Child abuse is defined in different ways in different states. According to the Federal Child Abuse Treatment and Prevention Act, child abuse is referred to as a failure by the parent, guardian or caregiver to act responsibly, this may result to sexual abuse, emotional and physical harm, the acts that result in harm, can also be defined as child abuse. In most cases, the law describes child harm as the harm, caused by the parents or the caregivers. Research indicates that many children undergo child abuse before they mature to adulthood.
Child abuse can occur in any family. However, it is most likely that child abuse is high in families that witness domestic violence; children become very terrified and emotionally drained. Parents with untreated mental illnesses are more likely to abuse their children. This is because most of these illnesses render the sick people not to care for themselves; therefore, they cannot manage their own children. Another great risk factor is lack of parenting skills by the caregivers, this means neglect of the child. Parents, who abuse substances, risk abusing their children physically.
A child can get through abuse that may affect him or her throughout adult life. Child abuse affects the physical body and the mental health of the child. It is estimated that about 25 % of children in the America are victims of child abuse. Child abuse is categorized into four levels; there is neglect, sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse. Neglect is where primary needs are not given to a child by the parent or the caregiver. Physical abuse is where any physical harm is brought about by the adult or the caregiver.
Sexual abuse occurs, where an adult and a child are involved in a sexual activity. Emotional abuse affects the psychology and social life of a child. A child is abused because of various reasons; this could be due to the child’s weaknesses, or parental causes, it could also be due to ecological problems. Child abuse results to behavior effect, physical effect and emotional effect of the child. The major causes of child abuse are parents. A parent who is addicted to drugs or alcohol is a major contribution of child abuse. This is because the child does not receive the care he or she deserves.
A child, raised up by such parents, suffers beatings and neglect, yet the parents are not remorseful. According to a research by Australian childhood foundation (2004), 82 % of the parents who neglect their children do not regret the act at all. In most situations, children who suffer this kind of abuse take a long time undergoing treatment, in order for them to regain a normal life.
Ecological issues are well-known to cause child abuse; this is due to poverty attacks. A family under poverty suffers immensely from finance issues. Children from these poor backgrounds cannot receive enough food; they cannot even afford minimum education. This affects their development. As a result of poverty, children move out of their homes to go look for a better life. These poor children are sexually abused, especially teenage girls. Some are forced into prostitution, while others join gang groups as early as nine years (Brendt, 1999).
According to a report of National Data Analysis System (2008), the number of children in poor families increased from 24 % to 33 % between the year 2000 and 2006. As a result, the families still depend on donors for their daily food. It is believed that 80% of poor families in Gaza rely heavily on donor aid. Another major cause of child abuse is child’s weaknesses. A child who is born with disabilities is likely to suffer abuse unlike a child who is born without disabilities.
As research indicates, 15% of children in American that are born with disabilities are likely to suffer 3.5 times more from abuse than the other kids without disabilities. A good scenario is narration by Carol who was adopted seven times by different families. She believes that happened to her due to her disability. At times, she felt this happened due to the greed from foster parents who are after the money, given by child welfare (Johnson, 2005).
Physically abused children suffer from broken bones and other physical injuries.
These are caused by the actions of the parents or the caregiver. In most cases, these physical injuries are non-accidental. Research indicates that most of the physical injuries involve beating, kicking, biting, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting or even shaking. All these are considered as abuse, regardless of the intentions of the parents or the caregiver. However, paddling and spanking are not considered as abuse as long as the child does not have the physical injury. These affect the brain of a child, as a result, the child suffers from psychological trauma. Research indicates that these abuses can have a genetic effect in a child.
A report by Administration for Children and Families indicate that 16.6 % of abused children in America suffer from physical abuse (Children’s Bureau, 2009).
Neglect is also a form of child abuse; this could be physical, where a parent or a caregiver fails to provide for the child the basic needs like food, shelter or clothing. An abuse also occurs, when a parent fails to provide the medical assistance that a child needs. Some parents neglect their children by not providing the required education, especially the children who require special education.
Neglect also occurs, when a child is permitted to use alcohol and other drugs. Failure of the parents to meet child’s emotional needs is also neglect. Neglect, as a form of child abuse, is controversial. At times, neglect occurs due to poverty, lack of proper information or cultural values. In some places, a child does not receive medical attention due to the religious beliefs of the parents.
In cases where the health of a child is at risk, then, the children welfare intervenes
Sexually abused children suffer much from negative influence. The child adopts bad behavior probably due to the physical and mental abuse. An abused child has psychological pain; this makes him or her to engage in bad habits, while searching for healing. These abused children engage in drug abuse, early pregnancies and crime activities. Recent study indicates that of abused children become pregnant early; at least, 59 % of these children are arrested in their teenage years (Franklin, 1986).
The research also indicates that the abused children suffer from drug addiction 3.8 times more than children who are not abused. A child, who is physically abused, gets healed physically but not emotionally, unless help is administered through counseling. If an abused child does not get help, he or she is likely to suffer from the mental breakdown at the age of twenty-one. According to research, abused children at the age of twenty-one suffer from anxiety, depression, eating disorders and stress disorders.
Research indicates that these disorders are a major contribution to the alarming rates of suicides. Other lasting effects of child abuse include: relationship difficulties and lack of trust. A child, who does not trust his or her parents, has difficulties of trusting other people for fear of being abused. Adults, who underwent child abuse, suffer from low self-esteem; they do not pursue higher goals for they feel worthless. In some cases, adults, who went through child abuse, suffer from emotional breakdown; this involves anxiety, depression and use of alcohol; to wipe away the painful memories.
Child abuse should be stopped at all costs. The applicable methods to control child abuse involve the parents, the family and children welfares. The couples, who intend to become a family, should be well trained, through causes that discuss raising a healthy family. The single parent families or married families, who suffer from addictions, should seek treatment. This will help them in taking care of their children without neglect (Gerald, 1997).
A repetitive campaign should be done to educate the community on child abuse prevention. There should be increased programs that support the poverty-stricken families. These families could be supported on how to increase their income. This will greatly assist in educating a child and providing food and shelter to the child. The administration for children and families welfare suggest on proper maintenance of children living with a single parent or no parent at all. In some countries like U.K., such children are having a maintenance policy; therefore a child receives an amount of money for daily expenses (Support Agency, 2009).
The children with disabilities should be well taken care of by the government. Any financial assistance needed should be duly accorded for these children to be able to live a decent life. The society should not discriminate these children; instead, they should be incorporated into all social activities just like the able children. The National Deaf Children’s Society approves that these children get more benefits that will help them manage their situations. For instance, offering of optional education, child welfare and medical care (William, 2001).
It is the duty of every person to learn the types of child abuse and make a difference in the life of a child. The earlier the cases are reported, the better for the child. A healed child is unlikely to repeat the cycle. It is critical for every person to learn the symptoms of child abuse, as well as know where to report them.