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 deliberately harm a child? The physical destruction of a child is the extreme reaction of parents to the stress of having children. If child abuse is a factor of the stress one experiences due to raising a child, then why don’t parents take a class or talk to a professional on how to manage their stress? They don’t want help. They don’t believe that they have a problem. Most people aren’t aware of the fact that deliberately hitting a child is considered to be a felony in all fifty states.

There are four different forms of child abuse. They are Physical Abuse (child beating), neglect, and emotional; Sexual Abuse; Incest; and Exploitation of child pornography.

Physical abuse occurs when a caretaker deliberately beats a child. Some examples of 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 physical abuse are reported annually.

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-stepparents, relatives, or guardians- 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, and shelter; when they refuse to seek health care or delay in doing so. Also when they abandon the child, either permanently or temporarily; or when they kick a child out of their home or when they refuse to let their runaway child return to home. There is educational neglect when parents do not force their children to attend school.

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. Another form of neglect is emotional neglect, which occurs when parents or guardians behave in a way that deeply disturbs a young child. It is when they fight or beat each other in front of the child; when they give permission for their child to use drugs and alcohol or when they themselves are under the influence or drugs and alcohol.

Physical neglect also occurs when a caretaker refuses to give a child needed care for psychological problems. 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 even 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, just over 292,000 children. Emotional neglect is third with 223,000 victims.

Sexual abuse, which is also known as sexual molestation, is defined as the exploitation of a minor for the sexual gratification of an adult. Its victims range in age from infants to young people well into their teens. It has many different forms. One form of sexual abuse is exhibitionism. This occurs when a person exposes theirself to a child.

Another form is when an adult forces a child to perform a sexual act. The third form occurs when a child is raped and then left in a remote area to die. These are just a few types of sexual abuse. The American Humane Association studied reports from child protection agencies across America in 1984 and concluded that some 100,000 American children were sexually abused that year. Sexual abuse is the least frequently reported type of child abuse.

Another form of child abuse is incest. Incest can be defined 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 each year. In a great majority of incest cases, the victim is a girl. Her assailant is usually a male adult, uncle, cousin, or brother. Most often, he is the child’s father or guardian. Studies have shown that 40 percent of all women who use drugs have incest in there past.

The fourth form of child abuse mentioned above is Child Pornography. Child Pornography is nothing new, it’s been around for centuries. This form of child abuse first began in foreign countries. In the 1970’s sales of child pornography in the United States boomed. Most of the children in child pornographies are runaways that find themselves broke.

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