Michigan Seeing Spike In Child Abuse

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Child Abuse increasing

Livingston County Child Abuse cases
spike 73%

Child poverty and abuse rates continue to climb, wreaking havoc in Livingston County.

According to the 2016 Kids Count in Michigan report released today, the number of child abuse and neglect victims in Livingston County soared 65% from 226 in 2006 to 374 in 2014.  The number of children living in poverty in the county jumped 35% from 2,532 in 2006 to 3,423 in 2014.

“I think the main concern here is:  What is going on in Livingston County that makes this negative trend continue to increase?” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Michigan League for Public Policy Kids Count project director.  “In order for Livingston County to truly improve, these are areas of focus.”

The Kids Count report is a broad national effort to measure the well-being of children at the state and local levels by analyzing 16 key indicators across economic security, health and safety, family and community, and education.  This year’s annual report shows Livingston County indicators are moving in the wrong direction.

Overall, Livingston County is ranked first for child well-being in the state for the second year in a row, but “they are still nowhere they should be,” Guevara Warren said.

Between 2006 and 2014, there was a “150% increase of the rate” of Livingston County children living in a foster home or a relative’s home, according to the report.

Child poverty also went up in 80 of 83 Michigan counties since 2006.

While the county’s child poverty rate is still the best in Michigan at 8.1%, it is still a 42% rate increase from nine years ago, according to the report.

“Livingston has a pretty low poverty rate, and neglect has a lot to do with poverty … so it’s a little surprising,” Guevara Warren said.  “It makes me wonder what is going on there.”

Bobette Schrandt, CEO and president of LACASA, stressed that socio-economic status plays no part in child abuse and neglect cases. LACASA is the county’s domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse prevention agency.

“Of course when someone lives in poverty, it’s an added stress that can contribute to child abuse and neglect.  But it still happens at all economic status levels,” Schrandt said.  “You might see more neglect rather than abuse for children in a higher socio-economic status, but it’s still there.”

Cause for rise uncertain

The rate of child abuse and neglect also rose 29% statewide, with a rate of 15 kids per 1,000 in 2014.  Livingston County had a rate of child abuse and neglect of roughly nine kids per 1,000, according to the report.

Schrandt said that LACASA easily doubles in child abuse and neglect cases each year.

However, it’s hard for her to determine why.

“It goes back to the ‘Which was first, the chicken or the egg’ question,” Schrandt said.  “We have really done a great job at educating and informing the community about our programs and services, so we don’t know if the number of cases have risen because more are happening or if they are just becoming aware of our services and now reporting them.”

LACASA conducted 174 forensic child interviews in 2012, 213 in 2013, 148 in 2014 and around 214 in 2015.

“We started around 140 and then 170 and now up to the 200s,” Schrandt said, noting sometimes they have up to three child cases a day.  “It’s a consistent, substantial amount.”

What LACASA saw in 2015

  • 249 children received clinical services.
  • 76 adults and children received in-home services due to an abuse case.
  • 17 children received trauma assessments.
  • 63 kids were removed from homes due to abuse or neglect.

“When I first started here, we had around 2,000 people (each year) stay in our shelter at night; now we have up to 5,000,” Schrandt said. “I hope in the next 10 years we see a more consistent number across the board. … It’s sad.”

Regardless of the reason, Schrandt is happy people are coming forward instead of hiding in the dark.

Home life impacts class life

The report also indicates that education and teen birth rates were the only positive improvements Livingston County has seen since 2013.

However, even though Livingston County saw a slight increase in the education category doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

“What goes on at home plays a big part on what goes on in the classroom, so we need to see improvement across the board,” Guevara Warren said.  “It’s not just education.”

Livingston County was ranked seventh statewide for having the most 3 and 4-year-olds in preschool, and it ranked fifth statewide for students not graduating on time.

Because last year was the first year for students to take the new Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (MSTEP), Guevara Warren said there isn’t any data to compare yet.

However, Livingston County ranked seventh for third-grade English language arts scores on the MSTEP, ranked ninth for the eighth-grade math MSTEP scores and ranked 15th for the 11th-grade English language arts MSTEP scores.

“Just keep in mind that there is still a chunk of students who weren’t proficient on this test,” Guevara Warren said.  “But overall, Livingston County is slightly improving, and it’s important to show people what is going on in order for change to occur.”


