Despite the numerous laws protecting the rights of children, child abuse cases have been on the increase in recent times. Most incidences involving child abuse are left unreported, which leads to further increase in such cases. Child abuse can be manifested in different forms; however, the most common forms are physical, emotional, and sexual harassment. Child abuse may take place at home, school, or in any environment in which the child resides. Being neglected by parents is also a form of child abuse, and it is the most common type today.
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Causes of child abuse
Child abuse is an intricate happening with manifold causes (May-Chahal and Cawson 970). Psychologists argue that most men who batter their wives are likely to abuse their children physically as well. Another reason for child abuse is unplanned pregnancies. Children born out of unplanned pregnancies are neglected in most cases.
Neglect is a form of abuse, “which accounts for more than 75% of cases involving child abuse” (Wang and Holton 56). Children with disability are also victims of torture and abuse. Disabled kids are subject to stigma, since they are secluded from their peers, and as a result, they may develop further complications in the future.
Drug addiction by parents is also another form of child abuse. Parents who are drug addicts resort to violent acts, and thus, they neglect their kids in most cases. About 60% of cases involving child abuse are among parents who are drug addicts (Wang and Holton 58). Alcohol addiction is another threat. Such parents abuse their kids either physically or sexually during their moments of inebriety.
Neglect is a form of “ill-treatment that manifests itself through failure by a parent or caretaker to meet a child’s basic needs” (May-Chahal and Cawson 972). This form of maltreatment is the most common type of child abuse, and it involves denying a child access to basic needs. Different people define child neglect differently as the definition depends on the society that the child resides in. Child negligence can be intentional or unintentional (May-Chahal and Cawson, 972).
Parents who fail to care for their children when they have the ability to do so are said to have neglected their children intentionally. The United States reported the highest rates of child neglect in 2007 by recording about 3 million cases involving either neglect or other forms of child abuse (Wang and Holton 69). Studies indicate that victims of neglect are at risk of committing suicide if appropriate actions are not taken in time.
Effects of child neglect
The consequences of neglect differ from one individual to another, depending on his/her ability to cope with the pain caused by such isolation. The stage of negligence is also important when analyzing the effect of child neglect. Thus, at a tender age, it may cause a child to develop aggressive behaviors as opposed to neglect at a later stage in life (Wang and Holton 73). Neglected children conventionally may become weak physically.
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Medical practitioners argue that such children are at a higher risk of suffering from a stroke in their adulthood as compared to their peers who receive good care from their parents. In addition to the aforementioned effects, child neglect may also cause poor performance in school.
Physical abuse of a child is an act by an adult intended to cause bodily harm or inflict injury to a minor. Physical abuse denotes any form of aggression or suffering caused to a child’s body by an adult (May-Chahal and Cawson 978). In most western countries, any form of punishment that may cause injury to a kid is against the law, and it is classified as a form of physical assault. Physical torture directed to kids causes them to develop undesirable behaviors in their adulthood as they grow up being the victims of such tortures for a long time.
Physical abuse can also cause emotional and psychological distress, and the victims are at risk of committing suicide. Physical abuse is defined differently in different countries, and thus, there seems to be no universal definition. Cases of physical abuse have also been on the rise, and most human rights activists attribute this increase to a culture that allows punishments to be used on children.
Acts such as slaps and beatings are also regarded as forms of physical abuse though their effects are not directly noticeable. They are regarded as examples of physical assault since they degrade the child’s dignity and integrity. Lack of a universal definition of what constitutes physical abuse has been a key drawback to the fight against child abuse.
Control of physical child abuse
Physical abuse can be controlled through the enactment of laws that clearly define what exactly comprises a physical assault. Clear penalties should be spelled out in the law so that parents and other perpetrators accused of mistreating their children are punished accordingly.
Training parents on how to handle their children’s undesirable behaviors can also go a long way in solving the problems involving physical abuse. Governments should aim at relaxing the legal procedures that the affected kids have to go through before they receive treatment (Wang and Holton 86).
