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Child Abuse Essay, Research Paper

What is Child Abuse? By definition, child abuse is the deliberate and willful

injury of a child by a caretaker hitting, beating with an object, slamming

against a wall, even killing. It involves active, hostile, aggressive treatment.

The key word in the definition of child abuse is deliberate. Why would

anyone physically harm a child? The physical destruction of a child is the

extreme reaction of parents to the stress of having children. Most people are

not aware of the fact that deliberately hitting a child is considered a felony in

all fifty states. Abuse of children is more common than most people realize.

At least one out of five adult women and one out of every ten adult men

report having been abused in childhood. Recognizing child abuse in its several

forms is a twentieth century phenomenon. Child abuse is also more likely to

be recognized in economically developed countries than in other parts of the

world. Children have been beaten and abandoned for centuries, based

primarily on the belief that children are the property of their parents. By

educating yourself and your children about abuse, you can help prevent it

from happening to your children and better cope with it if it does. (Child 6)

There are four different forms of child abuse. They are physical abuse (child

beating and neglect), sexual abuse, incest, and exploitation (such as child

pornography). Physical abuse occurs when a caretaker deliberately beats the

child. Some examples of 2 physical abuse include burning with a cigarette,

striking a child, and scalding with hot water. According to social agencies,

beatings of children have been multiplying over the past twenty-five years or

so. The increasing number of reports could mean that in recent years, social

workers, health professionals, and other experts have become better able to

recognize cases of mistreatment. Some 60,000 cases of abuse are reported

annually. (Sargo 12) Many battered children must endure a second terrible

problem – neglect. Neglect, which occurs when parents or others who are

responsible for a child?s welfare fail to provide for the child?s basic needs in

any number of ways. Physical neglect occurs when the caretaker fails to

provide adequate food, clothing, or shelter. Physical neglect also occurs

when the person caring for a child refuses to seek health care or delays in

doing so. Other examples are abandoning a child, either permanently or

temporarily, and when a child is kicked out of home or refused to be let back

in. There is also educational neglect when parents do not force their children

to attend school. Early civilization regularly abandoned deformed or surplus

children, and ritual sacrifice of the children to appease the gods took place in

Egyptian, Carthaginian, Roman, Greek, and Aztec societies. (Child 2) Either

they do not enroll the child in school at the age required by law, or they allow

their children to be chronically truant from classes. (Gelles 21). 3 Another

form of neglect is emotional neglect, which occurs when parents or guardians

behave ?in a way that deeply disturbs a young child.? (Sargo 15) Some

examples of emotional abuse occur when parents fight or beat each other in

front of a child, when they give a child permission to use drugs or alcohol or

when the parents themselves are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Then

there is moral neglect, when parents let their children run loose in the streets

at all hours so he or she risks getting in trouble with the law. Moral neglect

also occurs when the parents allow or encourage the child to perform criminal

acts. Of the various types of neglect, physical is said to be the most common.

The DHHS study reports that some 571,600 American children suffer from

physical neglect . Educational neglect is next at just over 292,000 children.

Emotional neglect is third with 223,000 victims. (Child 11) Sexual abuse,

which is also known as sexual molestation, is defined as the exploitation of a

minor for the sexual gratification of an adult. Sexual abuse involves forcing,

tricking, bribing, threatening or pressuring a child into sexual awareness or

activity. Sexual abuse is an abuse of power over a child and a violation of a

child?s right of normal, healthy, trusting relationship. Sexual abuse occurs

when an older child or more knowledgeable child or an adult uses a child for

sexual pleasure. The abuse often begins gradually and increases over time. Its

victims range in age from infants to young people well into their teens. Sexual

abuse has many different forms. One form is 4 exhibitionism. This occurs

when a person exposes his or herself to a child. Another form of sexual abuse

is when an adult forces a child to perform a sexual act. The American

Humane Association studied reports from child protection agencies across

America in 1994 and concluded that some 100,000 American children were

abused that year. Sexual abuse is the least frequently reported type of child

abuse. (Faulkner 4) Sex offenders very cunningly weave the web of abuse

and secrecy. The snare is cast ever so slowly under the guise of a loving

relationship. By the time many children realize something is wrong, the

violation has begun, and the stench of the self-deprecation feelings has

already emerged into their terrified reality. The adult who presumes sex on a

child is ?deceiving? the child into trusting that it is a okay, ?tricking? the child

into trusting that it?s a love relationship, and engaging in ?illegal criminal?

behavior. Children don?t always know when they are being abused; they

sometimes don?t know what to call it. To add to their confusion, inconsistent

parents we keep sending them more and more conflicting messages.

