Child Molestation in Foster Care

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About two-thirds of children admitted to public care have experienced abuse and neglect, and many have potentially been exposed to domestic violence, parental mental illness and substance abuse (Dregan and Gulliford). These children are being placed into foster care so that they can get away from home abuse, not so they can move closer towards it. The foster children's varied outcomes of what their adult lives are is because of the different experiences they grew up with in their foster homes. The one-third of those other foster children usually has a better outcome in adult life than the other two-thirds, which is a big problem considering the high percentage of children being abused in their foster homes.

There are different types of abuse when it comes to child abuse, there is physical abuse, and mental abuse. The most important abuse to me is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is a crime to knowingly cause another person to engage in an unwanted sexual act by force or threat. Children who do not live with both parents and reside in foster homes are more likely to be a part of this activity. The risk is at a higher stake. A bureau of justice statistics report shows 1.6% (sixteen out of one thousand) of children between the ages of 12-17 were victims of rape/sexual assault. Children who live in unstable homes are most likely placed in foster homes. The reason for this placement can be of various reasons. Some reasons can be abuse, neglect, illness, incarceration, death in a family, drug abuse, child' choices, and plainly voluntary placement.

 As we all know abuse and neglect is at far the most reasons why a child is put into foster care. Abuse is probably the first thing a person can think of when put into foster care. This reason is all too common, and it requires immediately removal from the home. Frequently, foster care is tempered as a temporary resolution until the parents or guardians in the home fix whatever problems their encountering, then to later reunite with their children. Even though foster care is used to protect the child, However, children may be raped, molested, or even sexually abuse in these types of settings. Just about 530,000 children in the united states live in foster homes at any given times in their childhood.

A study by John Hopkins University found that children who are in foster care are four times more likely to be sexually abused than other children who are not in foster care. Getting into a deeper meaning of sexual abuse, that is unwanted behavior, such as touching, kissing, groping, or penetrating a child who is not able to consent to this type of activity. You may be wondering how a child can live in a foster home and be molested? Well, abusers can be anyone. They do not naturally have to have a criminal record of abuse. They can simply be a foster parent, or an employee for a group home, maybe even the director of the foster system. While all in all this may suck, it is common for sexual predators to use their authority in the child's life to take advantage of this child.

 Each year, 26,000 transition without the classic developing experiences that teaches independency skills, and without the family supports and neighborhood networks that supposed to help them make outstanding transitions to adulthood. These children experience very poor outcomes at a much higher amount than the general population. Sexually abused foster youth are tied to social, economic, and political issues today. Some social issues are pertaining to high incarceration levels and costs, high levels of homelessness, higher pregnancy rates, higher unemployment rates and the need for social welfare programs, higher rates of sex trafficking victimization, being over-prescribed or unnecessarily prescribed psychotropic medications, and last but not least, being part of the opioid/heroin addiction epidemic, in which comes later in a child's life making it into adulthood. A lot of times, these children that's being sexually abused in foster homes, are more likely turning into criminals. Their traumatized by this event, and it causes them to act out in a silly way. This is then how the incarceration levels become high and the cost pertaining to it.

Other times, most of the youth can't deal with these circumstances and leaves the facility causing them to become homeless, in which the levels of homelessness become high. Being raped/molested may also cause a child to become pregnant, leaving higher pregnancy rates. Suddenly, these children become stagnate with this lifestyle leading to higher unemployment rates, and the need for social welfare programs. Sexually abused foster kids are at a much higher risk of being exploited by sex traffickers. For example, half of sexually trafficked minors in California come from the foster care system. By comparison, fewer than 1% of all children in California are foster children. An investigation by (San Jose Mercury News) has found that being over-prescribed or unnecessarily prescribed psychotropic medications helps drug makers, who are anxious to expand the market for some of their most profitable products, spent more than $14 million from 2010 to 2013 to woo the California doctors who treat this captive and fragile audience of patients at taxpayers' expense. With more children entering the system because more people (their parents) are addicted, causing more children to become sexually abused, leading that cause to states being required to hire more social workers and judges to deal with this problem. Some political issues pertaining to sexually abused children in foster homes, leads to current federal foster care legislation, 49 state bills related to extending foster care beyond age 18 since 2009, current state-level pending foster care legislation, class action lawsuits against states for failing child welfare systems, and a variety of other state lawsuits.

During the years of 2015-2017, 114th congress, 57 bills were found with foster care in the title or text leading more problems in society. The Illinois HB 3761 provides that a youth who exited foster care after reaching 18 years of age, but before reaching 21 years of age may reenter foster care and receive extended foster care services. While other states have different but similar laws, something is always in the market to change. Talking about the economic issue within sexually abuse children in foster homes was in a bad financial condition even before the current economic crisis. in nearly every state, the cost of providing basic care for a foster child exceeds the government's foster-care reimbursement rate -the Washington Post While many experts believe, it is possible that the number of children entering foster care will rise in the coming years, it is hard to obtain and hold on to trained social workers who may improve the experiences of children being sexually abused in foster homes because of lack of funding. The number of children and youth entering and remaining in foster care is expected to increase as the economy worsens.

