find out how to start one.

Continue reading the collection of recent articles on and about the guardian ad-Litem program around the nation. Feel free to submit your own stories as comments.

Bigger Armies & More Wars – Why Americans Hate Children

Just yesterday a tea party fellow I know (RW) was telling me about the wisdom in former MN Governor Tim Pawlenty’s words, “children that are victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem, nor are they the problem of the state of Minnesota”. Solid Christians both of them, so they must be right. Although I’m still having trouble finding the religion that abandons children.

Child Abuse And The Most Important Public Health Study Ever

The ACE Study – probably the most important public health study you never heard of – emerged from an obesity clinic on a quiet street in San Diego.

It was 1985, and Dr. Vincent Felitti was mystified. The physician, chief of Kaiser Permanente’s revolutionary Department of Preventive Medicine in San Diego, CA, couldn’t figure out why, each year for the last five years, more than half of the people in his obesity clinic dropped out. Although people who wanted to shed as little as 30 pounds could participate, the clinic was designed for people who were 100 to 600 pounds overweight.

Tracking America’s Most At Risk Children (Compiled)

New documents obtained by KCAL9 detail previous allegation of abuse in the case of a now- deceased 8-year-old Palmdale boy who investigators say was tortured and beaten to death. Gabrieal Frenandez suffered a skull fracture, several broken ribs and severe burn marks over various spots of his body before he was hospitalized last month, according to the La County Sheriff’s Department. He died from injuries may 24. The mother confessed that she had been abusing the boy from time to time. His mother Pearl Fernandez and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre have been charged for murder.
The Republican governor last week defended O’Day’s leadership, even after the agency told a federal judge it couldn’t say with any certainty how many children died while in its custody.

The department previously reported the deaths of 151 children in their custody between January of 2009 and July of 2012 but retracted that number after a third party reported that number to be less than exact.

They now say they are not sure how many have died.

According to the Tennessean in the first six month of 2012 there were 31 deaths among children, ranging from newborns to teenagers.
Abdifatah Mohamud was bludgeoned to death by his stepfather a year after the boy called 911 to report he was being abused. Mother of drowned toddler speaks out

January 28, 2013. Washington DC, Maryland.

The mother of a 15 month old boy has commented that the court, judges, and police failed to help her son when his death could have so easily been prevented. The father of the boy, despite being under investigation for abuse, was granted unsupervised visits by a judge. Shortly thereafter, he killed the child.

http://www.nbcwashington.com/video/#!/news/local/Mother-of-Drowned-Toddler-Speaks-Out/188504431

Total Disaster In Tennessee (NV, TN, CA, & TX in Trouble Too) Disappearing Watchdogs Around the Nation

When detectives interviewed Brewer, she told them the children were punished for stealing food. The case “even shocked some of our most veteran children’s case workers,” Hudson said.

Brewer pleaded not guilty to eight felony counts, including torture, cruelty and assault with a deadly weapon at her arraignment Jan. 18. Her attorney, alternate public defender Hung Phi Du, declined to comment.

After Brewer’s arrest, county investigators uncovered a history of child maltreatment investigations involving Brewer going back to 2001, when callers to a hotline twice reported that she was abusing her two biological children. Both times, social workers concluded that the allegations were unfounded.

In 2006, Brewer was recruited by a private agency called Aspiranet. Based in South San Francisco, the contractor is one of the state’s largest foster care providers, serving 2,000 children a year.

Aspiranet placed 23 children in Brewer’s care over the next five years, among them the half siblings she ended up adopting.

The children’s mother had been found to be suffering from schizophrenia and depression. They came to Brewer in 2009; it was their fourth foster home.

During Brewer’s five years as a foster parent, the county child-abuse hotline received at least seven calls from people alleging that she was maltreating children, including the half siblings.

Guns and Children In Florida (it’s not guns that kill people) It’s Bad Laws About Guns

In Florida it is against the law for a Pediatrician to ask a patient about guns in the house.

In 2010 almost 20,000 children were killed or wounded by firearms in America (A child is killed or wounded every thirty minutes) (Slate article Feb 1)

Simply explaining public health issues to parents seems like a natural function of the medical profession.

At Children’s Health of Ocala, Florida, Pediatrician, Dr. Okonkwo was asking routine public safety questions about swimming pools, bike helmets & loaded guns in the home of one of his patients.

Dr Okonkwo was right about locking ammunition and guns separately as a public health issue for children.

