In a civilized society one would expect the occurrence of child abuse to be nearly non-existent, however the statistics do not support this belief. This paper defined what child abuse is .It also revised the short term and long-term effects of this abuse and the resulting mental, physical and societal issues that arise from early abuse and continue on throughout their childhood. It will bring up the statistical information showing the continued abuse against a child. It is hoped that this research enlighten readers on pertinent facts and information on the causes and effects of this cruel act.
The term child abuse covers a wide range of behavior, from actual physical assault to simple neglect of a child’s basic needs. Child abuse is also sometimes called child maltreatment. Infants and preschool children are most likely to suffer deliberately inflicted fractures, burns, and bruises. This is known as the battered-child syndrome. Although the extent of child abuse is difficult to measure, it is recognized as a major social problem, especially in industrialized nations. It occurs in all income, racial, religious, and ethnic
groups and in urban and rural communities. Studies have shown that most parents who abuse their children were once abused as a child” (Funk Wagnall’s, 2006). Eight percent of all children abused are emotionally maltreated. Sixteen percent are sexually abused. Twenty-seven percent are physically abused. Fifty-five percent of all children abused are neglected (“Child Abuse,” 1994).Any type of Child Abuse, carried out for a long period of time, may cause long-term mental damage. Although there are many formal and acceptable definitions of child abuse, the following is offered as a guide for information on child abuse and neglect. Child abuse is the act or series of acts that is described in commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver and results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to child. Most child abuse happens in child’s home, with a smaller amount occurring in the organizations, schools or communities they interact with. Abuse of a child is anything that causes injury or puts the child in danger of physical injury. Child abuse can be physical, sexual, or emotional. Neglect happens when a parent or responsible caretaker fails to provide adequate supervision, food, clothing, shelter or other basics for a child. Child abuse is any action or lack of which endangers or impairs a child’s physical, mental or emotional health and development. As it will be shown in the following presentation .There are many causes of child abuse as well as effects. The most prominent one among the causes is mental illness, as well as psychological problems. The tendency is that people who are not in their right minds, could easily do harm to children, whether intentional or not. Effect of child abuse can be manifested in poor social skills, depression, difficulty in building up relationships in people, low self image, eating disorders, as well as physical disabilities. Child abuse could also lower the self worth of the child who experienced it.
Regardless of the type of abuse, if not stopped and having the resultant social and psychological issues dealt with as quickly as possible may result in the vicious cycle of abuse where the abused goes out on their own and then becomes the abuser. Despite all good intentions this cycle of violence can and does occur because it is the only way that an untreated abused individual knows how to deal with stressors in a relationship.
In 2007, the United States reported, among all 50 states, 753,357 cases of child mistreatment which is a ratio of 1 out of every 100 children have been reported as being abused in some fashion throughout the year. This abuse ranged from 59% being neglected, 11% being physically abused, and 7.5% sexually abused 4.2% having emotional abuse, and less than 1% being medically mistreated. Of these cases, the abuse was near evenly split between boys and girls, and 79% of the abuse occurred in those under the age of 11, with the most prominent being under the age of 4 (Child Maltreatment, 2007). Statistics are more readily reported within the United States than they are elsewhere throughout the world. However, available data from (World Health Organization [WHO], 2001) shows a global epidemic which is evidenced by:
Almost 53,000 children died worldwide in 2002 as a result of homicide
Up to 80 to 98% of children suffer physical punishment in their homes, with a third or more experiencing severe physical punishment resulting from the use of implements.
150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence during 2002.
Between 100 and 140 million girls and women in the world have undergone some form of female genital mutilation/cutting. In sub-Saharan Africa, Egypt and the Sudan, 3 million girls and women are subjected to genital mutilation/cutting every year.
Worldwide, approximately 40 million children are subjected to child abuse each year
UNICEF estimates that two million children died as a result of armed conflict during a recent 10-year period and that another six million were injured or disabled (Human Right Watch, 2001).
Each year, approximately one million more children around the world are introduced into commercial sexual exploitation (Casa Alianza, 2001).
Sexual abuse statistics vary between countries and reports, but are consistently alarming: One country’s research indicates that up to 36% of girls and 29% of boys have suffered child sexual abuse; another study reveals up to 46% of girls and 20% of boys have experienced sexual coercion (The 57th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights).
