Child abuse and neglect has become more and more common today than it was years ago. Not only is it more common, but the severity of it has grown greatly over the years. The abuse has become worse and worse over time. The sole purpose of this research my paper is to bring awareness to what abuse and neglect is and some possible solutions to fix the issue we are facing.
There are many statistics that come into play when you are looking at child abuse and neglect, not only following the statistics there are different forms of the abuse that many are aware of, but many may not know the signs. To be able to achieve the goal of creating awareness my paper is in two parts, part one will be explaining what child abuse is and the different types of child abuse there is. Along with how they are characterized under federal law. Part two goes into the statistics and factors of abuse, the long and short term effects of abuse and some solutions that we can put in place to try and cut down on child abuse and neglect.
“At the Federal level, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) has defined child abuse and neglect as ‘any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caregiver that results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation, or an act or failure to act that presents an imminent risk of serious harm.’ (“Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect.” childwelfare.gov. children’s bureau, 1 Mar. 2019. Web. 22 Nov. 2019.) Child abuse comes in many different forms, making it very difficult to narrow down which one the child may be going through if abuse if suspected. There are six types of abuse in all; physical, emotional, sexual, neglect and other forms include parental substance abuse and abandonment.
Types of abuse
Physical abuse is defined as,”any non-accidental physical injury to the child” (“Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect.” childwelfare.gov. children’s bureau, 1 Mar. 2019. Web. 22 Nov. 2019. .) A few examples of physical child abuse include hitting a child, hitting a child with an object, or tying a child up.
Emotional abuse is defined as, “injury to the psychological capacity or emotional stability of the child as evidenced by an observable or substantial change in behavior, emotional response, or cognition” (“Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect.” childwelfare.gov. children’s bureau, 1 Mar. 2019. Web. 22 Nov. 2019. .) Emotional abuse can include verbal abuse, which can include screaming and yelling vulgar things at a child.
Sexual abuse depends on the state, some just use the general term,”sexual abuse” or others go further into detail including sexual exploitation which includes pornography, prostitution, or trafficking.
Neglect is characterized as “the failure of a parent or other person with responsibility for the child to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the degree that the child’s health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm.” (“Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect.” childwelfare.gov. children’s bureau, 1 Mar. 2019. Web. 22 Nov. 2019. . )
Abandonment is characterized as the “abandonment of the child when the parent’s identity or whereabouts are unknown, the child has been left by the parent in circumstances in which the child suffers serious harm, or the parent has failed to maintain contact with the child or to provide reasonable support for a specified period of time.” (“Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect.” childwelfare.gov. children’s bureau, 1 Mar. 2019. Web. 22 Nov. 2019. .)
Substance abuse, parental substance abuse is another form in some states. If exposure happens prenatally, or the manufacturing happens in the presence of a child, distribution to children and lastly if the use impairs the parent to give adequate care of the child in the home. (“Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect.” childwelfare.gov. children’s bureau, 1 Mar. 2019. Web. 22 Nov. 2019. .)
Statistics and factors of child abuse
Factors that play into child abuse is the age and special needs. Children younger than four years of age have a higher chance of being abused than someone of an older age due to being unable to defend themselves or even be able to speak up about it. Children with special needs, like disabilities, mental health, or chronic physical illness play into it as well. They create a burden on the parent causing the abuse. Other risk factors can include parents lack of understanding of children’s basic needs, nonbiological caregiver in the home, like the mother’s boyfriend, substance abuse and other factors come into play in child abuse. The most common factor that comes into play is history of child abuse in the parentals history. Generally if a parent was abused when they were growing up they fall into abuse when they have children of their own.
Statistics “in 2017 4.1 million reports of child maltreatment in the United States involving more than 7.5 million children.” (child abuse, page one under section “in 2017” ) That is about 674,000 children involved in maltreatment. “74.9% of children suffered neglect, 18.3 percent suffered from physical abuse, and 8.6% suffered from sexual abuse,” (child abuse, page one under section “in 2017” ) Younger children are the most valnurable out of all the children because they are unable to defend themselves. In 2017, “1,720 children died from abuse and neglect,” (child abuse, page one under section “in 2017” ) 71.8 percent were under three years old. Most people assume that physical abuse causes most of the deaths when it comes to abuse, but according to research neglect is the most common cause of death and they are mostly children under years of age.
