Albanese, Patrizia (2015). Children in Canada Today 2nd edition. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press which is available at Octopus Books | (613) 233-2589 | 116 Third Ave. Ottawa, ON. (It is available currently)
Online and open access sources will be available on your syllabus or on cuLearn. The readings for each class and where to find them are indicated on the course readings listed below.
Recommended but not mandatory – Mona Gleason, Tamara Myers, Leslie Paris, and Veronica Strong-Boag (editors). Lost Kids: Vulnerable Children and Youth in Twentieth-Century Canada and the United States. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2010
- d) Final paper – 35%
You will be responsible for handing in a final paper on a topic related to childhood in a Canadian context. The specifics are as follows:
DUE DATE: The final term essay is due at the beginning of class 12, August 10, 2017. Kindly hand in the essay simply stapled (no folders please), with a title page that includes the course name, my name, your name, and student number. You are expected to keep a copy of your essay in case the one you submit gets lost. Essays submitted after the due date will be docked 5% per day and this includes weekends, unless you have a good reason for being late and an extension has been granted.
ESSAY LENGTH: Minimum of 7 and maximum of 9 pages double-spaced (not counting cover page, headings, footnotes/endnotes, and bibliography), with regular margins (1″on each side and 1″ top and bottom) and 12 point type Times Roman, APA citation style. Courier or any other font that uses more space per word than Times New Roman is not acceptable. Please don’t add an extra space between paragraphs (this means that you will have to indicate paragraphs by indenting the first line), please number the essay’s pages. You must have a title page. The paper will have 5% deducted for each page (pro-rated) that falls under the minimum required.
TOPIC: The essay may be written on any topic related to children in a Canadian context you choose, including issues we’re not discussing in the course. If you are unsure that your selected topic is appropriate, please speak with me. Some examples are as follows:
- Family violence
- Childhood Promiscuity
- Child Poverty
- Childhood Obesity
- Social Media
- Aboriginal Education
- Open Adoption Record
- Divorce, single parenthood
- ADD or ADHD
EVALUATION: The paper will be evaluated with regards to CONTENT, ORGANIZATION and STYLE.
CONTENT includes description (identification and clear presentation of the main points) and analysis (indicating key concepts and crucial arguments, evaluating contending arguments, making your own argument, and providing supporting evidence and reasons for your argument). Please note that you must examine contending positions, and address those arguments that would challenge your own position.
ORGANIZATION includes an introduction with a clear statement of purpose (the problem you are addressing) that includes a thesis statement or a particular question to be debated, the body of the essay with a logical progression of points, and a conclusion synthesizing the arguments made throughout the paper. Your paper will also be evaluated for citation style and bibliography. Please utilize APA citation styles. If you are citing electronic sources, you should consult style guides pertaining to this, including those which can be found online at the Carleton University Library homepage. APA style requires dates and page or paragraph numbers for direct quotes and/or numbers and statistical information.
Also note that the essay must cite at least three (3) different academic sources besides readings contained in the course syllabus, and they must be used in a substantial rather than superficial, token manner. 5% will be deducted for each source short of the minimum required. You may use Internet-based sources, but these must be credible, well researched, and identify the sources of the information they present. Other sources such as videos, films, etc. are acceptable as are web resources. PLEASE NOTE: I WILL NOT ACCEPT WIKIPEDIA AS A REFERENCE and please be aware that many web resources are insufficiently reliable to be used as an academic resource– so choose your web references carefully. The following link to the Cornell University website which can assist you with this is as follows: http://www.library.cornell.edu/olinuris/ref/research/webeval.html .
Child Abuse at Home and Foster Care
Worldwide, and particularly in Canada, a progressive number of children undergo placements in the foster care system. Briefly, foster care denotes a kin or non-kin family apart from the biological parents that is assigned to assume the care of a child for variable reasons (Tyler, & Melander, 2010). One of the main reasons for foster care placement of a child is child abuse. Usually, children may encounter different forms of abuse under the care of their biological parents or direct kin. Therefore, the Canadian Government intervenes in such circumstances and removes the child from the abusive home and into foster care, either permanently or temporarily. Basically, the purpose of the foster care system is to ensure the wellbeing of the children living in Canada by removing them from undesirable living conditions and placing them in better living circumstances. However, over the years there has been widespread documentation of the maltreatment that children endure in the foster care systems under the care of their foster caregivers. Subsequently, this raises the question: are foster care homes suitable solutions for preventing child abuse or are they mere continuations of the maltreatment in a child’s life? The aim of this paper is to analyze the implications of foster care on the life of a child and whether it provides a child with better life chances than growing up in an abusive home with one’s biological parents and kin. Essentially, with the current state of affairs, the foster care is not a suitable solution to eliminating child abuse; there is a need for major improvements in the foster care system in Canada.
