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Child abuse is a social problem that affects millions of children each year. Not

only does child abuse have multiple societal repercussions, but also individual

repercussions that produce lifelong scars. There are many forms of child abuse;

sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional. Some of the facts presented in this

paper will be painful to absorb. That does not change the fact that these

problems must be addressed. It has been reported that one out of three girls,

and one out of seven boys are sexually abused by the time they reach the age of

18. The most prevalent form of child sexual abuse is now recognized to be,

incest. A study that showed approximately 27% of the women in every state of the

union, and 16% of the men said they had been sexually abused as children. Child

Abuse Laws Child abuse. Two words that should never have to be seen side by

side. Yet, child abuse is very much a reality in this world. Unfortunately, to

wish otherwise would be the same as to wish for a perfect world. We must do the

best that we can as a society with the power of laws on our side to help the

innocent young victims of child abuse. We have a responsibility as human beings

to do all that we can for these children. Some of us fulfill this responsibility

by promoting awareness, some by donating time, money, or services, some by

getting laws passed, and some by enforcing laws that protect children from all

kinds of abuse. The purpose of this study was to research child abuse from all

angles to try to understand what we as a society may be doing wrong & also

what we may be doing right to help the young victims of child abuse. To look at

all types of studies & compare them & try to break them down to better

understand them. The first things that should be understood are; the

characteristics of the offenders, the types of offenses, & some of the

societal issues that are listed as possible causes of child abuse. Studies show

that the characteristics of sexual abuse offenders are; dependent, inadequate

individuals with early family histories characterized by conflict, disruption,

abandonment, abuse, and exploitation. In 1997, over 3 million children were

reported for child abuse and neglect to child protective service agencies in the

U.S.. These figures have gone up from year to year approximately 1.7% per year.

Since 1985, the rate of child abuse fatalities has increased by 34%. Of these

fatalities, 78% were children under the age of 5. 38% were under one year of

age. The top 6 causes of child abuse listed were: 1. Drug addiction 2. Poverty

3. A violent society 4. A lack of community ties 5. A family history of violence

6. Lack of parenting skills. METHOD The information obtained in this research

paper was drawn mostly from various internet web-sites. I read all of the

pertinent issues related to this topic. All sides of the issue were accounted

for. For example; stories, facts, & figures as they are told by adults, the

children, law enforcers, law makers, the accused, the falsely accused etc. This

information then had to be sorted out according to what was fact, and what was

opinion. I was looking mostly for law related issues, and I received a lot of

other valuable pieces of information along the way. I pieced the information

together in a way that I felt would make sense to a reader who was trying to get

a good general understanding about child abuse laws. LITERATURE REVIEW /

CONCLUSIONS AND FINDINGS One valuable source of information pertained to the

American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law (established in 1978).

Its mission was to try to help improve children’s lives through advances in law,

justice, knowledge, practice, and public policy. Its work includes such jobs as;

strengthening laws, policies, and judicial procedures affecting children, and

increasing public awareness of law and justice related to children. The center

has also taken on such projects as, removing barriers to the termination of

parental rights and helping courts to improve child protection case handling

practices. They also pledged to work to establish clear standards for attorneys

in the representation of children, parents, and child protection agencies in

child abuse and neglect cases. Also, to persuade legislature to strengthen the

representation of children, parents, and child protection agencies in child

abuse and neglect cases. According to the ABA Division of Media Relations and

Public Affairs, in 1995, 3.1 million children were reported to child protection

agencies as being abused or neglected. That was double the number reported in

1984. Of the 3.1 million children reported, 996,000 children were confirmed

after investigation to be abused or neglected. A study released in 1996 by the

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services suggests these totals are drastically

understated. The National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect found that

2.8 million children were believed to have been actually abused or neglected in

1993. In addition, the study found that the number of children nearly quadrupled

between 1986 and 1993. While the number of children reported to be abused or

neglected has increased each year, the number of reports investigated has stayed

about the same for each year. Several sources show (in approximate measures)

that the following types of abuse reported to be broken up in the following way:

