Problem Solving: How Do We Combat Child Abuse? Essay, Research Paper
Imagine being a young child. Picture that someone is mistreating you, and you are
completely unable to retaliate in any way. Imagine what would be running through
your mind, all of the fear and hatred that you can do nothing with except hold it all
inside. The United States government defines child abuse specifically as ?[a]ny
recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death,
serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation to any individual
who has not attained the age of 18 years, or an act or failure to act which presents
an imminent risk of serious harm to any individual who has not attained the age of
18 years? (Petit 28). This is a serious problem that destroys the lives of innocent
children every day.
Statistics show that 903,395 children were confirmed as being abused in the
United States during 1997 alone, and there were 1,439,284 reported instances of
abuse in the United States (Statistics of…). Those numbers add out to be in the
neighborhood of 1.54% of the nations children being abused daily (Statistics of…).
Child abuse also ?accounts for nearly 57.5% of fatalities to children under the age of
five? (Child Maltreatment). Experts also say that ?87.1% of abused children are
abused by both the mother and father? (Statistics of…). Roughly 2.7% of child
abuse occurs in foster care (Statistics of…).
The most abundant form of child abuse is neglect. Neglect accounts for
53.5% of child abuse nationwide (Child Maltreatment). Neglect is defined as:
?[a] child less than 18 years of age whose physical, mental or emotional
condition has been impaired or is in danger of becoming impaired as a result
of the failure of the child’s legal guardian to exercise a minimum degree of
care in supplying the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or education
or medical care. Neglect also occurs when the legal guardian fails to provide
the child with proper supervision or guardianship by allowing the child to be
harmed, or to be at risk of harm which includes when the guardian misuses
drugs or alcohol him/herself.? (Neglected Child)
Children who fall victim to neglect feel that their parents have no time for them.
The psychological aspects of this type of abuse is that the child or children affected
typically try to get attention at school or somewhere away from home, are
abnormally aggressive, and become somewhat maniacal when left alone for long
periods of time (Understanding Child…).
The second type of child abuse is physical abuse, which is responsible for
22.7% of total abuse cases that were confirmed. Physical Abuse is characterized by
the infliction of physical injury as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting,
burning, shaking or otherwise harming a child. The parent or caretaker may not have
intended to hurt the child, rather the injury may have resulted from over-discipline or
physical punishment (Child Maltreatment). The most common way to indicate a
physically abused child is notable marks on the body, such as bruises, cuts, and
knots. The main behavioral indication of physical abuse is the child is far too
aggressive when they are not around his or her parents. They also tend to pick on
others, but get extremely angry when someone else picks on them (Understanding
Sexual abuse is the third type of child abuse, which accounts for 11.5% of all
confirmed abuse cases. Sexual abuse includes ?fondling a child?s genitals,
intercourse, incest, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism, and commercial exploitation
through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials. Many experts
believe that sexual abuse is the most under-reported form of child maltreatment
because of the secrecy that so often characterizes these cases? (Child
Maltreatment). Sexually abused children are extremely frightened at the sight of the
abuser, and are extremely timid when confronted with a chance to develop a close
relationship. Victims are given low self-esteem, and will often think they are
worthless. Common indicators of sexually abused children include individualism,
increased shyness, and greater dependence on a non-abusive person present in their
life (Understanding Child…).
The final type of child abuse is emotional abuse. This abuse is responsible
for about 6.2% of all abuse cases. Emotional abuse includes acts or omissions by
the parents or other caregivers that have caused, or could cause, serious behavioral,
cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders. For example, ?the parents/caregivers may
use extreme or bizarre forms of punishment, such as confinement of a child in a dark
closet.? (Child Maltreatment) Less severe acts, such as habitual scapegoating or
belittling, are often difficult to prove (Understanding Child…) Emotional abuse
often causes the most severe psychological trauma of any other form of abuse. The
child rocks, sucks, bites self, inappropriately aggressive, destructive to
others, suffers from sleep, speech disorders, restricts play activities or
experiences, demonstrates compulsions, obsessions, phobias, hysterical
outbursts of anger and hatred, negative statements about self, shy, passive,
compliant, lags in physical, mental and emotional development, self
destructive behavior, highly aggressive, and cruel to others. (Widom 44)
Emotional abuse may take years to correct, however, there is a chance that these
effects can never be corrected (Widom 44).
Several solutions are available to lessen the problem of child abuse, but there
is no way to completely stop it. The sad part is that a child who is abused has about
a 75% chance of becoming abusive as he or she matures into adulthood
(Understanding Child…). A mother or father who was abused as a child is likely to
abuse his or her children, and 87.1% of abused children are reportedly abused by
both parents (Child Maltreatment). My solutions differ from the experts, but I do
think they have some great points to make. With a few changes in the said points, I
think child abuse in the United States could be one day brought to a minimum.
