Factors contributing to child abuse
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According to the US Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, about 4,000,000 children die each year as a result of child abuse and neglect (Bob 12). "Child abuse refers to nonaccidental harm that is inflicted on children by their parents or other adults" (Magill 218). Many people do not take child abuse seriously because they either believe that harsh discipline is necessary, or they do not realize how bad it really is. Both child abuse and neglect are serious social problems that often have a lasting negative impact on the development of minors" (Magill 218). Due to the incredibly violent and graphic nature of A Child Called "It", readers may not believe the encounters are factual. However, they most regrettably are true. The abusive actions in A Child Called "It" parallel those of real-life child abuse cases.
Abuse mostly occurs "in families who are young, poor, and single" (Palmisano 228). When families are going through hard times, there is a lot of stress that comes along with it. With all of this stress, the parents take it out on their children. Having "a crisis in the home heightens the chances that a child will be abused" (Bob 15). A family's relationship is a very important part of the system in the household. Domestic violence and parental issues are also contributing problems in reoccurring child abuse cases. Parents who abuse each other are more likely to abuse their child as well, because "violence in one aspect of family life often flows into other aspects" (Rein 54). "Families in which the wife hits the husband, the child abuse rate was considerably higher," resulting in 22.9 children per one hundred children (Rein 54).
There has also been found "a correlation between family income and child abuse and neglect," (Rein 52). Child abuse cases are "more likely to occur in households where money is in short supply, especially if the caregivers are unemployed" (Bob 15). Difficulty in the family structure can also trigger child abuse. "Children in single-family households were at higher risk of physical abuse and all types of neglect than were children in other family structures" (Rein 51).
In A Child Called "It" Dave Pelzer suffers child abuse at the hands of his alcoholic mother. It was not like this all the time. At first she was a loving and caring mother, and then she changed dramatically. Together they used to have good times. They would always spend all their time together, going to the zoo and the park, until the family slowly started to split apart. Pelzer's father was a firefighter, so he worked many twenty-four hour shifts, which caused problems between him and his wife. If parents are having problems in their relationship, then they take out their anger on others. In Pelzer's situation, his mother took care of all her feelings by drinking and abusing her son.
Most people believe that the fathers are abusers because they are bigger and stronger, but it is mostly the women. In fact, there are many households where the woman of the family beats the man: "80% of fatal maltreatment cases were attributed to women," that is for both child abuse, and spouse abuse (Carey 23). Many people believe that women are not capable of child abuse because of their maternal instinct, but woman are the abusive ones. According to Carey, "58% of child abuse is by the mother". Many abusers inflict abuse onto their kids because that is how they grew up. "The severity of child abuse, and the manner in which children are abused, bears a strong resemblance to the type of maltreatment experienced by their mothers" (Kim 54).
Another big contributing factor to child abuse is substance abuse. There are some cases where there is drug abuse, but the most common substance is alcohol. "According to the Children of Alcoholics Foundation, 40 percent of confirmed child abuse cases involve the use of alcohol or other drugs" (Kim 54). In most cases, "with or without depression as a factor, studies indicate that a major contributing factor to child abuse is alcohol or drug addiction" (Kim 54).
In A Child Called "It", the abuse is done by Pelzer's alcoholic mother. With the father gone, the mother made herself useless and drunk. "At times while Father was away at work, she would spend the entire day lying on the couch, dressed only in her bathrobe, watching television. Mom got up only to go to the bathroom, get another drink or heat leftover food" (Pelzer 30). Shortly after this phase of being lazy, she started to abuse her son, with alcohol at her side.
Whenever child abuse is suspected, the most important thing to do is to report it. Many people do not report child abuse, which may result in the child dying. There are so many reasons that people do not report child abuse, and it becomes a big mistake: "60% failed to report child maltreatment because they did not have enough evidence that the child had been maltreated" (Rein 23). Whether there is a lot of evidence or not, all child abuse suspicions should be reported because it could save a child's life. Also, around "16% failed to report because they did not think CPS would do a good job" (Rein 23). Whether it is believed that they would do a good job or not, letting someone know what is going on can make the smallest difference in a child's life. "One-third of the mandated reporters thought the abuse was not serious enough to warrant reporting" (Rein 23). There are many organizations today that will help if there is suspected child abuse, without putting the victim in any further danger. For example, there are the Societies for the Cruelty to Children, American Human Association, Child Welfare League, National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence, and much more (Dolan 60-68).
In A Child Called "It" all of the teachers knew about Pelzer's abuse but did not say anything. According to Pelzer, every day when he walked into school he went to the nurse for their daily routine. She would ask him to remove his clothes and check all over his body for new marks. All of the teachers knew but were afraid to say something. Mr. Hansen, one of the teachers that knew about this, even called home one night to talk to his mother. When Pelzer got home that night he got a beating because of it.
Child abuse is a serious crime. Many people are afraid to intervene, but they should. Many people do not really believe that child abuse is as bad as they hear from different stories, but it really is. In A Child Called "It", most things that happen in real life child abuse cases, was present in the book. In both real life and in Pelzer's story, the family was experiencing trouble in the structure and relationships. Also, the abuser was the mother figure. And the worse thing of all is the community negligence. Many people do not say anything, whether what they suspect is really happening or not. Child abuse is real and Dave Pelzer experienced it first hand.
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