Child abuse is described as physical, sexual, or psychological mistreatment or neglect of a child or children, especially by a parent or other caregiver. Foster care is a system that takes in children that don’t have anywhere to live and they don’t have any of the necessities to live. For the child to live in a foster home, the government or social agency needs to assign you to a home and they need to make sure the home is appropriate for you and the other children that are living in that home. Usually the government likes to split up girls and boys apart but there’s also some homes that usually keep siblings together. Unfortunately, for many reasons, some children placed in foster care are abused by the people assigned to help them. This topic is a major problem in the world because in most cases children are the silent victims of abuse, ranging from physical to emotional abuse.
Each year 500,000 children are placed in foster homes (U.S Department of Health and Human Services, 2005). There are many reasons why a child may be placed in foster homes and some of these reasons include neglect, physical, and sexual abuse. ResearchWithin Colorado’s public social services system from January 1983 through December 1987, 290 incidents of child maltreatment were examined by the characteristics of reports and their seriousness. Overall, out of 102 incidents of maltreatment in foster family homes that were examined from that time period, 49% were for physical abuse, 29% were for sexual abuse, and 22% were for neglect.
The researchers emphasized how there was no exact type of maltreatment incident because all of them were used equally. (Rosenthal et al., 1991).Several reports were based on studies of foster families in Baltimore. In their study using case record narratives and reports of the five year study period of January 1, 1984 through December 31, 1988, Zuravin, Benedict, and Somerfield (1993) found that there were 62 families out of 296 foster homes where at least one confirmed report of maltreatment. Of those 62 families, 39% were for physical abuse, 48% for sexual abuse,and 29% for neglect. 64% of the cases shown that the perpetrator in the sexual abuse incidents were the foster parents.
When it came to who has confirmed more maltreatment reports out of relative foster homes, specialized foster homes, or regular foster homes, regular foster homes were two times more than the other two foster homes. In the same five year period as the previous report, out of 285 foster families in Baltimore, Benedict, Zuravin, Brandt, and Abbey in 1944 found that 65% were for physical abuse, 10% for sexual abuse, and 17% for neglect. For 40% of those cases, the foster parents were responsible for sexual abuse. In 1966, as Benedict, Zuravin, Somerfield, and Brandt examined the foster children, they found that in 78 cases of verified maltreatment reports the children had a multitude of health and developmental problems. 20% of the children that were out of those 78 cases that were also being sexually abused were abused by other foster children. (Rosenthal et al.
, 1991).Research has shown that certain children are more vulnerable to maltreatment. Younger children, children with disabilities, and children with behavioral and emotional difficulties present “at risk” children for abuse. One of the problems facing foster parents is that some children “have already been harmed psychologically and emotionally and have developed difficult behaviors experienced as dysfunctional to new carers”. Another reason as to why abuse is being happened in foster care homes is because foster parents who are taking care of more than one child with such difficulties are more likely to abused children since they don’t really enhance feelings towards them. Regardless to say, many foster parents take on a high-level job where all they do is take care of children which causes the stress level to increase and then harming the children because that is the only thing they can think to do when things get too hard (Child Abuse and Neglect by Parents and Other Caregivers, n.d.).
Another article is more based on complaints and denials, the foster care myth, and a scenario if you were in that situation. This article emphasizes that many major problems that happen in this situation are that no one believes the child and that leads to the foster child being stuck in a position where they are getting abused and becoming depressed but they have no one to go talk to. This article also mention that the adults who are the ones abusing the child is always in denial and saying that it is always for the child’s good or they were harmful because the child was coming at them but what actually happened was that the guardian abused the child because the adult was mad and really needed someone or something to hit, sadly the child had to be the one getting hit (Nordqvist, 2016).
There are many articles but in this particular article, it summarized how children are in foster care mostly because of parents’ substance abuse. The first step as to why children are in foster care is usually because of the parents that didn’t want the child or wasn’t mentally ready to support the child. This article explains that the kids get taken away from their abusive parents just to be put into the government’s hand where they are also abusing the kids.
Research has shown that the government is just leading the children into more harm by sending them into a foster care that has been abusing them also (The Impact of Substance Abuse on the Child Welfare System, n.d.; (Treatment, 1970).
This article also explains that alcohol and drug abuse is a major problem for families in the foster care system. Children with substance abusing parents stay in foster care longer and have less of a chance of returning to their families. So if the government can change everything by getting rid of all the alcohol and drugs, hopefully, this whole problem would be solved. Nearly 428,000 children are in foster care in the United States and it is rapidly increasing. On average, for nearly two years children remain in state care and six percent of children unfortunately were stuck living there for five or more years.
