Is Child Abuse A Problem?
|Photo from My Child Source|
Child abuse may not be thought of as a common problem or as a big deal. Little do people know that child abuse is more common then we might think. It is an increasing problem in the United States and other locations. Child abuse is committed by an adult, someone the age of eighteen or older, causing harm to a child. A child is considered to be between the ages of zero and eighteen. Child maltreatment has many negative effects on children and can eventually lead to death. The act of killing a child is wrong in many ways. Therefore, people should stop child abuse and support children in this awful crime.
There are different types of abuse that are considered child abuse. For example, there is physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Physical abuse is abuse involving non-accidental contact intended to cause injury or physical suffering. There are many different actions of physical abuse such as punching, drowning, head butting, hitting with objects, spanking, etc. Emotional abuse is characterized by a person exposing a child to behavior that could result in psychological trauma. Psychological trauma includes anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Emotional abuse is also known as mental abuse or psychological abuse. Sexual abuse is when a child is abused for the sexual gratification of an adult or older adolescent. Neglect is characterized as any act of omission by a parent, caregiver, or other types of adults that results in any sort of harm or threat of harm towards a child. Neglect includes rejecting, isolating, or ignoring a child. These are different types of abuse in which children are harmed. Although these types of abuse are defined as separate individual types, they can be linked together to one another.
|Photo from Child Maltreatment: Abuse and Neglect|
Physical child abuse is committed by a variety of different types of adults. Most often it is the children’s’ parents but that is not the case in all situations. In the photo on the left, it shows the statistics of who the perpetrators are of physical child abuse. Studies in the photo show that the child’s biological father contributes 41.3% of physical abuse to their children and the child’s biological mother does 38.9% of physical abuse to their child (Pala, Bengü, Ünalacak, Ünlüoğlu). This proves that children’s actual parents are responsible for most of the physical abusing of kids. Other perpetrators are stepfathers, stepmothers, foster families, adoptive parents, and other relatives. Stepfathers are accounted for 11.11% of physical child abuse while stepmothers are accounted for 3.4% of physical child abuse. Foster families and adoptive parents come in at the lowest percentage, which is 0.4%. So statistics show that they are the smallest amount of perpetrators of physical abuse. Other relatives commit 4.9% of physical abuse towards children. These statistics are just the results of perpetrators for physical child abuse, not sexual, emotional, or neglect.
Emotional abuse is somewhat linked with neglect. Emotional abuse includes rejecting, isolation, terrorizing, ignoring, corrupting, verbal assault, and over-pressuring. Examples of these types of emotional abuse are refusing to acknowledge the child’s presence and needs, denying the child of social experiences, not showing affection towards a child, extreme sarcasm, name calling, and public humiliation of the child. An example of corrupting is when the offender reinforces destructive, antisocial, or sexually exploitative behaviors. An example of over-pressuring is when an offender criticizes a child for not being able to do certain tasks that is normal for their age group. In some instances, emotional abuse can be when a parent abuses or fights with the other parent or any other person while a child is in the surrounding area. Emotional abuse can be a result of any other type of abuse inflicted on a child.
Sexual abuse is one of the fewer reported types of abuse. Children who are victims of sexual abuse usually keep it a secret because they are scared and feel guilty. Offenders keep their victims from telling anyone by intimidating and threatening them. According to the article, Child Abuse Effects, the number one reason why victims won’t tell anyone is because they are afraid that no one will believe them. This is why sexual abuse is not reported as much as other types of abuse.
Previously I stated the definition of neglect, but there are different types/subcategories within neglect. For example, there is physical neglect, medical neglect, educational neglect, and emotional neglect. Physical neglect is when a parent or guardian fails to provide food, shelter, and other necessities in life. Also, it is when a child is lacking the appropriate supervision needed, abandoned, or kicked out of the house. Medical neglect is when a parent or guardian fails to provide the necessary medical or mental health treatment, such as regular check up appointments to your family doctor and dentist every year. Educational neglect is when a parent or guardian fails to educate their children or attend to their special educational need, like sending them to school everyday or treating their special needs such as a learning disorder. Emotional neglect is when a parent or guardian fails to pay attention to their children’s emotional needs and provide affection. It also includes the failure to provide psychological care, and permitting their own children to use alcohol and any of other type of drugs. These situations are not always intentional. For instance, if a family is poor they can’t control the “neglect” towards their children if they can’t afford food or a house to live in. This is when a family would need assistance in caring for their children.
