Covering Child Abuse

Kinship care versus non-kinship care. Immediate families of the victims of child abuse may also play a direct role during the intervention and reunification period. Familial affinity and relations when put in action may deter further separation of child and its biological parents if they can intervene early on and seek help for the parents of the child. They could also be court appointed through the intervention of the assigned agency in behalf of the child. According to VCIS information, the number of children in out-of-home care has steadily grown from 262,000 in 1982, to 400,000 in 1990, to 507,000 in 1996 (Grogan-Kaylor, 2000, p.132).

1997 and 1998 data are not currently available (Grogan-Kaylor, 2000, p. 132) . Close monitoring and pre-qualification of non –kinship care or foster care caregivers or parents. Some old and time tested methods of monitoring can be re-installed or implemented in the child welfare system. One of this is the periodic foster care location visitation by social workers and careful and thorough background check of prospective foster care providers and caregivers.

An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. The role of the tri-media in the exposition and follow up on cases of child abuse. The tri-media has often helped in the exposure of child abuse cases. However, it has been the practice or trend that only the severely sensational cases are brought to the fore of public consciousness. Also, more often than not, the sensational news coverage of these cases is not followed through until its resolution.

According to the American Journalism Review, Vol. 19, September 1997: “These "unforgettable" news stories, more than any other source of information in the media, determine or shape the average American's knowledge or understanding of the whole arena of child protection and child welfare…yet there is little chance of balanced public understanding and social policy if "coverage continues to focus disproportionately on cases of exceptional brutality or exceptional incompetence" instead of examining the complex conditions of vulnerable families which spawn abuse and neglect ("Covering Child Abuse," 1997).

As an alternative to sensationalism of extreme cases, the tri-media could be more effective if they could follow-through on more substantial stories like review of federal and state laws (or lack of) that seeks to change the current child protection laws against abuse. According to the same journal source “Journalists need to ask tough questions about programs that claim to prevent child abuse and neglect, warned David L.

Olds, who directs the University of Colorado's Prevention Research Center for Family and Child Health. His testing of a program of home-visiting in Elmira, N. Y. , and subsequent research on its effectiveness is frequently cited as proof that similar programs are just as effective ("Covering Child Abuse," 1997). The tri-media’s role can prove to be the needed impetus for better alternatives and solutions to the systemic problem of child abuse and the foster care system.

However, they need to come up with higher standards and focus on converting their public influence potential towards a more effective intervention program though public awareness of the depth of the current problems in child abuse and the foster care system. The role of the federal agencies that oversee the federal government’s response to the growing issue of child abuse and the foster care system is to look into existing programs, learn from previous assessments and implement earlier recommendations for change.

The federal agencies should also focus on implementing policies and overseeing state implementation. Moreover, a central repository of the studies and statistics that affect children placed “within the system” into a national databank and enforcement of data banking and case documentation policies should be enforced. Some statistics gathered during this analysis were as old as 1997. In this digital age, the federal government should have more bases in the form of hard statistical facts if they are to be effective in their mandate.

The role of the state in this issue should be more facilitative rather than dogmatic. There has been an instance wherein the state could have eased its laws on confidentiality and could have helped the earlier expose of loopholes in the child welfare system and foster care system if the laws of confidentiality be re-stated or re-defined. According to the American Journalism Review, “State confidentiality laws make it difficult for reporters, and ultimately the public, to find out whether child protection systems are working well…” ("Covering Child Abuse," 1997).

The state agencies and its “child welfare watchdog systems” could be more effective by committing itself to overhauling the system if it does not work instead of covering up the loopholes for purposes of “good record” and “keeping the budget within the state”. If the state itself covers up endemic and glaring shortages or oversight of children abuse within its system and ranks, who else is there to implement the crucial changes needed?