A woman who was abused and raped as a child and lived in state care is not capable of caring for her toddler daughter, a family court judge has ruled.
Judge Jessica Pemberton said the woman, now in her early 20s, had not been given the “foundation” by the state to enable her to look after a child.
The judge said the state had not intervened adequately to protect the woman from “serious harm and neglect” when she was a child and her upbringing had a “huge impact” on her capabilities as a parent.
Leah was 23 when we met in her solicitor’s office. A foster/state care leaver herself, this young mother had just lost her second son to adoption, aged nine months. He was meeting all his developmental milestones and she loved him deeply. Her first baby had been removed earlier at just four months old.
Leah was so traumatised she could barely speak. But I already knew the background: in two scathing judgments the senior family judge who removed her second son set out just how thoroughly this young woman had been failed by the state throughout her own childhood and beyond. Sexually abused by her stepfather and stepbrothers, when she was finally taken into care as a teenager, she had had 11 changes of foster home in 18 months. She received no trauma treatment or support from children’s services to cope with the transition to adult life. Leah was effectively abandoned. This perfectly highlights the fact that supporting such children is seen as optional, not fundamental mental health care for a trauma survivor. What seems to be forgotten is that Leah and other women like her usually are that vulnerable child everyone insisted they are so concerned about – but unfortunately she is now the wrong side of 18, and therefore seen as unrescue worthy. There is still no statutory entitlement to trauma support or specialist, ongoing therapy for women like Leah.
In fifth grade, Jean’s father claimed he would begin home-schooling her. Instead, he took her into a bedroom and blindfolded her, telling her she was going to have sex with a boy she liked. Then he tied her down and raped her.
The abuse continued for years. Periodically, in an attempt to dodge child welfare investigators, Jean’s father packed up and moved, dragging her from Oklahoma to Arkansas to Texas. By the time they landed in Paris, Texas, in 2009, the 13-year-old was pregnant with his child.
Jean told police about the abuse a year after she gave birth to a baby girl, and prosecutors quickly built a case against her father. Jean and her infant daughter, meanwhile, were cast into the Texas foster care system.
For Jean and her daughter, it meant being consigned to the care of a state agency in turmoil, where kids — especially those who have suffered the greatest trauma — are at high risk of being lured into the sex trade.
It is a system where, as U.S. District Judge Janis Jack wrote in a 2015 legal opinion, “rape, abuse, psychotropic medication and instability are the norm” and children often leave more damaged than when they arrive. When foster care couldn’t help or protect 16-year-old Jean, she ran to a pimp.
Many children from the state system enter the world of selling sex. Eighty-six percent of runaway children in the United States suspected of being forced into sex work came from the child welfare system, according to a 2016 analysis of cases reported to the National Centre on Missing and Exploited Children. Of the 79,000 child sex trafficking victims estimated to be in the state, the vast majority were in foster care or had previous contact with Child Protective Services, according to a recent University of Texas study.
“It’s very easy for a trafficker to prey on those specific kids,” said Dixie Hairston, who leads anti-sex-trafficking efforts in North Texas for the nonprofit advocacy group Children At Risk. “Something is going wrong. These kids are not being kept safe.”
Officials at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services the state agency responsible for protecting them is in crisis.
• 72% of social workers in the UK don’t feel services are enough
• 1 in 4 homeless people are actually state care leavers
• 70% of prostitutes are state care leavers
Foster Care Nightmare, Sex Abuse, Trafficking interview with guest Mari Frankel on her film called “Foster Shock” Sarah Westall
Statistics on state care children’s futures in Florida, USA, given at 55:50 in this video as:
50% do not finish high school
95% do not get a college degree
50% are unemployed by the age of 24
60% will depend on government assistance
70% of girls are pregnant by the age of 21
50% of these children end up in jail
According to national statistics provided by a USA foster care organisation, 40 to 50 percent of those children will never complete high school. Sixty-six percent of them will be homeless, go to jail or die within one year of leaving the foster care system at 18.
Along with this, 80 percent of the prison population once was in foster care, and that girls in foster care are 600 percent more likely than the general population to become pregnant before the age of 21.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) –
The Oregon Department of Human Services is ramping up efforts to help foster kids who are victims of sex trafficking.
“I would say anecdotally I’m having workers approach me with cases at minimum once a week, sometimes more,” Washington County Child Safety Consultant Aimee Dickson said.
Cases that are piling up not just in Oregon, but across the nation.
Alston was hired by the state after that law passed to be part of the solution. She’s the CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) Coordinator for Oregon.
“I see a case a day coming through right now,” Alston said.
Uncle Murray was only 10-years-old when he was taken from his family in Bruthen, Victoria Australia. He was then taken to Melbourne’s notorious Turana Youth detention centre, where he describes the distressing mistreatment he experienced.
“When the authorities took us to Turana I was looked at like a piece of dirt and thrown in a little dark cell in the middle of the night. The police officer said they’ll ‘deal with me in the morning’ calling me a ‘little black bastard’, he detailed.
“They later cut all of my hair off and scrubbed me as if they wanted to scrub the black off me.”