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Happy Family


Matt Barber spotlights new report from doctors’ group on ‘pseudo-scientific quackery’

George Orwell famously wrote, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

For those tethered to biological reality, the self-evident truth that, prior to birth, people develop either “XY” or “XX” genetic markers and, as such, are objectively, and shall forever remain, either male or female, is as plain as blue is blue or pink is pink.

Indeed, notwithstanding the politically driven “LGBT” agenda that pretends otherwise, those who suffer with “gender dysphoria” disorder will stay, as born, either male or female, whether or not they play dress up, sterilize themselves and destroy healthy reproductive organs.

Hence, it’s of little surprise that, tragically, of those who put themselves through this imaginary “transition,” 41 percent will subsequently attempt suicide.

Still, this “progressive” socio-political scheme moves quickly from merely pitiable and delusional to ghastly and abusive when children are the targets – when selfish adults exploit sexually confused young people by feeding their “gender” delusion and pumping them full of dangerous hormones, or otherwise surgically mutilating and sterilizing them for life via so-called “gender reassignment surgery.”

In order to address the growing momentum of this harmful, gender-bending, pseudo-scientific quackery, a number of America’s leading medical experts on the subject have finally weighed in.  “The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) urges educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex.  Facts – not ideology – determine reality,” they warn.

This child-health advocacy group has released a report that determines, among other things:

1. Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of health – not genetic markers of a disorder.

“The norm for human design is to be conceived either male or female.  Human sexuality is binary by design with the obvious purpose being the reproduction and flourishing of our species,” they observe.  “This principle is self-evident.  The exceedingly rare disorders of sexual differentiation (DSDs), including but not limited to testicular feminization and congenital adrenal hyperplasia, are all medically identifiable deviations from the sexual binary norm, and are rightly recognized as disorders of human design.  Individuals with DSDs do not constitute a third sex.”

2. No one is born with a gender.  Everyone is born with a biological sex.  Gender (an awareness and sense of oneself as male or female) is a sociological and psychological concept; not an objective biological one.

Let’s take it a step further.  The “gender” phenomenon is, in the larger sense, an artificial and anti-theist-tainted social construct.  It’s an overt act of fist-shaking rebellion against the laws of nature and nature’s God.

And it’s dangerous.

Johns Hopkins Hospital was the pioneer in “gender reassignment surgery.”  It now refuses to perform these discredited cosmetic procedures.  Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the hospital’s former psychiatrist-in-chief and current distinguished service professor of psychiatry, is among those who participated in the ACPeds report.  He has noted in the past that, as even the left-leaning APA reluctantly acknowledges, transgenderism is a “mental disorder” and that the idea of a “sex change” is “biologically impossible.”  “People who identify as ‘feeling like the opposite sex’ or ‘somewhere in between’ do not comprise a third sex.  They remain biological men or biological women,” determines ACPeds.

3. A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking.

“When an otherwise healthy biological boy believes he is a girl, or an otherwise healthy biological girl believes she is a boy, an objective psychological problem exists that lies in the mind not the body, and it should be treated as such,” notes the report.   “These children suffer from gender dysphoria.  Gender dysphoria (GD), formerly listed as Gender Identity Disorder (GID), is a recognized mental disorder in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-V).  The psychodynamic and social learning theories of GD/GID have never been disproved.”

4. Puberty is not a disease, and puberty-blocking hormones can be dangerous.

“Reversible or not, puberty-blocking hormones induce a state of disease – the absence of puberty – and inhibit growth and fertility in a previously biologically healthy child,” notes ACPeds.

5. According to the DSM-V, as many as 98 percent of gender confused boys and 88 percent of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty.

And so what do we call a physician or a parent who takes a gender-confused boy, with a 98 percent chance of full recovery, and severely and irrevocably harms that child with dangerous hormones or sterilization surgery?

We should be calling them what they are: criminals.

To its credit, the ACPeds report goes on to identify this so-called “gender ideology” for exactly what it is: “Child abuse.”

6. Children who use puberty blockers to impersonate the opposite sex will require cross-sex hormones in late adolescence.  Cross-sex hormones are associated with dangerous health risks including but not limited to high blood pressure, blood clots, stroke and cancer.

So much for the Hippocratic Oath: “Practice two things in your dealings with disease: either help or do not harm the patient.”

Gender ideology is anathema to good medicine and sound science.

7. Rates of suicide are 20 times greater among adults who use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex reassignment surgery, even in Sweden which is among the most LGBQT–affirming countries.

“What compassionate and reasonable person would condemn young children to this fate knowing that after puberty as many as 88 percent of girls and 98 percent of boys will eventually accept reality and achieve a state of mental and physical health?” the report asks.

