2 year-old Lylah Koob’s Death & Why (from the Safe Passage Report)

This is one of the 88 stories of children dying at the hands of their caregivers reported in the recent Safe Passage For Children investigation of child death in Minnesota. The report suggests why this tragedy is happening in our state and how we can make life safer for at risk children (in the read more at the end of the article). Lylah Koob, Goodhue County

Police vs Social Worker (when the wrong one shows up)

People suffering from untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed in interactions with law enforcement. Recently in Utah, a 13-year-old boy with autism was shot several times by police after his mother dialed 911 to request help as her son was experiencing a mental breakdown.

Alito’s Story

Repeated self-harm and hospital trips for healing were his normal behavior when he was depressed. He would cut himself and stuff objects into the wound – a paper clip, staple or anything he could find. This poor boy was a product of rape and incest.

His mother was raped by her father when she was 13. She abandoned her son to State Care at birth. Acanto never experienced love or the warmth of a family. Alito shared with me that the only love or tenderness he ever felt was nurses caring for his wounds.

Do Kids Count? (it depends on where you live)

Conditions in Child Protective Services (CPS), foster care or in the lives these children live are unknown to most of us.

When the community doesn’t perceive a serious problem it will ignore it and the problem festers. This is why many city dwellers are afraid to ride the bus, prisons are full, and schools are struggling.

The Real World of Child Abuse (statistics)

There is more to child abuse than bruises, rape and starvation.

27 states allow withholding life saving medical treatment from children if you tell people your religion forbids it . Criminal and civil immunity means it is not murder when the child dies.

A few years ago, Kansas State Rep Gail Finney vowed to pass a bill that allowed caregivers to leave bruises and cause bleeding. Arkansas State Rep Charles Fuqua promoted the death penalty for rebellious children (based on religious grounds).

MN Child Fatalities From Safe Passages Reporting

CONTACT:  Rich Gehrman, Executive Director, Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota (651) 303-3209; gehrm001@umn.edu  Report documents multiple systemic failures in cases Of Minnesota children killed due to maltreatment  8 YEAR OLD AUTUMN HALLOW’S MURDER (KSTP video)   Minnesota Child Fatalities from Maltreatment 2014 – 2022 Executive Summary From the report; This study of children who died in…

KARA – CASA Ad Grant Initiative ($120,000 annually)

KARA’s Google Ad Grant Initiative for CASA’s

The U.S. has 950 CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) organizations consisting of community volunteers trained as County Guardian ad Litems advocating for abused and neglected children in Court within Child Protection Services.

49 % of America’s Black Youth Arrested Before Their 23rd Birthday (40% of White Youth)

This Annie E. Casey Foundation survey of Black youth in February 2021 demonstrates a rising trend of Black youth incarceration Post COVID. 

Black youth in juvenile detention on Feb. 1, 2021, reached a pandemic high, while that of white youth was the second lowest recorded in more than a year.

Grace’s Story (Thank you ChildrensRights.org)

Grace, a Black 15-year old who was sent to a juvenile detention center for failure to submit schoolwork.

In an email to Grace’s caseworker, her teacher stated that Grace was “not out of alignment with most of my other students.”

Tens of thousands of children have struggled to adjust to the online learning environment the coronavirus created. ProPublica cites 15,000 high schoolers in Los Angeles alone failing to log in or complete schoolwork. Yet, a judge presiding for Oakland County Family Court Division, ruled in May that not completing schoolwork violated Grace’s probation.

It’s impossible to determine the frequency of cases like Grace’s, but one thing is clear. Children’s health and safety must be prioritized. We will continue urging states to stop admissions and to release kids from juvenile facilities. No child should be in juvenile detention for missing homework.

Metrics of Minnesota’s Child Protection (what does your state measure?)

Recent Star Tribune articles about juvenile justice and explosive growth of crime in our community miss the heart of the matter. We keep putting fires out that could have been prevented. The car jackings, transit crimes and other juvenile violence making life miserable for so many of us didn’t begin when these children became juveniles. It started with traumas suffered in the home mostly caused by parents that suffered the same violence and abuse as children.

Measuring What’s Important

What is transparent and measured can be identified and improved. What is not transparent and measured remains unknown and can fester.

In business, Cost Benefit Analysis focuses on ROI (return on investment). ROI is based on “assets”, “net income” & “profitability”. That’s what business is about (money). Corporations have extremely detailed and accurate methods of measuring their “money”…

92% of Foster Care Kids Using Psychotropic Meds Get Them For Unacceptable Reasons

From the Washington Post yesterday, most foster care children on antipsychoctic drugs get them for far too long and without medical justification. 2/3 of the nearly 700 claims studied raised high-risk “quality of care” issues. As a long time CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem, many of my case kids were on multiple drugs simultaneously and many of them hated being forced to use them. Some kids threw the drugs away.

In Minneapolis, I would like to know (there should be more transparency) if six year old Kendrea Johnson’s suicide by hanging involved psychotropic medications. She was a very troubled foster child, in therapy and had talked about homicide and suicide. When Jeff Weise killed himself, his grandfather and 14 others he had talked about suicide and homicide and was taking Prozac.

