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As Australia’s landmark Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and other cases have shown, the impact of child sexual abuse is devastating.
Adverse mental health outcomes are the most recognized and researched effects of abuse. These can include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and feelings of guilt, shame, anger and low self-esteem.
Movie star and comedian Tiffany Haddish, left, is a former foster child who now advocates on behalf of foster children. FilmMagic/FilmMagic for CASA of Los Angeles/via Getty Images Lenette Azzi-Lessing, Boston University
The stress and isolation caused by job losses, school closings and limited social interactions, along with the sharp economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, have made life harder for everyone – especially people who already faced economic hardship. But the roughly 435,000 U.S. children in foster care have been hit especially hard.
As young adults age out of foster care they need support and guidance to make successful lives.
For millions of high school seniors, summer represents the eager conclusion of an important chapter of their lives. It’s an optimistic apprehension to the conception of their coming-of-age story: graduating high school, embracing independence and looking to the future.
At a home in Punta Gorda, deputies found a young girl covered in bug bites and a rash while wearing a diaper overflowing with urine.
The filthy home reeked of feces, moldy food and cigarette butts. Facing the girl’s booster seat was a table covered in white powder from drugs, according to records from the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies stumbled upon the situation June 13 because they were searching for the girl’s mother, who had a warrant for her arrest. Both parents were arrested for child neglect, along with other charges.
If deputies hadn’t been sent to the house in search of the mother, the child might still be in a house where the adults were allegedly using meth.
Experts say that many neglect or abuse cases are going undiscovered right now.
With schools, childcare facilities and camps closed due to COVID-19, reports of child abuse in Charlotte County have plummeted. In April, the number of reports of child abuse to the Department of Children and Families in Charlotte County was at the lowest it’s been in about nine years.
But that doesn’t mean fewer children are being abused.
When Florida schools shut down in mid-March, kids stopped seeing their teachers — who are trained to look for and report signs of child abuse.
“Quite a few reports come from professionals at schools mostly because they’re trained in what to look for, and kids spend a lot of time at school,” said Nathan Scott, child welfare policy coordinator with the Family Safety Alliance. “During COVID-19, they haven’t been at school, so that’s been a contributing factor (in the decline in reports).”
People who are required by law to report child abuse include professionals such as educators, health professionals and social workers — anyone who has contact with the child as part of his or her job.
The vast majority of reports come from these mandated reporters — especially teachers, who produced 21% of the 4.3 million referrals made in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
There has been a significant drop in reports of child abuse and neglect during the coronavirus pandemic. Many fear that as we emerge, the child welfare system will be flooded as the impacts of family stress become public again. In preparation, state foster care departments must improve their operations to better serve foster parents and assist social workers with complex cases.
First, all states should offer foster parent training online.A number of states including Illinois and Tennessee were moving in this direction. But online training makes even more sense in light of COVID-19 and the adaptations many families already have made to group learning.
Currently, many states have inflexible training schedules for the foster parent classes that happen only on certain evenings and at certain locations. Coordinating schedules of working parents for their own families is challenging, but getting a dozen or more family units in the same place for 20 to 30 hours of training with commuting considerations and other family and work commitments is nearly impossible.
For Father's Day, The Advocate teamed up with Extraordinary Families, a Los Angeles-based foster and adoption agency, to highlight LGBTQ+ dads showing the world that love is what defines a family.
A child enters foster care every two minutes in the United States, and currently there are over 400,000 children in care, according to Extraordinary Families. In Los Angeles County alone, there are approximately 20,000 children and youth in foster care at any given time, making it one of the largest foster care systems in the country. Older children, sibling sets, those with disabilities, and youth who identify as LGBTQ+ are often in care longer and less likely to be adopted. Complicating things, the Trump administration just this month pushed the Supreme Court to greenlight religious-based discrimination that would allow agencies to turn away prospective LGBTQ+ parents.
Thanks to the help and partnership of quality resource families, Extraordinary Families, which works with many LGBTQ+ parents and kiddos, is helping to find safe and nurturing families for all children in foster care. Scroll down and read some of their success stories.
