Angela Alicea 11/6/2010 Child welfare After reading a book called The Lost Boy: A Foster Child’s Search for the Love of Family, by Dave Pelzer, I learned even more about the child welfare system. While reading this book I grew very emotional at time, as well as some things bring me back to my childhood. The book discusses the abuse, torture, and life of this young child. This book also allowed me to visualize the affects the abuse had on this child’s mind.
Through this essay I will discuss the roles and events that were played out in this book, as well discussing my personal thoughts. Throughout the semester we learned different things about the child welfare system. For example, we discussed the responsibilities of parents, and according to the textbook on page ten it discusses what these are. Parent’s responsibilities for a child are as follows, financial, provision of physical care, emotion, as well growth self discipline, guidance. As I read the book it clearly shows that Dave’s mother didn’t follow any of these responsibilities.
After reading this book I am able to compare some events that occurred. One thing that I see that is similar to things that we discussed in class is the fact that many children are abused and cases fail to be filed for these children, until it is too late in some cases. In Dave Pelzer’s case he was abused for so long and many failed to notice for such a long time. Then finally school officials reported the abuse. This in fact was the right thing to do as mandated officials as we discussed in class. In class we discussed how and who are mandated officials and their role.
So school officials come in and saved his life because any longer he probably would have died. Another concept discussed in class is how children want to be with parents no matter the circumstances. In the book several times has demonstrated this. For example, in the book it states “part of me didn’t want to leave her” (page 73). Another example is “I felt torn between my freedom and being separated from mother and the family ‘(page 74). We discussed this theory and as workers we try to work with the parents so children cans be placed back home.
This was not the case for David though his best interest was not home. Throughout the book was moved from home to home until they found the permanent home for him , which in fact we discussed permanent placement for the child. Though there were events in the book similar to what we discussed in class, there were also differences. One difference was the fact that police were called to remove him from home instead of Protective Services. Normally the Protective Services Agency will do all the work that the officer did.
Another event that occurred was the fact that his mother was allowed to go to his foster parent’s home. I would have thought that they would have kept her away being that she has such violent behavior toward Dave. When we discussed this in class it was said that parents were not to have contact with the kids when placed in care. Then another event was when Dave’s probation officer was trying so hard to find him a home and pleaded with Turnboug’s to allow him to stay. Then he said” he would just backlog the paper work. I know we discussed this and paper work is supposed to be done because it is very important.
These are the differences between what the child welfare did in Dave Pelzer’s life and what was discussed in class. Aside from the child welfare system, Dave’s biological and foster parents played a role in his life. The role that they all played had an affect on him whether positive or negative. His mother played a huge role in Dave’s behavior. When his mother went to his first faster home and threatened him that played a role because that installed more fear in him. A fear that she would come and get him. Aside from fear she made him live with guilt, that everything is all his fault.
For example, she tells him “do you realize the embarrassment you’ve cost this family”. This led him to believing he is the cause of things especially other events that occur later on in his life. Her threat to get him back stood with him. This disturbed his homeostasis overall. This in result made him lash out toward the Social Worker, and changes his story to try and protect the family. His biological father played a role in his life as well. His father went to visit him in jail, and a lot occurred. His father played the role of a father and also demonstrated that he cared about Dave.
He verbally expressed his feeling to Dave but also reprimanded him. He did this by telling Dave to “shut up”! (Page 194) Then says “and if that weren’t enough, you’ve given that crazy mother of yours all the ammunition she’s ever needed! ” He also doesn’t want to sign papers to institutionalize Dave. On another note he says “you think this its easy on me? How do you think it makes me feel to have a son of mine at a place like that .. Or a place likes this? (page195) Dave’s dad really did care in some way or another as shown in his dialogue and the simple fact that he even went to visit him.
