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When you think of abuse, what comes to mind? Pictures of children covered in bruises? Broken bones and tear-streaked faces?
Would it surprise you to know that not all abuse can be seen when you look at a child? When you see a bruised child, you're seeing the result of physical abuse. But you can't see emotional abuse, or when a child is neglected. You can't see the words that put a child down and make them feel unwanted.
When a child is emotionally or mentally abused, they aren't being hit or physically harmed. They are being verbally degraded and made to feel worthless. They are being called names, or maybe told that they aren't loved. You can't see the abuse when you look at the child, so it can be hard to realize that a child is being abused this way.
When a child is being neglected, it means that they aren't receiving the care that they need to live. Children need food, clothing, and shelter, according to laws put in place to protect kids. Sometimes parents are so addicted to drugs or alcohol that they forget to feed their kids. Maybe they don't change babies' diapers, or bathe their young kids. Neglect can really only be seen after it has been happening for a while. Eventually you would be able to see weight loss in a child who isn't being fed, or filth on a child who hasn't been bathed or given clean clothes.
Physical abuse, or when a child is being hit or beaten, is very scary. But it isn't the only abuse that a child can experience. It's important to pay attention to a child's behavior and really uncover the truth when you think something could be amiss. And it's important to be there for children emotionally when they enter your home as a foster child. You never know what they've been through before coming to live with you.
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My family has been doing foster care since I was three years old. I'm the only biological child in my family, though I now have five permanent siblings. Having nineteen siblings over the course of my lifetime has been an incredible experience, and I'm hoping that by sharing some of the ups and downs of being the only bio kid in a foster family, other foster families or people looking into doing foster care will be able to learn a bit of what life can be like. I also like to share what life is like on my journey to becoming a published author, as well as where my schooling and career choice are taking me.