Child abuse has many definitions in our world today, but only one definition in the dictionary. Child abuse is the infliction of injury on a person under the age of eighteen by a parent or legally responsible care taker. Although the legal definitions of child abuse and neglect vary from state to state, to put the definition simply, it is when a parent purposely harms a child. This type of maltreatment has become a leading cause of death for young children outstripping deaths caused by car accidents, fires, and drowning. Abuse can also be defined as the use of violence to control another person and deliberately hurting someone you are supposed to care about or care for. Traditionally, parents – and adult men in particular – have been considered the main culprits, although this is not always the case. (Stark, p. 10) People blame the cause of abuse on mental illness, alcohol, drugs, poverty, or a troubled childhood. Abusers use violence to control people who trust them. Some abusers were beaten as children, others saw parents use violence, and some are uncomfortable with their feelings. They cope with feelings like anger, jealousy, and are sometimes drunk or overwhelmed with problems. Some abusers are mentally ill, and some are just plain mean. Abusers don’t respect the independence of other adults. Since they often cannot control the actions of adults, they feel they can control children. When an abuser gets violent, it’s because of something he or she feels, sees, or thinks. (Stark, p. 11) Children who suffer from physical maltreatment are also likely to suffer neglect and emotional abuse. The risk of being abused does not vary among races. Abuse exists in all types in families of all income levels, although children from lower income groups are more frequently victims. (Nadelson, p. 10)Those enduring sexual abuse often fall victim to physical battery and mental and emotional manipulation. Recognizing child abuse is much different than reading the dictionary definition. For example, a three-year-old is most likely too young to ride a two-wheel bike. When the child attempts to ride the bike and falls, the mother is angry and reacts. This is an example of abuse. Abusers also use threatening to get their way. They deprive their victims of what they need, such as food or money. The earliest clinical documentation of child abuse occurred in 1860 when French forensic physician Ambriose Tardiell published an exposé on battered children. (Nadelson, p. 23) It wasn’t until 1910 that the issue of sexual abuse began to be taken somewhat seriously in the United States. Efforts to restrict other forms of abuse such as overworking children began later in the 19th century. (Nadelson, p. 25) The ongoing and unseen problem of child abuse has left boys and girls of various ages not only physically, but emotionally harmed and forced to cope with the major obstacles and post effects of ignorance and violence.
Many studies have found that childhood abuse and neglect, childhood family problems, and psychiatric problems are common among offenders convicted of violent crimes. Mothers are responsible for 30% of child abuse, while the father figure is mainly responsible. (Stark, p. 25) In one year alone, 2000 American children, approximately five a day, die from physical abuse or neglect. (Nadelson, p. 10) According to a 1996 survey by National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, a case of child abuse was reported every 10 seconds. (Nadelson, p. 10) The growing number of cases in the United States has been ongoing since the first documented case of child abuse and neglect in the 1800’s. (Nadelson, p. 25) More children are abused each year. More than 40,000 children are injured, and perhaps one million more are deprived of the food or protection that they need. (Stark, p. 7) Although there are no set requirements for being a victim of child abuse, girls are sexually abused three times more often than boys, however, boys are more...
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