The Volunteers for Children Act of 1998 was an amendment to the National Child

Protection Act of 1993. The Volunteers for Children Act was signed into law by

President Clinton as Public Law 105-251. Under this act, organizations and

businesses dealing with children, the elderly, and the disabled would be able to

use a national fingerprint based criminal history check to screen out volunteers

and employees with relevant criminal records. Also under this amendment, if a

volunteer or employee of an organization sexually molests a child in his care

and if it can be shown that he/she had been previously convicted of a relevant

crime, the organization may be held liable under the legal theory of

"negligent hiring". This act also demands that if a current or

potential volunteer or employee has a relevant criminal history, he or she must

be prevented from having unsupervised access to children, the elderly, or the

disabled. Such a person must not be placed in a position where he or she may

easily victimize again. It is said that an employer has a clear duty to use

"reasonable care in hiring" and retaining employees who are competent

and fit for their positions. The question is then raised to the definition and

scope of "reasonable care". What is considered reasonable is usually

determined with each separate case, as the circumstances surrounding each case

will vary. It is said that the liability of the employer will not be based

solely on his or her failure to investigate the criminal history of the

applicant, but on the total circumstances surrounding the hiring. It will have

to be determined if the employer exercised reasonable care in hiring or not.

Sometimes in determining these types of cases, the court will look at the

"sensitive-nature" of the position at hand. When an employee is being

hired for a sensitive occupation, it is important that the employer fully

investigates that person. A mere lack of evidence may not be sufficient to

discharge the obligation of the employer to exhibit "reasonable care in

hiring". The principle of reasonable care in hiring also applies to the

selection of volunteers, since the purpose of this rule is to assign

responsibility for injuries to third persons. A notable case out of Virginia

deals directly with the issue of liability for the negligence of a volunteer. In

"Infant C. v. Boy Scouts of America, Inc." (391 S.E. 2d 322(Va.1990)),

a child and his parents sued both the national and local Boy scouts office for

negligently selecting and retaining a volunteer scoutmaster with a criminal

record for sexually assaulting scouts in another state, who allegedly molested

the child plaintiff. The courts inquiry turned on the selection process itself

and found that the evidence supported the jury’s determination that the national

organization did not participate in selecting the scoutmaster. Accordingly, the

appellate court affirmed that portion of the jury’s verdict dismissing the claim

against the national Boy Scouts of America organization, while it held the local

branch liable for $45,000. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)

was also known as the Mondale Act of 1974. The intent of Congress was to provide

incentives to the states if they would set up programs targeting child

protection research, identification, prosecution and treatment regimens. Once

the states complied with the provisions outlined under CAPTA, the National

Clearinghouse for Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) allocated matching monies to

