It shouldn’t hurt to be a child

Joey’s Story

Nine-year-old Joey and his younger sister, five-year-old Alisha, endured years of abuse from their stepfather. Late last night, their cries awakened their neighbors, who immediately called the police.

At 3 a.m., the two children were forcibly removed from their home with only the clothes on their backs. As the car took the children away, they held each other, trembling in fear. Joey watched in shock as the police slapped handcuffs on his stepfather while his mother stood screaming in the driveway. Meanwhile, authorities made countless calls seeking a foster home willing to take both children. But none had room for two. In the predawn hours, Joey is separated from Alisha. As he’s led away, he turns back to see Alisha crying—begging him not to leave her. Joey made a brave face—a good big brother wouldn’t let his little sister see him cry. “I’ll come back for you,” he said. The door closed behind him. Filled with anxiety, questions and fear, Joey doesn’t know how to make sense of what has happened on this night. More deeply, he fears he will never see his sister again. He assumes it’s his fault.

It’s a sad story, but it’s not fiction. It happens every night to dozens of children in southwest Florida.

The Current Foster Care System 

Our children deserve better.

The Shocking Truths. The Current Foster Care System Leads to a Host of Long-Term Problems.

Studies show that abused or neglected children placed in foster care face lifelong struggles. These studies also show that foster care is a highway to health problems, homelessness, early pregnancy, arrest, incarceration, and sex trafficking. When 22% of any child population flees the system which adults have provided to keep them safe, something is wrong. Half of all the individuals who spent time in foster care have serious challenges maintaining a job, a home, relationships and living a crime-free lifestyle. Over 80% will have at least one mental health diagnosis. These adults are 7 times more likely to suffer from addiction and become abusers of their own children.

The Toll We All Pay for Child Abuse.

Our government spends an astounding $64 billion annually on prisons and juvenile delinquent centers and $9 billion annually in child welfare costs.

In 2014, there were an estimated 702,000 victims of child maltreatment. Can you imagine? This would pack 10 modern football stadiums.

The Real Issue. Unaddressed Childhood Trauma.

The underlying issue and common denominator among these vulnerable adults is unresolved childhood trauma. When their traumatic experiences are not resolved, these children have little chance to develop into well-adjusted, high-functioning adults. Even more troubling is that they’re likely to become abusers themselves when they become parents. As adults, they’re often too ashamed and afraid to seek help. They mask their pain by using drugs, alcohol and violence. They lack the confidence and the support to forge a different path. They lose hope. Deep down, they’re still battling with the pain that was caused to them when they were too young to protect themselves. 

Child abuse is 100% preventable.

Early intervention and education are key to the solution. Our children and society cannot afford to allow this epidemic to continue where victims come victimizers. The numbers only tell half the story…

“Adverse childhood experiences (or trauma) are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today.”
– Dr. Robert Block, former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Foster Care & Child Abuse Stats

Outcomes for young adults who spent time in the current foster care system:

  • 25% will become homeless within 4 years of leaving the system
  • 71% of girls will be pregnant by age 21
  • 50% will be unemployed at age 24
  • 1 in 4 will experience PTSD: 5 times more likely than the general population
  • 7 times more likely to develop drug addiction
  • 75% of females and 33% of males will rely on government assistance
  • Females are 10X as likely and males are 4X as likely to commit a crime
  • 80% of the prison population once was in foster care
  • Studies estimate up to 80% of sexually trafficked victims were in foster care

Did you know?

The leading cause of death of children age 4 and under is child abuse.

Not all children who have been abused become abusers. However, 99% of abusers where abused as children.

Child Abuse Stats

  • The United States has the worst record among industrialized nations- 4 to 7 children dying each day as a result of abuse. An average of 1,580 per year is reported by states.
  • ¼ of your child’s elementary school class will be effected by child abuse.
  • Children who experience abuse or neglect are 9x more likely to get involved in criminal activity.
  • The economic burden in the United States for fatal and non-fatal child maltreatment is $124 billion dollars (2008).
  • 36% of incarcerated women were victims of child abuse.

80% of child fatalities are linked to one parent being the perpetrator.