Child Abuse: Saddest and Most Tragic Problem Today
Child abuse is one of the saddest and most tragic problems in America
today. Each year an estimated one to two million American children are being
beaten, neglected, or sexually abused by their parents or guardians. Infants
only a few days old as well as teenagers are subject to child abuse. There are
four types of child abuse: physical abuse, physical neglect, sexual abuse, and
emotional abuse. Child abuse is a serious problem that plagues America’s youth
and should be stopped.
Physical abuse is a form of child abuse that should be stopped as soon
as possible. According to social agencies, beatings of children have multiplied
over the past twenty years. Physical abuse is any abuse that is harmful to the
child. This kind of abuse includes the physical discipline which results in
observable injuries on the child. It also includes use of a life-threatening
weapon, like a gun or a knife, against a child and any abuse resulting in death.
Any abuse which results in a sever injury requiring prompt medical attention,
that could be life threatening, that could cause mental and/or physical
impairment, could cause disfigurement, or chronic pain is too classified as
physical child abuse. Another form of physical abuse is any knowing or willful
mistreatment which in the opinion of a licensed medical doctor causes great
bodily harm and/or results in hospitalization for treatment of this injury or
condition; this may include physical injury sustained as a result of abuse or
conditions which result from a parent’s willful failure to act to stop this from
happening to the child.
Physical neglect is defined as failure to provide for a child’s physical
survival needs to the extent that there is harm or risk of harm to the child’s
health and safety. Physical neglect includes these four things: inadequate
food, inadequate shelter, inadequate medical care, and inadequate supervision.
Forty-two percent of all child abuse reports involve allegations of physical
neglect. The inadequate food element includes a child intentionally or
deliberately not getting fed or given water. It also includes a diagnosis by a
physician of failure to thrive because of a parent’s failure to feed the child.
Inadequate shelter includes prolonged and serious illness resulting from
exposure to the elements or to serious dangerous substances as evidenced by
serious injury. Inadequate medical care encompasses the child not receiving
medical treatment for an injury, illness, or disability, and if left
untreated, the condition is life-threatening, or will result in permanent
impairment, or is a serious threat to public health. Inadequate supervision
is dependent upon the child’s age, developmental level, willingness to stay
alone, time of day, awareness of what to do in case of an emergency, whether
the child is responsible for watching younger brothers and/or sisters, whether
the child had any physical or mental limitations that would make it difficult
or impossible for the child to care for himself/herself, and/or any other
Some signs of neglect are obvious in children and others are not. A
sign of neglect is that the child/children have repeated injuries that are not
properly treated or adequately explained. Another sign of neglect is that the
child/children begin acting in unusual ways ranging from disruptive and
aggressive to passive and withdrawn. Their sleep is disturbed (nightmares,
bedwetting, fear of sleeping alone). They lose all of their appetite or they
overeat. There is a sudden drop in school grades or participation in school or
after school activities. They may act in stylized ways, such as sexual behavior
that is not normal for their age group.
Sexual abuse is defined as acts of sexual harassment and sexual
exploitation of minors. Sexual abuse encompasses a broad range of behavior and
may consist of many acts over a long period of time or a single incident. The
nature of sexual abuse, the shame of the child victim, and the possible
involvement of trusted parents, stepparents, or other persons in a caretaker
role make it extremely difficult for children to come forward to report sexual
abuse. Sexual contact is the intentional touching of the victim’s intimate
parts, whether on top of or underneath of the victim’s clothing, if that
intentional touching can be reasonably interpreted as being for the purpose of
sexual arousal or satisfaction. Sexual penetration includes oral sex, anal
intercourse, or any intrusion, no matter how insignificant, of any part of a
person’s body or object into the genital or anal openings of another person’s
body. Sexual abuse may also include child pornography, child prostitution, or
exposure of children to sexual acts or materials depicting sexual acts.
Emotional abuse includes verbal assaults, ignoring and indifference, or
constant family conflict. It also includes punishments like locking the child
in a dark closet. Sometimes such behaviors can cause serious mental disorders.
If a child is degraded enough, the child will begin to live up to the image that
is being communicated by the abusing parent or caretaker. This type of abuse is
the hardest kind to notice because it leaves no bruises. A child who is
emotionally abused may seem withdrawn, or act out frustration by abusing other
children, animals, or belongings.
Child abuse is a serious problem that plagues America’s youth and must
be stopped. Physical abuse and physical neglect can hurt someone to the point
of having to visit the hospital or even death. Sexual abuse can cause injury
and scar someone for life with the memories of the act or acts of sexual abuse
the child had done to him/her. Emotional abuse can also scar someone for life
in the sense that it can change your all around behavior about the world and
everyone in it because of one incident or a series of acts that occurred in your
childhood. Child abuse must be stopped in order to have a normal and prosperous
youth of tomorrow.