We have explored the statistical occurrence of child abuse; next will be the causes that drive one to actually abuse a child. Though all of the causes of child abuse are not known, a significant amount of research points to several factors that put children at risk for abuse. There are many reasons why some people have difficulty meeting the demands of parenthood, including:
Immaturity and unrealistic expectations
Unmet emotional needs
The stresses of child care
Lack of parenting knowledge
Difficulty in relationships
Depression or other mental health problems
Drug or alcohol problems
Family history of abuse
In most case that involve child abuse, the most common reoccurring factors are having a family history of abuse, mental health problems which inhibit proper abilities to cope with different situations and majority of the case involve some type of drug or alcohol use or abuse prior to the incident. In a more disturbing trend, that of child on child abuse, which is defined as a child at least 2 years of age older than the victim has been linked to after effects of a child being abused. This is to say that the abuser is abusing another child because that is what happened to them so they think it is okay or normal since they are mimicking the actions of their abusers.
This last point shows why for the most part child abuse and other forms of violence is learned behavior. In new studies they are attempting to show the link in mental development being slowed in those that receive abuse at an early age, compared to those that did not receive abuse. one recent study on a group of monkeys showed that those babies that received mild abuse as an infant grew to later have deficiency of serotonin, the chemical known as the pleasure center of the brain, and as adults, those levels would rise to normal when they would abuse others.
With these actions, being learned or brought about due to family, mental, emotional or addiction disorders the course of action is through prevention. The term prevention is typically used to represent activities that stop an action or behavior. It can also be used to represent activities that promote a positive action or behavior. Research has found that successful child abuse interventions must both reduce risk factors and promote protective factors to ensure the well-being of children and families. Protective factors are conditions in families and communities that, when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families. They are attributes that serve as buffers, helping parents who might otherwise be at risk of abusing their children to find resources, supports, or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively, even under stress. The impact of child maltreatment can be profound. Research shows that child maltreatment is associated with adverse health and mental health outcomes in children and families, and those negative effects can last a lifetime. In addition to the impact on the child, child abuse and neglect affect various systems – including physical and mental health, law enforcement, judicial and public social services, and nonprofit agencies as they respond to the incident and support the victims. One analysis of the immediate and long-term economic impact of child abuse and neglect suggests that child maltreatment costs the nation as much as $258 million each day, or approximately $94 billion each year (Child Welfare Information Gateway, n.d).
Protective factors are conditions in families and communities that, when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families. These attributes serve as buffers, helping parents to find resources, supports, or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively, even under stress. Research has shown that the following protective factors are linked to a lower incidence of child abuse and neglect.
Nurturing and attachment
A child’s early experience of being nurtured and developing a bond with a caring adult affects all aspects of behavior and development. When parents and children have strong, warm feelings for one another, children develop trust that their parents will provide what they need to thrive, including love, acceptance, positive guidance, and protection. Research shows that babies who receive affection and nurturing from their parents have the best chance of healthy development. A child’s relationship with a consistent, caring adult in the early years is associated later in life with better academic grades, healthier behaviors, more positive peer interactions, and an increased ability to cope with stress.
Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development
There is extensive research linking healthy child development to effective parenting. Children thrive when parents provide not only affection, but also respectful communication and listening, consistent rules and expectations, and safe opportunities that promote independence. Successful parenting fosters psychological adjustment, helps children succeed in school, encourages curiosity about the world, and motivates children to achieve.
Parents, who can cope with the stresses of everyday life, as well an occasional crisis, have resilience; they have the flexibility and inner strength necessary to bounce back when things are not going well. Multiple life stressors, such as a family history of abuse or neglect, health problems, marital conflict, or domestic or community violence-and financial stressors such as unemployment, poverty, and homelessness-may reduce a parent’s capacity to cope effectively with the typical day-to-day stresses of raising children.
Parents with a social network of emotionally supportive friends, family, and neighbors often find that it is easier to care for their children and themselves. Most parents need people they can call on once in a while when they need a sympathetic listener, advice, or concrete support. Research has shown that parents, who are isolated, with few social connections, are at higher risk for child abuse and neglect.
Concrete supports for parents
Many factors affect a family’s ability to care for their children. Families who can meet their own basic needs for food, clothing, housing, and transportation-and who know how to access essential services such as childcare, health care, and mental health services to address family-specific needs-are better able to ensure the safety and well-being of their children. Partnering with parents to identify and access resources in the community may help prevent the stress that sometimes precipitates child maltreatment. Providing concrete supports may also help prevent the unintended neglect that sometimes occurs when parents are unable to provide for their children.
All of these factors along with many others can help decrease the occurrence of child abuse, but for any of it to work the cycle of violence must stop within the home before any child may have any hope for an abuse free society. Child abuse is a topic that has many aspects and issues to discus. There are many causes for this problem that lead to adverse effects on the child and community. Treating this phenomenon needs major governmental, financial, educational, health care givers and social support and awareness. Also strict roles and disciplinary actions should be applied through the governments in order to control this problem. In my point of view the earlier abused children get help, the greater chance they have to heal from their abuse and not perpetuate the cycle.