Imagine being a young child. Picture that someone is mistreating you, and you arecompletely unable to retaliate in any way. Imagine what would be running throughyour mind, all of the fear and hatred that you can do nothing with except hold it allinside. The United States government defines child abuse specifically as anyrecent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death,serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation to any individualwho has not attained the age of 18 years, or an act or failure to act which presentsan imminent risk of serious harm to any individual who has not attained the age of18 years (Petit 28).
This is a serious problem that destroys the lives of innocentStatistics show that 903,395 children were confirmed as being abused in theUnited States during 1997 alone, and there were 1,439,284 reported instances ofabuse in the United States (Statistics of…).
Those numbers add out to be in theneighborhood of 1.54% of the nations children being abused daily (Statistics of…). Child abuse also accounts for nearly 57.
5% of fatalities to children under the age offive (Child Maltreatment). Experts also say that 87.1% of abused children areabused by both the mother and father (Statistics of…).
Roughly 2.7% of childabuse occurs in foster care (Statistics of…).
The most abundant form of child abuse is neglect. Neglect accounts for53.5% of child abuse nationwide (Child Maltreatment). Neglect is defined as:a child less than 18 years of age whose physical, mental or emotionalcondition has been impaired or is in danger of becoming impaired as a resultof the failure of the child’s legal guardian to exercise a minimum degree ofcare in supplying the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or educationor medical care.
Neglect also occurs when the legal guardian fails to provide the child with proper supervision or guardianship by allowing the child to beharmed, or to be at risk of harm which includes when the guardian misusesdrugs or alcohol him/herself. (Neglected Child) Children who fall victim to neglect feel that their parents have no time for them. The psychological aspects of this type of abuse is that the child or children affected typically try to get attention at school or somewhere away from home, areabnormally aggressive, and become somewhat maniacal when left alone for longperiods of time (Understanding Child…).The second type of child abuse is physical abuse, which is responsible for22.
7% of total abuse cases that were confirmed. Physical Abuse is characterized bythe infliction of physical injury as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting,burning, shaking or otherwise harming a child. The parent or caretaker may not haveintended to hurt the child, rather the injury may have resulted from over-discipline orphysical punishment (Child Maltreatment). The most common way to indicate aphysically abused child is notable marks on the body, such as bruises, cuts, andknots.The main behavioral indication of physical abuse is the child is far tooaggressive when they are not around his or her parents. They also tend to pick onothers, but get extremely angry when someone else picks on them (UnderstandingSexual abuse is the third type of child abuse, which accounts for 11.
5% of allconfirmed abuse cases. Sexual abuse includes fondling a childs genitals,intercourse, incest, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism, and commercial exploitationthrough prostitution or the production of pornographic materials. Many expertsbelieve that sexual abuse is the most under-reported form of child maltreatmentbecause of the secrecy that so often characterizes these cases (ChildMaltreatment). Sexually abused children are extremely frightened at the sight of theabuser, and are extremely timid when confronted with a chance to develop a closerelationship. Victims are given low self-esteem, and will often think they areworthless. Common indicators of sexually abused children include individualism,increased shyness, and greater dependence on a non-abusive person present in theirThe final type of child abuse is emotional abuse. This abuse is responsiblefor about 6.
2% of all abuse cases. Emotional abuse includes acts or omissions bythe parents or other caregivers that have caused, or could cause, serious behavioral,cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders. For example, the parents/caregivers mayuse extreme or bizarre forms of punishment, such as confinement of a child in a darkcloset. (Child Maltreatment) Less severe acts, such as habitual scapegoating orbelittling, are often difficult to prove (Understanding Child…) Emotional abuseoften causes the most severe psychological trauma of any other form of abuse.
Thechild rocks, sucks, bites self, inappropriately aggressive, destructive toothers, suffers from sleep, speech disorders, restricts play activities orexperiences, demonstrates compulsions, obsessions, phobias, hystericaloutbursts of anger and hatred, negative statements about self, shy, passive,compliant, lags in physical, mental and emotional development, selfdestructive behavior, highly aggressive, and cruel to others. (Widom 44)Emotional abuse may take years to correct, however, there is a chance that theseeffects can never be corrected (Widom 44).Several solutions are available to lessen the problem of child abuse, but thereis no way to completely stop it. The sad part is that a child who is abused has abouta 75% chance of becoming abusive as he or she matures into adulthood(Understanding Child…
). A mother or father who was abused as a child is likely toabuse his or her children, and 87.1% of abused children are reportedly abused byboth parents (Child Maltreatment). My solutions differ from the experts, but I dothink they have some great points to make.
