Child molestation

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Imagine for one moment that you are not yourself any longer. Visualize

instead that you are a young girl; old enough to know right from wrong yet still

young enough to be terrified by the dark shadows in your room. It is a cool

autumn night and your parents have opted to attend a party which you are not

allowed at. “It will be fine,” they say. Although you already know what is to

come. Your uncle comes over to watch you for the evening, and your parents are

so pleased by the fact that they do not have to find a sitter. As soon as he

arrives, your mother kisses you on the cheek and scurries out the door to join

your father already waiting in the car outside. The nightmare begins. His

slimy hands casually slide an ebony cartridge into the VCR as he smiles at you

seductively. You can feel his eyes worming their gaze through your clothes

every time that he looks at you. You feel dirty and violated every time you

think about what he does to you when you are alone. He walks over to the couch

and sits down next to you. His hand slithers it way onto your knee and you

cringe in revulsion. “Don’t be afraid, I won’t hurt you,” he chides. Your mind

feels panicky as you feel his touch in more intimate places and you scream

involuntarily. His grip tightens as he places his hand over your mouth. “We’ll

have to do this the hard way!” comes his intense whisper. You flail your arms

at him, but it doesn’t help. His writhing massive body is on top of yours, and

you feel so powerless. Eventually, you sink into a sobbing heap and simply wait

for his passions to stop. You wait for the nightmare to end. When he is done,

you limp to the laundry room and try fruitlessly to get the blood stains out of

your clothes. It is all your fault… Abuse: The violation or defilement of;

What you have just experienced is one type of abuse that occurs millions

of times every year across America. Estimates of abuse range wildly depending

on the source of ones information. From one to two million children per year

are victims of child abuse. (Dolan p.3) All sources agree on the simple truth

that not nearly all cases of child abuse are reported or even estimated. Man

cases go unreported, less than 50% by current estimates. (Dolan p.3) The

amount of child abuse is staggering to think about, let alone deal with. By the

age of eighteen one in three girls will have been sexually molested and one in

six boys will have been molested in that same time frame. (WWW site). Although,

throughout this paper we shall discuss not only the effects of sexual abuse but

abuse in all its forms. These include Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Mental

Abuse and Neglect. We will also Touch upon the basic question of this report,

and that is, “How has child abuse changed over the last 100 years and what

effects has this had on the family?” This brings us to our first research area,


It is clear that families are undergoing a number of important

structural changes: families are smaller than in the past, with fewer children

and sometimes with only one parent; parents have children at a later age; more

couples live together without the bonds of matrimony which was accepted as a

sacred bond so few years in human history. The source of this degradation of

such a basic unit of society is unknown throughout all areas of research which I

canvassed in my quest. It is a question that one person needs to answer for

himself and solve for himself. Something a young child is not capable of doing.

Physical abuse has many forms. It may involve the hitting or kicking of

a child with the fists or the feet, or with another object; such as belts,

shovels, changes, ropes, electric cords, leather straps, canes, baseball bats,

sticks, broom handles, or assorted large objects. Other forms of abuse include

the pouring of scalding water or coffee on a child’s body, holding a child’s

head under the water of a toilet bowl, stuffed into running washing machines,

throwing a child against a wall, shaking a child with extreme force or placing

parts of a child’s anatomy on hot or burning objects to cause pain. (Author’s

note: Sometimes in extreme cases the shaking of a child with such extreme force

as an aggressive abuser possesses can cause severe brain damage as the brain is

crushed from repeated impact against the skull. This type of injury is

especially damaging in babies and small children.) Some experts say the For

every reported case of physical abuse over 100 are not reported. (Dolan p.7)

Nobody knows precisely how many children die each year from physical abuse at

the hands of adults. The National committee for the Prevention of child Abuse

in its annual survey of all 50 states estimates the 1,125 children died from

abuse in 1988, a figure that, according to the Committee’s report “most likely

represents the lowest estimate of the problem.” What is known is that reports

of child fatalities resulting from abuse are steadily increasing… (Neal p.1)

Many times when physical abuse is caused by a parent or guardian, the child is

not taken for medical help, even when wounds or injuries are very severe. When

they are taken into the hospital it is usually be a secondary member of the

family, one who may not have caused the abuse but did not stop it either. This

type of person might be called a facilitator. In the past, there was much more

discipline in homes and schools then there is today. In one interview, I had

the following response to the question, What do you consider to be abuse; as

compared to punishment and discipline? “Beating with a stick the size of a

telegraph pole. Or forcing a kid to eat liver. That is what the government

sees. I see it as abuse if the child isn’t learning from it. Kids way back

when were slapped on the wrist with rulers. They didn’t go out and kill each

other as many of the kids do today.” (Towle E-mail) Many people which I

interview displayed one of two attitudes:

– No hitting or abuse was acceptable to them today – More discipline is needed

today than before

Many experts think that terrible pressures on today’s family are partly to blame

for the excess of abuse in today’s families. (Dolan p.9) Physical abuse is

termed sexual abuse when it involves the display or touching of genitalia or

anything which is not a comfortable part of a normal person to person contact.