The foster care system is a giant mess and should just be blown up -Wade Horn The way foster care gets funded by the government is just one of the problems that exists today. $5 billion goes mostly to keeping kids in foster care. There are no provisions for treatment, prevention, family support, or aging out. Just for supporting things as they are-Wade Horn On average, children stay in the system for almost 3 years before either being reunited with their families or adopted. This is a problem going unnoticed, because sometimes the children need the proper love and nourishment from the appropriate family member. If this goes missing in a child's life, their tempted to act on this in a dangerous way. Many have been separated not only from their parents, but from their siblings. Being molested or sexually assaulted in any type of way can cause problems leading to death. Naika Venant was on Facebook live for no longer than two hours before she committed suicide. The 14-year-old was sexually assaulted/molested and was traumatized by this event that caused her to hang herself in in the bathroom of a foster home.

By the time Naika ended her life, she had bounced between foster homes, group homes, shelters more than a dozen times, starting at the age of 6. Naika slept in the same bed as her foster mother boyfriend, who forced her to watch pornography and was later raped. This is a child who endured great trauma in her life and despite many service interventions, we were not able to put the pieces back together to prevent her from taking her own life in such a pubic form-Carroll While this is a major problem, going back to economic, political, and social forces, this impact on certain children and family members affect society at a whole. Pregnancy, incarcerations, and loss of jobs affects each one of the family members. No orientation in the family, unstableness, and lack of growth within the children is just some of the cons being faced during these circumstances.

Regarding child sexual abuse, specifically, child molestation in foster care, information was not as widespread on this issue as it should have been. Society has responded much more prominently in today's technology age. The internet has given many outlets to support those who feel trapped and have no way out. Presently, there is the notion that it is everyone's problem and responsibility to act in order to prevent sexual abuse. It is not based on one's individual effort to solve this problem, but the responsibility of everyone to act and preventative measures to protect our children. There are many social programs and websites such as, Prevent Child Abuse America that strive to raise awareness about this issue to the American public. They pride themselves on promoting child health and safety, as well as, child development. They want to promote research in order to address risk factors when it comes to sexual abuse. The main goal is to prevent any tolerance or confusion for sexual abuse. They also have crisis hotlines at the ready in case of immediate action. The gaps in service dealing with child sexual abuse comes from the fact that many cases are not reported.

Many times, sexual abuse cases would go unreported because of fear and no action would be taken until it was too late, and the damage had been done. There is a certain disconnect between getting help for abuse and not acting at all. Because of their young age, children do not know how to get outside help. Therefore, teaching children at a young age bringing awareness to this issue is a must. They need to know that they are not alone and that they should not be afraid to talk to somebody if this issue were to ever arise. I was able to conduct a brief interview with a Social Worker of my choice. One question that was asked was how often do you experience cases with sexual abuse in foster homes? She responded, These cases appear nearly every day, sometimes more than a regular child abuse case -Andrea Another question I imposed was what kind of action is being taken after this act is perform? She responded, we must take the child out the house immediately if the proper evidence is there -Andrea. The last question that I asked her, is how does this affect the child in most cases? She responded A lot of times the children are deflected by this. It's hard for them to flourish, and most of the time they are traumatized by this. In conclusion, childhood sexual abuse in foster homes is primarily associated with broad choices of consequences for survivors throughout their lifetime.

Many questions will remain unanswered. For example, their need to be a better understanding of the experiences the victims of child molestation encounter daily. Future research in this area needs to continue to rule out gender differences in victims' experiences of sexual abuse in foster homes. This understanding will help treatment and prevention of child sexual abuse in foster care. Importantly, this knowledge is key to survivors of childhood sexual abuse being able to disclose their experiences in a safe and supportive environment and gaining access to effective services and the support they need to deal with those experiences and all its effects.

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  2. Bass, E., & Davis, L. (2008). The courage to heal: A guide for women survivors of child sexual abuse. New York: Collins Living. Because Children are our future... (2013, May 18). Retrieved November 13, 2018, from Facts on Foster Care in America. (2006, May 30). Retrieved November 13, 2018, from
  3. Julich, S. (2005). Stockholm Syndrome and Child Sexual Abuse. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse,14(3), 107-129. doi:10.1300/j070v14n03_06
  4. Phillips, K. (2017, March 16). After a lifetime of foster homes and abuse, a 14-year-old broadcast her suicide on Facebook. Retrieved November 13, 2018, from
  5. Sims, A. (2018, November 13). Aspects of a social worker [Personal interview]. Springer, T. (2013). Editorial Board EOV. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma,6(4). doi:10.1080/19361521.2013.839606
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Child Molestation In Foster Care. (2019, Dec 04). Retrieved December 4, 2023 , from

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