WARNING: Graphic Images
We close 2020 on a tragic note: the sexual assault and battery of a newborn by a 14 y.o. boy living in the same Florida foster home [1A].
Assailant Sexualized as a Toddler
The teenage assailant is thought to have been sexualized as a toddler, when his biological mother exposed him to pornography and engaged in sexual activity in his presence.
History of Prior Assaults
“If someone is predatory, they are going to focus in on someone that is vulnerable. Putting a young child in a situation like that is beyond shocking.”
-Pediatric Neuropsychologist, Thomas Dikel [1B]
The couple who fostered then adopted this boy (the Kleins); the non-profit responsible for overseeing child welfare locally (Kids Central); and the entity providing case management services (The Center) were all aware of the boy’s dangerous proclivities, since he had sexually assaulted other children.
Nonetheless, Kids Central and The Center continued to send foster children to the Kleins’ home.
The teenage assailant was, also, diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and anxiety.
His behavioral issues included lying, stealing, hoarding food, and visiting pornographic websites. He had destroyed property around the home, and run away.
Impact of Early Trauma
It would be comforting to believe that the memory of this assault will be forgotten, once the newborn has been adopted into a loving home. Unfortunately, that is not likely to be the case.
Violence has an impact on the developing brain. Though the newborn was still non-verbal, it is probable that she experienced severe pain during the assault, not to mention fear and confusion.
These emotions are not trivial. Triggers later in life could evoke the same intense fear response. The brain has difficulty processing traumatic memories, so that they can fade. This is believed to be the mechanism underlying PTSD.
Nor is it a mitigating factor that the assault lasted less than an hour. Infants do not perceive time in the same way as adults .
Foster Care Privatization
Sadly, this situation is not an isolated one. Florida has privatized its child welfare system, in an effort to improve foster care . This has only given rise to new problems. Multiple private agencies now exist, poorly regulated by the Dept. of Children and Families.
We can blame this tragedy on the teenage assailant, his birth mother, his adoptive parents, the Dept. of Children and Families, Kids Central, and The Center. There are enough targets to go around.
But a lawsuit alone will not remedy the situation. The law has inherent limitations.
Whom can the teenage assailant blame? Would it help if he sued his mother for the damage she did to him as a toddler? And what was the cause of her perverse behavior – self-absorption, drug or alcohol addiction? Perhaps childhood sexual abuse on her own part?
Sins of the Fathers
This is a flawed and broken world where the sins of the fathers (and mothers) are often passed on to the sons.
We can rage at tragedies like this one. We can grieve. We can assign blame, and strive to make improvements.
But we cannot redeem ourselves without God’s intervention.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…” (Eph. 1: 7).
He offers us such intervention freely. On that rests the hope of the world.
[1A and 1B] USA Today, “3-week-old baby sexually assaulted in Marion County foster home, lawsuit says” by Michael Braga, 10/15/20, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2020/10/15/infant-sexually-assaulted-marion-county-florida-foster-home/5966368002/.
 New York Magazine, “Babies Aren’t Born With a Sense of Time – Here’s How They Learn How It Works” by Sarah Watts, 5/22/17, https://www.thecut.com/2017/05/heres-how-babies-develop-a-sense-of-time.html.
 Wiley Online Library, “Stereotype Temporal Conditioning in Infants” by Yvonne Brackbill and Hiram Fitzgerald c/o Psychophysiology (https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.1972.tb00766.x), 11/72, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1469-8986.1972.tb00766.x.
 The Children’s Campaign, “The Elephant in Florida’s Child Welfare” by Tiffany McGlinchey, 5/18/16, https://iamforkids.org/the-elephant-in-floridas-child-welfare/.
Wishing You All A Happy New Year!
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