Child abuse is a major problem these days that happens more often than people think. For instance, 700,000 children become victims of abuse annually (National Children’s Alliance). The majority of abusers are believed to mentally ill, feel worthless and not in control. The research seeks to examine the effects of child abuse on children and the possible means to punish the perpetrators. Through discussing the theoretical perspectives surrounding child abuse in the social setting, the paper examines the different forms of child abuse including sexual abuse, physical abuse, and emotional abuse (Singh et al. 55). Further, the discussion centers around establishing the effects such forms of abuse have on the child and the society as a whole.
Child abuse as a criminal act has been in existence for a long time. The term is usually used to refer to the acts that are performed by a perpetrator, especially a mature person, which are intended to harm the child (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The harm, which is usually non-accidental, can take up different forms. The perpetrator may harm the child physically, sexually, or psychologically through neglect (Sousa).
According to Childhelp, it has been recorded that in every ten seconds, there is a report on child abuse globally. Within the United States, there is a loss of about four children to child abuse on a daily basis (Child Abuse Statistics). The data translates to about 6.6 million children reporting child abuse, of which, 3.2 million are subject to the reports. In 2015 alone, it was established that 1,670 children died due to abuse and neglect (Child Abuse Statistics).
When to Call
It is possible to see the signs and suspicious behaviors of a child that will show they are being abused. Some children act out and hurt other kids, some are lonely and tend to keep to themselves and are isolated from other kids.
Signs of Abuse
Some forms of abuse leave visible traces like bruised arms, burnt faces, and withdrawal of the victims from the society. Besides, some of the victims may develop sudden aggressiveness towards the members of the opposite gender in the case of sexual abuse (Vaillancourt-Morel et al. 230).
Reporting Child Abuse
Through observing the classroom behaviors of the children, it is possible to see how they act in school and around other kids, as well as how they do their schoolwork and study. Besides, their social behaviors, such as communication and interaction skills are limited, which forms the basis for a formal investigation into the matter (Brown et al. 390).
Types of Child Abuse
Child abuse can be subdivided into different categories depending on the effect the abuse has on the child (Sowmya Bhaskaran and Shekhar 145). These categories are:
- Emotional and psychological abuse
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
Physical Child Abuse
The continuum of physical child abuse forms the largest part of child abuse globally. It can be defined as the deliberate maltreatment of a child through inflicting injury to the child. For instance, the caregiver may expose the child to various physical abuses that are non-accidental like hitting the child with a stick, hand, or strap, kicking or burning. At some instances, the parent or the caregiver may punch, choke or stab the child to dangerous levels that harm the child’s health and body in general (Smith et al. 483). Studies have established that the physical child abuse, apart from being a cause for future social problems, it is one of the major societal concerns that the administration and the law should be concerned with. The policymakers have pointed out that the maltreatment can be conceptualized through several theoretical frameworks (Smith et al. 483).
One of the theories that the scholars have used to understand the physical child abuse and the implications of the crime in society is the social learning theory. Examining the form of abuse from this perspective allows the policymakers and the administration to establish that the children imitate what they observe around them. Consequently, when children grow up in such an environment, there is a high propensity for them to reproduce similar behavior (Jung et al. 1004). Notably, the violence that the adult version of the abused child may, at times pose a danger to the entire society and the nation at large. For example, the reproduction of the learned behavior like physical injuries by fire will result in the person being drawn towards hurting others by fire.
Moreover, some researchers are of the opinion that the lessons learnt in childhood tend to be permanent and may never be corrected. Therefore, the learned aggression contributes to the formation of cyclic violence that may be difficult to be corrected by the law and the police as a whole. Thus, the correction department should be more focused on making sure that the parents are educated on how to develop a healthy relationship within the family rather than assuming dictatorship roles. Hence, this will prevent physical abuse to the children and future violence from the adult versions of the children who are abused when young.
Based on the social-ecological theory, physical abuse is conceptualized to be higher under unfavorable family environments. For instance, parents who are addicts and have failed to stabilize their marriages will tend to physically abuse their children. Similarly, the children growing up under constant torture will experience personality disorders and post-traumatic stress, which pose a threat to the correction department in many ways (Smith et al. 483). One of the major threats is the possibility for the children developing into adults who are bent at projecting the abuse. Since many of the children learn how to avoid such punishments when young, they will be able to commit the crimes without leaving traces, making it hard for the administration to rectify the problem.
Emotional Child Abuse
Popularly known as psychological abuse, refers to the behaviors and actions of the caregivers, including the significant people within a child’s life, which result in a negative mental perception. The form of abuse, according to the definition by the government of the United States, is the totality of behavior which results in impairment of the emotional development of the child and the child’s feeling of worth. These abuses include
- insulting the child,
- threats of violence towards the child even it the threats are not carried out,
- making the child to either willingly or unwillingly to witness another child being emotionally abused,
- allowing or forcing the child to witness or use illegal drugs (Smith et al. 484).
The effect emotional child abuse can be established by observing signs such as the child being afraid of the parents because the parent figure instills fear in them through exposing the child to psychologically depressing incidences. Besides, the child feels bad about themselves and therefore, will have low self-esteem since the caregivers fail to appreciate the child’s efforts or may rebuke the efforts. Furthermore, when the parent and the caregiver demonstrate less affection towards the child, the child will exhibit emotional immaturity, which will contribute to the poor performance of the children at school.