First, law enforcement agencies need to crack down extremely hard on these
abusers. The standard penalty for a child abuser is having his or her children taken
from the home. If the parent wanted the child there in the first place, then he or she
would not have abused the child. More severe cases will include fines, jail time,
and possibly execution in very extreme cases. Sex criminals are sometimes forced
to put a sign in their front yard indicating that they once committed such a crime, but
they can still move in right down the street. How hard is it to take a sign out of the
yard anyway? There is really no penalty for an emotional abuser because there is
really no way to prove that the child in question was in any way mistreated (Widom
When suspicion of mistreatment is present, I feel that there should be an
immediate investigation and evaluations of everyone involved. This would be
expensive, and a lot of people would object, but I myself would support it. Also, a
very good point made by R. A. Caldwell is that all convicted child abusers would
have some kind of proof of past abuse cases when they attempt to obtain a marriage
license (84). About 44% of all divorced men were involved in child abuse cases
previously (Child Maltreatment). Caldwell also added that a background check
should be available to community leaders when a new person moves into that
community (90). Automatic jail time needs to be placed on all convicted child sex
offenders, as well as physical abusers. Our society today tends to lean toward
mercy, and I don?t think it is a good thing. These people are hurting innocent
children, and, in my opinion, there is no excuse to ever harm a child past the point of
I also believe that there needs to be more organizations set up to relieve the
pain that child abuse causes. Non-profit organizations are a great thing to help such
situations because they allow the community to get involved through volunteering
for the counseling sessions that would take place. The people who would be helped
by such an organization would not have to pay for the services either. This would
be a great help, because many abused children come from a poverished home. A
family that annually makes less than $15,000 is ?88% more likely to have abuse
problems? (Bruner 177). These organizations help children and parents cope with
stress, anger, and other problems that have a possibility of causing child abuse, and
I believe this to be a great way to bring families closer as well. Such centers in
Jefferson City, Missouri have been very effective, and the confirmed child abuse
rates there have dropped by 31% (Missouri Children?s…).
Awareness programs need to be given in these organizations as well. First of
all, parent awareness programs can be crucial to the way that a child is raised. If a
parent knows how to handle their emotions, then a child ?is at far less risk of having
the hell beaten out of them when they get home? (Bruner 192). A parent or set of
parents who are under a lot of stress should have access to counseling, self-help
meetings, and other interactive means of parent-child relationship conditioning.
Also, the public should be aware of ways that they can help in matters affecting our
children. If you were walking down the street and a man was beating up his young
daughter, would you know what to do? Many people would just shake their head
and go about their merry way.
Public awareness should not include punching that guy in the mouth. Public
awareness should consist of the community learning how they can indicate an
abused child, identify abusers, and become active in putting an end to abuse in their
community. School awareness is perhaps the most important of all. According to
statistics, 71.4% of child abuse was uncovered by school officials (Statistics of…).
Teachers are around their students quite often, and they can usually tell when
something is wrong. If a teacher can point this out, then it is a big help, because
normally school officials are closely tied with law enforcement officials. Teachers
and counselors also have the ability to teach children how to get others involved
with an abusive circumstance.
All of these plans put together will not eliminate the problem of child abuse,
but it?s a good start in slowing it down. Everything that the government and
community can work together to do will help to stop a lot of the abuse, though. The
more people know about the problem, the more they can do to stop it. If all of these
things were enacted, it would be a success if just one kid was saved from abuse.
Parents would be better able to control their anger and stress levels. Abusers would
be more reluctant to hurt a child because of the presence of stricter punishments.
Taxes may go a bit higher, but is it not worth it to possibly save the life of an
innocent child? The life we lead is not an easy one in any way, but just because a
parent has had a bad day does not mean that a child should have to go to bed crying
Bruner, C. Investment-Based Budgeting-The Principles in Converting from a
Remediation Response to a Prevention/Investment Budget. Des Moines, IA:
Child and Family Policy Center. 1994
Caldwell, R. A. The Costs of Child Abuse vs. Child Abuse Prevention: Michigan’s
Experience. East Lansing, MI: Michigan Children’s Trust Fund. 1992.
27 MAR 00
Missouri Children’s Trust Fund. The Economic Costs of Shaken Baby Syndrome
Survivors in Missouri. Jefferson City, MO: Missouri Children’s Trust Fund.
The Neglected Child. 29 MAR 00
Petit, M. R. ?Child Abuse and Neglect: A Look at the States 1997.? CWLA Stat
Book. Washington, DC: CWLA Press. 1997. 14-39.
Statistics of Child Abuse.
27 MAR 00
Understanding Child Abuse.
01 APR 00
Widom, C.S. The Cycle of Violence. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of