Later in 1948, Uncle Murray and his sisters were taken to Ballarat Orphanage. During that time Uncle Murray explained how he would often turn to alcohol to drown out the trauma of being taken.
“From the ages of 14 to 18 I was drinking myself stupid to drive away the pain that was put on me. By 18 I was a total alcoholic.”
“Without my wife, kids and Bunjil (God) I wouldn’t have made it to 80-years-old today.”
Although a positive experience in Uncle Murrays later years, he acknowledged the on-going trauma faced by a lot of other Indigenous people who were taken, including one of his cousins.
“A lot of stolen mob are still facing their demons and dealing with them very badly. A cousin of mine had been at a facility in Melbourne where he was hit with a piece of barb wire around his back, buttocks and legs. The scars disappeared from his body but never disappeared from his mind. He drank himself to death over it,” he said.
Unfortunately for the now 80-year-old, and many other stolen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country, the stark reality of being forcibly removed meant that he never got the opportunity to see his family again.
“The absolute saddest part was that I never got to reconnect with my family. It was only five years ago that I met my two nieces who were my youngest sisters kids. I recently found out that my oldest brother had 11 girls and one boy – all this I never knew,” explained an emotional Uncle Murray.
“If you lose a part of your heart, you don’t get over it. And the part of our hearts that was taken is the family and culture that we lost. That’s something that you don’t just brush aside and get over.”
In 1996, the last residential school in Canada was closed down, bringing to light horrifying stories about the methods used to sever indigenous children from the influence of their families and to assimilate them into the dominant “Canadian” culture. Over more than a century, tens of thousands of families were torn apart as children were kidnapped or forcibly removed from their homes.
Residential schools were part of an extensive education system set up by the Canadian government and administered by churches with the objective of indoctrinating Aboriginal children into the Euro-Canadian and Christian way of life.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers were often charged with the task of removing children from their family homes or “picking them up” to take them to the residential schools. Families who refused to give up their children were either arrested, fined or both.
When Lynda was five years old the authorities came to her home village and sent her to a boarding school far away. Once she arrived, her hair was cut very short; she was issued a uniform and given a number that replaced her name as if they were prisoners. There was no one there to hold this five year old girl and wipe away the tears as she cried for her mother.
The priests, nuns and other staff members ate very well, while the children existed on a starvation diet. The children were forbidden to speak their Indian language. They were told that Indian customs were evil and they were not allowed to observe them. Discipline was harsh and the slightest infraction resulted in severe beatings. Conditions were so bad that the children tried to burn down their schools or died after running away from schools in remote locations.
The priests were having an open season; young boys were sodomised and the girls were sexually molested as well. Catholic doctrine forbade abortions and the girls carried their rape babies to full term. After giving birth, they were taken to a basement and the young mother was told to kill her child. In the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, no sin was committed since the Canadian government had stated Indians did not have souls and were savages without hope of salvation.
Some children were never seen again after they were sold as sex slaves to pedophiles in the United States. Some tried to escape the boarding schools, but due to the harsh weather in Canada, many of them froze to death and never made it home.
When the truth about this evil boarding school program was publicised in Canada and the United States, a final attempt was made to reduce the Indian population by sterilising the children before they were sent home.
On Tuesday, the government of Canada released a report on residential schools, with testimony from nearly 7,000 witnesses, called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
From 1840 to 1996, more than 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were taken from their families and placed in these schools, in order to “kill the Indian in the child”.
TRC chair Justice Murray Sinclair said more than 6,000 residential school students died.
Many more suffered emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Survivors of St Anne’s Indian Residential School in Fort Albany, Ontario, are suing the government to release an unredacted version of documentation that shows staff used an electric chair to shock students as young as six and forced sick students to eat their own vomit.
The TRC report concludes that the government-led policy amounted to cultural genocide.
“These measures were part of a coherent policy to eliminate Aboriginal people as distinct peoples and to assimilate them into the Canadian mainstream against their will,” says a summary of the report.
“The Canadian government pursued this policy of cultural genocide because it wished to divest itself of its legal and financial obligations to Aboriginal people and gain control over their land and resources.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologised to the survivors in 2008, but the report notes “the urgent need for reconciliation runs deep in Canada” and says Canada needs to move from apology to action.
Then we have the “leaders” who apologise and promise changes in a horribly flawed system, which traffics children and harms a lot of people. But they never deliver…
Ten years ago today, then prime minister Kevin Rudd made the apology, fulfilling one part of the third recommendation of the 1997 Bringing Them Home report, which stated that “reparation be made in recognition of the history of gross violations of human rights”. [They violently removed parent’s children and placed them into foster care]
In the report, this was broken down to five key components: acknowledgment and apology, guarantees against repetition, measures of restitution, measures of rehabilitation, and monetary compensation.
To date, New South Wales, Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia have introduced some form of reparation scheme for members of the Stolen Generations. The Northern Territory, Queensland and Victoria are still yet to do so.
There have also been calls for the implementation of a national scheme, but the Federal Government has not as yet indicated that it intends to introduce one.