7 year old foster child Gabriel Myers hung himself and left a note about how he hated Prozac. KARA’s video interviews include families, a City Councilman, and other professionals talking about antipsychotic medications, very young children and suicide. This subject needs our attention now. It is cruel punishment for a child suffering from the traumas of abuse and removal from a birth home to be dealt with.

There are 3 children’s hospitals in the metro area and NO children’s mental health hospitals and there are 800 to 1000 emergency psychiatric visits at HCMC every month (many of them children).

This conversation is overdue.

What we don’t know cannot be dealt with and will not be improved. Let’s stop the next awful six year old suicide.

For Profit Youth Prisons

Youth are two to three time more likely to confess to crimes they did not commit than adults.

Police interrogations using fabricated statements are most likely why. Kids are more intimidated by law enforcement than adults and they break down faster.

There’s just no upside in sending youth to jail. Incarcerating them for crimes they did not commit is a sign of a dysfunctional system. A system that creates what it was designed to stop.

Investing In Children Not Jails

We the people are serious about continued investment in our punishment model.

Expelling kids from daycare and elementary school is common. Charging youth in adult courts is too. The nation’s Supreme Court recently reinstated lifelong (no chance for release) sentencing for crimes committed by juveniles.

Instead of investing in healing broken children we invest our tax dollars into courts that punish kids from traumatizing violent and toxic homes. Are we bad at math or pro growing crime, criminals and broken communities.

Pay It Forward

KARA’s Last minute gifting ideas!

Is there a foster or adoptive family in your life that would appreciate a gift card or cash donation this holiday season? Be a Secret Santa if you choose.
If you have never donated to Kids At Risk Action, please consider
your donation to our 501c3 nonprofit today.

Our programs cost $. A monthly donation of any amount helps keep the wheels turning.

Thank you for your attention to the issues of abused and neglected children.

The KARA Team.

Carjacking From a Juvenile’s Perspective

Most major U.S. cities experienced a huge increase in carjackings in the last two years. Many are violent – all are traumatizing. The majority are committed by juveniles – some of them under 14 years old. Repeat offenders are common. From the perspective of at risk youth and policing…

The violence, excitement and control for disaffected youth makes this an easy and low punishment crime. Courts have been lenient on most of the crimes committed by youth. 

Criminalizing Elementary School Children

When 14-year-old Ryan Turk cut ahead of the lunch line to grab a milk, he didn’t expect to get in trouble. He certainly didn’t plan to end up in handcuffs. But Turk, a black student at Graham Park Middle School, was arrested for disorderly conduct and petty larceny for procuring the 65-cent carton. The state of Virginia is actually prosecuting the case, which went to trial in November.

Changing the rules of the game requires federal, state, and local reforms. With little evidence that police in schools make students safer and plenty that they facilitate harm to students’ liberty and well-being, the Department of Justice should end the cops program’s SRO grants to districts. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for billions that promote unjust school conditions and put kids at greater risk of future involvement with the criminal justice system. And students should feel like they can talk to school officials when they have problems without forfeiting their constitutional rights and winding up in the back of police cars.

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

As former Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz so aptly stated, “the difference between that poor child and a felon is about eight years”

Vote for mental health services and child friendly programs for at risk children and call your state legislators and tell them to do the same. 

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…

Florida’s Child Protection System Today (it can’t happen here?)

“I’m not for killing kids and stuff” (officer Omar Bellow). For eight seconds officers fired 66 rounds from Glock service weapons towards the children. You can read the NY Times article details here. There is nothing easy about being in law enforcement in America today (or teaching, or social work, health services or child care). The numbers of seriously troubled youth are off the charts and so many children have serious often violent behavior problems. 

Tasered and Tried as Adults

Expelled from elementary school, pregnant in junior high and facing a criminal justice system before they are able to drive a car.

The cost to society in taxes, public health, education and safety is astronomical and the people policing, teaching and caring for these children are stuck in centuries old punishment models that guarantee failure, perpetual pain and broken communities.

Let’s Stop Counties Stealing Money From Foster Children

Repurposing Federal Foster Care dollars have become a “revenue stream” for counties because taking foster child money goes “unnoticed” (from the article). In a perfect world, a County person would raise hell about repurposing foster child dollars to adults (but they don’t because they could lose their job). There is little reporting of and no transparency in the Child Protection System.

Tackling ACEs & Building Resilience (thank you ACEs Too High news)

This article from the ACEs Too High website provides an everyday guide with must know information for folks working with traumatized children and youth.  With too many children not being afforded an escape to the safety of a classroom because of the Covid19 virus, there will be a growing danger as substantially more badly abused children fill our classrooms in the fall (or winter or spring) of next year. 

Fosters, Grandparents & Thanksgiving Hunger

This Thanksgiving, about 6 million American children are being raised by their grandparents (double what it was in 1970). Almost half of these grandparents have economic or social service needs for themselves and their grandchildren that are unmet.

It is estimated that for every child in foster care with relatives, there are 20 living outside of care with relatives (usually grandparents).

Childhood Trauma + Historical Trauma = Generational Trauma

Terrible trauma (like generations of slavery) and the behaviors and conflicts it creates need to be identified and discussed if they are to be fixed. Do we want higher graduation rates and lower crime and recidivism rates for our at risk youth and families? 

Charlamagne Tha God has Launched a Mental Wealth Alliance Foundation to establish fundamental and far-reaching generational support for Black Mental Health. 

Share this widely.