Effects of Physical Abuse
The effects of physical abuse can be either short term or long term (May-Chahal and Cawson 980). The short-term effects can be in the form of fractures, cuts, bone twists, and burns. The long-term effects are severe as the affected child’s behavior suddenly changes, and the child becomes susceptible to criminal acts.
According to research carried out by the UNICEF in 2007, 60% of victims of physical torture end up in criminal acts at a tender age and end up being arrested and imprisoned, while 27% of the kids who go through physical abuse are arrested for criminal acts at their adulthood (Wang and Holton 112).
Other long-term effects of physical abuse include brain damage and poor physical development. Persons who undergo physical torture in childhood are at a higher risk of suffering from disorders such as allergies, asthma, and diabetes (Wang and Holton 98). However, this aspect does not mean that every child who goes through torture in his/her childhood will be affected by these ailments though a good number of such individuals are at risk.
Child sexual abuse
Sexual abuse of a child entails forcing a minor to engage in sexual activities with an adult. According to the law of contract, contacts involving a minor are invalid. A child’s consent is thus immaterial, as a minor is considered incapable of entering a contract with an adult. Any perceived consent cannot prevent the state from punishing a criminal charged with abusing a child sexually.
In most jurisdictions, the act results in life imprisonment or the death sentence (Johnson 462). In a bid to shield children from sexual exploitation, the United Nations has adopted an international treaty that makes children protection a matter of the respective states. The term ‘sexual abuse’ does not only denote the actual sexual activity but exposing one’s sexual genitals to a minor amount to sexual abuse.
According to a report released by UNICEF international in 2003, sexual abuse is more prevalent in African countries than it is in western countries (Johnson 465). The report showed that about 35% of all the reported cases of sexual abuse were in Africa. Sexual abuse is not only directed to the girl children.
In some cases, the boy child is also affected by this vice, whereby old women engage boys in sexual activities. According to the 2004 statistics, sexual abuse directed to the girl child stood at 20%, while that directed to the boy child stood at 7% (Johnson 466). Such type of abuse may affect the child both mentally and physically by causing injuries on one’s genitals. A kid who has been exposed to sexual harassment stands a higher chance of being abused further in adulthood due to a feeling of desperation and psychological trauma caused by the act.
Effects of sexual abuse
A child exposed to sexual abuse is observed to develop certain undesirable behaviors both in childhood and adulthood. The short-term effects include poor self-esteem, depression, and badly disturbed sleep. The affected kids may experience developmental disorders later in their lifetime due to depression. Victims may also avoid intimate relations, and they may even withdraw from learning institutions due to low self-esteem.
Depression and low self-esteem may also drive the victims to drug abuse in the end. According to a report released by the National Institute of Drug Abuse in 2003, about 37% of adult women who were subjected to sexual abuse in their childhood resorted to drug abuse (Johnson 470). The aforementioned effects are worse if the real sexual act takes place or if the abuse involves the use of force.
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Cases of child abuse continue to rise despite the numerous international laws that aim to protect the rights of children. Lack of proper skills by parents on how to bring up their children has been fueling the increase in cases of child abuse.
Drug abuse has also contributed to the rise in child abuse cases. Most cases involving children go unreported, especially for fear of tarnishing the names of the affected. Cases of child abuse are high in developing countries as compared to developed countries. Africa is in the lead for cases involving sexual abuse directed on girls due to the reluctance by communities to abandon their cultures.
Johnson, Charles. “Child sexual abuse.” The Lancet 364.9432 (2004): 462-470. Print.
May-Chahal, Corinne, and Pat Cawson. “Measuring child maltreatment in the United Kingdom: a study of the prevalence of child abuse and neglect.” Child abuse & neglect 29.9 (2005): 969-984. Print.
Wang, Ching-Tung, and John Holton. Total estimated cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States, Chicago: Prevent Child Abuse America, 2007. Print.