The occurrence of child abuse in the U. S. is a recurring issue that is expected to stay with us for a long time. Despite the study and expose’ of the tri-media and increased intervention at the federal and state level, there seems to be no foolproof solution to the incidence of child abuse. In fact, based on the latest report from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ website, it stated: “Based on a rate of 48. 3 per 1,000 children, an estimated 3. 6 million children received an investigation by CPS agencies during FFY 2005.
(Children’s Maltreatment Report, 2005)”. The report further stated that: “Of the children who received an investigation, approximately one-quarter were determined to have been abused or neglected. Based on a victim rate of 12. 1 per 1,000 children, an estimated 899,000 children were found to be victims in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico (Children’s Maltreatment Report, 2005). ” It is disturbing to note that even as a first world civilized country like the United States, problems of child abuse could be so prevalent.
More disturbing than that though – is the fact that federal and state response was to take children away from their abusive parent or caregiver and thrown into the system of foster care – which is admittedly a not-so-perfect-system on its own. Unfortunately, not even the US Department of Health and Human Services can provide enough statistical data to merit a full case study for this issue of foster care abuse. What they do have in the 2005 Children’s Maltreatment Report is a statement vaguely identifying cases of maltreatment or abuse by a non-parent. To quote from the report:
“Nearly 84 percent (83. 4%) of victims were abused by a parent acting alone or with another person. Approximately, forty percent (40. 4%) of child victims were maltreated by their mothers acting alone; another 18. 3 percent were maltreated by their fathers acting alone; and 17. 3 percent were abused by both parents. Victims abused by nonparental perpetrators accounted for 10. 7 percent. ” The report has defined a non parent or a non-parental perpetrator as one who is not the birth parent(s) of the child and may include a daycare staff, foster care parent, legal guardian or residential facility staff.
Although the percentage of 10. 7 percent seems small, when multiplied by the 899,000 confirmed incidence of abuse, the statistics equal to 96,193 incidents of “non-parental” abuse. What’s worse is this maybe merely the tips of the iceberg as majority of the incidences usually occur unreported or unproven for lack of witness corroboration or testimony from the victim themselves. Causes of rise of children placed in foster care. The period of 1990 onwards saw a sharp increase in the placement of children in foster care.
Researchers and specialists have conducted studies on the reasons for the rise in foster care placements of children and found a strong co-relation of the downtrend in economy and unemployment as a direct cause of children being abused and the state intervening – thus the dislocation and separation of the child from its birth parents and unto the system of foster care. The quote below is from a study done in the state of California – where data is more readily available than other states. There is currently a lot of protective laws that prevent the concerned agencies and authorities to reveal “internal data” to the public.
And I quote: “Further support for the provocation and inhibition effects comes from analyses of foster care placements in California. On the basis of earlier reports of an association between unemployment and child abuse (Garbarino, 1976; Gil, 1971; Steinberg, Catalano, & Dooley, 1981), Catalano, Lind, Rosenblatt, and Attkisson (1999) …The authors measured the time-series association between the unemployment rate and monthly changes in prevalence of foster care placements for abuse and neglect.
…The findings regarding foster care placements suggest that the human costs of unemployment extend beyond the unemployed, that child protective (Catalano, Lind, Rosenblatt, and Novaco). Before continuing on, let us define the term child abuse or violence towards the child and let us determine the various forms of child abuse.
The definition of child abuse or violence towards a child has been legally defined by the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), (42 U. S. C. A. §5106g), as amended by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003, defines as, at minimum: any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm (Children’s Maltreatment Report, 2005).