Ms. Mary Lanier
21 April 2011
Child Abuse and the Justice System
Child abuse is a growing problem in the United States. Three million cases of child abuse were reported in 2009. One of those cases was my niece Leah. Leah endured mental and physical abuse for the first three years of her life. Leah now lives in a safe place with my parents. Although, Leah sees a child therapist once a week because of the damage her mother did to her, she is thriving in her new home. Spankings, name-calling, and yelling mothers and fathers have corrected their children this way for years. For centuries, children were considered the property of the parents. Parents were able to discipline their children in any way they saw fit. As time has progressed, the courts have taken an interest in how children are disciplined. The courts think and people who spank their children are abusing them, children should be in the care of their biological parents, and the punishment for child abuse is adequate. Society has not done enough to protect vulnerable children. Six categories define abuse: physical abuse, mental abuse, physical neglect, medical neglect, sexual abuse, and failure to thrive. Physical abuse is classified as any injury inflicted on a child of a non-accidental nature. Mental Abuse is described as causing fear or feelings of unworthiness by locking the child in a closet, ignoring the child, or belittling them. Physical neglect is defined as failing to meet the child’s basic needs. Medical neglect is defined as failing to meet the child’s basic medical needs. The two most serious categories of abuse are sexual abuse and failure to thrive. Sexual abuse is any contact of a sexual nature with a child. Failure to thrive is classified as the child not growing the way he or she should. There are two sub-categories of failure to thrive, organic and non-organic. Organic is any medical condition that affects the child’s health. Non-organic is where the...