Fault Line

A 7 y.o. Philadelphia girl is reported to have been sexually assaulted by her 59 y.o. foster father [1].

A first assault had been reported. However, the child’s natural mother and the child, herself, were not initially believed. The girl was placed in foster care after her natural father accused the mother of abuse she adamantly denies.

The story is much like thousands of others across the country. A governmental entity charged with the protection of at risk children removes them from one perilous setting only to place them in another.

Often this is not the result of neglect and callousness, so much as overwork. Caseloads can be overwhelmingly high, even for the most dedicated social workers.

Funds for human services departments are chronically inadequate and foster parents few, trustworthy or not. Other governmental (or political) obligations are routinely viewed as more pressing, and given priority in budgets. There are not many well-heeled lobbyists for at risk children.

The arithmetic is simple, with fewer social workers, caseloads rise. Arizona in 2013 acknowledged that 6000 child abuse hotline complaints had simply gone uninvestigated [2]. Rep. Debbie McCune Davis (D-Phoenix) had this to say:

“The CPS system [Child Protective Services] is broken and it is failing children…Director Carter’s assertion that he is managing an agency with limited resources fails to address the fact that CPS has a statutory obligation to investigate all reports of child abuse. Ultimately, he is responsible for the agency’s failure, and he should be honest about the fact that a strategy was employed to reduce the number of cases referred to investigators…”

The funding deficiency extends, also, to oversight. Children can be “lost” in the system meant to save them. Computer equipment to track children and the complaints associated with particular foster parents may be absent or outdated. Background checks on foster parents and others in their households may be rudimentary at best. The auditing of case files can be effectively non-existent.

The urgent trumps the important.

The fault line underlying all this damage is a breakdown of the family [3]. No governmental entity can take the place of a healthy, child-oriented family. Children are often today left alone with virtual strangers, for instance, neighbors or boyfriends temporarily within the family sphere. In these situations, the risk of abuse increases astronomically [4].

Until such time as that fault line and the funding issue to which it has given rise are addressed, reports will be made of abuse in foster care.

[1] NBC Philadelphia, “Mom Says Foster Care System Failed Her Daughter”, 4/25/14, http://www.nbcphiladlphia.com/video/#!/news/local/Mom-Says-Foster-Care-System-Failed-Her-Daughter/256699571.

[2] KPHO Broadcasting (CBS 5 News), “Six Thousand Child Abuse Reports Not Investigated” by Jason Barry and Rebecca Thomas, posted by Breann Bierman and Phil Benson, 11/21/13, updated 12/6/13, http://www.kpho.com/story/24035182/6000-arizona-child-abuse-reports-not-investigated.

[3] Drugs have contributed significantly toward the breakdown of the family. Sex with children may actually be bartered for drugs.

[4] Certainly, neglect and sexual violation can exist in intact families. These are not, however, healthy families.


Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Politics, Sexual Abuse

7 responses to “Fault Line

  1. Reblogged this on Thinking Out Loud and commented:
    I’m spoiled for choice here! This is an important and relevant subject for my abuse blog, and since it happens all over the world its just as relevant to my Around the World blog. I think I may have to reblog twice!

    • Thank you for your support, pippakin. I respect you highly. We can only hope that raising awareness of abuse will bring public pressure to bear on this problem.

      • I realise some might think my response to your post was flippant but I’m very serious about child abuse it happens in every country. It also happens that each time a particularly gruesome attack occurs it makes headlines for a day or two and then everything goes back to ‘normal’.

        I try not to let that happen on my own blog and I do believe that if we all keep the subject in front of as many people as possible the authorities will not be able to ignore the crimes or sweep them under the carpet for rich and powerful abuser/s.

      • No one familiar w/ your writing could doubt your seriousness. I am grateful you, too, are engaged in this fight.

      • Thank you that’s very kind.

  2. This is the line of work I wished I’d a gotten into. We need more social workers so that these children can be properly supervised. The person that raped me over a 13 year span spent time in foster care between 1964 and 1974 and from what I understand, was abused (sexual and otherwise) the entire time. He did to me what he was taught, what had been done to him. He started raping me when he was only 8 years old and I am just one of many that he has abused. Children are our greatest asset so as far as the foster care system goes, we need more resources all around. We need to be a stronger voice for these children.

  3. You are an inspiration, Kerri. That you endured abuse for as long as you did is an amazing achievement. It speaks to God’s grace, and your own strength. That you have overcome bitterness is nothing short of a miracle. You have a special role to play in serving as a voice for victims. Never doubt that.

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