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Child Abuse 4 Essay, Research Paper

Judith is a battered 12-year-old who blames herself rather than her mother for her mother’s constant and increasing physical abuse. Michael, one of her classmates, recently suffered from the emotional abuse of his severely critical father. Judith misses school often and keeps to herself. Oddly, she wears a turtleneck even on warm days and frequently has an excuse for getting out of gym. Yet, the mysterious girl reminds schoolmate Michael of a friend who had helped him break out of his shell of loneliness and inadequacy. As Michael befriends Judith and gradually chips away at her secrets, he finds a girl emotionally and physically bruised, and only when it’s almost too late does he realize that Judith’s mother is to blame. Set in Holland, Bruises is a wrenching portrait of a family in crisis. Although I was impatient for the adults in Judith’s world to pick up on what is going on at home and act more decisively to help her, their hesitation and dim realization of her suffering are, perhaps, what is most realistic of all.

Estimates of abuse range wildly depending on the source of ones information. From one to two million children per year are victims of child abuse. All sources agree on the simple truth that not nearly all cases of child abuse are reported or even estimated. Many cases go unreported, less than 50% by current estimates. The amount of child abuse is staggering to think about, let alone deal with. By the age of eighteen one in three girls will have been

sexually molested and one in six boys will have been molested in that same time frame. Although, throughout this paper we shall discuss not only the effects of sexual abuse but abuse in all its


It is clear that families are undergoing a number of important structural changes: families are smaller than in the past, with fewer children and sometimes with only one parent; parents have children at a later age; more couples live together without the bonds of matrimony which was accepted as a sacred bond so few years in human history.

Physical abuse has many forms. It may involve the hitting or kicking of a child with the fists or the feet, or with another object; such as belts, shovels, changes, ropes, electric cords, leather

straps, canes, baseball bats, sticks, broom handles, or assorted large objects. Other forms of abuse include the pouring of scalding water or coffee on a child’s body, holding a child’s head under the water of a toilet bowl, stuffed into running washing machines, throwing a child against a wall, shaking a child with extreme force or placing parts of a child’s anatomy on hot or burning objects to cause pain. Some experts say the For every reported case of physical abuse over 100 are not reported. Nobody knows precisely how many children die each year from physical abuse at the hands of adults. The National committee for the Prevention of child Abuse in its annual survey of all 50 states estimates the 1,125 children died from abuse in 1988, a figure that, according to the Committee’s report “most likely represents the lowest estimate of the problem.” What is known is that reports of child fatalities resulting from abuse are steadily increasing. Many times when physical abuse is caused by a parent or guardian, the child is not taken for medical help, even when wounds or injuries are very severe. When they are taken into the hospital it is usually be a secondary member of the family, one who may not have caused the abuse but did not stop it either. This type of person might be called a facilitator. In the past, there was much more discipline in homes and schools then there is today. Kids way back were slapped on the wrist with rulers. They didn’t go out and kill each other as many of the kids do today.

Many experts think that terrible pressures on today’s family are partly to blame for the excess of abuse in today’s families. Physical abuse is termed sexual abuse when it involves the display or touching of genitalia or anything which is not a comfortable part of a normal person to person contact.

Sexual abuse is described as those activities by an older person for his or her sexual gratification without consideration for the child’s psycho-social sexual development. Also, as contacts or interactions between a child and an individual of higher power when the child is being used for the sexual stimulation of that adult or another. There are many categories of sexual abuse, these include; incest, pedophilia, exhibitionism, molestation, sex (statutory rape), sexual sadism, and child pornography. It is estimated that approximately three hundred thousand children are involved in child prostitution and pornography. Many times men or woman who abuse children were abused when they were young. In this way, abuse is very much a self fulfilling prophecy, or circle problem. Historically, sexual abuse was not as much of a problem as it is in modern times. Incidences of sexual abuse are highest in urbanized technologically advanced societies. In other cultures and times, prostitution was a valid form of employment, and this niche provided an integral outlet for connoisseurs of sex. Without this vent men with sexual frustration may turn to the less reactive child as sexual prey. Due to the black market prostitution of children, a twelve year old boy can earn upwards of a thousand dollars per day selling himself on the streets of Los Angeles. Sexual abuse can have severe consequences on the mental development of a children.

Mental Abuse of a child can involve several different activities. These can involved the common verbal forms, yelling, neglect, constant insults, etc. They also involve certain forms of mental torture and neglect. Mental abuse is one of the most damaging forms of abuse, because unlike rape or other forms of sexual or physical abuse, mental abuse will be with you all of your life. I would offer this analogy to shed light what I am trying to communicate here. Physical and sexual abuse are like roadblocks in the road of life. They are there for a while, but you get over them eventually. Mental abuse, on the other hand, catalyzes the disillusion of the view of the street. If someone is always insulting you, always telling you that you are no good: then with time, your mind becomes accustomed to it, and begins to believe it. This especially is a damaging consequence for young children and infants, who are as dependent upon mental support as they are for their physiological needs. It is an utter violation of such a relationship. Mental abuse not only affects the child, and the family, but society as a whole. Most people never fully recover from child abuse.

Neglect is the most prevalent form of child maltreatment. A recent Study prepared by the American Humane Association states that, nationwide, neglect consistently has accounted for the greatest number of maltreatment reports; in 1988 alone it represented sixty three percent of the approximately two million cases of reported incidents of the three predominant forms of child maltreatment: physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Neglect is the unlawful withholding of a child’s basic needs. Food, Water, Shelter, Clothing; these are all things that a child needs to live an effective life in today’s society. To deny a child these things is to leave him lower on the ladder of needs than he or she would conceivably be otherwise. Neglect is by far more prominent than any other forms of child maltreatment, but, continually it is the least prominent villain in child abuse advertising schemes. Why are people so unwilling to admit this problem? Why do Americans consistently look overseas and across borders when sending their charitable donations? The problem is here! It is not imagined. Unlike the demons who lurk in the darkness of children’s closets, this villain will not vanish at the flip of a light switch. Many of these children do not have their own closets or lights.

In conclusion, I have gone over the most important points and facts about the different types of child abuse and what their affects are on children. I have tried to shed some light on this unspoken about, and shunned subject. Child abuse has always been around, and it always will be around as long as other people care more about themselves, than about others. The last hundred years have only brought about changes in the discussion, description, and definition of child abuse. These things have helped do away with child abuse significantly, but the desturction of this most cursed of diseases is not in the sight of those who look to the future. I leave you with this final quote, spoken by a one Mr. Andrew Vachss.

“The effect that child abuse has not just on the victims, but on their subsequent victims and on society as a whole, is, in my judgment, far more devastating than the threat of drugs, of political upheaval, of economic disaster, or of environmental destruction… I really think that child abuse is the most significant threat not just to the quality of life in this country, but to life in this country.”


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