With a few changes in the said points, Ithink child abuse in the United States could be one day brought to a minimum.First, law enforcement agencies need to crack down extremely hard on theseabusers. The standard penalty for a child abuser is having his or her children takenfrom the home. If the parent wanted the child there in the first place, then he or shewould not have abused the child.
More severe cases will include fines, jail time,and possibly execution in very extreme cases. Sex criminals are sometimes forcedto put a sign in their front yard indicating that they once committed such a crime, butthey can still move in right down the street. How hard is it to take a sign out of theyard anyway? There is really no penalty for an emotional abuser because there isreally no way to prove that the child in question was in any way mistreated (WidomWhen suspicion of mistreatment is present, I feel that there should be animmediate investigation and evaluations of everyone involved. This would beexpensive, and a lot of people would object, but I myself would support it. Also, avery good point made by R. A. Caldwell is that all convicted child abusers wouldhave some kind of proof of past abuse cases when they attempt to obtain a marriagelicense (84).
About 44% of all divorced men were involved in child abuse casespreviously (Child Maltreatment). Caldwell also added that a background checkshould be available to community leaders when a new person moves into thatcommunity (90). Automatic jail time needs to be placed on all convicted child sexoffenders, as well as physical abusers. Our society today tends to lean towardmercy, and I dont think it is a good thing. These people are hurting innocentchildren, and, in my opinion, there is no excuse to ever harm a child past the point ofI also believe that there needs to be more organizations set up to relieve thepain that child abuse causes.
Non-profit organizations are a great thing to help suchsituations because they allow the community to get involved through volunteeringfor the counseling sessions that would take place. The people who would be helpedby such an organization would not have to pay for the services either. This wouldbe a great help, because many abused children come from a poverished home.
Afamily that annually makes less than $15,000 is 88% more likely to have abuseproblems (Bruner 177). These organizations help children and parents cope withstress, anger, and other problems that have a possibility of causing child abuse, andI believe this to be a great way to bring families closer as well. Such centers inJefferson City, Missouri have been very effective, and the confirmed child abuserates there have dropped by 31% (Missouri Childrens…).
Awareness programs need to be given in these organizations as well. First ofall, parent awareness programs can be crucial to the way that a child is raised. If aparent knows how to handle their emotions, then a child is at far less risk of havingthe hell beaten out of them when they get home (Bruner 192). A parent or set ofparents who are under a lot of stress should have access to counseling, self-helpmeetings, and other interactive means of parent-child relationship conditioning.
Also, the public should be aware of ways that they can help in matters affecting ourchildren. If you were walking down the street and a man was beating up his youngdaughter, would you know what to do? Many people would just shake their headPublic awareness should not include punching that guy in the mouth. Publicawareness should consist of the community learning how they can indicate anabused child, identify abusers, and become active in putting an end to abuse in theircommunity. School awareness is perhaps the most important of all. According tostatistics, 71.4% of child abuse was uncovered by school officials (Statistics of..
.). Teachers are around their students quite often, and they can usually tell whensomething is wrong. If a teacher can point this out, then it is a big help, becausenormally school officials are closely tied with law enforcement officials. Teachersand counselors also have the ability to teach children how to get others involvedAll of these plans put together will not eliminate the problem of child abuse,but its a good start in slowing it down. Everything that the government andcommunity can work together to do will help to stop a lot of the abuse, though.
Themore people know about the problem, the more they can do to stop it. If all of thesethings were enacted, it would be a success if just one kid was saved from abuse. Parents would be better able to control their anger and stress levels. Abusers wouldbe more reluctant to hurt a child because of the presence of stricter punishments. Taxes may go a bit higher, but is it not worth it to possibly save the life of aninnocent child? The life we lead is not an easy one in any way, but just because aparent has had a bad day does not mean that a child should have to go to bed cryingBibliography:Bruner, C. Investment-Based Budgeting-The Principles in Converting from aRemediation Response to a Prevention/Investment Budget. Des Moines, IA:Child and Family Policy Center.
1994Caldwell, R. A. The Costs of Child Abuse vs. Child Abuse Prevention: Michigan’sExperience. East Lansing, MI: Michigan Children’s Trust Fund. 1992.
Child Maltreatment. 27 MAR 00Missouri Children’s Trust Fund. The Economic Costs of Shaken Baby SyndromeSurvivors in Missouri. Jefferson City, MO: Missouri Children’s Trust Fund.1997.The Neglected Child.
29 MAR 00Petit, M. R. Child Abuse and Neglect: A Look at the States 1997. CWLA StatBook. Washington, DC: CWLA Press.
1997. 14-39.Statistics of Child Abuse. 27 MAR 00Understanding Child Abuse.01 APR 00Widom, C.
S. The Cycle of Violence. Washington, D.C.: National Institute ofJustice. 1997.