For this he could be accused of “unnecessarily harassing” the mother of his patient (the child).

Turns out, it is against Florida law to ask questions about gun ownership or ammunition in the entire state of Florida. The initial bill called for a five million dollar fine & five years in prison (for asking a Floridian if there was a gun in the home).

New York Saves $666 per State Ward Child (Destroying Children & An Important CASA Program)

New York State Ranks 44th in adoption of state ward children and 40th in moving children off of the state ward list.

At a cost of about $666/per child, abused and neglected children have had a personal volunteer CASA voice speak for them in the cold, hard, underfunded institution that is child protection in New York. CASA graduates in New York are half as likely as non CASA children to re enter the system (and a whole host of other positive measurements). One of my CASA case boys alone has cost Hennepin County several million dollars (without counting the people he has stabbed, teacher he assaulted, lives he has crushed, or property he has destroyed).

In his case, my county saved the money (under $500) it would have cost to complete a background check on the man who requested custody of his son while he was still in prison.

A KARA Guide To Understanding Texas Approach To Education

begin with a puritans early world view that corporal punishment & abstinence works (think Cotton Mather & the WitchCraft trials) and denouncing the teaching of “higher order thinking”.

In 2011, Representative Michael Villarreal proposed that sex education taught in public schools be medically accurate (the bill never made it out of committee). In its place Texas Republicans approved Corporal punishment, refusing federal funding for schools, and denying pre-school and kindergarten, as a step forward for Texas children.

At least 3 Texan school districts teach that;

Premarital sex can have fatal consequences,

If a woman is dry, the sperm will die,

3 of the 4 text books used in 30% of Texan school districts never mention condoms but do promote “getting plenty of rest” to avoid contracting Sexually Transmitted Disease.

Learn About CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Here; Videos

Friends, these videos from the CASA National website clearly articulate the CASA mission and shed light on the institutions and circumstances of abused and neglected children in America today.

Feel free to pass one on to a friend;

I Am For The Child

Dr Phil Show April

The CASA Difference

CASA PSA

77,000 CASA volunteers speak for over 200,000 abused and neglected children throughout the U.S. today. The need for child advocacy in our communities is huge and only partially met by this organization and other American institutions today.

CASAMN Silent Auction & Fundraiser Great Fun & A Big Success (our first annual)

Thank you everyone who shared time, energy, and generosity for (Court Appointed Special Advocates for children) CASA Minnesota’s first annual Silent Auction & Wine Tasting Fundraiser.

It a terrific affair & a good time was had by all (especially me).

Our guitarist Mark play excellent soft guitar sounds, the donors of valuable things were just remarkable in their big-heartedness, and a whole bunch of happy and fun loving people showed up to taste the wine & treats, share information and stories, and help fund our organization through their attendance and support of the silent auction (a very big winner).

America: 20 Times More Gun Homicides Than The Rest Of The Developed World

America at that time had slid far from the top in almost all of the important measurements.

Today’s Institutes of Medicine & National Research Council 378 page study demonstrates that our nation is at the bottom of almost every health indicator, early death, the world’s leader in gun death, and U.S. women are now second to last in life expectancy.

David Strand’s study determined that programs helpful to young families and children used regularly in other nations always lead to safer, healthier, and more educated societies.

Protect Our Kids Act Passed By Congress (with tiny funding; 2M)

For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know I am critical of the lack of protection (concern) this nation has for its most vulnerable citizens. Other than the “Imminent Harm Doctrine” which allows the court to take children from life threatening circumstances, there is no federal protection for children in this nation. This is a step in the right direction. Thank you Texas Rep Lloyd Doggett for introducing this bill.

From the Alliance for Children & Families website;

The law creates a national commission to examine child fatalities, which the findings state are both preventable and significantly underreported, while the states lack a national standard for reporting. In previous hearings, members of Congress heard testimony about the significant gaps in reporting that prevent effective policies and practices from being implemented.

Planned Evacuation Routes, Teachers Packing Heat (what’s next, Uzi’s?)

It hurts me to see the NRA making public policy & politicians blaming teachers for failed schools while they (those same policy making people) are ignoring the screaming need for early childhood programs that could stem the poverty and mental health tsunami that has attacked our inner cities (Detroit, Flint, Houston, Compton, Baltimore…giant swaths of a new and dangerous America )

Better Record Keeping & Higher Standards For Tracking Child Maltreatment & Protection

Our series on child welfare has called attention to a report by the state’s Office of the Legislative Auditor, which found that standards for child maltreatment vary widely across the state and that counties do not keep data about reports consistently.
We also explored issues with Family Assessment, the child protection option in which families are required to participate in an assessment of risk to their children but do not have to accept services. The limited data available indicates that 70% of families are now diverted to this track and very few of these actually receive any services.

