Our Foster Children: “The Invisible Hurt”
By Thomas Dang, Margaret Le, Lauren Truong and Andrew Vu
Did you know children in foster care are twice as likely to suffer PTSD and other emotional disorders than a U.S. war veteran? For many, this figure from Harvard Medical School is shocking. It surely was when Thomas Dang, Margaret Le, Lauren Truong, and Andrew Vu—juniors at Plano East Senior High School—began their community awareness project last September. These members of their school’s HOSA medical organization are raising awareness for “Our Foster Children” and have collected $11,350+ worth of hygiene and food items to benefit the foster kids at City House.
City House in Plano provides safe havens for kids and teens that can no longer live at home due to abuse or neglect. Emotional abuse in particular can manifest itself in malicious mockery, threats, intimidation, blame, and more.
Tracey McClain, and the staff at City House, do a commendable job loving these children as if they were their own, but the health repercussions foster children face are alarming: 30% of U.S. foster kids leave the system with severe emotional or behavioral issues. Through meeting real teens from the system, these HOSA students saw first-hand the lasting damage foster care and emotional abuse can leave. In fact, the team talked to one man who was placed in foster care after his father dropped him off at school and never came back. Seven years after leaving the system, he continues to visit the psychiatrist and take medications to stabilize emotions and stress.
The psychological impact of foster care is truly “The Invisible Hurt”— foster kids, who have been hurt from emotional abuse, may outwardly appear to be a happy individual. ABUSE is an acronym for students and teachers to recognize emotional abuse, and what to do: Avoidance and social withdrawal. Behavior: anxiety, depression, aggression. Underachievement at school. Self-blame. Educate an adult about at-risk kids.
With a keen awareness of the struggles foster children face, we ought to cherish the human traditions of amity and love regardless of an individual’s identity. The objective should never be to single out foster children and treat them differently. The most fundamental lesson, these students declare, is to: “Be kind. Love others. Because you never know what they’re going through.” It’s a bold, yet wonderfully simple, lesson for life that has won the hearts of many in this community.
To follow along with these students’ project, visit twitter.com/invisibleHOSA. To connect with City House, visit their Facebook page.
(Left to right) Plano East HOSA team members Lauren Truong, Margaret Le, Thomas Dang, and Andrew Vu display the $11,350+ worth of donations they raised for foster children. (Three of the four students are Murphy residents.)