Despite the common perception that the majority of children in foster care are very young, the average age of kids in care is around nine-years-old. In 2015, more than half of children entering U.S.
foster care were young people of color. While most children in foster care live in family settings, 14%, live in institutions or group homes that usually have more than five other children. In 2015, more than 62,000 children whose mothers and fathers parental rights had been legally terminated, were waiting to be adopted. In 2015, more than 20,000 young people aged out of foster care without permanent families and didn’t know what to do once they couldn’t live in the home anymore. Research has shown that those who leave care without being linked to forever families have a higher likelihood than youth in the general population to experience homelessness, unemployment, and incarceration as adults. While states try to work rapidly to find safe permanent homes for kids, since their parental rights were terminated, on any given day children available for adoption have spent an average of nearly two years waiting to be adopted (“Foster Care,” n.d.
).Legal PrecedentFederal legislation provides guidance to states by identifying a minimum set of acts or behaviors that define child abuse and neglect. The government doesn’t want to seem like they are failing the system so they keep most of the cases out of the internet but sometimes they can’t block out everything from the world and some cases are able to make it onto the internet for the community to see. Below the acts and definitions, there are a few cases showing how the government acted towards the abuse of children in foster homes.Acts and Legal DefinitionsThe Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) defines child abuse and neglect as Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker that result in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation; an act or failure to act that presents an imminent risk of serious harm.(Child Abuse and Neglect User Manual, 2003; 13) This definition of child abuse and neglect refers specifically to parents and other caregivers. A “child” younger than the age 18 and a minor who is not emancipated would generally be under this definition. While CAPTA provides definitions for sexual abuse and the special cases of neglect in accordance to withholding or failing to provide medical treatment, it does not provide specific definitions for other types of maltreatment such as physical abuse, neglect, or emotional abuse.
While federal legislation sets minimum standards for states that accept CAPTA funding, each state provides its own definitions of maltreatment within civil and criminal statutes. There are different types of sexual abuse such as intrafamilial abuse, and extra familial sexual abuse. Intrafamilial abuse refers to sexual abuse that occurs within the family and extra-familial abuse refers to sexual abuse occurring outside the family. The Child Abuse and Neglect User Manual Series describes child abuse as: anal, or genital penile penetration, anal or genital digital or other penetration, genital contact with no intrusion, fondling of a child’s breasts or buttocks, indecent exposure, inadequate or inappropriate supervision of a child’s voluntary sexual activities, Use of a child in prostitution, pornography, internet crimes, or other sexually exploitative activities. (Goldman, Salus, Wolcott, and Kennedy, 2003; 16-17)There are also many different definitions in regards to child neglect but the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), a large UK organization, greatly defines child neglect as:The persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. (Nordqvist, 2016)CasesIn 2016, Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu, a foster father who opened his Long Island home to children with intellectual disabilities and mental illnesses, took in more than 100 troubled boys over 20 years. He was later arrested because he sexually abused eight of the children that he was supposedly taking care for.
The case began when two of the children in his care told a caseworker that he had made inappropriate comments to them, and after he was arrested, all the others came forward saying that he had sexually abused them. Those boys were in the range of 16-29 years old when they testified. Mr. Gonzales-Mugaburu’s lawyer, Donald Mates, argued that out of 95 boys being placed in his care, the New York City’s child welfare agency trusted him for over two decades.
He may have been strict, but he is not an abusive foster parent who had looked after troubled boys. The judge charged Mr. Gonzales-Mugaburu for indictment and charges of predatory sexual assault against a child, criminal sexual acts in the second and third degree, sexual conduct against a child and endangering the welfare of a child. This case was a five-week trial in State Supreme Court (Dollinger & Rosenberg, 2017). There was this other case where a Philadelphia jury handed down an $11 million verdict to a girl who was sent by an adoption agency to live with a couple that subjected her to physical and sexual abuse in their foster home.
She is now a 22-year-old and she claimed that starting in 2000 and between the ages of 6 and 10 she was molested and repeatedly sexually assaulted by Walter Scott and beaten by Deborah Scott. Her court papers also noted that Walter Scott had been under investigation for child rape based on accusations from other children in the foster home, and in 2016, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child and rape of a child, among other charges. The main allegation was that Bethanna, the social worker company, failed to investigate Walter Scott’s criminal history before they put the little girl in their hands. She also alleged that Bethanna refused to remove her from the Scotts’ home despite reports by caseworkers that she was being abused and was in danger.