Though his dad also made him feel guilty for the things that occurred and still worried about himself and his own personal interest not considering what Dave may be feeling or going through. For example, he says “if they ever find out about this tat the station… do you you know what this could do to me? ”(Page 194) This clearly demonstrated him worrying about himself and his own reputation. Another statement he says “it wasn’t enough for you to involve the police and have them take you from school, then drag you mother and brothers into court. ” You’re really a work of art aren’t you? (Page 195) In this statement he is making Dave feel guilty. Then he roars “you had better shut that mouth of yours before I shut it for you! (page195)”. This right here is making Dave fearful for he was beaten his entire life why wouldn’t he be afraid of his dad hitting him. Later after the visit Dave begins to think about the events with his father. Dave says “I knew I was the reason why my parents were so unhappy, why they had separated, why they drank so much”… (page 197) This demonstrates how Dave felt guilty for the things his parents are going through.
The visit from his dad just emphasized these feelings, although Dave knew his dad still cared for him. Dave had several foster homes and each home Dave learned something new, His first home with Aunt Mary he saw her as his savior when danger like his mother was around. Then from there he was placed with the Catanze’s. The Catanze’s played the role that had a big influence on Dave. They stuck by his side through everything and disciplined him but not physically. They reassured him through this process. In the text Mr. Catanze says “but I do care about you; otherwise I would have shipped you out of here a long time ago” (page186).
Then says “no matter what happens, I want you to know that we care for you “(page187). This helped Dave because he left knowing that he had some assurance from a family who cared. So this played a role in Dave while incarcerated because it kept him calm during the process. Mrs. Catanze went to visit Dave in jail and she gave him a bug hug, which showed Dave love and care. This also demonstrated to Dave the love of a mother that he is searching for . Lilian went with all intentions to warn Dave. The things she told him opened his mind up to reality around him. She opened his eyes to his mother’s evil trap to institutionalize him.
She says” Dave it’s a trap! She is trying to trick you! Your mother is claiming that your past behavior at her house warranted her to discipline you because you were so incorrigible”. (page200) This is her way of getting back at you, and then Mrs. Catanze prepares Dave to fight his mom back. So she tells him “David, just be you”. She means to be a good boy and why the things have occurred in David’s life. By Mrs. Catanze doing this she boosted his self esteem and that he had control over his life not his mother. During that one jail visit she accomplished a lot with David than she would have done with him at home for a month.
Her role was very impacting to Dave that when he is released he begins to call her mom. As Mrs. Catanze prepares Dave for a war against his mother she showed him how much a person can care about him or love him. As mentioned in the book none of the parents had such a positive impact on Dave like Mrs. Catanze did. The Nullses didn’t have much time to play a big part but they had made an effect on him mentally. He overheard them fighting and knew it was about him so now he feels even more unwanted, and again the cause of a family problem.
He felt he was the main cause of the Nullses problems and blames himself like he did for the problems his mom and dad did. This didn’t help him in a positive way it just brought his emotions more down. Then came the Turnboughs and they also demonstrated the love of a family and sincerity. She made David feel very comfortable and began opening up to her about a lot of things. One thing the Turnboughs gave him was a chance to be a kid and the love of a family. This helped Dave develop and began to prepare him for adult life.
He wanted to learn to cook and work on his own and be self efficient which was all because he began to feel comfortable and learn from Mrs. Turnbough. Then he begins to realize how his hard earned money was being stolen so he approached it like anybody that works hard for their money would. They took it offensive and then Dave went on his way to a new home. This taught Dave not to trust people or get comfortable with others. His final foster parents the Walshes were good to him as well. They ended up moving into a rich neighborhood where people were not accepting of foster children.
Throughout his entire stay with the Walshes all they did was fight and Dave would end up taking care of the other kids when they did. While he stood in this neighborhood he learned a lot and begins to find and discover more about himself. This was the one positive impact staying with the Walshes for Dave. As Dave took his journey from home to home and through it all he had other issues that came with being a foster child. Dave went through some serious issues that I believe really were not his fault. Dave was already mentally exhausted and although in the book he says he knew what he was doing was wrong but he had no control over himself.
