Some situations can be extreme. One young girl initiated sexual activity with the born-to son (both were only 5 years old). A 17-year-old girl hit a three-year-old boy. A born-to child beat and stole from a foster child who was about the same age. A five-year-old girl pulled the hair of a 13-year-old so hard she made the older child’s head bleed.
A foster child may abuse a biological child or another foster child. A biological child may be abusing the foster child. Whether the abuser is born-to or foster, you need to take action to stop the pattern of behavior. Ignoring the problem does not make it go away.
Although situations vary, many times the bio kids are jealous of the attention given to the "new kid." They don’t want to share their Mom and Dad, and they feel that the foster child is invading their space, trying to steal their parents. They react by abusing the one they see as causing the problem. Denying that your "own flesh and blood" could ever hurt someone like that is only going to reinforce that hurting others is okay. Don’t allow your biological and foster kids alone with each other until you are absolutely sure they are comfortable being together.
When a foster kid abuses a born-to child, it’s easy to think the abuser is "unappreciative" and "beyond help." This is just not true. Abuse may be all the foster child knows. Remember that part of your job as a foster parent is to teach the children how to channel her/his anger productively.
When you have foster kids who abuse other foster kids, the problem runs a bit deeper. The abuser was most probably a victim himself. He is angry and doesn’t know how to handle that. He thinks, "If I do the abusing, I won’t be the victim anymore." Another foster child is the perfect easy target.
As soon as you learn that there may be abuse going on in your home, you need to talk to everyone involved, ask the other children to report suspicious behavior, change rooms around (if the abuser and victim share a room), and never let the persons involved alone together. Always keep at least one of them in your sight. This should eliminate most chances for basic abuse -- light hitting, minor threats, and basic practical jokes.
Sometimes the maltreatment is too severe to be remedied in this way. Severe abuse would include, but not be limited to, beatings, death threats, stealing, and sexual abuse of ANY kind. You need to act quickly. Separating the persons involved is your number one priority. Keep both of them where you can see them at all times. Ask a neighbor or another member of your support team to come to your house while you tend to the situation. Document everything. This will also help if allegations should become an issue later on.
There are no easy answers to tough problems. Children who abuse are in a lot of emotional pain that needs to be addressed. Therapy and possible medication is needed to help the young abusers face their fears of being victimized again.
What can you do to prevent these situations from occurring?
How do you know if there is abuse going on?
What do you do if there is abuse in your home?
© 2000 Wendi Sturgeon - email@example.com