8. Conditioning children into believing a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse.

“Endorsing gender discordance as normal via public education and legal policies will confuse children and parents, leading more children to present to ‘gender clinics’ where they will be given puberty-blocking drugs.  This, in turn, virtually ensures that they will ‘choose’ a lifetime of carcinogenic and otherwise toxic cross-sex hormones, and likely consider unnecessary surgical mutilation of their healthy body parts as young adults.”

There you have it.  “Gender ideology” is child abuse – empirically and irrefutably. Isn’t it high time, at least where minors are concerned and as a matter of public policy, that we begin treating it as such?

If such abuse were associated with anything other than the “LGBQT” political special interests, we already would have.

Total Transparency And Honesty Would Be Different

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Dr Martin Luther King

Commission: US Lacks Strategies to Lower Child Abuse Deaths

The United States lacks coherent, effective strategies for reducing the stubbornly high number of children who die each year from abuse and neglect, a commission created by Congress reported Thursday after two years of sometimes divisive deliberations.

According to federal data, the number of such deaths has hovered at around 1,500 to 1,600 annually in recent years.  But citing gaps in how this data is compiled, the report suggests the actual number may be as high as 3,000 a year.

Commission chairman David Sanders said a goal of zero maltreatment deaths was realistic.

“We looked at the airline industry — no one accepts a plane crash anymore.  We can get that way with child fatalities,” said Sanders, executive vice president of Casey Family Programs.

The report made dozens of recommendations, including expanding safe-haven programs for abandoned infants and enlisting a broader range of community organizations to help often-overburdened child protection service workers.

“We need a system that does not rely on CPS agencies alone to keep all children safe,” the report said.   “Other systems become key partners, including the courts, law enforcement, the medical community, mental health, public health, and education.  Even neighbors who come into regular contact with young children and families are part of a public health approach.”

Still, the commission, comprised of six members appointed by Congress and six by President Barack Obama, failed to reach consensus on some issues.  Two members declined to approve the final report and wrote dissents criticizing one of the major proposals.

Under that proposal, states would be required to review all child abuse and neglect deaths from the previous five years, and then develop prevention plans.  States would identify children at high risk, and conduct investigations and home visits to determine if their families needed support services or if the children should be removed.  Some commissioners recommended that Congress immediately allocate at least $1 billion in new funding to implement the plan.

“The commission is claiming that spending $1 billion on an experiment reviewing previous deaths will immediately save lives. This claim is not supported by evidence,” wrote dissenting commissioner Cassie Statuto Bevan, a child-welfare expert at the University of Pennsylvania’s Field Center for Children’s Policy.

The other dissenter was Patricia Martin, Chicago-based presiding judge of the Child Protection Division of Cook County Circuit Court. She expressed concern that the proposal would lead to more children being placed unnecessarily in foster care, and urged more support to keep families together.  She also contended that the commission, by focusing on children under 5, had missed a chance to address fatalities among older children.

During two years of consultations and hearings, the commission uncovered little in the way of model programs at the state or local level that it could recommend on a national basis.  One of the few initiatives to win praise was home visiting — visits to an at-risk mother’s home by a nurse, social worker or early childhood educator during pregnancy and in the first years of a child’s life.

The commission report called “stunningly high” the rate of maltreatment deaths among black children: 2 1/2 times greater than the rate for white children.

Maltreatment deaths represent a tiny fraction of the more than 3 million reports of child abuse and neglect received each year by hotlines and law enforcement agencies.  According to federal data, about 40 percent of the reports are soon “screened out” — judged not to warrant further action.

The commission said states should be more rigorous, responding to all reports regarding children under 3 and children who were the subject of previous reports.  It said reports about infants less than 1-year-old should get responses within 24 hours.

The commission found shortcomings at virtually every sector of the child-welfare system, including at the federal level, which it said fails to provide guidance, monitoring and enforcement.

At the state level, the report decried high caseloads and stressful working conditions for child protection workers.

“Shortages of workers, funds and training may mean that inexperienced workers are tasked with making life-or-death decisions with insufficient preparation or support,” said the report.

One commissioner, Jennifer Rodriguez, is a former foster child who spent six years in group homes. Now executive director of the San Francisco-based Youth Law Center, Rodriguez expressed hope that initiatives arising from the report would help provide substance abuse treatment, mental health care and other supports for parents in at-risk families, so that their children might be able to stay with them.

“Foster care is not always a safe place,” she said.

