The focus is, more often than not, on the victim or the perpetrator but what about the children who witness such events or have lived in these toxic environments for way too long?
As a consequence of strict codes of confidentiality such things are not discussed enough and individual cases are never publicised. The only time we become privy to the circumstances involving a child is when they become the victim of such crimes. Take the recent slaying of Ms Rigney Wilson and her beautiful children Corey, 5 and Amber, 6. It is often the case, as in this one, that these children have been under the radar of human or family services which fuels the public’s outrage as to why they were not kept safe. The truth behind this is both confronting and startling.
From my experience, both as a child protection worker and a Foster Carer, there are two major contributing factors that inhibits these Departments from being adequately equipped to ‘save’ a child from these undesirable circumstances. The first is a major lack of funding to such departments making for overworked staff with incredible limitations on what they can and can’t do. Second is that there are a ridiculously limited amount of foster homes for these staff to place these children from harm’s way.
Many years ago, when I worked for the government in protective care for children there was a scale of harm rating put forward when dealing with a child. If they were considered at ‘serious risk of harm’, the children were taken in to protective care. As the years rolled on and the funding became tighter and tighter the scaling system became more dire. It is my experience now that a child, in some circumstances, has to be at risk of death before they are deemed removable from the family home.
Then we have the latter matter to address. For all those irate members of the public that scream blue murder when a child under the radar is badly hurt or killed, how many of them actually open their doors to house these poor little mites? In my experience, very few. It is one thing to blame the government for not removing a child but you can only remove a child if you have a suitable, loving home to place them in. Unfortunately due to the lack of Foster Carers out there, some undesirables make the cut purely out of desperation. This leads to children being further abused within the system. Something that is more common than any of us would like to acknowledge.
There is a common misconception in society that Foster kids come from ‘those’ neighbourhoods and are largely a result of low socio economics. Therefore they don’t really affect us. The reality is that Foster kids are in every suburb, every culture and every neighbourhood. Sexual abuse, for instance, is certainly not privy to any socio economic.
In a nutshell, we can change the tide for these vulnerable children simply by opening our doors. So many people ring me asking about adoption in Australia. As much as I respect their frustrations with our archaic adoption laws, I am always encouraging them to open their minds to fostering. I have adopted and fostered and in my experience I don’t need a child to bare my name to experience the joys of being a parent.