child abuse

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child abuse,

physical, sexual, or emotional maltreatment or neglect of children by parents, guardians, or others responsible for a child's welfare. Physical abuse is characterized by physical injury, usually inflicted as a result of a beating or inappropriately harsh discipline. Sexual abuse includes molestation, incest, rape, prostitution, or use of a child for pornographic purposes. Neglect can be physical in nature (abandonment, failure to seek needed health care), educational (failure to see that a child is attending school), or emotional (abuse of a spouse or another child in the child's presence, allowing a child to witness adult substance abuse). Inappropriate punishment, verbal abuse, and scapegoating are also forms of emotional or psychological child abuse. Some authorities consider parental actions abusive if they have negative future consequences, e.g., exposure of a child to violence or harmful substances, extending in some views to the passive inhalation of cigarette smoke (see smokingsmoking,
inhalation and exhalation of the fumes of burning tobacco in cigars and cigarettes and pipes. Some persons draw the smoke into their lungs; others do not. Smoking was probably first practiced by the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere.
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).

In practice, there are borderline areas where what constitutes child abuse is not clear. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled (1944) that parents do not have an absolute right to deny life-saving medical treatment to their children, but devout members of the Church of Christ, Scientist, and other churches believe in the healing power of prayer and do not always seek medical help. Most U.S. states, however, permit parents to use religious beliefs as a defense against prosecution for the withholding of medical treatment from their sick children, even in cases where the lack of treatment results in a child's death.

Causes and Effects

There are many interacting causes of child abuse and neglect. Characteristics or circumstances of the abuser, the child, and the family may all contribute. In many cases the abuser was abused as a child. Substance abuse (see drug addiction and drug abusedrug addiction and drug abuse,
chronic or habitual use of any chemical substance to alter states of body or mind for other than medically warranted purposes. Traditional definitions of addiction, with their criteria of physical dependence and withdrawal (and often an underlying
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) has been identified as a key factor in a growing number of cases. In some cases abusers do not have the education and skills needed to raise a child, thus increasing the likelihood of abuse, and providing inadequate parental role models for future generations. Children who are ill, disabled, or otherwise perceived as different are more likely to be the targets of abuse. In the family, marital discord, domestic violence, unemployment and poverty, and social isolation are all factors that can precipitate abuse.

Patterns of abusive behavior may result in the physical or mental impairment of the child or even death. Small children are especially vulnerable to physical injury such as whiplash or shaken infant syndrome resulting from battery. Abused children are more likely to experience generalized anxiety, depression, truancy, shame and guilt, or suicidal and homicidal thoughts or to engage in criminal activity, promiscuity, and substance abuse.

Intervention in Child Abuse Cases

In the United States, New York became the first state to institute child protection laws (1875) that made abuse against children a crime, and other states soon followed with similar laws. In 1974 the U.S. Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which encouraged remaining states to pass child protection laws and created the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. In addition, all states have their own reporting laws, juvenile and family court laws, and criminal laws.

Cases of child abuse are handled by an multidisciplinary team including medical personnel, law enforcement officers, the schools, social workers, and the courts. School personnel may be the first to notice and report signs of abuse. Child-abuse cases are often coordinated by a community's child protective services unit, which sends case workers to the home for evaluation and offers services to the child and family. Medical professionals may report cases, provide treatment for injured children, provide testimony in court, or help to educate parents. Law enforcement personnel may be involved when cases are reported or when there is a question of a criminal action. The courts provide emergency protective orders or decide whether the child should be removed from the home. Child abuse may be punished by incarceration of the perpetrator or by the denial of custody rights to abusive parents or guardians.

Incidence

Despite efforts to reduce child abuse in America, more than a million children are physically abused each year; about 2,000 die. Although the magnitude of sexual abuse of children in the United States is unknown, it is considered to be an escalating problem, and one that can result in serious psychological damage among victims. There are no reliable statistics available for emotional abuse and neglect, but these types of child abuse are as potentially damaging to their victims as are various forms of physical abuse. Child abuse extends across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines, but there are consistently more reports concerning children born into poverty. The reporting of child abuse is complicated by the private nature of the crime, the fearfulness of the child, and strong motivation for denial in the abuser.

Bibliography

See J. Goldstein, A. Freud, A. J. Solnit, and S. Goldstein, In the Best Interests of the Child (1986); J. Garbarino, E. Guttmann, and J. W. Seeley, The Psychologically Battered Child (1987); D. E. H. Russell, The Secret Trauma: Incest in the Lives of Girls and Women (1986); R. E. Helfer and R. S. Kempe, The Battered Child (4th ed. 1987); D. J. Besharov, Recognizing Child Abuse: A Guide for the Concerned (1990); publications of the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect.

child abuse

the inflicting of injury or psychological damage on a minor through assault, sexual exploitation or emotional harm. The awareness of child abuse internationally has developed very unevenly. Even in societies where concern is widespread, services for the investigation and amelioration of abuse are often under-resourced.

Research has been undertaken principally by psychologists and those associated with the SOCIAL WORK services to children and their families. Attempts at explanation have focused upon indices of deprivation, the faulty SOCIALIZATION of carers, and, more recently, and especially in relation to sexual abuse, male power.

References in periodicals archive ?
for 2010 was $249 billion, not including costs related to child maltreatment. (19)
"Unfortunately, we still do not have the evidence we need about what primary care clinicians can do to prevent child maltreatment before it occurs in children who do not show any signs of abuse or neglect."
However, little is understood regarding the specific impact of child maltreatment histories relative to substance abuse treatment outcomes (Sacks et al., 2008).
Dr Gallagher expressed concern that the response to CSE has arisen at a time when resources available to tackle child maltreatment more generally are dwindling.
The report highlights a number of programs that help prevent child maltreatment, such as coaching programs that work directly with child-parent pairs, nurse home-visiting programs that help first-time mothers, and hospital-based programs that educate new parents on how to safely handle and soothe a crying baby.
Consequences of child maltreatment include impaired lifelong physical and mental health such as posttraumatic stress disorder or depression, and the social and occupational outcomes can ultimately slow the economic and social development of the country [9,10].
The assessment of the readiness of five countries to implement child maltreatment prevention programs on a large scale.
The Child Maltreatment Log: A computer-based program for describing research samples.
Prevention of child maltreatment requires understanding and addressing behavioral and environmental characteristics that increase and reduce the risk for child maltreatment.
Another prevention model was the Safe Environment for Every Kid (SEEK), in which pediatric residents recognized risk factors for child maltreatment in families and along with social workers, they intervened (17).
The meeting covered the three main focus areas in 2015 namely providing support to preparing national plans and strategies, such as child strategy , social work strategy and the strategy for prevention of child maltreatment.
Child maltreatment is a broad term encompassing neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional or psychological abuse in children under 18 years (Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, 2003).

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