He did everything to try and fit in with classmates or just others in general. Dave simply just wanted to fit in and be accepted. I believe this was normal for Dave considering the entire trauma he been through. He has a lot of self esteem issues. Mentally he didn’t have control over his actions even though it may seem like he did. Unconsciously he may not have been able to understand what was going on around him he just wanted to be accepted, without being able to acknowledge when he doesn’t need to fit in a certain group. Therefore I do not think it was his fault for the events in his life.
He didn’t ask for all the torture and mental distraught he was put through that affected his entire life. The child welfare system and society played a role in Dave’s outcome. The child welfare system saved Dave’s life, because if they had not intervened his mother could have killed him. They also were partially responsible for some of his emotional issues and for not giving him counseling right away. He was placed in so many different foster homes he should have at least been assigned to a counselor or psychiatrist from day one because of all the abuse he went through with his mom.
When you go through such abuse you need someone to talk to because foster parents may not understand him. This is one of the mistakes they did from day one. When he came out of jail and was placed in the Catanze’s house again he should have received counseling so he would not have had the issues he did at the Catanze’s. Perhaps he could have been able to stay with them and not moved from home to home because he was beginning to be accustoming to them. Society had a role in his outcome because all those people he encountered when he was at that rich neighborhood with the Walshes helped shape him and teach him manners.
These people helped him realize what he likes and who he is . The Marshes influenced him to a point that it was the seed to his future. That is how he began to find ways to fly planes. This was part of society because the Marshes were random people that allowed him in there house to read and have discussions about planes and books. The Marshes was like his safe haven like he says on page 276. Then came his friends in that neighborhood they accepted him for who he was and the way he was which helped keep him out of trouble and positive. They also kept him rom becoming too effected by the Walshes domestic violence relationship. Suppose his friends would not have accepted him he would have been depressed. Thankful to his friends in society and the Marshes help Dave develop in a much breaded aspect out of the foster home process. Each aspect of Dave’s life has made Dave the man he developed to be. Although some aspects of society did not accept foster children it sure made the best of Dave. While reading this book I almost cried a few times. The reason is because as I read I would feel the pain he was going through and feel myself walking in his shoes.
Every time I read something about his mother I would feel like hitting her and I would get these visions of how she looked although the book doesn’t give a description about her like that. I had such a deep reaction from beginning to end my mind felt as if I was the one living through this moment with Dave. When I read this book it brought me back to when I was in foster care and how at certain points I can relate to him. So I understand his emotions and the reason why he wanted to fit in so badly. This book helped me see what foster care is and has done to other children.
When I was in care I didn’t understand the process or what was going on but now after this I understand even more about foster care. I at first thought that they would just adopted you but after reading this book I now understand even more that some kids go through more than one home and how divesting that can be on a child. As I read the book I also learned the mistakes the child welfare system did as far as just throwing with any family not evaluating if that family best suits Dave. I think they should think before they place a child just anywhere and always get them counseling right away because the child always needs someone to talk to.
Though overall I have a deeper understanding of foster care. I believe that the author’s purpose for this book isn’t really to degrade his mom or family or even the child welfare system, but to send a message out to others about how abuse affects a child and what a child may be going through. I believe it was also to make known what are the positive aspects of the child welfare because so many people citizen it. They do not know that although it needs improvement it safes a child’s life. Dave is trying to say that if it wasn’t for child welfare system he could have been dead.
Although they moved him from home to home and all the flaws his message is to demonstrate what foster care can do for a child? Overall this was a great book and taught me a lot. Although I was a foster care child myself I was able to be adopted but I still have emotions from things I was subjected to in my life that why I can understand why Dave even wrote about his life , it probably was a way to help him grieve. This was an awesome book I definite would recommend it to others. The book impacted me to look beyond and ways help children to the fullest.