Child Abuse in Mexico and in the U.S.

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Angie Cruz
Global Practice II: Child & Family
Dr. Lindsey
March 18, 2013

Children are among the world’s most vulnerable population. They depend on the world around them for protection, stimulation, nurturing, and a safe environment to thrive in and one day become productive adults of that world. It is this same world that bears witness to millions of child abuse incidents every year. Depending on what part of that world the child calls home, determines what actions are taken to address the maltreatment they underwent including support for the child and legal repercussions for the perpetrators. Child abuse is a world wide epidemic and to the surprise of many, it exists heavily in both industrialized nations and underdeveloped countries. The United States has the most alarming statistics as an industrialized nation: 6 million children are involved in child abuse reports every year and nearly five children are lost every day in a child abuse related death. Not too far from this statistic or by geography is Mexico, our neighboring country, where child abuse accounts for nearly 3,500 of deaths every year (Child Help National Child Abuse Hotline). Need

In the United States, there is a system in place, supported at the federal and state level, to offer services to children and families involved in child abuse and neglect. Concurrently, the legal system criminally charges acts of child abuse. In Mexico, child abuse and neglect stands on a blurry line as, culturally, some types of corporal punishment and children independence (lack of supervision) is almost acceptable. However, child abuse is still an illegal act in Mexico and laws of child labor, sex trafficking, physical abuse, and neglect are beginning to strive for national attention. Like the U.S., Mexico’s child abuse laws are supported at a federal and state level. However, unlike the U.S. where each state holds its own child abuse laws and services, Mexico’s 31 states also harbor their own child protection laws but do not have a system in place to offer reunification services to families or a structured foster care system (Villagran, L.) The intended consequences of the child abuse policies in the U.S., are to protect children from harm, offer families an opportunity to better themselves and address the concerns that brought them to commit child abuse and neglect, and when deemed safe and appropriate, reunite them with their families. The goal of child abuse incidents, is to protect children and find for them a permanent and safe environment to thrive whether that is with their families of origin, a foster family, or an adoptive family whereas in Mexico, neither of the above named services are offered. Permanency exists for Mexican children only through the hopes of adoption. In most cases, these children refer to home as orphanages and churches. The intended consequence of child abuse policies in Mexico are to punish the perpetrating caregivers through the law and keep children away from them. The unintended consequences of child abuse policies in the U.S. include the detriment of emotional harm on children. Removing children from their families of origin and placing them in homes while waiting for their parents to either recover or not, is very crushing for children. Consequently, a number of children bounce around the foster care system and never find permanency. Statistics show that children in foster care perform poorly in life (CITE*). The unintended consequences of focusing on the legal matter of child abuse, like Mexico does, leads children to almost never find permanency. Most of these Mexican children spend their childhood on the streets working, being exploited, and like American children, continue to suffer from trauma. Assessment

The child abuse policies in the United States serve to protect children and offer families with supportive services with the intention of reunifying these families when it is safe and beneficial to the child....
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