(Faulkner 3-5) Another form of child abuse is incest. Incest can be described

as sexual acts between two people who are so closely related that the law

forbids them to marry. The Child Sexual Abuse Treatment Program reported

that they handle about five hundred cases of incest a year. In a great majority

of incest cases, the victim is a female. Her assailant is usually a male adult,

uncle, cousin, or brother. Most often, however, he is the 5 child?s fathers or

guardian. Some studies have shown that 40 percent of all women who use

drugs have incest in their past. (American 1) Another form of abuse is child

pornography. Child pornography by definition is the sexual exploitation of

children. The concern is greater than the distribution of offensive images. The

real fear is that pedophiles who trade child pornography will, sooner or later,

commit sexual crimes in their neighborhood. Child pornography is nothing

new. It has been around for centuries. This form of child abuse first began in

foreign countries. In the 1970’s, sales of child pornography boomed. Most of

the children in child pornographies are runaways who find themselves broke.

The acts of child pornography that are vicious and the damage to the children

is tremendous. There is also great possibility that, raised in sexual cruelty,

they themselves will become sexually abusive parents. Thus, a terrible

tradition has been started. (The-Sexual 23) Who is a child abuser? Abused

children are found in all types of homes – in the poorest neighborhoods, in

middle class and wealthy neighborhoods in all parts of the country. No one

can define one group of people to be child abusers. However, the ?greatest

numbers of cases of mistreatment are seen in families with annual incomes of

about $15,000.? (Child 9) The rate of mistreatment is five times higher than in

higher income families. Reports have also shown that the rate of physical

abuse and neglect is higher in families with four or more children. 6 By far the

greatest number of beatings come from parents who have trouble handling the

problems in their lives. ? About 80 percent of all abusive mothers were at one

point and time abused children.? (Child 13) For this reason, people can

expect most of today?s abused children. (Child 9-13) Abuse survivors tell us

that one of the problems that lingers into adult hood and that keeps the secret

intact for years, is the child?s feelings that they are somehow to blame and as

a result, they are ?dirty? or soiled.? Sex offenders are smart. They know

about the ?pleasure quilt? and may even emphasize it to keep the sordid

secret, ? ?If you tell anyone about this, they will think you?re bad.? (Faulkner

3) Abuse does not just mean that the child is likely to become an abusive

parent. There is another great danger. Studies show that abused children

have a habit of getting into trouble with the law. There are no statutes that

clearly distinct between what is and what is not considered to be child abuse

and neglect. Therefore, police and other public officials must take each case

separately into consideration. All states have three sets of laws relating to

child abuse and neglect. One law requires all physicians and other public

officials to report to the local police any situation in which they suspect a child

has been intentionally abused or neglected. The other two laws deal with the

criminal code by which an accused child abuser is punished. Child abuse is

considered a felony, but by the time most families in trouble come in contact

with the law it is much too late to help. 7 Some people believe it is better for

an abused child to be placed in foster care. Yet, foster care, in some cases,

may be more harmful to the child?s health. Despite a department policy that

says children should not be put in homes with more than six children, sixteen

percent are. One fourth of all abused children in foster care return to their

parents. It has been estimated that some ten thousand children are severely

battered every year, fifty to seventy-five thousand are sexually abused, one

hundred thousand are emotionally neglected, and another one hundred

thousand are physically, morally, or educationally neglected. (Innocents) ?It

only takes a quick scan of the headlines to see that sex offenders come in a

variety of shapes and sizes ? principals, teachers, coaches, doctors, lawyers,

scout leaders, ministers, priests, neighbors, relatives ? the butcher, the

banker, and the candlestick maker.? (Faulkner 6) Every child is vulnerable to

abuse. Today?s parents must face the possibility that someone may hurt or

take advantage of their child. Research indicates that as many as one out of

every four children will be the victim of some type of abuse. Very young

children as well as older teenagers are victimized. Almost all of these children

will be abused by someone they know and trust. (Faulkner 1) There are

many organizations that were formed for the sole purpose of helping to

prevent child abuse, such as the Committee for the Prevention of Child

Abuse, Societies 8 for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and Big

Brothers/Big Sisters of America. There are also thousands of thoughtful and

concerned Americans working to halt the spread of child abuse. There are

many things people can do to help this cause, so one day there may be a

conclusion to a horrible problem that haunts many American children. One

way for someone to help children is to speak out. Silence enables the abuse

to continue. Silence protects the offenders and hurts children who are being

abused. Abuse is an extremely difficult and damaging experience.


Outline Thesis: What is Child Abuse and what are it?s effects on the child and

his/her family? I. Introduction II. Different types of child abuse A. Physical

Abuse B. Sexual Abuse C. Incest D. Exploitation III. Neglect A. Physical

Neglect B. Educational Neglect C. Emotional Neglect D. Moral Neglect IV.

Sexual Abuse A. Exhibitionism B. Sexual Acts V. Incest A. Sexual acts

between relatives B. Victim statistics VI. Child Pornography A. Boomed in

the 70’s B. Abused passed on through generations VII. Where abused

children are found A. All neighborhoods B. Low income families IX. Abuse

Laws A. Laws in all states B. Abuse statistics X. Conclusion

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