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Child Welfare Services: The Case of Child Abuse

By Melda

Child sexual abuse is a serious predicament in the country. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is poorly defined as most cases go unreported. The rate of child sexual abuse is also misrepresented because, in many instances, the sexual offence is committed by persons familiar to the child. A child may, for instance, be raped by a male relative. Rape cases committed by family members are rarely reported. It is the responsibility of children, and youth protective services to conduct it independent investigations and take necessary action to protect children from further abuse. The paper below addresses the case of a young female Italian teenager that the service believes is being sexually abused by her father. Although the investigation and court case was launched, the case is dismissed, and father and daughter are reunited.

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Legal and Ethical obligations

The human services agency has several legal and ethical obligations to the girl and the father. The agency had the legal obligation to report any cases of sexual abuse. The human agency services must have acquired some information or concerns that the Italian teenager was sexually abused. The human agency takes any reports of child abuse very seriously thus their obligation to act on any information or concerns that had been forwarded to them. The human services agency also had an ethical responsibility to safeguard the child from further harm. The human agency, after receiving reports of suspected sexual abuse has the ethical responsibility of removing the victim from harm’s way. In this case, the father was a suspected rapist and hence the need for the human agency to remove the child from her home and find her an alternative home. When a human service agency receives a complaint of sexual abuse, they must remove the victim from the vicinity of the suspected rapist as investigations continue (Wolfe, 2012).

The removal is mandatory regardless of whether the facts of sexual abuse have been verified. The human agency also had the legal obligation of filing a criminal case on behalf of the child. The teenager is still a minor thus defenseless and unable to initiate a criminal and court proceeding against her father. The human service agency has the legal obligation to present the sexual abuse case before the courts. The presentation of the court case is mandatory so that justice for the rape victim can be served. The human services agency allowed the father to visit the daughter at her new residence. The agency failed to protect the victims from continued psychological harms from the offender. The human service agency has the ethical responsibility of protecting the child from further physical and psychological harm. The agency might have ensured that the father’s visitations were supervised; however, the visitation should not have happened. If the father was guilty, he might have coerced the girl to act as if she had not been sexually abused.

The court dismissed the case despite strong indicators of sexual abuse; an indicator that the child might have been influenced to behave as though she had not been assaulted. The human agency also has the obligation of ensuring that the victims undergo thorough medical examinations. The medical examination is performed to establish whether the victim has been raped (Davies, & Ward, 2012). Additionally, medical exams enable the agency to provide proper healthcare services, in case the victim has been infected with a sexual disease, is pregnant or hurt as a result of a violent sexual act.

The agency also had several ethical and legal obligations to the father. The agency had the legal obligation of informing the father the reasons for placing his daughter on residential placement. The human service agency cannot take a child from its home without notifying the parents or the guardians. The agency also had the legal mandate of presenting the father with court papers that reflect the charges being put against him. The agency also had the legal obligation of giving the suspect a fair hearing at the courts. The agency does not hold the legal mandate to judge the suspected sex-offender. The agency thus took the suspect to court and adhered to the judgment made by the courts. The agency also has the ethical obligation of providing the father with counseling services (Child Information Gateway, 2013). The father needs counseling services so as to determine the root-cause of the abnormal behavior he is suspected of performing. Similarly, the daughter also requires counseling services so as to overcome the psychological trauma associated with sexual assault. Counseling is also essential because the counselor can use the platform to gather additional information against the suspected sexual assault.

Levels of system failure

The most outstanding failure is the apparent loss o funding for residential placement. Children rescued from homes where it is suspected that they were sexually abused should be removed from an abusive environment. The change of environment will enable the child to grow in a healthy environment. Moreover, the removal from an abusive environment enables the child to relax and eventually relay the circumstances surrounding the sexual abuse case (Davies, & Ward, 2012). The withdrawal of funding for the Italian teenager was a serious failure as a child was eventually returned to her father’s house. The father was the main suspect of the sexual abuse against the daughter, and thus, the child should not have been returned to live with the father.

The case was also handled in such a way that the victim’s best interest was not considered. When handling child abuse cases, it is advisable to consult the child and get her opinion about a decision. In this situation, for instance, the Italian girl is a teen and can be consulted before any decisions are made. Consultations will focus on establishing what the teen wants to happen. The courts and the agency should have established whether the child wants to continue living at, their home or wishes to be removed. Additionally, the court and the agency should have established whether the child wants the offender (the father) to be removed from their home or to be prosecuted (Human health services, 2012). In this scenario, the offender is the father of the girl thus returning the child to the same house as the offender is not, in the best interest of the child. Returning the child to her home exposes her to the risk of continued sexual assault from her father.

The agency and the courts also failed to conduct a thorough investigation to establish the sexual abuse suspicions. The agency has the legal mandate to remove a child from any potential danger if they have their suspicions (Wolfe, 2012). The father was suspected to have been sexually abusing his teenage daughter. The agency should have strived to establish whether the child has been sexually assaulted. The preliminary investigations on the child had indicated that there were strong indications of sexual abuse. However, the agency should have verified whether the offender was the father.

Legal justification of releasing the child

The court had the legal right to release the child because the case was based on the findings that the agency had made. The agency had failed to conduct a conclusive investigation to establish whether the father was the actual offender. Additionally, the relation between a father and his daughter during when the child had been placed at home was not suspicious. The child was receptive to the father yet in situations of sexual abuse, and the victim is fearful of the offender (Human health services, (2012). The suspicions of the agency against the father were thus based on the agency’s suspicions and not facts.