From the attachment theory, it can be noted that a lack of maternal care from parents or the caregivers contribute to major psychological difficulties that eventually impact the social attachment of the children. Depriving the child the necessary opportunity to develop bonding between either him or her with the parent and the caregiver is a violation of the basic needs of the child. Furthermore, the theory demonstrates that the insecurity the child feels due to neglect and lack of development of positive attachment with the mother and other significant members of the child’s life contribute to the child feeling insecure, and psychological insecurity in adulthood (Smith et al. 483).
Regarding justice and law, the emotional child abuse has been noted to be less explored since, at most of the time, the incidences go unreported or underreported. According to the statistics by the Childhelp, approximately three million cases of emotional child abuse are reported annually in the United States. The prevalence of these abuses stems from the fact that the charges may not hold because there may never be sufficient evidence against the offender in such cases. Therefore, the courts and the administration should focus on addressing the emotional abuse (Widom et al. 655).
Sexual Child Abuse
Child sexual abuse can be conceptualized as the situation in which a minor is included in sexual activity, especially with an adult. The child does not have the mentality to consent to any sexual activity, and therefore, anyone making the child participate in such activities is taking advantage of the minor. Notable, sexual abuse takes up various forms:
- Making the child watch one masturbating or forcing the child to masturbate,
- Making obscene calls in the presence of the minor or to the minor,
- Sex trafficking,
- Intercourse or any form of sex with the child (Pipe et al. 180).
Based on the various forms of sexual abuse, it can be noted that sexual abuse contributes to both physical and emotional abuse. The possibility of sexual abuse causing life-long effects has been known to be high in a manner that the victims my never develop trust towards the opposite gender. For example, if a girl is sexually abused by the father, she may never have a positive opinion of the male gender and will most likely despise social institutions like marriage. Furthermore, the girl will be driven towards engaging in prostitution due to the fear of being viewed as an outcast within the community (Pipe et al. 180).
Also, the abuse will most certainly have physical effects like dysfunctional reproductive organs for the case of girls, contracting of diseases, among others. Eventually, when the children grow up, they will most likely engage in drug abuse as an escape mechanism to avoid facing the trauma that they experienced in the early stages of life.
From the feminist perspective, the sexual abuse towards children can be understood as exercising power and control towards women and children. For instance, the parent who fails to protect the child from sexual abuse but rather takes advantage of the innocence of the child is a concern of the law since he or she is demonstrating the parenting deficiencies (Finkelhor et al. 330). Therefore, the police and the law should focus on protecting the children from such abusive parents to regulate the possibility of creating avenues for the maturity of other social vices like drug abuse and prostitution.
When considered from the children’s rights point of view, it can be noted that children, like adults, have their rights. The independence of the children prevents them from being treated as properties by their parents. For instance, if the children’s rights were structured in a manner that they were strict on what can and cannot be done to children, it would be easier to prevent adults from subjecting minors to sexual abuse. Therefore, just like the United Nations Convention on Children’s Rights points out, the parents and the family as a whole has the mandate to provide care and protection for the minors. The administration and the justice system should also consider developing mechanisms to shield the children from sexual abuse by the adults, especially fathers (Vaillancourt-Morel et al. 230).
Moreover, examining sexual abuse through a Biblical approach, when parents are the perpetrators of the crime, it can be noted as incest. Since the Bible condemns incest, it is vital for the criminals involved to be punished for contradicting the Biblical law. According to the Hebrew Bible, it is prohibited for people having close family relations to engage in sexual activity of any form, making it punishable (King James Bible Online, Lev. 18.8-18). Therefore, it is important for the justice sector to punish the culprits by the Biblical law. Furthermore, the Biblical law states that the parents should nurture their children with care and love rather and not with wrath (King James Bible Online, Eph, 6.4)
Perpetrators of child abuse are the adults in a child abuse incidence who subject the children to the specific form of abuse. The perpetrators have a wide range of characteristics. Notably, those that tend to abuse the minors are the people who have a close relationship with the children. Such people include the caregivers and those who have the minors in their custody which gives them the proximity to commit the vices (National Children’s Alliance).
As a responsible party, it is important to do everything in your power to ensure that the perpetrators are identified and taken to the justice sections within the society. Furthermore, it is important to ensure the safety of the child.
To sum up, the research has widened my understanding of child abuse as far as justice administration is concerned. Considering the perception of child abuse through the various theoretical frameworks discussed, one notes that the children have their rights which dictate on how the parents and the caregivers should treat the minors. Child protective services protect nearly three million abused children. The statistics of child abuse in our world is sad. God loves children because they are a blessing and are full of happiness and peace. Children are the purest in the world, they love unconditionally no matter what, and they will follow and believe in you when nobody else does. Kids see the positive and best in everything. Importantly, child abuse does not just focus on the physical abuse through beating, burning, and stabbing of the children but also covers such aspects as sexual abuse and emotional abuse. Considering the examination of these categories of child abuse, my approach to justice administration has changed to not only focus on punishment of the criminals responsible for the vices but also trying to change the manner in which the perpetrators treat the children. In so doing, it is possible to prevent future abuse to the children and the possible reproduction of similar traits by victims (Sousa).
The Bible. Authorized King James Version. Cambridge UP, 2004.
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