Tuesday, January 17, 2012

“Food is kind of the ultimate control."

Local case, common threads

The Trebilcocks deny they starved their children and are fighting the charges in both the criminal and child dependency courts. (See related story.)

But Meinig said the allegations in the case bear several of the hallmarks common in all the cases she reviewed.

The five adopted Trebilcock children, ages 8 to 14, told investigators they were denied food. Kitchen cabinets had alarms on them and the children were punished for "stealing food," they said. Other family members, though, appeared well-fed, according to investigators.

"There was plenty of food" in all the cases, Meinig said. "These were really purposeful withholding and punishment and control. ... Food is kind of the ultimate control."

The Trebilcock children also told investigators they were beaten and made to stand outside, isolated from the rest of the family -another commonality Meinig found in many of the cases. The Trebilcocks also were home-schooled, which some officials say can be a way hiding the signs of starvation.

"Food withholding as a form of abuse has been around forever, from its mildest form of a misbehaving child being sent to bed without dinner to really severe cases of withholding that lead to medical problems," said Dr. Chalmers, who helps train social workers to look for signs of abuse. "So I've been trying to think about ways we could identify these kids before they die or end up in the hospital for malnutrition."

Read more: http://tdn.com/news/local/state-officials-investigating-several-cases-of-abuse-of-adopted-children/article_7fac29c2-3f25-11e1-b980-0019bb2963f4.html?

I have said it before, and I am sure I will say it again – access to available food is a basic human right. Food is not a reward or a punishment it is a requirement for survival. Children, adopted, fostered or otherwise cannot “STEAL” food in their own home. Withholding food, having an adopted/fostered child eat any diet other than the one shared by the rest of the family is about control and in my opinion unacceptable. Children who horde, gorge themselves and have other food issues are driven by a fear for survival limiting their food supply will only drive more fear and destroy their ability to feel safe or to trust in those entrusted with their care.

It saddens me to know that there are still “ therapists” and parents who advocate using food as a way to control traumatized children when it so obviously flies in face of establishing trust and the risks are so great.

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