Ethical problems of releasing the child

The court was legally justified to release the child to her father because the court lacked tangible evidence against the father. The only evidence that the agency had was that the girl had been sexually abused. The agency should have taken time to investigate the sexual abuse and verify whether the father was responsible. The courts also supported the return of the child because the father enjoyed visitation rights to his daughter place. If the father was the offender, it is unlikely that the child would have loved her father’s company. It would have been unethical for the court to uphold the separation between the father and his daughter on the basis of suspicions. It would have been unethical for the court to insist of putting a child through a foster family yet she can experience paternal love from her biological father. A human service provider must remove himself from the conflict so that he can make effective decisions (Child Information Gateway, 2013). On the face value, the human service provider may believe that the father does not deserve to be with the child. However, the reality is that the father and daughter love to spend time together as witnessed during the father’s visitations.

Cultural Considerations when dealing with Family

Cultural competence is vital among human service providers. Human service persons work with individuals from different cultures. Cultural competence ascertains that the service provider can approach, communicate and assist the individual or family as is required. Cultural competence also emphasizes on experience with individuals from minority groups. Human service providers must also be aware of the problems that immigrants face, in relation to seeking healthcare services. The human service providers must recognize that the family may be aware of the sexual abuse but is unaware of where to seek health services (Unger, & Cuevas, 2006). Immigrants struggle to access health service or legal assistance due to their lack of adequate funds. Most immigrants also lack insurance hence unable to seek health services where necessary. The human service provider should also consider the possibility of cultural practices.

The family may hold the belief that sexual abuse is an embarrassment that must be kept within the confines of the family. The child may have been sexually assaulted but have remained quiet because of the stigma associated with sexual assault. The human service provider must be, in a position to convince the child and her father that sexual assault is an offense, and the offender must be arrested. The service provider must also consider the sensitivity of the topic and reality that the issue must be discussed with the father. The daughter may be ashamed of discussing feminine issues around his father, or male human service provides thus the illustration that nothing is wrong. The human service agency should strive to assign the girl to a female service provider (Unger, & Cuevas, 2006). A female officer will present the child with an ideal environment to talk as a child will identify with her.

Purpose of child welfare systems

Child welfare systems were established with the intention of assisting vulnerable children. Children depend on their caregiver, their guardians and their parents to nurture and protect them from harm. Unfortunately, the adults around the child expose them to harm. The child welfare systems strive to protect vulnerable children from continued harm. The functions of the agency are supported by the Child abuse prevention and treatment Act (CAPTA) that calls for the protection of vulnerable children. Children are vulnerable to abuse and neglect. The Italian girl, for instance, is being sexually abused, and the child welfare system is mandated to protect the child from continued harm. The child welfare services provide families with services aimed at protecting children from further harm, for instance, and the welfare service can move children from their homes if it is unsafe for the child. The child welfare agency received reports of the potential sexual abuse of the Italian teenager immigrant. The agency acted on the information by removing the child from her father’s house. However, the agency failed to conduct an elaborate investigation to establish whether the father is the culprit responsible for the sexual offence. The service providers found evidence of sexual abuse, but they failed to collect enough evidence to verify whether the father is the real suspect. The welfare agency is also authorized to remove the children from their homes if the risk of danger is high.

Support for human service Needs

The human service providers can offer the girl counseling services. There is proof that the girl is sexually abused. The services can counsel the child and establish whether the father is responsible. Since the courts cancelled continued support for the residential placement of the girl, the human agency can place the girl with her extended family. The father remains the prime suspect thus the need to provide the girl with an ideal environment especially if the father is guilty. Although the court dismissed the case the human agency can continue with its investigations so as to get more tangible evidence to strengthen their case. The agency has the legal mandated of assisting the girl, in her court case (Wolfe, 2012). There is proof that she is sexually abused; the agency must establish the offender and ascertain he is prosecuted. Since the child has been returned to her father’s house, the agency must ascertain they make regular visitations to the home. The visitations are aimed at establishing whether the child is safe or whether additional intervention is needed.

Conclusion

Sexual abuse is rampant among children. In most instances, the cases go unreported as children remain mum about the abuse. The situation becomes worse when the offender is the relative of the child. The child welfare service is mandated to act on any reports of sexual abuse. The agency must determine the validity of the suspicions, and if valid, the child should be moved to a safe home, on a temporary or permanent basis. The agency must conduct an elaborate investigation and establish whether the sexual offender. The offender must be removed from the child’s environment.


Reference

Child Information Gateway, (2013). How the child welfare system works. Retrieved from https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/cpswork.pdf#page=1&view=Introduction

Davies, C. & Ward, H. (2012).  Safeguarding children across services. Jessica Kingsley publishers

Human health services, (2012). Child maltreatment 2012. Retrieved from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/cm2012.pdf

Unger, D. & Cuevas, T. (2006). Human services and cultural diversity.Chapter 10. Sage publications

Wolfe, D. (2012). Revisiting child abuse reporting laws. Social work today. Vol. 12 (2): 14

 

Winnie Melda is the Managing Director of MeldaResearch.Com a globally competitive essay services which is the premiere provider of Essay Writing Services, Research Paper Writing Services at Term Paper Writing Services at very affordable cost. For 9 years, she has helped a number of students in different academic subjects.

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