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Child Advocacy Lawyer: Tale of Florida Boy Abused, Lost By Mom, Shuffled Through System ‘Appalling, More Common Than Anyone Knows’

May 15th, 2011   No Comments   Abuse, Advocacy

The story of a young boy abuse by his mother, then Florida’s child-welfare system, is a disturbing one. The Orlando Sentinel’s Lauren Ritchie tells of torture that started before the Leesburg boy was 2 — with his mother severely beating him, his life spent living in filth and his being subjected to unspeakable horrors. “For the next several years, she ground the soaring spirit of that child into ashes,” the paper says.

The boy was slapped and punched by the woman and her boyfriend, who frequently were on alcohol and drugs. His sister, then 9, was forced to perform sex acts with other men while he watched. The boy recalls his mother forcing him into sex acts with some of the men, the paper writes.

Eventually, state child-protection workers investigated complaints and finally took him and his sister away and put them in foster homes. Then, “for the next seven years — the boy is 12 now — he was shuffled through 20 foster homes, sometimes staying for only a day or two at each. In the homes, he was ‘repeatedly revictimized and retraumatized,'” the paper reports of his mental-health evaluations.

The paper’s reporting reflects a very detailed, sensitive story illustrating what Florida’s child welfare system does to so many children, wrote child advocacy attorney Howard Talenfeld in a letter to the reporter. “In many cases, like the one where I represent 10 siblings, they spend their entire childhoods in care and some end up in our prisons. Others are severely disabled, have their parental rights terminated, are reabused, never are adopted, and end up in group homes. The number of children who lose their natural parents and are never adopted is appalling.”

Read the Orlando Sentinel’s original story here.

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