October 1, 2012
As her eyes are filled with water, LaCrystal Nelson, a Case Manager for child protective custody shares numerous stories about her day to day experiences with abused and neglected children. One can easily tell by the amount of tears that she has a deep compassion for the work that she does. She shares stories of infants, who are very innocent, but beaten like criminals and of pre-teens, who are left at home for days without food, water or clean clothing. Her tears begin to dry and a smile is formed, however, when asked about hope. She believes in the power of prayer and in the millions of people nationwide who provide support in the form of foster care, donations, self-esteem and grief camps, therapy and other forms of relief. According to the national website for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), there are more than 763,000 reported and confirmed cases of child abuse each year. It is believed that nearly 4 children die each day from child abuse related injuries in the United States alone. Their studies further show startling statistics that reveal the number of children who become abusers themselves and reveal that those abused have a smaller chance of becoming stable and self-sufficient individuals. WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE?
Child abuse comes in many forms. It can be physical, mental, or emotional. According to The Federal Child Abuse and Prevention Act (CAPTA), abuse includes any behaviors that result in child exploitation, injury, sexual abuse or emotional harm. Failure to act in a harmful situation involving a child is also considered abuse because the adult displays negligence of the child’s needs. Parents, guardians, and caregivers are expected to provide for a child’s basic needs, which include medical, emotional, physical, and educational needs. Failure to provide the basic needs can be considered an act of neglect. This includes the denial of food or failure to provide food, shelter, clothing, and education. The compulsory attendance law requires that all children between the ages of 5 and 15 be enrolled in some form of approved educational program. A parent or guardian will be prosecuted if they are not compliant with this law. This is considered an act of neglect, however if a student skips school or fails to continue in school until the legal age, they will be held accountable by truancy laws. This includes public schools, private schools and pre-approved home schooling institutions. Accidental injuries, including, kicking, biting, punching, shaking, choking, and burning are all considered acts of abuse. Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is a form of abuse that can carry from generation to the next. It affects families and children everywhere. In Child Sex Abuse Kills: the Story of Justin and Matthew Wilkes (2006), it gives many an example of how such abuse can affect not only the victims but also their families. Brothers Justin and Matthew were just like any other school-aged boys. They enjoyed school, playing, and living a normal life. Like many victims of sexual abuse, the Wilkes boys’ knew and trusted their abuser, camp counselor, Peter “Pete” Dudley Albertson, II. He was a mentor to them who gained their trust by spending time with them until he decided to make a wrong move. Having abused the brothers for years, he had no remorse or acknowledged no wrong doing to the boys, even after being confronted and arrested. Albertson continued to stalk one of the young men from overseas, where he moved to find new children to abuse. He taunted them and tried to convince him that life would never be normal for them. The story is very heart-breaking as it describes how the boys’ father felt such remorse for not protecting them and how he went on to commits suicide. Matthew, the oldest son, had already made several unsuccessful attempts at suicide but then, unable to deal with his father’s death, was...