Child abuse awareness
To bring to light the severity of child abuse I want to discuss a recent news story about child abuse. In gloucester county, Virginia there was a couple, Brian and Shannon Gore, who had already been charged with homicide in 2008, that had been dropped, of their infant son. Their son was found buried beneath the shed in the backyard by authorities in 2011, that’s also when they found Gore’s daughter locked in a cage, without clothing and extremely underfed. The medical examiner was unable to find a cause of death for the little boy, but he expressed,”This child was not getting enough to eat,”(Wb. “Gloucester Couple Found Guilty of Child Abuse for Second Time.” ) he said this due to how porus his bones were. Conner’s skull was also flattened and deformed due to how often he was lying on his back. Supposedly, in March of 2008, Brian found Conner passed away in his crib with a blanket over his head. He tried CPR that was unsuccessful so after a few days they buried him in the yard wrapped in a blanket.”(Wb. “Gloucester Couple Found Guilty of Child Abuse for Second Time.”) I share this news article to bring awareness to how bad the abuse has become over the years. It’s something we cannot ignore anymore, it is unfair to the children to let this abuse continue.
Symptoms of child abuse each form of abuse has its own individual symptoms, some are worse than others. We will start with the symptoms of child neglect, many neglected children have multiple medical conditions, they don’t thrive like other children around them and they can be severely malnourished. Signs of this form of abuse can be,”….. Is frequently absent, Steals or begs for food or money, lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations, or glasses. Constantly dirty and has severe body odor, Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather. Abuses alcohol or other drugs or States that there is no one at home to provide care.” (Psychology Today, page 1 under “school personal”) Symptoms of physical abuse are “bruises, like black eyes, lacerations, rope marks. Broken bones, open wounds or cuts that are untreated, lab finding overdoses or underdoses of medication, or sudden change behavior.” (“Types and Signs of Abuse.” DSHS, section “physical abuse”) Sexual abuse symptoms include, “bruises around the breasts or genital area, unexplained venereal disease or genital infections or torn, stained, or bloody underclothing.” (“Types and Signs of Abuse.” DSHS, section “sexual abuse”) Symptoms of emotional abuse include, “being emotionally upset or agitated, being extremely withdrawn and non communicative or non responsive, nervousness around certain people.”(“Types and Signs of Abuse.” DSHS, section “emotional abuse”) Signs of abandonment include, “deserting a vulnerable adult in a public place, deserting a vulnerable adult in his/her own home or living space, and an individual’s report of being abandoned.”(“Types and Signs of Abuse.” DSHS, section “abandonment”)
Long-term effects of child abuse the effects of child abuse can differ from person to person, along with the abuse they suffered. Some may have less effects than others and it can occur immediately or it could take months of years to surface. Child abuse increases the chances of certain long term health issues, such as diabetes, lung disease, malnutrition, functional limitations, or even brain damage. “Child abuse and neglect also has been associated with certain regions of the brain failing to form, function, or grow properly.”(Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2019). Long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect, page 2 ) These spots on the brain are the main parts damaged,”The amygdala, which is key to processing emotions. The hippocampus, which is central to learning and memory. The orbitofrontal cortex, which is responsible for reinforcement-based decision-making and emotion regulation. The cerebellum, which helps coordinate motor behavior and executive functioning and The corpus callosum, which is responsible for left brain/right brain communication and other processes.” (Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2019). Long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect, page 2. ) It also increases the chances for mental issues, it can affect, “working memory, self-control, and cognitive flexibility,” (Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2019). Long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect. ) They have higher chances for depression and anxiety in their lifetime compared to someone who was not abused. An abundance of children will also form PTSD from the abuse that they suffered, PTSD is characterized as,”persistent re-experiencing of the traumatic events related to the abuse; avoiding people, places, and events that are associated with their maltreatment; feeling fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame; startling easily; and exhibiting hypervigilance, irritability, or other changes in mood,” (Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2019). Long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect, page 3. ) All of these issues caused by abuse can make it very difficult for them to function in a “normal” day to day life compared to someone like you and me.