Among the organizations following the commission’s work was the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Andrew Sirotnak, a leader of the academy’s Section on Child Abuse and Neglect and head of the Child Protection Team at Children’s Hospital Colorado, said the report’s legacy would depend on finding practical, politically feasible steps to reduce maltreatment fatalities.

His suggestions include strengthening child-abuse detection training for pediatricians and improving coordination between child-protection services and medical professionals who serve at-risk families.

Commission report: http://eliminatechildabusefatalities.sites.usa.gov/

Montana Attorney Adds Staff For Child Abuse

.jpg photo of Missoula County Montana Court House
Missoula County Court House

Missoula Co. Attorney’s Office adds staff to handle increase in Child Abuse cases

MISSOULA, Montana  –  The number of child abuse and neglect cases filed by the Missoula County Attorney’s Office has nearly tripled since 2011.  In 2015 there were 178 new cases, up from 64 in 2011.

“We are swamped,” said Chief Deputy for the Missoula County Attorney’s Office Jason Marks.  “The Child Abuse and Neglect Unit is working at maximum capacity.”

In February, the county attorney’s office added a secretary position to the Child Abuse and Neglect Unit to handle the influx of cases.

The added position required special approval from the county.  The addition brings the total number of staff devoted to child abuse and neglect cases to three attorneys and two secretaries. The cost to taxpayers for the new secretary position is $36,000.

“The increases we are seeing are definitely tied to methamphetamine,” Marks said.

The Missoula County Attorney’s Office currently has 310 open child abuse and neglect cases.

Marks says because there is no indication that the numbers of child abuse cases will decrease, they will be asking the county for approval to add an additional attorney position later this year.

Marks estimates that, if approved, it would cost taxpayers $71,000.

In 2015, the Department of Public Health and Human Services completed 8,908 investigations related to child abuse involving 12,987 children.  The DPHHS child abuse hotline received 35,812 calls in 2015, of which 2,422 were substantiated.  That is an increase of more than 10,000 from 2010 and an increase of over 200 substantiated cases.

DPHHS Child and Family Services reports 3,019 Montana children are currently in foster care, a 100 percent increase from 2008 and the highest amount in the last 16 years.

There are 942 children in care because of meth-related reasons.  In 2010 there were 230 meth-related placements.

Reasons relating to prescription drug abuse accounts for 247 children currently in foster care and overall drug placement is 1,650 children.  That is just under double the 851 cases that the DPHHS handled in 2010.

Child Abuse Rising In Montana

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Courthouse in Helena, Montana.

Rise in child abuse cases alarms Montana officials

HELENA, Montana  –  Child abuse and neglect cases in Montana’s district courts have more than doubled since 2010, prompting renewed alarm from court officials and children’s advocates.

“It’s just astonishingly frightening,” said Beth McLaughlin, the chief administrator for the state’s court system.

The rising caseload threatens to further burden a judicial system struggling to keep up with it, McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin presented the startling statistics Tuesday while updating a legislative committee on a pilot program intended to help reunite children and their parents.

Across Montana, courts handled more than 2,300 abuse and neglect cases last year, up from 1,600 just a year earlier.

The number of cases in the state’s most populous county, Yellowstone, more than doubled just in the last two years, rising from 223 in 2014 to 512 last year.

In the Ninth Judicial District, which encompasses four northern counties near Great Falls, there were just 18 child abuse and neglect cases in 2010.  Last year, the number spiked to 114 cases, McLaughlin said.

“I bring it to your attention because it requires more than the court’s efforts to do something about it,” McLaughlin told members of the Law and Justice Interim Committee.  “It’s not just an urban problem, but is happening all over the state.”

An increase in meth abuse could be the reason behind the rise in cases, McLaughlin said.  But she acknowledged that theory was purely anecdotal, based on comments from district judges.

Experts say a host of problems — drugs and alcohol addictions, mental illness and the stresses from poverty — sometimes collide into situations of abuse and neglect.

“While other states are currently experiencing increases in the numbers of abuse and neglect cases, Montana stands out because its increases are so dramatic and alarming,” said Joyce Funda, the executive director of CASA of Montana, also known as Court Appointed Special Advocates For Children.  The group has 14 offices statewide to serve youth who have been removed from homes because of abuse or neglect.

While she partly blamed the surge in abuse cases on meth and heroin, Funda wondered if inexperience and the high staffing turnover within Child Protective Services may be leading to more children being taken from parents.

Children’s advocates have been arguing for more funding, not just for social welfare programs but for more resources to help courts and the legal system better address the issue.