Healing Through Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy (or, things I stole from the Surviving Spirit Website)

Our Story

The ideas, thoughts and dreams for The Surviving Spirit

The Surviving Spirit had its origins a long time ago in the mid-nineties. As a musician I had many unique opportunities to perform in different venues that would have a fair amount of folks in attendance who were dealing with the concerns of trauma, abuse, or mental health [mental illness]. These performances took place in peer support centers, psychiatric hospitals, day treatment centers, conferences, workshops, outdoor events, festivals, fairs, rallies, fundraising events and so much more. I was always blown away by the amount of people who not only shared parts of their difficult lives with me, but who also had these incredible gifts and creative talents — whether as an artist, musician, author, crafts person, photographer, author, writer, sculptor, poet, etc. Their listing of talents covers all styles and genres. Many others would also contact me through my website and send me information on their respective creative abilities.

Child Welfare Policies That U.S. Shun; A Note From David Strand (share this with your state rep)

Other policies protecting children include prohibitions on trying children as adults in court, and targeting of children up to 12 in advertising. Also drug abuse is treated as a disease and not a crime.
The result of all these social investments is that criminal behavior is minimized. Denmark has 8 prisons. If they had the incarceration rate of the US they would need 80. Think about the tremendous savings in correcting anti-social behavior. By the way, they refuse the concept of for-profit prisons as it is considered a dangerous idea. And people in prison do not lose their right to vote. The election participation is about the same as the general population.
Another aspect of the child friendly society is to elevate teaching to the highest regarded profession. Teachers generally outrank even judges in respect. An important benefit to teachers with children is that they do not have to concern themselves with saving for college and university costs. All children who qualify academically are awarded taxpayer paid college education. As a result teachers generally teach for life.

Join Me For A Grand Time & A Great Cause At the CASA MInnesota Auction & Wine Tasting Fundraiser (January 10th)

Join me on Thursday, January 10, 2013 from 6 – 9:30 pm to celebrate, and help continue, the good work of CASA Minnesota! Featuring wine tasting, cheese and desserts, and a fabulous silent auction. More details about the event can be found here: Uncorked Invitation Please contact me if you have items for our silent auction, mike@invisiblechildren.org

RSVP by December 31st by printing the Uncorked RSVP card and mailing it to: CASA Minnesota, P.O. Box 17358, Minneapolis MN 55417. Or register online via Paypal using the links below:

ticket individual

Reducing Violence Against Children; Protect Our Kids Act (contact your senator today)

The bill would address violence against children in their homes by creating a national commission to address child abuse and neglect fatalities—upwards of 2,000 per year. Eighty percent of the victims are 3 years old and younger. The bill has the backing of hundreds of organizations, including the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, which has spent the last three years working to advance legislation.

Focus On Texas, California, & Florida Child Welfare

CA: Programs for transitioning San Diego foster youth
San Diego Entertainer Magazine – November 26, 2012
Just in Time for Foster Youth (JIT) envisions a future in which every youth leaving the foster care system has a community of caring adults waiting for them after 18. We believe consistent, long-term help from the heart is the foundation for the success of our youth so that they can thrive and enjoy productive, satisfying lives.
http://www.sdentertainer.com/lifestyle/just-in-time-for-foster-youth-steve-sexton/

Pounding On Children (the beatings continue)

Because Americans demand that almost every kind of pistol & deadly assault weapon be made available with almost no family or background check, in any quantity, and thousands of rounds of unaccountable ammunition, pretty much guarantees that children will kill themselves and be killed by others as a statistical absolute of the growing carnage that defines our nation.

At the same time, Americans turn their back on more and more poor children every year (we now have the highest child poverty rate in the industrialized world) with inadequate housing, day care, crisis nurseries, nutrition, health care, and especially, mental health care.

Three trillion dollars in the projected next 3 year base cost of war & military in this nation (59 cents out of every tax dollar) should make America the safest nation in the world. It does not.

Our Only Hope For A Safe, Livable America; Talking About Mental Health

Friday’s horrific national tragedy — the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut — has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

While every family’s story of mental illness is different, and we may never know the whole of the Lanza’s story, tales like this one need to be heard — and families who live them deserve our help.