these same states. CAPTA is responsible for establishing NCCAN. NCCAN is a

primary federal agency with responsibility assisting states with child abuse

prevention, treatment, and resources. CAPTA also provided for the creation of

mandated reporting of child abuse and neglect by social workers, police

officers, teachers, doctors, etc., as well as the creation of anonymous tip

hotlines and abuse registries. These registries, or computer database storage

centers, hold accused records for several years – guilty or not, criminally

charged or not. This is one of the main criticisms that opposers have to this

act. "Megan’s Law" stemmed from what was perhaps one of the most well

known cases of child abuse in history. It took effect officially on January 22,

1996. The intent of this law was, and still is, to allow the public to protect

themselves and their children from sexual predators. This law allows the public

to view pictures and information on convicted sexual offenders. The law also

allows police agencies to proactively put out bulletins/announcements to the

public to warn them of certain sexual predators that may be living or moving

into their cities or neighborhoods. "From this day forward, every offender

on parole or probation and every offender sentenced to parole, probation, local

jail and state prison will have to register his whereabouts with the

State." said Governor George Pataki of New York on 1-22-96. "For too

long, children have mercilessly died at the hands of vicious child predators-

Megan Kanka, Sara Ann Wood, My Ly Nghiem, and Polly Klass," said Senate

Deputy Majority Leader Dean Skelos. "Parents will finally have this crucial

information they need to protect their children from societies sickest

individuals." (www.meganslaw) Megan’s Law is an effective tool that parents

and law enforcement can use to help prevent future tragedies. Under the law, an

offender is required to register with the states Division of Criminal Justice

Services within 10 calendar days of being released from prison. The offender is

required to verify a home address annually for a period of at least 10 years. An

offender who is determined to be a high-risk offender must also personally

verify a home address with the local police every 90 days. Failure to register

is a crime. A first offense is a Class A misdemeanor, a repeat offense is a

class D felony. The law also provides that an offenders case be reviewed by a

Board of Examiners. The board makes a recommendation to the court as to the

offenders’ "degree of risk of repeat offense and threat to public

safety." Depending upon whether the risk is low, moderate or high, the

offender will receive a Level One, Two or Three designation. The court makes the

final designation as to risk. Under the statute, the level of risk determines

the amount of information that can be released to the public. With a Level One

designation, the police are notified of the offenders’ presence in the

community. A Level Two designation allows the police to disseminate general

information about the offender to the public. A Level Three designation

authorizes the release of specific information about the offender, including his

exact address. The North Carolina Sex Offender and Public Protection Registry

gives law enforcement an additional tool to help solve violent and brutal

crimes. It helps prevent children (and the public) from becoming victims. The NC

registry was established in January 1996 due to the General Assembly’s enactment

of Article 27A of Chapter 14 of the North Carolina General Statutes (NCGS

14-208.5). This law requires a person who is a resident of N.C. and who has a

reportable conviction to maintain registration with the sheriff of the county

where the person resides. If the person moves to North Carolina from outside the

state, the person is required to register within 10 days of establishing

residence. The following bills are some of those sponsored by a group called

Protect Our Children based out of California in 1998: California State Assembly

Bills AB1078 (Cardoza)- This bill will allow schools to post "Megan’s

Law" information, and be exempt from any liability charges. They are in the

hopes that with the liability issue taken care of, that this will encourage

schools to get this vital information out to parents. AB2386 (Bordonaro)- This

bill will prevent court ordered, "forced" visitation in cases where a

parent is convicted of first degree murder of the child’s other parent. Similar

legislation has already been adopted in other states. It is commonly referred to

as "Lizzies Law". On August 3, 1995, 3-year old Lizzie Thompson

witnessed her father brutally murder her mother in Massachusetts. Her father was

convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. He then

asked the courts to force his daughter, Lizzie, against her wishes, to visit him

in prison twice a month and to phone him once a week. This is appalling that a

child could be forced into visits under these circumstances. There is much to be

said about the lasting effects of child abuse. It shouldn’t hurt to be a child,

yet children continue to be victimized every day. Statistics show that the

abused child all too often grows up to be an offender. It is so important that

we do everything possible to break this cycle.

1. http://www.abanet.org/child/challenge.html

2. http://www.abanet.org/media/factbooks/cH36.html

3. http://www.abanet.org/child/about.html

4. http://redwood.northcoast.com/-dka/deadkids.html

5. http://web.raex.com/joeclark/falsehtm

6. http://sbi.jus.state.nc.us

7. http://www.childsexualabuse.org/act.htm

8. http://www.VOCALNY.org

9. http://www.youthlaw.org

10. http://www.abuse-excuse.com

11. http://freenet.msp.mn.us/people/kaplan/abuseframe.htm

12. http://www.state.ny.us/governor/press/meganslaw.html

13. http://www.childabuse.org

14. http://www.clinicalsocialwork.com/incest.html

15. http://www.abuse-excuse.com/laws.htm#mondale

16. http://members.xoom.com/xoom/ProtectChild/index.html

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