Solution for child abuse
When it comes to a solution for child there are multiple different routes you can take to try to solve the huge issue that it is. In the example above involving Brian and Shannon Gore, it seemed that the law failed the children involved in that situation. If the charges for the homicide of their son was not dropped then the little girl may not have been involved in what she went through and treated so horribly by her parents. In the state of Virginia the law in place for protecting children from their abusers. Virginia 18.2-371.1, Abuse and neglect of children; penalty; abandoned infant, This states:
“A. Any parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care of a child under the age of 18 who by willful act or willful omission or refusal to provide any necessary care for the child’s health causes or permits serious injury to the life or health of such child is guilty of a Class 4 felony. For purposes of this subsection, ‘serious injury’ includes but is not limited to (i) disfigurement, (ii) a fracture, (iii) a severe burn or laceration, (iv) mutilation, (v) maiming, (vi) forced ingestion of dangerous substances, and (vii) life-threatening internal injuries. For purposes of this subsection, ‘willful act or willful omission’ includes operating or engaging in the conduct of a child welfare agency as defined in § 63.2-100 without first obtaining a license such person knows is required by Subtitle IV (§ 63.2-1700 et seq.) of Title 63.2 or after such license has been revoked or has expired and not been renewed.
B. 1. Any parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care of a child under the age of 18 whose willful act or omission in the care of such child was so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life is guilty of a Class 6 felony.
2. If a prosecution under this subsection is based solely on the accused parent having left the child at a hospital or emergency medical services agency, it shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution of a parent under this subsection that such parent safely delivered the child to a hospital that provides 24-hour emergency services or to an attended emergency medical services agency that employs emergency medical services personnel, within the first 14 days of the child’s life. In order for an affirmative defense to apply, the child shall be delivered in a manner reasonably calculated to ensure the child’s safety.
C. Any parent, guardian, or other person having care, custody, or control of a minor child who in good faith is under treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination shall not, for that reason alone, be considered in violation of this section.” (“Virginia Law.” § 63.2-100. (Effective October 1, 2019))
This law is in place to be able to protect children, but the law does not help if someone does not report the abuse. Many times someone will see the signs of the abuse, but chose to ignore them or they are not believed. A lot of times when the abuse is reported, they are ignored and the person that it was reported to whether it’s a police officer or social worker may look into it, but they may not fully investigate it. There are laws put in place that if you suspect or know about abuse you must report it under the child protection laws. There are many penalties and sometimes jail time involved if it is not reported.
One of the biggest solutions for this topic would be for it to be reported, doctors, nurses, teachers, etc. all have a legal protocol to follow in order to report the abuse. It comes in steps, the first step is the most important that most either don’t do or they don’t have the knowledge to be able to do it. The first step is to be able to identify the signs, either people don’t know the signs or they chose to ignore them not to get involved in the situation. If we could get it to where everyone would report the signs in the very beginning or if it’s suspected we could cut down on abuse a lot. The major problem is missing the signs and not reporting it. This is especially important for the children unable to report the abuse, whether they are too young or are disabled and cannot report the issue due to speech impairments or they just aren’t meantally capable of understanding the abuse to report it. More protocols and laws should be put in place to help further protect children from abuse, this could also help narrow down the issue a lot more if the federal government could go into more detail with their laws, to prevent another situation like the Gore’s situation I stated above.
- “Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect.” childwelfare.gov. children’s bureau, 1 Mar. 2019. Web. 22 Nov. 2019. .
- “Risk and Protective Factors|Child Abuse and Neglect|Violence Prevention|Injury Center|CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 Feb. 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/riskprotectivefactors.htm
- “Child Abuse and Neglect.” Children’s Rights, https://www.childrensrights.org/newsroom/fact-sheets/child-abuse-and-neglect/.
- “Child Neglect.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/child-neglect.
- Wb. “Gloucester Couple Found Guilty of Child Abuse for Second Time.” WTKR.com, 22 May 2015, https://wtkr.com/2015/05/18/gloucester-couple-serving-30-years-now-on-trial-for-infant-sons-death/.
- “Types and Signs of Abuse.” DSHS, https://www.dshs.wa.gov/altsa/home-and-community-services/types-and-signs-abuse.
- “Virginia Law.” § 63.2-100. (Effective October 1, 2019) Definitions, https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/63.2-100/.
- Ministerie van Algemene Zaken. “Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Protocol.” Domestic Violence | Government.nl, Ministerie Van Algemene Zaken, 5 Oct. 2016, https://www.government.nl/topics/domestic-violence/domestic-violence-and-child-abuse-protocol.
- Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2019). Long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubpdfs/long_term_consequences.pdf