Social Work Topics: Physical Abuse.

When I am doing PRIDE Training or talking to people regarding my job, I seem to always be asked, “How can you do your job knowing the children’s past?”

  1. I don’t judge, or do my very best not to.
  2. I don’t ask “why,” or do my very best not to.

Here’s the thing: most of the kids I work with have been neglected and ‘neglect’ covers a wide variety of situations which will be discussed in a different post.  I do not understand why people do the things they do to their children.

I have this conversation all the time:

“The kids are in care for physical abuse.  Did you see the pictures?  I can’t believe they did that to a 2 and 3 year old.  What on earth could a 2 or 3 year old have done to cause an adult to strike out and abuse them like this?!  I don’t get it!  The parents are the adults!  If a child pushes you to the point that you want to hit them then fucking walk away!”

And then I take a deep breath and remind myself that I will get nowhere with the case if I can’t keep my head on straight.  According to my experience (not statistics put out by social services) about 50% of children who enter foster care end up in need of adopion services.  That means only 1/2 (from what *I* have experienced) return home.  And children return home when the parents can admit what went wrong, when they complete an improvement period with flying colors, and when the judge feels they have made significant enough progress to ensure the children’s safety and well-being in the birth home.

All of that said, I think that only about 25% of children who have experienced physical abuse have returned home (again, from *my* experience).

Side note: spanking is NOT abuse.  Spanking and beating are different.  Spanking is a form of discipline (guidance tool) where as beating is an unreasonable act of anger.  Spanking can turn into abuse if the spanker is not in control of his/her emotions.  In general, if no mark is left by a spanking, abuse has most likely not happened.

In my opinion, all children who enter foster care have been neglected.  Not all children have been abused.  But those that have been abused have also been neglected.  By physically hurting your children you aren’t meeting their needs, which is neglect.  One resource states that 18.3% of children who enter care have been physcially abused.

Of the children who enter care, 18.3% of them have felt the wrath of a caregiver.  These are just the ones who enter care.  What about all the other children who never receive help for one reason or another?

All types of child maltreatment break my heart.  When I see the pictures and talk to the children of child physcial abuse victims, I just want to cry.  And I usually do when I’m at home.

I have a four and nine year old who came into care due to general neglect and physical abuse of the four year old.  The birth mom had a protection order against her boyfriend.  She was seeing the boyfriend anyway.  I’m not sure who called the abuse in, but when the state workers and police arrived at the home and they questioned mom as to the boyfriend’s whereabouts, she said she didn’t know where he was.  He was found hiding under mom’s bed.  The four year old was immediately taken to the ER.  She had two black eyes, bruises all over, and various cuts.  She had also lost most of her hair due to the stress.  This child’s father had 50% custody.  Later the state worker discovered that dad’s wife also hit the four year old.  Because birth mom and the boyfriend would not admit to harming this precious girl and because they refused to acknowledge that anything was wrong in their home, the judge terminated birth mom’s rights to her two kids and the boyfriend’s rights to his three kids (different case – same shit).  Birth dad and his wife have an improvement period for the four and nine year old in addition to the other three kids they have together.  They at least admit that they were wrong.  I’m praying they lose their rights, too.

Maybe I shouldn’t be that way.  The birth dad and his wife are nice people.  They have no clue how to parent or how to keep their kids safe.  They don’t understand why they need stable income or why they need stable, safe housing.

At the beginning of a case I want to get all of my facts together before coming to a conclusion about a person’s character or ability to change.  Sometimes a parent’s inability to parent is very clear.  This is one of those cases.

This four year old has been in her current foster home since October.  She always brings a smile to my face when I see her.  Her joyfulness is contagious.

Kids are resilient.  That doesn’t give anyone a free pass to hurt their children.  Before you react and hit a child, walk away.  Be the adult.

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