Youth In Group Homes At Risk Of Sexual Abuse

Group homes and other residential facilities for youth with behavioral issues are notorious for high rates of neglect and other examples of staff misconduct, including

  • On-the-job drug use, sometimes sharing with resident youth
  • Overuse of prescription drugs in treatment and “punishment”
  • Sexual abuse, assault, and violence

Our seasoned sex abuse attorneys can help you or your loved ones achieve justice against group home administrators who fail to provide a safe environment for residents.

Brian Kent “Due to the size and challenging resident profile in group homes and residential care facilities, proper oversight of staff is especially crucial, yet management is often lacking – a definite risk for child sexual abuse.”

— Brian Kent, Esq.

Brian Kent formerly worked as a sex crimes prosecutor for the Montgomery County District Attorneys Office.

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Group homes were originally developed to be a temporary living arrangement, a safe place for troubled youth to stay while foster care agencies worked to locate a suitable permanent home with relatives, trusted family friends or foster parents. Yet in many cases, communication issues, inadequate screening, over-tasked caseworkers, and other widespread problems in child welfare agencies force children to stay in group homes for an extended period of time, or even for the rest of their childhood and teenage years. Sadly, children often suffer from sub-par conditions, neglect, or even outright physical and sexual abuse in group homes. Rates of depression, suicide, and drug use among children and teens who live in group homes are much higher than that of the general population.

young boy by himself thinking

Even when compared to private foster homes, which already put children at elevated risk of suffering sexual abuse, group homes are noted for extremely high rates of sexual harassment, molestation and assault. Much of this sex abuse is committed by other underage residents of group homes, and the care facilities and group home administrations responsible for overseeing child welfare often fail to step in and stop the abuse. Oversight can be extremely lax, and many complaints aren’t properly investigated.

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Group Home Characteristics

Run by the state government, group homes vary widely in the way they’re run and in accommodation size / number of residents. Some are smaller, with less than a dozen children, closer in size and scope to a private foster home. Others, usually chosen for children with significant behavioral and / or psychological issues, may be larger and more institutional in nature, often providing therapy regimens, tutoring / schooling, counseling, and a highly-structured daily schedule.

The degree of security and level of restrictions enforced on the residents in group homes also covers a wide range. Children who have been noted in their case files to be particularly unstable or violent are assigned to more restrictive homes, which may make use of alarms and other invasive security equipment to monitor the residents’ behavior and rein in their personal freedom.

Children may be required to do regular chores and teens may also be encouraged to work outside jobs. “House parents” can choose to enforce additional rules and regulations for residents, including those based on religious beliefs, especially if the group home is billed as faith-based. You can learn more about group homes and other types of foster care on the FindLaw website.

Sex Abuse Survivors File Group Home Lawsuits

Children who were sexually abused in group homes may be able to press criminal charges against the perpetrator(s) and also file civil lawsuits against the agencies or individuals running the group home / care facilities where the abuse took place. This is because youth care agencies are responsible for ensuring that children in their care have safe, decent living conditions, and when these organizations fail in this duty, they may be found legally obligated to compensate victims of abuse. Here are some recent cases involving alleged child sex abuse in group homes:

Sex Abuse Scandal In CA Bay Area Group Homes

NBC Bay Area ran a comprehensive 3-year investigation on conditions in California group homes by interviewing personnel and reviewing records from the California’s Department of Social Services. Reporters found over 800 violations committed by group homes in the area, which are responsible for housing about 3,700 youth. The shocking expose revealed violations such as:

  • Sexual abuse of children
  • Insufficient supplies including food
  • Physical abuse caught on tape
  • Staff engaging in drug use with resident children and teens
  • Punishment with high doses of behavior-modifying drugs
  • No medical attention after serious incidents like seizures

Although many of the violations uncovered were extremely serious, posing an “immediate threat” to the children living at the group homes in question, some of the group home facilities were allowed to remain open, though on probation.

SC Group Homes Accused Of “Selling Children”

Though group homes are generally nonprofit ventures that are government-funded, many make a considerable amount of money from taxpayer revenue. Some group homes put this funding to good use and provide decent housing, food, care, support, and guidance to the youth in their care. Others may be running group home facilities primarily for the money it provides, and show a distinct lack of concern for the well-being of their charges, leading to poor living conditions and incidents of violence and abuse, both from other residents and from group home staff.

The Post and Courier reports that the Boys Home of the South group home in South Carolina has since shut down due to a highly-publicized sex abuse lawsuit filed by a former resident who says he was repeatedly molested by a staff member during his time there. The plaintiff continually tried to tell other staff members and his assigned caseworker about the abuse, but he was ignored, and eventually gave up on getting help from anyone he knew.

Appallingly, though the facility had to be investigated 3 dozen times for complaints of abuse and neglect, it stayed open until the recent lawsuit hit and was receiving roughly $1.5 million in government subsidies a month.

Resources & Guides On Child Sexual Abuse