What Is Foster Care Abuse and How to Spot It
Foster care abuse can take a number of forms due to the many obstacles and burdens that children in foster care have to face, generally growing up with limited means, direction, and support from caring adults who can maintain a presence in their lives. It is often up to teachers, friends, community members, and other foster care parents to find evidence of foster care abuse and report it. Below we take a brief look at what constitutes foster care abuse and how to spot it.
As horrible as it sounds, it is the sad truth that some foster parents inflict physical abuse on foster children, either out of rage, untreated mental illness, or backwards and illegal strategies for attempting to maintain order. Physical abuse of foster care children is not to be tolerated, and the perpetrators should be brought to justice so they cannot continue to hurt children. Signs of physical abuse include unexplained bruises and bandages, changes in behavior (a once happy child becoming scared and withdrawn), depression and anxiety, and fear of adults.
Mental And Sexual Abuse
Physical abuse is often accompanied by mental and sexual abuse, which can cover a wide variety of behaviors. This can range from frequent yelling at a child to inappropriate sexual conversation with the child to molestation and sexual assaults which can have repercussions for decades in the child’s life. In many cases, abusers of children intimidate the children into not reporting their abuse by saying that no one will believe them and that bad things will happen if they tell. As an adult in these children’s lives, it is therefore crucial that you take the time to spot sexual abuse and report it to prevent further abuse of the child and other children. Signs of such abuse include both sexually suggestive behavior or overly cautious behavior (refusing to remove excess clothes or not wanting to be touched in any way), new words for body parts, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety, and nightmares.
Malnutrition and Insufficient Care
Some foster parents abuse children by refusing to provide proper care for the child per the terms of the foster care agreement. This can manifest in situations where the parents do not provide enough food or provide insufficiently nutritious food. This can also occur where the parents do not provide the child with sufficient items like toiletries and clothing or where they parents do not take the children to school and for medical care. If you see that a child is habitually unclean, wearing dirty or ill-fitting clothes, looks emaciated, or is hoarding food at school and elsewhere, or is suffering from illnesses and symptoms that appear to go untreated, the child may be the victim of this type of foster care abuse.
Youths who are moved from home to home can be easy prey for adults who have access to their personal information and can illegally open accounts in their name. One study done in Los Angeles county found that 8% of 16 and 17 year olds in the foster care system had fraudulent charges using their identity and hurting their credit. Under federal law, youths in foster care must be provided with free credit checks which are available through social services agencies. Run a credit check to determine whether a foster care child has been the victim of identity theft.
If you see any of the above signs and suspect foster care abuse is occurring, Pasadena foster care abuse attorney Andrew Ritholz can help. For more than three decades, our firm has been providing foster care abuse victims with the protection and dedicated legal representation they deserve. We understand the sensitive nature of these cases, and work with closely with each person we represent to investigate the situation and then file legal action to pursue justice and compensation for damages. Contact our offices today to schedule a free consultation.