Child Abuse: Signs and the Long Term Effects
All children are born with the right to be able to grow, develop, live and love according to their needs and feelings. Growing up can be difficult, and most children receive the love and care that they need to develop into healthy, mature adults. For a child’s development they need protection from adults who love them and help them acquire the skills to be a successful adult. However, some children are neglected and hurt by adults that they trust. Abuse can mean different things to different people. Abuse can also happen once in their lifetime, or it can happen many times. Physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect are the four types of child abuse. Over three million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States. (O’Meara and Fedderson) Over seventy five percent of children die each year from abuse. (Prevent child abuse) Certain forms of child abuse are serious enough to become a crime. Physical, emotional and sexual abuse, as well are neglect, can lead to long term psychological effects on a child.
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How can child abuse happen? There are many factors as to why abuse happens. Some of these factors include domestic violence, alcohol and drug use, and stress and lack of support from others (Saisan, Gill, Segal). When a child witnesses domestic violence is very chaotic and it causes instability in the home. Alcohol and drug use increases a lapse in judgment and can interfere with the ability for a person to control their actions. Being a parent is not an easy task and sometimes it can cause a very stressful situation. Teen parents often need patience to deal with a child, and most of the time they do not have that so they depend on others. Caring for a child with a disability can also create a stressful situation. Also, when parents and caregivers are abused as a child they grow up to abuse their very own children, and the cycle of abuse continues. (Saisan, Gill, Segal) Younger children may not understand why these acts are being done, and may think that they have done something wrong. On the other hand, older children have the ability to do something about the abuse being done to them. Often times, most children become withdrawn and do not prefer talk about it.
Each category of child abuse has its very own distinct signs. Each child is unique and may exhibit specific signs if they are enduring a specific type of abuse. Physical abuse often occurs when a child is hit out of anger or is caught in the middle of a very stressful situation. Children under the age of two are most likely to suffer direct abuse from the hands of a parent. (Juby 519) Physical abuse is often described as unexplained injuries such as bruises, burns, and abrasions. Sometimes, the child may be fearful of adults that he or she is not familiar with. Parents may exhibit signs that they are being abusive with their children by using a harsh tone with their voice, offers no explanation for their childs injury, or is very negative with their child. (Recognize Abuse)
Emotional abuse can be referred to verbal abuse. When a parent or caregiver says mean and hurtful things to a child, they are emotionally hurting them. Excessive demands, penalizing children for their work, discouraging the child from moving forward, and exposing them to family violence are just a few signs of emotional abuse. Physical and emotional abuse often overlap each other; however, emotional abuse is much harder to identify. (Fact Sheet) Children who endure this type of abuse often think that this is a normal way of life. The parents who may be treating their child in such way may blame or belittle the child, refuse to offer help, or constantly reject the child. (Recognize Abuse) Emotional abuse is often present when other forms of abuse are identified within the child.
Sexual abuse can take place within the family by a parent, sibling, or other relative. This type of abuse can also happen outside of the home by a friend, neighbor, teacher, or a stranger. When this abuse has occurred, the child can develop a variety of distraught feelings, thoughts and behaviors. This type of abuse has been reported up to 80,000 times a year, but research suggests that more cases go unreported because the children are afraid of confessing of what happened to them. (Prevent Abuse) Children who are sexually abused often develop a very low self esteem and a distorted view of sex. A physician must detect signs of sexual abuse through a physical examination because there are no external signs. Some may want to consider the signs of sexual abuse if the child shows the following symptoms: difficulty walking or sitting, nightmares, bedwetting, a sudden change in appetite, or demonstrates unusual sexual behavior. Parents may also show signs that they are sexually abusing their children if they are being very isolated, they severely limit the childs contact with other children, or they are very jealous. (Recognize Abuse)
Neglect is simply refusing to meet the childs basic needs for survival. About fifty nine percent of children suffer from neglect. In 2007 an estimated 1760 children have died from abuse or neglect. (Fact Sheet). The child may be frequently absent from school, lacks needed medical care, has constant body odor, and does not have appropriate clothing based on the weather conditions. When the parent seems depressed, behaves irrationally, and does not care about the interest of his or her child, they could be the one neglecting their child. (Recognize Abuse)
No child is prepared to cope with any type of abuse done to them. Children are not just an “object.” They are a human being, just like everyone else. There is no moral way of saying that child abuse is ok. Parents and caregivers often do not realize the effects that abuse has on their children. Many think that it is a form of punishment but in reality, it is harming the child. (Saisan, Gill, Segal)
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The long term effects of abuse can cause severe psychological problems that can be devastating to the child. These problems can range from mild to severe depending on how long the abuse was endured or how severe it turned out to be. Parents with low educational value are more likely to use abuse (Juby 519). Psychological problems that a child may face are academic difficulties, alcohol and/or drug abuse, anxiety, behavior problems, depression, fear of certain adults, self neglect, sleep disorders, age-inappropriate behavior, social withdrawal, and separation anxiety. Abuse can also intervene with the ability to establish healthy relationships in the future. All children are different and they each respond to situations in their own way. Some children may endure some form of abuse without developing any of the long term effects. (Newton)
In conclusion, child abuse can cause psychological problems that can be irreversible. There are ways that child abuse can be prevented. There are many organizations today that have dedicated themselves to the treatment and prevention of child abuse. A known organization that has been around the longest is called ChildHelp. It is a non-profit organization that aids in the treatment and prevention of abused children (O’Meara and Fedderson). Prevention is the only cure for child abuse. Abuse of any kind can cause emotional scars that can never be healed. Children are supposed to learn everything they need to become successful adults in this world from their parents. Instead of teaching, loving and nurturing, abusive parents and caregivers provide the opposite of what children need to grow and develop.
- “Childhood Disease and Disorder” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2009. Web. 22 Nov 2009
- Child Welfare Information Gateway “Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect: Signs and Symptoms.” 9 Oct 2009. Web. 21 Nov 2009
- Fact Sheet: Emotional Child Abuse. Michigan. Web. 21 Nov 2009
- Juby, Cindy. “Parental Attitude: A Meditating Role in Disciplinary Methods used by Parents” Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal Dec 2009: 519. Proquest. Web. 23 Nov. 2009
- Newton, C.J. “Child Abuse: An Overview.” Mental Health Journal. Apr 2001. Web. 19 Nov. 2009
- O’Meara, Sara. Yvonne, Fedderson. “Effects of Child Abuse.” ChildHelp. Web. 22 Nov 2009.
- Saisan, Joanna, Ellen Jaffe-Gill, and Jeanne Segal. Child Abuse and Neglect. Help guide. Oct 2008. Web. 20 Nov 2009
- “Preventing Child Sexual Abuse.” Stop it Now. Web. 23 Nov. 2009
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