Child Abuse Essay
Child abuse is a widely spread debated topic in today’s society. “Justice, dignity, equality- these are words which are used loosely with little appreciation of their meaning. I think that their meaning can be distilled into one goal: that every child in this country live as we would want our own children to live. ”-Robert F. Kennedy. In its broadest sense the term refers to any harm physically or emotionally done to a child (“Understanding Child Abuse”).
On average, a child abuse report is made every ten seconds for a total of approximately three point three million child abuse reports annually. Each day more than five children die as a result of abuse or neglect. (“Child Abuse Prevention”). A child is an innocent victim to the adult even if they are causing trouble, abuse is no answer. Children are born into the world totally dependent upon their parents or caretakers for their survival and welfare (“Child Abuse and Neglect”). Parents are supposed to provide unconditional care, protection and emotional support to their children.
Child abuse is one of the most controversial social topics of our time. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) defines child abuse and neglect as: an act of failure to act as a caretaker and physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child under the age of eighteen by a person who is responsible to the child’s welfare under circumstances that indicate that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or threatened (“Understanding Child Abuse”).
Therefore, child abuse is the violence and cruelty that occurs against children at the hands of adults, and crimes are without reasonable defense because the victims are extremely vulnerable and unable to defend themselves. It is worth nothing that laws were passed regarding animals cruelty ten years prior to child cruelty laws in 1874. Children did not have much legal status before the twentieth century. They were seen as small adults and were expected to assume the roles in society as expected of them.
Later, the doctrine of “par ens patriae” derived from Roman law that stated, in theory, that the state was required to be the guardian in cases where the parents were clearly unfit. Child protection workers checked more than two million reports of child abuse in 1996. Those cases involved more than three million children (Havelin 47). Abuse is not only done by “bad people. ” Some abusers are intentionally harming their children, many abusers were victims of child abuse themselves, and do not know any other way to parent (Smith n. pag. ). An abusive parent can be defined as someone who has failed at his or her role as a caretaker of the child.
Consider the case of Don Wierenga in Vancouver, June 1996. He spanked his daughter five or six times with an open hand because she wanted him to play catch with her and he was not in the mood. Wierenga reported himself to a social worker. He received probation because Wierenga was using more than reasonable force (Understanding Child Abuse). Emotional abuse is any act in which the child is getting harassed, belittled or verbally threatened. Parents who are drunk or high are unable to care for their children, make good parenting decisions, and control often dangerous impulses.
Substance abuse also, commonly leads to physical abuse (Smith 58). When an adult gets out of control is when hitting as a punishment can get very dangerous and serious. Often, it is the unexpected parent, aunt, uncle, or family friend that causes the child to feel anger, grief, pain and fear, which are forms of abuse, which occurs against the child. People can become out of control because they are dealing with a very difficult child or they might have a lot of stress for reasons outside of their relationship with the child and they do not know how to deal with it (“Understanding Child Abuse”).
Witnessing domestic violence is scary to children and emotionally abusive to them as well (Smith 88). Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations, or making them feel worthless or stupid are also types of child abuse. Any child can be abused but some children are more at risk. Very young children and babies are most likely to be more abused or neglected (Havelin 195). The reason for abuse may also be that the adult was brought up with child abuse in their own family and now think that using corporal punishment as a means of discipline is thought of as acceptable (“Child Abuse and Neglect”).
The sexual, mental, emotional and physical abuse and cruelty that occurs against children by the hands of adults for insufficient reasons is severely growing among our society and must immediately be put to an end. People should be aware of the symptoms and long term effects of child abuse. Child abuse of any type creates long term emotional damage for the child (Almond 15). Physical abuse can sometimes cause attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, anxiety, and memory impairment. Children develop a fear of trust which can result in depression.
Researchers have identified links between abuse and multiple ental/emotional health problems. Eighty percent of abused children have at least one psychiatric disorder by the age of twenty one (Almond 16). Victims of abuse have a higher rate of criminal behavior. According to the Prevent Child Abuse Organization, another eighty percent of violent juvenile and adult prisoners were raised in violent homes (Havelin 234). Inmates studied said that they are emotionally dead or numb. This lack of guilt triggers their criminal behavior, often including murder (Almond 237). Mothers are responsible for seventy-five percent of mistreatment of children.
Shaken baby syndrome consists of blindness, mental retardation, paralysis or cerebral palsy (Almond 15). A factor that affects the consequences of child abuse and neglect is the child age and developmental status when the abuse occurred. By age three, the regions of the brain responsible for emotion are twenty to thirty percent smaller for abused children. Many other effects of abuse is self-destructive behaviors, habit disorders, obsessive of compulsive behaviors, truancy, running away, and eating disorders (“Child Abuse and Neglect”).
