As beautiful as this world can be, life is not always fair, particularly for children in the foster care system. How can we possibly begin to understand the pain of a child who has lost his home due to negligence on the part of his parent(s)? To add insult to injury, that same defenseless child is often exposed to mistreatment in his foster home.
Why? It is impossible to know for certain, although some people were never meant to have access to vulnerable young children.
The Ugly Truth
The sad truth is, to the outside eye a foster child is simply acting like a brat when, in fact, he is showing signs of foster abuse. The following list – many points provided by Stop it Now! – covers some of the behaviors a child may exhibit when he is being hurt in his foster home.
- Multiple placements, especially in a short period of time
- Has nightmares or other sleep problems
- Seems distracted
- Has sudden change in eating habits
- Trouble swallowing
- Sudden mood swings
- Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
- Thinks of self or body as dirty or bad
- Has new words for private body parts
- Resists removing clothes when appropriate (such as bath or bed time)
- Compulsive eating or dieting
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Inadequate personal hygiene
- Running away
- Depression, anxiety
Further, foster children with special needs are at special risk for abuse.
You as the Hero
If you suspect that a foster child is being bused by an adult or another child in a foster home, or if you have the slightest shred of evidence that something is amiss, you must speak up. Call a social worker, call the police, and contact our office. If you find it difficult to get someone in authority to listen to your concerns, just imagine what it is like for a child. Your voice can be the one that saves him or her from unspeakable pain.
Regardless of how horrible a path a child has been set on, there is hope. The Texas Foster Family Association says that part of healing involves teaching children to stand up for themselves, talking to them about being in charge of their bodies, and fostering open communication, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. But healing starts with your action.
If you have any questions regarding how to help a child who is being abused in the foster care system, call us at the Law Offices of Andrew Ritholz, (626) 360-1105.