Child Abuse Problem
It is no question that children and adolescents face gruesome and tragic situations on a daily basis. Even though childhood is supposed to be the most vibrant life period, it sometimes turns into a disaster and huge issue throughout a lifespan. That is why child protective services need to be in charge of a child’s welfare, implementing case planning with its critical goals, objectives, and steps. Queensland Government defines (2018) a case plan as “is a participative process that involves a cycle of assessment, planning, implementation, and review.” In other words, case planning provides the evaluation of the necessary intervention and crucial steps that address the child’s needs for belonging, well-being, and safety within a family. Case planning is admittedly significant for child protection in a case of abuse, neglect or maltreatment from any family member. Therefore, only a case plan can substantially assist the social services in reaching a favorable outcome for a victim.
The Millers are a simple family at first glance, consisting of 35-year-old Erica Miller, 36-year-old Joshua Miller, and their two children: a 9-year-old son Derek, and a 7-year-old daughter, Ivory. However, as the social workers found out, the family suffers from sibling abuse. Indeed, every family member fights with one another, but abuse is a different level of ‘interpersonal terrorism.’ The report about sexual sibling abuse was made by Erica’s mother, Rose, after she spotted Derek forcefully touching Ivory at night. The impact of child sexual abuse by siblings has sometimes been dismissed as relatively unimportant (Doyle, 2008). Sometimes parents do not address the issue readily as they refuse to have an idea of sexual interaction between siblings. Child sexuality is not a brand-new research topic, but it can rapidly turn into abuse, which is the violation. A 2002 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that at least 2.3% of children have been victimized by a sibling (Morin 2018). Accordingly, taking advantage of own sister is out of norms so that the social services needed to take a step on the investigation and in-depth consideration of sibling abuse, its premises, factors, and undoubtedly consequences. Therefore, case planning is more than necessary for the Millers, including all facts, services, goals, and interventions toward Derek and Ivory.
Indeed, in-home and out-of-home services are of importance. The social workers noticed Ivory’s anxiety, isolation, and constant silence when asking her about Derek. Even though Erica and Joshua are well-educated people, the home environment is not favorable for Ivory as every place reminds her of sexual abuse by her elder brother. It comes as apparent that in-home care occurs inside the home alongside the residents, whereas out-of-home – in foster care or with closest relatives/friends, which a child feels comfortable with. During the conversation with Erica’s grandparents, Rose and Sam, the social workers established that out-of-home care would benefit Ivory better than inside the shelter; hence, Ivory was placed in their house until the case is resolved.
The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) puts the child’s safety and well-being in the first place. Even though ASFA has some strict rules in serious cases, the general timeframe of the case plan should not exceed 15 months. Case planning takes a long time to get all crucial details of the past and the present, mental health, criminal, and ethnic background, all possible premises and factors which led Derek to take advantage of his younger sister. The social workers construct the initial case plan within 60 days of removal, following reoccurring hearings, reviews, and guardianship, and ending in the last hearing that decides the future of the child. The case plan acceptance hearing must occur within 30 days after the disposition hearing to review and approve the case plan. Case hearings can recur every 170 days until the final decision is reached. Since the family lives in Broward County, Florida, Florida Department of Children and Families’ protocols establish the general guidelines and timeframes.
Notably, community partnerships are crucial for families in such gruesome situations. The Community Partnerships Division in the Broward County is responsible for mapping out, coordinating, regulating, and evaluating “a comprehensive array of human service programs for children and adults including behavioral health, health care, HIV/AIDS, and homeless services” (Broward, n.d.). The state offers the following agencies and programs: Children’s Services Administration Section (CSA), Health Care Services Section (HCS), Including HIV/AIDS Services, Homeless Initiative Partnership Section (HIP), and Nancy J. Cotterman Center. The best thing about programs is their cost-effectiveness by profit on non-profit providers, governmental entities or faith-based organizations aiming at the needs of Broward County citizens.
Even though the child protection process can traumatize a kid, case planning is an efficient tool to reach the rightest consensus in child-on-child abuse. The Millers are cooperative and empathetic, and willing to put all efforts to return healthy relationships and deal with children’s issues. There are so much more that needs in-depth analysis and insight, especially mental health issues and different prerequisites to sexual abuse. A case plan is the only legal document in child welfare which focuses solely on effective goals, objectives, and favorable outcomes for Ivory Miller and the entire family in such a horrible hardship. Consequently, social workers hope to achieve the best results for the victim, no matter what.