Child abuse involves the betrayal of a caregiver or guardian’s position of authority and trust over a child. Child abuse may occur in variable forms: emotional abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, physical abuse, and neglect (Alaggia, 2010). According to the United Nations Convention on children’s rights: “every child has the right to live with his or her parents or stay in touch with them, unless this would harm the child’s development (United Nations, 1989). Additionally, the Convention emphasizes that all children have a right to grow up in an environment that is caring, protective, and supportive and facilitates their absolute potential. In the contemporary society, it has become increasingly common for positive child development to be compromised by such things as family circumstances and other environmental aspects. In the event that these threatening circumstances cannot be tackled efficiently by suitable outpatient support, the removal of the child from his or her home and placement elsewhere is perceived as a reasonable strategy for remedying the risks to the child’s development (Leloux-Opmeer et al., 2016).
Children who are placed in foster care face a high risk for a range of undesirable outcomes inclusive of neurological, behavioral, emotional and social issues. In consideration of the fact that these children often end up in the foster care system to escape such forms of maltreatment from their biological families, the irony is unprecedented. In Canada, Child Welfare Services is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all children are safe from child abuse, especially in their homes with their biological families. Briefly the sequence of events when child welfare services gets involves in a child’s case is: “initial response to reports of abuse; investigation; verification; assessment report and service plan; and case management”. Ultimately, a case worker may recommend the removal of a child from his or her home in order to protect him or her from any of the notable forms of child abuse. In most cases, these children are introduced to the foster care system, whereby they are place with foster families for the purpose of improving their circumstances in life and giving them their best chance at positive development. However, several studies have indicated that the foster care system subjects these children to variable extended forms of child abuse that may be just as bad as or even worse than their previous circumstances with their biological families (Collin-Vezina, Daigneault, & Hebert, 2013). If this is the case, what is the point of separating children from their biological parents/families only to place them in different homes that subject them to similar forms of child abuse? Some would argue that if the child is going to suffer regardless, it would be better to remain with one’s biological family and derive even a small amount of gratification from the familial association as opposed to suffering in the hands of strangers. Another possible argument is that despite the undesirable potentialities of the foster care system, there is a possibility that the child abuse may not occur in contrast with the certainty of child abuse in one’s own biological home.
My argument derives its basis from the United Nations Convention on children’s rights that dictates that all children have a right to grow up in an environment that is caring, protective, and supportive and facilitates their absolute potential. Therefore, while the child should definitely not be allowed to stay with his or her biological family if he or she is subjected to child abuse; neither should he or she be placed in the foster care system if there is even the smallest likelihood that child abuse may occur. The most optimal solution from my perspective is for the Canadian Government to make thorough considerations of the welfare of children by improving the foster care system and installing measures that would ensure that child abuse does not occur in foster homes. There has to be a place or a context established in the country whereby the safety and general wellbeing of children is an absolute guarantee. The Canadian Government should remediate its foster care system such that it lives up to its original purpose. Naturally, the foster care system was established to create a safe zone for all children residing in Canada; it is the one place whereby children should be safe from any and all forms of abuse. My argument and consequent recommendation is that the foster care system is currently corrupted and therefore requires remediation.
Implications of Foster Care on Children
Children in foster care face an enhanced risk for various negative outcomes. The abuse of a child does not necessarily end with his or her removal from home; many of these children often continue to undergo maltreatment even while in the foster care system. Moreover, many of children in foster care development mental health and developmental problems. Notably also, numerous individuals who are raised in the foster care system often encounter problems in adulthood such as arrests, victimization, homelessness and drug and substance abuse among others (Leve et al.,2012). Children in foster care or individuals who have been in foster care before also have a high chance of becoming sex workers, perhaps due to extensive sexual abuse while growing up. They tend to become sexually active much earlier than other children who do not experience sexual abuse or general child abuse. In addition, it is common for such children to have poor educational results.
