Understanding Abuse

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“The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse” (Edmund Burke,1729-97)

Recent periods of social progress and development have seen many concepts and constructs receive widespread attention to what can be described as negative behaviours and one concept and area in particular to receive this attention is abuse. Any response to find a solution to a problem whilst remaining effective and appropriate can experience various complications as there can be an inability to provide a clear and detailed definition of what it actually constitutes, provision of evidence that remains compelling and substantial and taking on board the cultural, social and political considerations and factors that are relevant to the society pertinent to the discussion will receive complications. This lack of clearness in its debate has led to the development of additional descriptions alongside abuse such as psychological maltreatment (Garbino, Guttman&Seeley, 1986), further confusing the issue and its resolution but in spite of this confusion their has been much learned from what attempts have been made in the exploration and analysis of abuse and this discussion will try to identify different types of abuse,expain why particular groups or individuals may be vulnerable ,its differing contexts,risk factors associated and ensure the impact of cultural and social factors on the range of abuse is analysed thoroughly.

“Abuse is the weapon of the vulgar” (Samuel Griswold Goodrich)

Abuse is a term that relates itself to any deliberate calculated damaging or deteremental behaviour purposefully used to damage or harm an individual or group and can occur when a person misuses ormistreats another group or individual without any interest in their worth,dignity or well-being.It can be seen as a behaviour where the abuser is interested in the exertion of power and control over the individual and be prepared to manipulate or exploit the individual involved into submission or obedience to their will. In recent decades it has been described in various forms but the main categories to contemplate are Physical,Emotional,Sexual and neglectful and a recently highlighted phenomena of Institutional abuse,that has led to greater awareness and debate. Physical abuse was the earliest form of abuse thought to have come under public consideration in the 1960’s and was believed to be linked to child abuse until child sexual cases started to come to prominence with the Cleveland cases in 1987(Corby,B,Child abuse,1993,p86) and has been defined as “hitting,shaking,throwing,poisoning,burning or scalding,drowning,suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer feigns the symptoms of or deliberately causes the ill-health to a child they are looking after. This situation is commonly described using terms such as fictitious illness by proxy or “Munchausen Syndrome by proxy”(Dept of Health,1995:5). This definition can be seen to as quite specific but does not provide any suggestions as to when such actions are deemed grave to authorise intervention and prevention of such behaviours and although it has various forms it can be the most visible, having damaging and long lasting effects.

Emotional abuse and neglect has been defined according to the Dept of Health as “the persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development”(Dept of Health,1999:5-6) and relates itself to malicious ”parental behaviour that damages a child’s self-esteem,degrades a sense of achievement,diminishes a sense of belonging and stands in the way of healthy,vigorous and happy development.Emotional abuse has been described as an overtly rejecting behaviour of carers on the one hand or as passive neglect on the other”(Iwaniec,D,Child care in Practice,1994). As a separate form of abuse it was only recognised by legislation in the United Kingdom in the 1980’s although it did receive recognition in the United States since 1977....
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