Abusive Parents Essay, Research Paper
Child abuse is a relatively common problem in our society, and it falls into many different forms. It can include physical abuse (broken bones, brain injury, bites, and burns), sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and, most commonly, neglect. It is estimated that 4 million children a year are abused in some manner in the U.S., although probably less than half of all cases that are reported. At least two thousand children die each year as a result of child abuse.
Injuries seen in abuse are often distinctive because they are inflicted by adults (and therefore may be significantly more violent or purposeful than injuries sustained during normal childhood activities). The history given to explain the injury may hold the key to the abusive nature of the injury, especially if the injury and the given history seem implausible. For example, a 4-year-old presented with multiple cigarette burns is unlikely to have perpetrated this on himself (too painful), or to have allowed another similar-age child to inflict the burns. Consideration of the history is always important in any childhood injury. History must be correlated with the developmental stage of the infant or child.
Researchers at the University of Toronto have taken important steps toward producing a profile of an abusive parent. They have developed a system to characterize parents who physically abuse their children. Children that are abused by their parents tend to grow into child-abusers themselves. This could ultimately allow social service professionals to identify parents in child abuse.
Over the last five years, they have examined over 100 mothers and their three to six-year-old children who have been physically abused. In the laboratory, the mother and child spend thirty minutes in structured activities such as playing, eating and cleaning-up. The family interaction is videotaped and later analyzed. The researchers have developed a system that allows them to record the effectiveness of parenting skills. They are particularly interested in disciplinary strategies because abuse most commonly occurs when the parent wants the child to comply. “It’s a question of trying to determine which type of parent produces which type of child or which type of child elicits which type of parental behavior,” explains Oldershaw.
As a result of their work, researchers have identified distinct categories of abusive parents and their children. Harsh/intrusive mothers are excessively harsh and constantly badger their child to behave. Despite the fact that these mothers humiliate and disapprove of their child, there are times when they hug, kiss or speak to them warmly. This type of mothering produces an aggressive, disobedient child.
A covert/hostile mother shows no positive feelings towards her child. She makes blatant attacks on the child s self-worth and denies him affection or attention. For his part, the child tries to engage his mother s attention and win her approval. An emotionally detached mother has very little involvement with her child. She appears depressed and uninterested in the child’s activities. The child with this type of mother displays no characteristics, which sets them apart from other children.
In order to put together a parenting profile, the researchers examine the mother/child interaction and their perception and feelings. Take into account the mother’s sense of herself as a parent and her impression of her child. The researchers also try to determine the child’s perception of himself or herself and of the parent. Abusive parents are often believed to have inadequate parenting skills and are referred to programs to improve these skills. These are particularly appropriate for parents who, themselves, were raised by abusive parents and as a result are ignorant of any other behavior toward her child.