Due to the numerous insults that children who are in foster care are subjected to, both before and during their time in the system, they often register several developmental struggles in their childhood and adolescent stages, which often project into their adult lives. it is notable that the fact that child abuse stretches throughout a child’s life makes it more difficult to completely isolate the implications that foster care solely has on a child’s development. Research studies show that maltreated children are highly likely to get into the habit of smoking in their adolescent years (Hudson, & Nandy, 2012). Additionally, they are also more prone to make suicide attempts or engage in delinquency and criminal activities. These children may also portray indications of psychopathology and often register high rates of unplanned and early pregnancies in their teenage years. Their relationships with others, both sexual and nonsexual, are mostly unstable (Hudson, & Nandy, 2012).
Evidently, children who are placed in the foster care system have poorer life outcomes than their counterparts who undergo no form of maltreatment or child abuse. For instance, a certain study shows that children who enter foster care often have poor health from the time of their placement. However, their health conditions hardly improve during their time in foster care. On the contrary, they portray physical and mental health issues while in foster care. In many cases, these poor health conditions usually precedes placement and continues while in foster care; in some cases, it begins after placement. Therefore, while foster care may not always be a causal factor of poor health in children, it is undoubtedly a facilitator; hence, it fails to serve its purpose of protecting children from maltreatment and child abuse.
As has been previously mentioned, one argument related to this topic opines that if both foster care and the home situation maltreat a child, it is better for a child to remain at home with one’s biological family as opposed to being placed in foster care to suffer at the hands of strangers. Reasonably, this is a logical argument. Despite the suffering that a child may receive from his or her own parents, most cases indicate that children often opt to remain at home with their own biological parents as opposed to being taken to foster homes with the promise of a better life (Perry et al., 2012). It is for this reason that many children fail to report or confirm cases of abuse at home; hence, given the option, most children would choose to stay at home. While this study is yet to be conducted in Canada, a similar case was researched in the USA whereby case workers in the Child Protective Services left some children in their homes and took others to foster homes. After observing the children for two years, it became apparent that there were very few differences between the two groups, whereby the children in foster care had slightly more advantages than the children who remained in their abusive homes (Tyler & Melander, 2010). Essentially, both groups of children were disadvantaged from a general perspective although the children who were left with their abusive parents suffered more.
The evidence provided above actually supports the second predominant argument that it is better for the child to be placed in foster care since the likelihood of child abuse is not as much a certainty as it is if he or she is left in an abusive home by case workers. “The study by Berger et al (2009) estimates effects using a broad swath of children who came into contact with Child Protective Services (and therefore including many children who are suffering more extreme harm at home and who therefore could benefit more from placement” (Wildseman & Waldfogel, 2014).
There are factors to consider before making any sound argument in this context. Firstly, it is imperative to note that there has been no research study that avails comprehensive approximations of the implication of foster care placement on future child abuse (Perry et al., 2012). Secondly, majority of the research studies conducted on the implications of foster care placement on children use select samples to establish how foster care affects for a certain behavior in a particular group of children and adolescents; for instance, early pregnancies among adolescents in foster care. Ultimately, the results acquired from these research studies are hardly generalizable and hence, cannot inform on data concerning other populations.
My argument does not favor case workers leaving children in abusive homes. If it has been substantiated that a child is facing abuse in his or her home, I strongly assert that the child should be removed from that environment. However, this would not aid the agenda of keeping the child safe and safeguarding his or her wellbeing if the foster care remains corrupted. My current comprehension of the situation is that while the foster care system is considerably much better and therefore more desirable than leaving the child at home, it does not provide an unquestionably safe environment for the child. According to the United Nations Convention on the rights of children, it is mandatory for every nation to ensure that a child is provided with a safe environment; one that has positive implications on the child’s development. The foster care system should not merely be described as a safer option in comparison with an abusive home. Conversely, it should be perceived as a safe option by any reasonable standard. All things considered, the foster care system should remain a valid option for children in abusive homes but only if major improvements are implemented by the government to ensure that continued abuse of children does not ensue in foster homes.
The Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS) often provides data on the various investigations that are conducted on reported incidents of child abuse in Canada. “CIS data can be used as a source of information about children who have experienced alleged and substantiated neglect, exposure to intimate partner violence, emotional (or psychological) maltreatment, physical abuse and/or sexual abuse” (Potter, Nasserie, & Tommyr, 2015). The Canadian Government, among other concerned parties, should make use of the available information from CIS with regards to foster homes. The reason for this recommendation is that in most cases, the focus is usually on child abuse in people’s homes. However, the data provided in this paper is a solid indicator of the need for an alternate perspective into the role that foster care actually plays in the care and development of a child.
Furthermore, it is imperative to understand the situation. Essentially, foster care is not an entirely corrupt system. There are several factors to consider that ultimately result in child maltreatment. These may include race, gender, ethnicity, and age among other things. For instance, aboriginal children in Canada are more likely to encounter continued abuse in foster care as opposed to other Canadians (Wildeman, & Waldfogel, 2014). A keen analysis of the situation is mandatory to further understand when placement in foster care is helpful, harmful, or inconsequential on the safety and wellbeing of a child.
Another recommendation relates to the field of research. One of the limitations encountered in writing this paper is that there is no research study that comprehensively approximates the implications of foster care placement on the future maltreatment of a child. This is an astonishing gap in research due to the fact that foster care placements are especially designed to protect them from general child abuse. There is an urgent need for further research into the actual implication of foster care placements on children’s safety and development. It is harmful to simply assume that foster care placements help when there are in fact many cases where they hurt or do nothing substantial to improve the life of a child.
Conclusively, the foster care system in Canada is identical to that of many Western countries; there is a lot more that transpires within the foster care system than is documented. This conclusion is not merely opinionated; rather it is based on the apparent negative outcomes of children and adolescents who have been through the foster care system. It pegs the question of whether foster care placement is actually better than leaving a child in an abusive home with his or her biological family. Perceptibly, leaving a child in an abusive environment is a violation of the child’s rights. Similarly, taking the child to an alternate environment that is plagued with abuse and neglect violates the child’s rights. Therefore, the most optimal measure that can be taken in this context is to make improvements to the foster care system and eradicate the likelihood of further child abuse.
Alaggia, R. (2010). An ecological analysis of child sexual abuse disclosure: considerations for child and adolescent mental health. Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 19(1), 32-39.
Collin-Vezina, D., Daigneault, I., & Hebert, M. (2013). Lessons learned from child sexual abuse research: prevalence, outcome, and preventive strategies. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health 7(22).
Hudson, A., & Nandy, K. (2012). Comparisons of substance abuse, high-risk sexual behavior and depressive symptoms among homeless youth with and without a history of foster care placement. Contemporary nurse, 42(2), 178-186.
Leloux-Opmeer, H., Kuiper, C., Swaab, H., & Scholte, E. (2016). Characteristics of children in foster care, family-style group care, and residential care: A scoping review. Journal of Child and Family Studies 25(8): 2357-2371.
Leve, L. D., Harold, G. T., Chamberlain, P., Landsverk, J. A., Fisher, P. A., & Vostanis, P. (2012). Practitioner Review: Children in foster care – vulnerabilities and evidence-based interventions that promote resilience processes. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines, 53(12), 1197–1211.
Perry, G., Daly, M., & Kotler, J. (2012). Placement stability in kinship and non-kin foster care: A Canadian study. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(2), 460-465.
Potter, D., Nasserie, T., & Tonmyr, L. (2015). A review of recent analyses of the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS). Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada : Research, Policy and Practice, 35(8-9), 119–129.
Tyler, K. A., & Melander, L. A. (2010). Foster Care Placement, Poor Parenting, and Negative Outcomes Among Homeless Young Adults. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19(6), 787–794.
United Nations. (1989). United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 61th plenary meeting. Paper presented at the Committee on the Rights of the Child, New York.
Wildeman, C., & Waldfogel, J. (2014). Somebody’s Children or Nobody’s Children? How the Sociological Perspective Could Enliven Research on Foster Care. Annual Review of Sociology, 40, 599–618.