“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.”
― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
The words of Patrick Rothfuss highlight the habitual nature of children to enjoy the simple things in life and never worry about what the future may hold.
However as the Rothfuss points out, once we begin to agonise over what the future may hold, childhood becomes a thing of the past. This is, for many Australian children, the sad truth. Many children around Australia are in a constant state of fret. Worrying about abuse, maltreatment, neglect, where they will sleep tonight and even when their next meal will be.
Enjoying the present without anxieties about their future is for many children unattainable. And alarmingly the rate of children experience these circumstances of neglect and abuse are on the rise, so too their need for out-of-home care.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s annual report has noted that during 2011-2012 there was 252,962 notifications of suspected child abuse and neglect made (a rate of 34.0 notifications per 1,000 Australian children), which is an increase of 6.6% on 2010-2011. Investigations into these notifications found there were 48,420 substantiations across Australia.
So what kind of maltreatment do these children experience? The four most common types of harm to children are: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. The two most common substantiated forms of abuse across Australia are emotional abuse and neglect.
Emotionally abusive behaviours included verbally abusing, terrorising, scape-goating, isolating, rejecting and ignoring. Children who witness domestic violence are also typically categorised as having experienced emotional abuse.
Neglect refers to the failure (usually by the parent) to provide for a child’s basic needs, including failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, supervision, hygiene or medical attention. Neglectful behaviours could be physical, emotional, educational or environmental.
As a result of these circumstances of maltreatment many children are removed from their homes by child protection authorities and placed in out-of-home care.
Source: AIHW, 2013, p. 76.
Nationally, since 2000 the number of children living in out-of-home care has risen on a yearly basis. There were 39,621 children in out-of-home care in June 2012, which equates to a rate of 7.7 per 1,000 Australian children. The rate of children in out-of-home care has increased every year, with an increase of 27% since June 2008. Almost half (43%) of these children are aged less than 5 year old.
The rise in children who are living in out-of-home care is a reflection of the number of admissions outnumbering discharges and remaining in out-of-home care. This consistent rise essentially means many more foster carers are needed. ACWA stated 900 new foster carers are needed across the next two years. Could you be one of these urgently needed carers?
Read more information at: http://www.aifs.gov.au/cfca/pubs/factsheets/a142086/
Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2013). Child abuse and neglect statistics. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from<http://www.aifs.gov.au/cfca/pubs/factsheets/a142086/>
Child Family Community Australia. (2012). What is child abuse and neglect? Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from <www.aifs.gov.au/cfca/pubs/factsheets/a142091/index.html>
Holzer, P. J., & Bromfield, L. M. (2008). NCPASS comparability of child protection data: Project report(PDF 1.4 MB). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from: <www.aifs.gov.au/nch/pubs/reports/ncpass/ncpass.pdf>.