History of the Family
Erica and Joshua Millers are originally from Jamaica, just as both their parents. However, they all have been living for more than twenty years in Florida, working and raising children. Erica is a personal assistant and Joshua is an IT professional, and it implies that they are fully financed for effective parenting. Even though the two are busy personas, they care about their children and try to provide all the essentials they can. 9-year-old Derek and 7-year-old Ivory are planned children, which mean no burden or negativity between parents-children inside the home. When Erica’s mother reported a sibling abuse, the CPS worker readily addressed the issue of sexual violence between a brother and a sister. The countries with the highest levels of violence against children were Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Haiti (Henry-Lee et al., 2008). Even though adults are most likely to sexually harass and abuse children, child-on-child abuse is also common; yet – undiscovered. Hence, it was decided to place Ivory in her grandparents’ property for a couple of months with the allowance of parents to visit her several times a week. Derek, on the other hand, had restrictions toward his younger sister and was appointed to a psychologist to check up on his mental state, whereas Ivory attended a specialist after sexual abuse, too.
Although the Millers have tried to impose only positive sides of Jamaican culture and mentality, Derek sometimes shows aggression, deviant behavior, and impulsivity. No criminal records exist in the family, but Derek beat some peers up in the school from time to time. Since nobody addressed such matters to higher authorities due to his age, parents had to attend school meetings and child services before Derek stopped doing so. Regarding relatives, Joshua’s elder brother had a criminal background in the forms of shopliftings. Somehow, his oldest son grew up and became stealing things every now and again. The social workers considered the link between Derek and his criminal cousin, and the idea of Derek admiring him is quite possible. Erica and Joshua tried to cut their communication off, but the cousins sometimes chat and exchange memes of crime scenes and other suspicious stuff. “Indeed, we tried our best to stop talking to my elder brother and his son. We do not want our kids to look up to them or do the same. But Derek somehow wants to communicate with his cousin, who is 17 years old. Maybe, he thinks it is cool, but we are definitely concerned about such bond,” – Joshua corroborated. Moreover, it is highly possible for Derek to do the same when he is adolescent or adult if parents do not take important steps to help their son until he gets into the criminal side in his lifetime. Such aggressive behavior can explain a lot why he started taking advantage of her sister, treating her if she tells anything to parents.
When the CPS workers entered the Millers’ house, everything was more than great. The house consists of two floors: the first one has a kitchen, bathroom, and living room, whereas the second – two bedrooms, another bathroom, and office. Investigating the first floor, every place was clean and tidy: the fridge was full of high-quality food, especially dairy products; insurance, fire alarm, smoke detectors were evident; bathroom was not messy whatsoever. The second floor was almost the same as the first, taking into account good electricity, running water, fresh air, and all the necessary furniture. The only disadvantage is the same room for Ivory and Derek. It can explain a lot about how easily Derek could reach Ivory – whether she is conscious or not. Probably that is why nobody thought of such unpleasant situations as sibling abuse because parents accept their children as innocent, pure, and naïve. Accordingly, the major recommendation would be having separate bedrooms for their children as they grow and change to the core. Yet, it is up to the court to define whether Ivory will come back to the house or not. And even if she comes back, it is of importance to address Derek’s issues to eliminate his high child sexuality.