While physical injuries may not be visible, abuse and neglect can have consequences for children, families, and society that last lifetimes if not generations. In my opinion, child abuse must be stopped. Child abuse and neglect is a pattern of failing to provide for a child’s basic needs, whether it be adequate food, clothing, hygiene, or supervision (Smith 76). Whenever the adult tries to deny a child the right to be a child, and compels a youngster to be or act as a partner, an exploitative situation comes into being and that child may become victim to sexual abuse.
When a parent coerces a child into a sexual encounter of any type, the bond between them becomes broken. Female children are more often subject to sexual assault that young boys, and sexual exploitation be a known and trusted adult has unfortunately become a reality in the lives of countless young girls (“Understanding Child Abuse”). When a parent molests a young boy, the aggressor is a likely to be his father as his mother. The vast majority of sexual contacts between young boys and adults are homosexual.
Unfortunately, in most cases the child often obeys even if the actions cause them to feel guilty. These actions result in feelings of depression, loneliness, and low self-confidence especially about the sexual aspect (“Understanding Child Abuse”). A normal healthy realistic parent cannot demand is own child to fulfill his own personal needs for food, clothing, shelter, or sex. While it is true that children have sexual feelings and do seek affection and attention for adults, it is the adult’s responsibility to respond to the child’s feelings in an appropriate manner.
A recent study showed the results of abuse children in the United States found that “eighty-three percent of all Children were neglected Sixty percent physically abused, twenty-three percent were sexually abused and nineteen percent of all cases involved all three forms. Fifty two percent of all child abuse reports come from professionals, eighteen percent were from family members, nine percent were friends and neighbors, and twenty-one percent come from anonymous or others” (Havelin n. pag. ). Today we know that abuse can occur in any family, even well to do, high status ones.
There is no excuse for child abuse but many factors can increase the risk of abuse happening. Poverty, alcohol, and substance abuse, and domestic and community violence all contribute to child abuse and neglect (Almond 59). Religious practices that constitute child abuse include female genital mutilation, prostitution and circumcision (81). We need to stop these horrible acts. First the crime must be detected, evidence gathered, and a suspect charged; next tried and convicted. Finally, in some cases judgment is passed on the offender’s heart.
People are becoming more serious about child abuse and are beginning to see it for the serious problem, which it is. People working closely with children have a special awareness of children who may be in an abusive situation. Legislation gives these professionals a responsibility to report anything out of the ordinary. These responsibilities are a enormous step and important part of the battle against child abuse. If people fail to report child abuse, they are liable on conviction to a fine of 1,000 dollars.
Any person who reports a case of child abuse does not have to reveal their identity for reasons of safety, although Children’s Aid Society does prefer to know so they can contact the person for further information (“Understanding Child Abuse”). Children’s Aid Society has the right to take or remove a child is the child is not safe. Child abuse should be discussed more in schools and throughout society at large. Children should be encouraged to come forward if they are victims of abuse, because if all the victims of abuse would come forward then child abuse would be decreased drastically.
Increased awareness of child abuse as a serious problem is an important factor in battling the problem. Adults have to take responsibility to fight child abuse because children can definitely not do it alone (“Child Abuse and Neglect”). However, there are many places children can go for help. Some of these places are children and youth services, child protection services and the Children Aid Societies. These services often receive reports from health professional personnel, police, and members of the public.
It should be emphasized that children should be publically encourages to come forward if they are being abuse and that anyone who is aware of abuse should report it promptly. Children should be encouraged through education in schools, and media such as radio and television. Adults should also be educated as to where help is available for them. Their awareness could also be heightened through television, radio, newspaper, and magazines. This type of awareness and publicity could also be used to make the public aware of their responsibilities to the children of our society.
If we can break the cycle of abuse that often passes from one generation to the next, we will be well on our way to curing the problem. Listen and believe what children tell you. Be aware of changes in a child’s behaviors. Teach your child to use their voice and allow them to prevent abuse in their own life. Individuals can prevent child abuse and neglect by reporting suspected abuse and improving their own parenting skills. Funding for Child Abuse Prevention Programs must be increased. I never understood how a parent could put their hands on or neglect their child.
I have learned that there are many variables to why this happens. I believe society needs to take this subject more seriously. People should not get away with cruel actions like abuse. I want to work with these children when I get older. I will try to find ways to decrease the large statistics I read about in my research. Children are not responsible for child abuse. Children who are abuse or neglected need to tell someone. Child abuse and neglect are against the law. Children can heal and the abuse can stop.