What is child abuse and neglect?
Different people and organizations have defined child neglect and abuse in various ways. Washington State Legislature defines abuse and neglect as injury, sexual exploitation, and negligent treatment of a child caused by any person and indicating that the health, welfare, and safety of a child are harmed (RCW 26.44.020).
National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) provide a slightly different definition stating that child abuse is any action taken by another person, regardless of their age, that significantly harms a child. The harm can be caused by physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; still, it can also be a result of a lack of love, care, and attention (“Child Abuse And Neglect”).
What are the causes of child neglect and child abuse?
Mental health problems and drug and alcohol abuse may lead to parents neglecting their children. In most cases, they are not in control of themselves and are often under the influence of drugs or alcohol so much that they do not know what is happening in the lives of their children.
Poverty and lack of adequate resources may render children neglected since their parents may not be able to afford basic commodities like food, clothing, and shelter. This happens mostly in developing countries. Trauma has also been reported as a cause of child abuse. Most parents who suffered child abuse as children themselves tend to subject their children to child abuse. Some of them are doing it because that is the way they think children should be treated. (“Child Abuse And Neglect – Causes Of Abuse And Neglect “)
Domestic violence is also a cause of child neglect. When marriages are abusive and violent, mostly for women, parents end up being depressed and get their feelings out by neglecting or abusing children, sometimes unintentionally
What are the signs and symptoms of Child abuse?
Signs of child abuse are classified into two categories, general signs and specific signs. General signs are exhibited across the board and suffered by a majority of children experiencing any form of abuse. In contrast, specific signs are exhibited by children experiencing a particular type of child abuse. The general signs include: slower than usual development, where a child does not exhibit the skills and capabilities of children their age. Some children even regress, losing skills they had already acquired; mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and entertainment of suicidal thoughts. (“Child Abuse And Neglect-Symptoms”)
Specific signs will be discussed in detail in the sections below:
- Signs of emotional abuse include but not limited to
Children suffering from emotional abuse may exhibit extremes in behavior, they may turn out to be extremely passive or extremely aggressive. In most cases, they will be excessively withdrawn and afraid to do something wrong for fear of the parent. They are also not attached to their parents or caregiver in many instances
- Signs of physical abuse
Children who have frequent and brutal injuries might be suffering from physical abuse for their caregivers. These children will often be paranoid and afraid as if something bad is always going to happen to them. Wearing inappropriate clothing could also be a sign of physical abuse; for example, when a child is wearing long-sleeved clothes on a sunny day, they might be hiding marks form physical abuse.
- Signs of sexual abuse
Trouble walking or sitting in children could be a sign of sexual abuse. The child could be experiencing pain. When a child puts in a lot of effort to avoid somebody in particular, it could be a sign of sexual abuse. Children who display so much knowledge about sex and sexuality, especially when they are below the age of 12, could be experiencing sexual abuse.
- Signs of child neglect
- Children who suffer neglect may exhibit characteristics of being too underweight or overweight because nobody cares about what they eat.
- Children who are sick and tired all the time may also be exhibiting signs of neglect.
- Poor personal hygiene is a sign of neglect.
- Children that wear clothes that are tattered and inappropriate for the weather (for instance, not wearing warm clothes during a rainy day) may be showing a sign of neglect.
- Children who are frequently late or absent from school may be exhibiting signs of neglect (“Child Abuse And Neglect: How To Spot The Signs”).
How many children have died due to abuse and neglect?
It is not easy to quantify the actual number of children who have died due to child abuse or neglect, but several statistics show a substantial number. According to The National Centre for Fatality Review and Prevention, more than 1,700 children in the United States die of child abuse and neglect each year. However, the real number of deaths caused by abuse and neglect is believed to be much higher (The National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention). According to Childhelp, America loses an average of four to seven children every day to child abuse and neglect (“Child Abuse Statistics”). Another report carried out by Moreno indicates that America loses about eight children to abuse and neglect every day. Finally, the independent magazine in Britain reports seemingly lower cases on death due to neglect in the UK; it states that about 100 children die every year because of child abuse and neglect and about two every week in the UK (Garner).
“Child Abuse And Neglect – Causes Of Abuse And Neglect, Effects Of Abuse On Children, Prevention Of Child Abuse.” Education Encyclopedia – StateUniversity.com, 2017, http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1823/Child-Abuse-Neglect.html Accessed February 8, 2018.
“Child Abuse And Neglect.” NSPCC, 2017, https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/ Accessed February 6, 2018.
“Child Abuse And Neglect: How To Spot The Signs And Make A Difference.” Help Guide, 2017, https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect.htm#warning Accessed February 8, 2018.
“Child Abuse And Neglect-Symptoms.” WebMD, 2017, https://www.webmd.com/parenting/tc/child-maltreatment-symptoms#1 Accessed February 5, 2018.
“Child Abuse Statistics.” Childhelp, 2017, https://www.childhelp.org/child-abuse-statistics/.
Garner, Clare. “More Than 100 Children Die Of Abuse And Neglect Every Year Die Two.” The Independent, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/more-than-100-children-die-of-abuse-and-neglect-every-year-die-two-children-a-week-die-from-abuse-1080745.html Accessed February 8, 2018.
Moreno, Denisse. “As Many As 8 Children Die Of Abuse And Neglect Every Day: Report.” The Epoch Times, 2017, https://www.theepochtimes.com/as-many-as-8-children-die-of-abuse-and-neglect-every-day-report_1995955.html Accessed January 30, 2018.
RCW 26.44.020. “RCW 26.44.020: Definitions. (Effective Until July 1, 2018.).” Apps.Leg.Wa.Gov, 2017, http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=26.44.020 Accessed February 8, 2018.
The National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention. “Child Abuse And Neglect – The National Center For Fatality Review And Prevention.” Ncfrp.Org, 2017, https://www.ncfrp.org/reporting/child-abuse-and-neglect/ Accessed February 9, 2018.