Since 1994, Extraordinary Families has been a leader in foster care, adoption, and child welfare policy reform. A leading nonprofit foster family, adoption, and advocacy agency based in Los Angeles, it is dedicated to improving the daily lives and long-term outcomes of children and youth in foster care by recruiting, training, and supporting high quality foster and adoptive (resource) parents for children removed from their families due to abuse or neglect. The organization welcomes a diverse population of individuals and families to serve as resource parents regardless of age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, marital or domestic partner status, political affiliation, or ancestry. Resource families are viewed as members of a team providing individualized care so each child can reach her/his/their fullest potential.
On January 5, 2020 the Annapolis Police Department received a report of sex offenses that occurred in the unit block of Juliana Circle West. The victim was identified as a 13 year old female. This investigation widened to include reports of child pornographic images.
The suspect was identified as Jose Argueta, 44, of Glen Burnie. He came into contact with the victim as the driver of a church transportation van. It was reported that on four occasions Argueta sexually assaulted the 13 year old victim and during some of these assaults pornographic photos of the victim were taken by Argueta.
Detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Jose Argueta charging him with nineteen counts relating to the assaults. On January 9, Argueta was located and arrested. He is being held at the Jennifer Road Detention Center without bond.
Submitting Anonymous Tips to Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland
Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland is an organization separate from the Annapolis Police Department. When you phone in or submit your Annapolis crime tip online or through the P3 Tips smartphone app Metro Crime Stoppers receives your tip anonymously and only forwards your tip information to the Annapolis Police Department. No identifying information is ever forwarded to us. Metro Crime Stoppers uses a special coding system to protect your identity, they do not use Caller ID or record telephone conversations. If your tip leads to the arrest or indictment of a person for a felony you could qualify for up to a $2,000 cash reward from Metro Crime Stoppers. You can submit a tip by calling 1-866-7LOCKUP (1-866-756-2587), visiting www.metrocrimestoppers.org, or through the P3 Tips smartphone app. The app can be found in the Apple or Android app stores by searching for P3 Tips.
Dashawn Wiggan had broken his foster home’s curfew.
With a mixture of fear and awe, he arrived with his boyfriend at the Christopher Street piers. Loud, fast beats with crashing rhythms met them in front of the dark Hudson River, where young dancers had congregated.
From the Anne Arundel County Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division- Major Crimes Section
On Saturday, July 27, 2019 at approximately 9:28 a.m., the Anne Arundel County Police and Fire Departments responded to the 7900 block of Chesapeake Drive, Orchard Beach, Maryland for a nine month old male infant in medical distress. The infant was transported to the Baltimore Washington Medical Center for further medical treatment. Life saving measures were continued at the hospital until 10:19 a.m. where the infant, identified as Niyear Taylor of the 7900 block of Chesapeake Drive, was pronounced deceased.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — For years, advocates have pushed for stricter safeguards against child abuse or neglect.
Failure by officials to report suspected abuse or neglect as required by law now carries jail time and fines.
The change comes in the wake of a notorious case of a former teachers aide in Prince George’s County, who in 2016 was indicted on 270 counts related to the sexual abuse of more than a dozen children at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School.
Deonte Carraway is now serving 75 years in prison for sexually exploiting children. Some students had reportedly gone to teachers about it, but nothing would be done.
“Two years ago, (then-county state’s attorney) Angela Alsobrooks testified on these hearings in Annapolis that when the Deonte Carraway case came up in Prince George’s County, she had no remedy to hold those professionals accountable,” said Adam Rosenburg with the Baltimore Child Abuse Center.
That changed in October. Maryland law now holds adults, including teachers, youth workers, healthcare personnel and others, responsible for filing written reports under penalty of law.
Failure to comply carries a penalty of up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
“The child would say ‘This just happened to me,’ and the adult in authority wouldn’t do anything about it there,” Rosenburg said. “By not reporting the abuse, children continued to be abused and bad people continue to get away with it.”