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There are many different types of child abuse. Physical abuse is the non-accidental harming of a child, for example, breaking the child’s bones or leaving bruises. Verbal abuse includes harming a child using words, for example, belittling the child and threatening bodily harm. Neglect occurs when the child’s caregiver fails to provide the necessities of life to the child, either done on purpose or with little to no regard for the child’s well-being, safety and health. This can include physical neglect, such as not providing food, clothing, shelter, or other necessities for the child. Emotional neglect includes withholding love or comfort or affection. Medical neglect occurs when proper medical care is not given. Emotional trauma can stem from any type of child abuse. Child abuse often involves actions, there are also examples of inaction that cause harm, such as neglect. Households that suffer from alcoholism, substance abuse or anger issues are more likely to commit child abuse compared to households without. Child abuse is widespread and can happen to anyone regardless of the cultural group, income, etc. A combination of several factors contributes to the risk of child abuse. Children are not responsible for the harm done to them, but certain facts have been found to increase their risk of mistreatment. These factors include parents suffering from substance abuse, lack of understanding of the child’s needs, parent’s history of domestic abuse, stressed out parents, and if the child’s parents were abused as a child too. In 2014, it was estimated that 1,580 children died as a result of abuse and neglect. That is between four and five children a day. That’s roughly ¼ of a child’s elementary school class. More than 70% of the children who died as a result of child abuse or neglect were two years of age or younger. More than 80% were not yet old enough for kindergarten. Around 80% of child maltreatment fatalities involve at least one parent as the perpetrator. Children who experience child abuse at a young age, have difficulty developing emotionally, mentally, and socially.
First, children who have suffered child abuse do not develop the right way emotionally. For example, it can impact their future relationships whether they are romantic or platonic. Sexual abuse can cause problems in romantic relationships later in life because the trauma of being sexually abused can be too much to bear, and the person will never be able to have a normal sex life. If your first sexual experience was one that was without consent, and you were manipulated, “the negative feelings surrounding it will follow you into future sexual experiences,” Dr Engel, a psychotherapist who’s written many books on sexual abuse, says. This does not only impact their relationships but their whole love life, and it could prevent them from ever settling down, getting married, or just having healthy long-term relationships. Sexual abuse can also cause the victim to become a sex addict or become addicted to pornography in their adult life. Also, in romantic relationships, the person who suffered child abuse may get abused again by their significant other and not realize it. This could happen because they are used to not getting treated very nicely by the people they thought loved them as children, and they did not develop well enough emotionally to tell the difference. In platonic relationships, the person who suffered child abuse will react the same as in a romantic relationship. For example, if the person suffered emotional abuse and one of their friends does something that their abuser did to them, it would greatly impact them. For instance, if they get yelled at, it may affect them more than they think, and bring back memories of their abuser yelling at them. To conclude, a person that suffered from child abuse might not have developed correctly emotionally, and that might hinder them from certain things.
Second, a child who has been abused does not develop correctly mentally. For example, a child who has been abused might be diagnosed with a mental illness later on in their adult life. You can see the aftermath of childhood trauma on brain scans. Children who are abused in any way or neglected, have different adult brains than others who were not abused. Researchers have also found specific changes in and around the hippocampus in the brains of young adults who were abused as children. These changes might leave victims more vulnerable to depression, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Dr. Martin Teicher led a team of Harvard University researchers. The team studied close to 200 individuals between the of ages 18-25. The purpose of the study was to focus specifically on child abuse and neglect. The results were very clear. About 25% of all participants had suffered major depression at some point in their lives and 7% had been diagnosed with PTSD. However, among the 16% of participants who had suffered three or more types of child abuse or neglect, the situation was worse. Most of them (53%) had suffered from depression and 40% had had full or partial PTSD. If they are teenagers, they are at a higher risk for suicide and self-harm. In one study, 80% of 21-year-olds who reported childhood abuse met the criteria for at least one psychological disorder. As teenagers or young adults, they are at a higher risk for reckless, self-destructive behavior. This behavior includes heavy drug use, smoking, drinking, early initiation of sexual activity, or even unwanted pregnancy/teen pregnancy.
Last, children who have been abused do not develop properly socially. For example, some children who were abused become criminals in their adult life. The prevalence of child abuse in serial killers is not new. Researchers who study serial killers have noticed that a lot of them have suffered childhood abuse and trauma. This leads many to believe that this is the reason why they kill. John Wayne Gacy, Gary Ridgeway, and Ed Gein are three serial killers who were abused by a parent. Between 1979 and 1983, FBI profiler Robert Ressler launched the Criminal Personality Research Project where he interviewed 36 convicted murderers inside prisons across the United States. At the time, it was the first study focusing on criminals who had committed several murders, their psychological and behavioral characteristics, their background and their motives. Ressler wrote in his book ‘Whoever Fights Monsters’ in 1992, “All the murderers – every single one – were subjected to serious emotional abuse during their childhoods.” He reports that 40% of the serial killers interviewed reported being physically beaten and abused in their childhoods, with 70% reporting they had “witnessed or been part of sexually stressful events” as children. Ressler also says in his book, “Let me state unequivocally that there is no such thing as the person who at age thirty-five suddenly changes from being perfectly normal and erupts into totally evil, disruptive, murderous behavior. The behaviors that are precursors to murder have been present and developing in that person’s life for a long, long time – since childhood.” Another example of abused children not developing correctly socially is them feeling like they don’t fit in, isolating themself, etc.
In conclusion, children who experience any form of child abuse will not develop correctly emotionally, socially, and mentally. First, they will not develop properly emotionally and it will hinder both their romantic and platonic relationships. For example, a victim of child abuse might have difficulty having a healthy sex life. Second, a child who has been abused might not develop correctly mentally. For example, a lot of people who have been abused as children often get diagnosed with mental illness in their adult life. They can suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Depression, anxiety, etc. Last, victims of child abuse will not develop correctly socially. For example, they might feel like they are not valued members of society, or that they do not fit in. Also, they might, later on, become criminals. To conclude, child abuse has a very big impact on people who experience it and it prevents them from developing correctly later in life.
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