Bethanna denied any negligence and emphasize that the agency did not know that any of this was going on until they had to go to court (Dannunzio, 2017).The case is related to Virginia and how the foster care system failed to see the signs of abuse like Kristen, the birth mother, did. Braxton Taylor was a baby boy around age one when he stopped breathing February 6, 2010. According to the Virginia Pilot, Braxton was placed into foster care while his birth mom worked on being clean by quitting her drug addiction. For seven months he was cared for by a foster family but then he was placed into the care of Kathleen Ganiere, first-time foster mother.
Before Braxton died, his birth mom Kristen Wall noticed signs of abuse when she visited her son. Kristen asked what happened to Braxton but the foster mother said that he simply had just fallen and didn’t say anything after that related to the bruises and cut. After she left the foster home she told the social worker that was supervising Braxton that he had bruises on his head and back and he also had a cut on his lip but also told the social worker that the mother said he fell so no action was taken. Two weeks later, Kristen, had some heartbreaking news that Braxton died as a result of abuse. Later on, in court, Kathleen Ganiere was charged with second-degree murder and felony child abuse, but pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
She was sentenced to the maximum of ten years in prison, which then exceeded the sentencing guidelines and the eight years the prosecution had sought. Kristen Wall and Ralph Taylor, Braxton’s biological parents, then sued the City of Virginia Beach for its failure to protect the child while in foster care, despite the signs of abuse. The City ultimately settled Wall and Taylor’s lawsuit for $450,000. According to a statement issued by Virginia Beach, it has since instituted sweeping changes to its Child Welfare Division, including improved screening and training for prospective foster parents; weekly face-to-face visits by child welfare workers with young foster children; increased staff training for injury recognition; and increased involvement by Child Protective Services in suspicious cases (Garrett, 2013; Davis, 2015)DiscussionOn Jan. 31, 2001, 5-year-old girl Logan Marr was found dead in the basement of her foster mother’s home in Chelsea, Maine. Sally Schofield, the foster mother at that time, was the third foster mother to take Logan in since she was taken from her birth mother, Christy Marr. Sally was a highly respected former caseworker for Maine’s Department of Human Services but after the incident, she was convicted of manslaughter after police determined that she had bound Logan with duct tape and strapped her into a high chair in the basement causing her to die from asphyxiation. Logan had a whole life ahead of her but never had the chance to see what her future held.
Stories of foster care abuse experienced by children like Logan and many others are happening every day. Children in foster care have already experienced abandonment, abuse, or neglect by their biological parents when the state places them into the foster care system. Allowing these children to continue to be abused and neglected in the foster care system completely fails the whole idea of providing a safe home for children that have nowhere to go. It’s difficult to compare numbers between abuse in the general population of abuse in foster homes.
While one can index a percentage of foster homes where abuse occurs against the total number of foster homes in any given state, one cannot account for any meaningful total of abusive homes in the general population where abuse or neglect is occurring unless it is both reported and substantiated. To make things harder than they already were, substantiation of an abuse allegation is generally the responsibility of a state child welfare agency, and sometimes these agencies have been known to not accurately or promptly identify an abusive home, and sometimes even grant foster licensing to such homes by mistake. Therefore the numbers put forth abusive foster and general homes can’t always be said to be reliable. SolutionsThere have been many different types of solutions but only a few have actually worked when it comes to abuse in the foster care system. ConclusionChildren are the most vulnerable members of our society, especially those children who have no parental care and support. When these children are placed in foster care homes that have not been adequately researched and vetted, these children are at considerable risk of abuse.
In many different types of research on child abuse in foster care homes, many cases have been covered up by the government. When the government hides all the cases related to child abuse in foster care homes, the general population tends to continue on with their lives when they should really be finding a way to prevent this ethical problem. The foster care system failing to maintain minimum standards of care to ensure the care and protection of children has caused the incidents of foster care abuse and neglect to increase. Statistics of foster care abuse reveal that “children in foster care suffer abuse ten times more often than children in the general population.” Even more unbelievable are the child abuse fatality statistics suggesting “that a child is nearly three times more likely to die of abuse in foster care than in the general population.” According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System AFCARS Report, since the foster care population in the U.S was reported around 424,000 in 2009, these statistics equate to a tremendous exposure to harm for children (Hawkins, n.d.).