Erica and Joshua grew up in Montego Bay, Jamaica. They knew each other since high school, and both moved to the USA to study in Florida. The CPS workers find the family somewhat perfect in parenting skills. Indeed, the Millers have no idyll but their family bond is quite strong, except for the fact that they have not noticed sexual abuse toward their daughter. At first, the social workers asked Erica’s parents (Joshua’s parents passed away). “Erica and Joshua were dreaming of having a boy and a girl. They are good parents, but maybe they were so happy with the idea of having two kids and living their best lives that they missed the sibling violence between Derek and Ivory,” – Rose started. Her husband added, “We noticed Derek’s deviant behavior a while ago, and Ivory’s anxiety and loneliness all the time. When we hinted on these things to Erica and Joshua, they sort of ignored this fact. Maybe they just did not want to admit something was wrong, which is weird, because Ivory changed with the blink of an eye, converting from a lively and cute girl to a quiet and scared one.” These words made some sense: maybe Erica and Joshua just did not notice their children’s rivalry and concerns, which leads to the issue of child neglect? “We just did not think of anything like that [sexual abuse]. We thought our kids were fine, and even if Derek was rude or Ivory was silent most of the time, we thought they just had such personalities,” – Joshua said. Morin affirms (2018) that “sexual abuse among siblings can go on for a long time before parents are made aware of the issue, and sadly, some parents don’t take appropriate action when they’re made aware of the problem.” The CPS workers were somewhat hesitant to have a conversation with Ivory and Derek, but the case plan requires all the ins and outs to make the most appropriate intervention. “I did not do anything wrong,” – says Derek, “I just wanted to have some fun as my cousin had.” These words were the first and last from the boy’s mouth since he became off handle. Ivory, on the other hand, did not pronounce any word, so it was impossible to hear her feelings and points.
Indeed, the signs of domestic violence are evident, namely sexually sibling abuse between Derek and Ivory. No police reports have been made since the family found out about this horrible situation a while ago. Child-on-child abuse is gradually growing in the communities, and thus, parents should keep an eye on their children, even if everything seems wonderfully ideal. Again, it is yet to determine the next steps for Ivory and Derek. Theoretically, if Ivory comes back home and lives in the separate room, she still needs to have a safety plan, which is crucial for those who have been victims of sexual abuse, or any form of violence. Safety planning helps develop tools in advance of potentially dangerous situations, namely having access to the DV hotline in Broward County, Florida; code word to cry out in hazardous situations; various routes for escaping in needed. But again, Ivory will not come back home until both kids are mentally stable and parents finish the family therapy counseling or sessions to know how to pay close attention to children, do not neglect them, and detect the signs of sibling abuse or any domestic violence within the family.
Domestic violence in any form is most bound to cause mental health issues (Chen et al., 2010). The psychological consequences of sexual violence include shock, denial, fear, disorientation, anxiety, nervousness, confinement, distrust, and short-term symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder: lack of emotion, sleep disorders, flashbacks. Chronic psychological effects include depression, suicide or attempted suicide, alienation, long-term symptoms of PTSD. In this case, the patient strenuously avoids thoughts, feelings or conversations related to the trauma, as well as actions, places or people who initiate these memories. Studies indicate that children can develop PTSD after exposure to a range of traumatic stressors, including violent crime, sexual abuse, natural disasters, and war (Kaminer et al., 2005). The CPS workers contacted Ivory’s therapist, which diagnosed her with PTSD, including the gruesome experience with sibling abuse. “Ivory Miller is not very responsive and active as children at seven years old should be. Conducting multiple check-ups and having conversations with the girl, I could analyze her behavior, mindset, and mental health state, which hinted on all short-term PTSD’s symptoms,” – Mr. McMillen stated. Ivory is currently taking only psychotherapy since her symptoms are short-term. The disorder responds very well to therapies delivered by qualified mental health clinicians, but if left untreated, can cause longstanding emotional distress, relationship problems and academic failures for the child (Boston’s Children Hospital, n.d.). Therefore, psychotherapy is likely to help Ivory not to let her develop long-term PTSD’s symptoms, which will require more serious steps, namely psychotherapy and numerous medications.
The school attendance of Derek and Ivory are surprisingly great. Apart from his deviant behavior, he attends school every day but does not make any significant academic progress. On the same breath, Ivory also goes to school, making slow progress, but does not interact with her peers. Her class teacher, Mrs. Okapi stated, “Most of her time she stays in the classroom, drawing or sitting still. I find it very odd since children at her age should be energetic, curious, and interactive. Even if she attends school after her parents drop her and her elder brother, she does not put many efforts to prove high academic performance.” Meanwhile, Derek’s class teacher, Ms. Jonas said almost the same remarks about his academic success, including the fact that he is too active with peers, but sometimes violent with them, hinting on several fights during a year. Accordingly, Derek and Ivory’s grades are not high and favorable to pass the classes, but again, their parents cannot deal with it as well, no matter how they try. Actions were not taken since the school meeting happened the day before the sibling abuse’s report to the child protective services.