Overall, 77% of perpetrators are the child’s parents and 11% are other family relatives. These statistics include each type of child abuse as a whole. Also, only 2% of perpetrators of child abuse are foster parents. Other types of perpetrators and offenders are non-caretakers or they are unknown. An example of an unknown offender would be a child being abused by someone they don’t know and the offender leaving after committing the crime. Out of all offenders, 81% are said to be between the ages of eighteen and forty. Although the gender of the offender changes between different types of abuse, 61% of offenders are said to be females. Sexual abuse is usually seen as a male being the offender but neglect and medical neglect is committed by females more than males. Therefore, it is not only men who are committing child abuse, woman are high up there in being an offender.
|Photo from Children's Bureau|
Victims of child abuse are children of any age between zero and eighteen. Different age groups may be harmed more than others. The Children’s Bureau stated that 48.5% of boys were victims of child abuse and 51.2% of girls were victims of child abuse. Also, the Children’s Bureau has provided a pie graph on the right that includes the victims of child abuse. The most common victims are children under the age of three (34.0%). People who are less likely to be a victim of child maltreatment is sixteen to seventeen year old children (6.2%). The younger a child is, the more likely they are to be a victim of child abuse. As children get older, they are less likely to be a victim of child abuse.
|Photo from Child Maltreatment: Abuse and Neglect|
According to the article, Child Maltreatment: Abuse and Neglect, children between the ages of birth to one year old are accounted for the highest amount of deaths compared to other age groups (Pala, Bengü, Ünalacak, Ünlüoğlu). In the photo above you can see a graph that shows the amount of deaths due to child abuse in OECD countries over a five year time period. An OECD country is a group of twenty countries that signed the convention on the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development on December 14th, 1960. The group now includes thirty-four countries. Anyways, the graph states that approximately 600,000 children under the age of one died within these five years. Children between the ages of one and four had approximately 170,000 deaths and children between the ages of five and fourteen had approximately 100,000 deaths. This proves that children under the age of one are abused the most. As a child gets older in age, there are smaller amounts of death due to child abuse by a significant amount. Overall, more than five children die a day due to child abuse. The photo below shows the amount of deaths per day in the United States due to different types of child abuse from the year 1998 to 2010. The number of deaths increases and decreases throughout those years but it has been on an increase since 2008, which proves that child abuse is an increasing problem.
|Photo from Child Help|
|Photo from Children's Bureau|
The amount of crimes reported for child abuse is smaller than the actual amount of child abuse committed. Child abuse goes unreported in many cases. I believe that children don’t report themselves as victims of abuse because they might think that if they report the abuse that their offender will abuse them more. Also, children might be too scared to report it because they are young and their offenders are years older than them. In the photo above you can see the different types of child maltreatment that victims reported. The percentages add up to over 100% because a child might have suffered from more than one type of abuse. The photo shows that neglect accounts for 78.3% of reported cases of child abuse. Physical abuse comes in second with 17.8% reported cases, sexual abuse at 9.2%, and emotional abuse (psychological maltreatment) at 8.1%. Also, a type of neglect called medical neglect accounts for 2.4% of reported child maltreatment and 0.3% reported is due to unknown abuse. Neglect is the most frequently reported type of child abuse and causes the highest number of deaths, while medical neglect is the least reported type child abuse.
Different types of child abuse may have different effects on children. Effects of physical abuse include the child not trusting others, fear of physical contact, afraid when other people cry, aggressive, profound sadness, difficulties in school, lying, stealing, injuries, etc. According to Child Abuse and Neglect, “Emotional Abuse appears to have significant emotional and social/behavioral consequences for children across development, including disrupted attachment,” (Slep, Smith, Heyman, Snarr). Some of these social/behavioral consequences include inability to control emotions, sleep disorders, depression, withdrawal, stealing, lying, and self-harm. Some effects of sexual abuse include nightmares, phobias, learning problems, clinging, low self-esteem, and trust issues. Effects on children who are neglected include feeling unworthy to interact with others and not doing well academically. These are all examples of short-term effects. Some effects from child abuse can last up until adulthood, known as long-term effects. For example, approximately one-third of children who are abused will abuse their own children when they are adults. Some effects of abuse can even lead to death. All of these effects are not good for a child to experience while growing up.
Preventing child abuse is something that can be done. Anne Lee, President and CEO of Darkness to Light (program to prevent sexual child abuse), believes that we can prevent sexual child abuse. Anne says, “When adults are trained how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the issue – the reality of sexual abuse – we create a totally different outcome. Imagine if the adults in this story knew common sense proactive ways to keep their children safe – we wouldn’t be blogging about this." She thinks if children are taught sexual abuse prevention and parents/adults are taught how to prevent/recognize it then we can lower the sexual abuse in children. Prevent Child Abuse in America is another way to prevent child abuse. They work closely with state factors and Healthy Families of America sites all across America to let people know about child abuse; help prevent it, and support/strengthen families. Also, there are different programs where children can go to get help or care from being abused. It is important for children to get support/help after being abused so they don’t have any effects/problems afterwards.
Finally, after acknowledging the facts and statistics stated above, we can clearly see that child abuse doesn’t have a single positive outcome, so why do it? Due to the negative effects of child abuse, people should take action in preventing it. Speaking out, supporting children/families, and letting children open up can help victimized children and help prevent it in future situations. If we can prevent it, we can save children’s lives.
Printed Works Cited
Pala, Bengü, Murat Ünalacak, and İlhami Ünlüoğlu. "Child Maltreatment: Abuse And Neglect." Dicle Medical Journal / Dicle Tip Dergisi 38.1 (2011): 121-127. Academic Search Complete. Web. 13 Feb. 2012.
Slep, Amy M. Smith, Richard E. Heyman, and Jeffery D. Snarr. "Child Emotional Aggression And Abuse: Definitions And Prevalence." Child Abuse & Neglect 35.10 (2011): 783-796. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.