Sect's Kids Face Upheaval Of Foster Care

(CBS) It's been more than three weeks now since Texas police raided a ranch run by a polygamist sect and took 462 children away from their parents.

The court of appeals rejected the mothers' pleas against keeping the children from being bused to foster homes. The question on everyone's minds is, what kind of impact does this have on the children now housed with foster parents, many of them hundreds of miles from the ranch?

The separation of kids and parents has raised serious concern about the children's psychological well-being.

"It's confusing and scary for any kids to be removed from their home and put in foster care," Dr. Lisa Boesky, a child psychologist in San Diego and author of "When to Worry: How to Tell If Your Teen Needs Help - And What to Do About It" (Amaom), said on The Early Show.

But in the case of the children taken from the FLDS compound in Eldorado, "It's ten-fold, because they have never been on the outside and [have] been told people are wicked, evil, out to hurt them. Now they are being forced to live in foster care."

Early Show host Chris Wragge pointed out that these children, who have grown up being home-schooled and away from television and other influences of the world outside their sect's walls, are being transplanted to an environment completely foreign to them.

"It's interesting because foster parents are usually good with dealing with angry, oppositional youth, not overly-compliant youth or well-mannered youth, youth who want to do chores, clean house, go to school and pray," Boesky said.

To that end, authorities are educating foster parents that they should not confront any of the youth's beliefs. "They should really not force TV, fast-food, or any kind of electronics on them, and to really take it slow and really let the kids kind of guide the way," she said.

"I think, day by day, they slowly will let their guard down and trust the foster parents and let us know about what did or did not happen in that compound."

As difficult as it must be for the children, the foster parents who are being charged with caring for them face some significant challenges.

"They are not allowed to wear the color red," Boesky said, because the children have been taught that wearing red is forbidden. "The food, they have to change it, actually eat a little more healthy. Toys and games that usually win over regular foster children aren't working right now.

"I think these foster parents, their hearts are in the right place. They are trying to give these kids the time it takes to open up," she said. "As long as they continue to support them and nurture them - and foster parents are really good at doing that - I think the kids are resilient and it will be okay."

How the children will weather this traumatic time, and what lasting effects it may have on their emotional well-being, depends on what happens next. A quick reunification with their families will auger best.

"The difficult thing will be if there's some youth held long-term or permanently removed from their families," Boesky said. "I think if some kids are returned and I do believe many will be returned to their families, I do think the families will have to be educated on what is appropriate sexual behavior, appropriate discipline, and have to be monitored to make sure they stick with that, to make sure their kids aren't removed again."


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