Faculty Scholarship

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2001


Florida's child welfare system fails to protect children placed in the state's foster care system from neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and psychological harm. Florida's systemic failure incorporates many elements concomitant to what is described as "a national collapse in child welfare services". A particularly disturbing aspect of Florida's dereliction of duty is illustrated by the state's handling of child sexual abuse complaints involving foster children, and the lack of appropriate attention given to foster children with sexual behavioral problems. The breakdown of systemic protections within the foster care setting creates an environment that has enabled further victimization. Failing to properly identify children with sexual behavior problems and placing those children with appropriate foster care placements and services has led to an implosion of incidents involving inappropriate sexual conduct between foster children. Legislative, administrative, and social indifference to the plight of Florida's foster children has contributed to the catastrophic damage they have suffered under the auspices of "state care".

This article will attempt to draw attention to the pervasive problem of child sexual abuse in foster care by identifying circumstances that contribute to sexual victimization. Hopefully the discussion will illuminate the plight of child victims of sexual abuse and generate discourse on a new paradigm of protection initiatives for foster children.