This brings us to our next form of Child abuse, that of Sexual or exploitive


Sexual abuse is described as those activities by an older person for his

or her sexual gratification without consideration for the child’s psychosocial

sexual development. Also, as contacts or interactions between a child and an

individual of higher power when the child is being used for the sexual

stimulation of that adult or another. (Ruth p.4) There are many categories of

sexual abuse, these include; incest, pedophilia, exhibitionism, molestation, sex

(statutory rape), sexual sadism, and child pornography. It is estimated that

approximately three hundred thousand children are involved in child prostitution

and pornography. (Kempe p.9) Many times men or woman who abuse children were

abused when they were young. In this way, abuse is very much a self fulfilling

prophecy, or circle problem. Historically, sexual abuse was not as much of a

problem as it is in modern times. Incidences of sexual abuse are highest in

urbanized technologically advanced societies. We hold this to be self evident

because the basic need of the sexual drive is denied a constructive (at least,

less destructive) outlet in modern society. In other cultures and times,

prostitution was a valid form of employment, and this niche provided an integral

outlet for connoisseurs of sex. (I.e. nymphomaniacs, and satirists). Without

this vent men with sexual frustration may turn to the less reactive child as

sexual prey. Due to the black market prostitution of children, a twelve year

old boy can earn upwards of a thousand dollars per day selling himself on the

streets of Los Angeles. Sexual abuse can have severe consequences on the mental

development of a children. (Mental? Did someone mention mental?)

Mental Abuse of a child can involve several different activities. These

can involved the common verbal forms, i.e. yelling, neglect, constant insults,

etc. They also involve certain forms of mental torture and neglect. Mental

abuse is one of the most damaging forms of abuse, because unlike rape or other

forms of sexual or physical abuse, mental abuse will be with you all of your

life. I would offer this analogy to shed light what I am trying to communicate

here. Physical and sexual abuse are like roadblocks in the road of life. They

are there for a while, but you get over them eventually. Mental abuse, on the

other hand, catalyzes the disillusion of the view of the street. If someone is

always insulting you, always telling you that you are no good: then with time,

your mind becomes accustomed to it, and begins to believe it. This especially

is a damaging consequence for young children and infants, who are as dependent

upon mental support as they are for their physiological needs. It is an utter

violation of such a relationship. Mental abuse not only affects the child, and

the family, but society as a whole. In one of my interviews I received the

following response to the question; What do you feel is the greatest

misconception about abuse in today’s society? “We still don’t understand how

much real damage it does, not only to the child but to society as a whole. Most

people never fully recover from child abuse. Our society has never recovered

from child abuse…” (Kimball E-mail) This brings us to our final area of

discussion on the subject of child abuse, that of neglect.

Neglect is the most prevalent form of child maltreatment. “The

statistics are staggering. A recent Study prepared by the American Humane

Association states that, nationwide, neglect consistently has accounted for the

greatest number of maltreatment reports; in 1988 alone it represented sixty

three percent of the approximately two million cases of reported incidents of

the three predominant forms of child maltreatment: physical abuse, sexual abuse

and neglect.” (Steinbach p.8) Neglect is the unlawful withholding of a child’s

basic needs. Food, Water, Shelter, Clothing; these are all things that a child

needs to live an effective life in today’s society. To deny a child these

things is to leave him lower on the ladder of needs than he or she would

conceivably be otherwise. Neglect is by far more prominent than any other forms

of child maltreatment, but, continually it is the least prominent villain in

child abuse advertising schemes. Why are people so unwilling to admit this

problem? Why do Americans consistently look overseas and across borders when

sending their charitable donations? The problem is here! It is not imagined.

Unlike the demons who lurk in the darkness of children’s closets, this villain

will not vanish at the flip of a light switch. Many of these children do not

have their own closets or lights…

In conclusion, we have gone over the most important points and facts

about the different types of child abuse and what their affects are on children.

We have tried to shed some light on this unspoken about, and shunned subject.

The answer to the question which was posed at the beginning of this paper is

vague a best and unanswerable at worst. Child abuse has always been around, and

it always will be around as long as other people care more about themselves,

than about others. The golden rule is the ultimate answer, the most dignified

quest. The last hundred years have only brought about changes in the discussion,

description, and definition of child abuse. These things have helped do away

with child abuse significantly, but the eradication of this most cursed of

diseases is not in the sight of those who look to the future. I leave you with

this final quote, spoken by a one Mr. Andrew Vachss.

“The effect that child abuse has not just on the victims, but on their

subsequent victims and on society as a whole, is, in my judgment, far more

devastating than the threat of drugs, of political upheaval, of economic

disaster, or of environmental destruction… I really think that child abuse is

the most significant threat not just to the quality of life in this country, but

to life in this country.” (Kesegich, p.33)


Lesar, Jenny. Statistics. Woodbridge, Conneticut: Blackbirch Press Inc, 1996

Kesegich, Ken. “In Defense of Children.” Cwru February, 1990: 33-35

Steinbach, Alice. “Neglect: the most prevalent form of child maltreatment.”

Honolulu Star-Bulletic ; Advertiser 30 July 1989: A-29

Dolan, Edward F. Big book of abuse. Anywhere, USA, Anybody Inc: 1312

Towle, Jeffery. Email Interview. 25 October 1996.

Kimball, Lisa. Email Interview. 30 October 1996.

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