The Malta Independent 12 July 2020, Sunday

The rehabilitation of a severely disturbed child

Noel Grima Monday, 10 February 2020, 08:00 Last update: about 6 months ago

It-Tifel li Hadd ma Habb

This is a very disturbing and at the same time very uplifting book.

I have no doubt the book is written by a foster-carer, Casey Watson from the UK who tells of her struggles as a foster-carer of Justin, a severely disturbed child coming from an impossible home situation and how through love and care she managed to bring him to a modicum of normality.

When we meet Justin, he had been through no less than 20 failed placements, and he was only 11 years old.


This was Casey's first try at being a foster carer but she was fully supported by her husband Mike, and her daughter Riley as well as by a network of back end support by psychologists who hand-held her through the rough patches.

The story begins when Justin was just five years old, still living with his druggie mother, his two siblings and a whole range of occasional men friends of his mother who were as druggie as she was and not averse to using the boy for sexual purposes.

One day, the boy, with no special plan in his mind, set fire to the house but saved his brothers, though not the dog when his mother was outstaying with a friend and the children were hungry, dirty and neglected.

After that, Justin was placed, as said already, in no less than 20 placements but his character was so damaged that he could not stay and was time and again moved on.

Casey went into foster-caring out of a desire to do something to help severely-disturbed children. But repeatedly Justin's inner anger and his destructive nature made her regret going into fostering. Justin suffered from bouts of destructive anger in which he transferred his anger at his neglectful mother onto her. Every time he went to see his mother, his anger came back, especially after she had a baby girl and started calling her Princess and giving her what she had neglected to give to her sons.

Justin was also destructive at school and hurt some children, earning an exclusion or two.

But the family stability that Casey and Mike provided at long last did the trick - Justin came out of his anger, came to terms with his past and learned to be responsible.

The book is one happy endorsement for foster caring even in the most outrageous situations. It also shows how children can be emotionally damaged but also how can be cured.


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