Interviewing other people apart from family members or closest relatives is essential in case planning. The CPS got a chance to reach Derek’s 18-year-old cousin, Archie Miller, with his father’s allowance, Derek’s best friend at school, Jim Hayes, the closest family friend, Mr. Erikson, and a school counselor, Mrs. Rosendo.
Archie Miller: “Derek does not think like a kid. We sometimes discuss crimes and watch these criminal movies, and kind of get inspired how these people are ruthless, cool, and overbearing. Aunt Erica and Uncle Joshua do not allow us to interact, but sometimes we just meet after his classes and play these games, you know. I do not know anything about my sister-cousin or their siblings’ bond.”
Jim Hayes: “Well, Derek is a nice fellow. Sometimes we hang out together and play video games, and we are always together at school. He can be aggressive and nervous sometimes, but this state vanishes as fast as comes. Yes, we beat up some guys when they crossed our road, but nothing more. I even did not know he had a sister before all these rumors and stories at school. I do know anything about their relationship, but he told how cool she was several times.”
Jim Hayes: “The Millers are my favorite people. They are lively, decent, and open-minded. We often hang out together or go to some getaways to the seaside. It is always nice to spend the whale of the time with them all. However, their kids are totally different: Derek is impulsive, a bit arrogant, and carefree; Ivory constantly keeps herself to herself – she barely talks or laughs. I do not know whether it is such age or there are some problems, but all I know is that Erica and Joshua are good friends.”
Mrs. Rosendo: “I have been appointed to Ivory and Derek among other kids. Derek is too impulsive and is not afraid of anybody, which is bad. He can hit someone or run inside the school; sometimes I see him staring at girls and paying too much attention to what people wear. I have had some meetings with him, but all he says that he is OK. I have not found a way to get to him, but his behavior is not the best. On the same breath, his sister, Ivory, is quiet and I do not remember the last time she was energetic and positive. She was not very cooperative just like her brother, so I just decided to address these things to parents before the Millers faced this terrible situation with their children.”
During the investigation of the Millers, the following issues were clearly established: child-on-child abuse, sexual abuse, minor child neglect, and mental health issues. The main factor of addressing child protective services is domestic violence in the sexual form between 9-year-old Derek and 7-year-old Ivory, who has been diagnosed with PTSD and is now passing through therapy. Sexual abuse can cause a wide range of psychotic disorders that can span throughout a lifetime. Spataro et al. concede (2004) that “an association between child sexual abuse validated at the time and a subsequent increase in rates of childhood and adult mental disorders.” The CPS workers need to address the mental state of both children, mainly Ivory, in being sexually harassed and abused over the last year.
Moreover, Erica and Joshua are seemingly great people and doting parents, but the social services traced minor child neglect as they blindly lived their lives without noticing sibling abuse, even though Derek was aggressive and overbearing while Ivory was isolated and scared most of the time. Family therapy intervention is the top recommendation for the Millers. This family therapy is a child-focused one which aims at resolving any arising matters within the family, especially among children and toward one another. Systemic interventions are effective in promoting child recovery and better family adjustment in a proportion of cases of child abuse and neglect (Carr 2018). Domestic violence has a gruesome impact on psychological development and state of a child-victim, and hence, the family needs a comprehensive intervention to be involved in all details 24/7. Carr also states (2018) that for child sexual abuse, “trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy for both abused young people and their non-abusing parents has been shown to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and improve overall adjustment.” Ultimately, since Ivory has short-term symptoms of PTSD, both mental psychotherapy and trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy for the entire family will be a great option to alter their lives to the core.
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Carr, A. (2018). Family therapy and systemic interventions for child-focused problems: the current evidence base. Journal of Family Therapy. Doi: 10.1111/1467-6427.12226
Chen, L. P., Murad, M. H., Paras, M. L. et al. (2010). Sexual Abuse and Lifetime Diagnosis of Psychiatric Disorders: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 85(7): 618-629. doi: 10.4065/mcp.2009.0583
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Morin, A. (2018). Facts About Sibling Sexual Abuse. VeryWell Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/facts-about-sibling-sexual-abuse-2610456
Spataro, J., Mullen, P. E., Burgess, P. M., Wells, D. L. & Moss, S. A. (2004). Impact of child sexual abuse on mental health: Prospective study in males and females. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 184(5): 416-421. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.184.5.416
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"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016
"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016
"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016
"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016