Child Abuse




A child is just a kid. They are unable to think for themselves or even stop wrongdoing. Parents who take out anger on their kids not only place them in a dangerous position physically, but they harm them emotionally and mentally as well. Child abuse can be described as many different things. One of the more common forms of abuse is neglect. As stated by James W. Vander, in the book Human Development, "neglect is defined as the absence of adequate social, emotional, or physical care." (Vander, 1997). This could include undernourishment, a mother not paying attention to a sick or hurt child, or even a guardian not sharing happiness with his or her child. Physical abuse is defined by Vander as "nonaccidental physical attack on or injury to children by the individuals caring for them." (Vander, 1997). This type of abuse is where the hitting, yelling, spanking, and even sexual abuse come into play. Children are not only hurt in the present time of growing up, but in the future as well. This problem of abuse harms many individuals each day, and the repercussions are felt by all of society.

Incidence and Severity
Many people should be worried about this phenomenon because it is very severe. More than three million cases of child abuse are reported each year. That number only reveals the amount of cases REPORTED, let alone all of those that go unreported. The children who are involved live very unhappy lives, but the effects of the abuse will be discussed a little further on. Today\'s society has a need to worry about these incidences because child abuse affects it as well. According to Cathy Widom, a personality analyzer, there is a strong chance that a child who was abused as a child will grow up to commit criminal acts. She found that "26 percent of the abused youngsters went on to commit juvenile crimes, 29 percent were arrested as adults, and 11 percent committed violent crimes." (Widom, 1989). Just recently, the Chicago Tribune released a story regarding a young women who has quite a criminal background. "She pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance in 1988 and to three counts of forgery in 1990." It was also found that she was "a child victim of sexual assault [and] turned to prostitution and drugs." (Chicago Tribune, November 25, 1997). The incidences of child abuse have been shown to cause much criminal activity later on in the victim\'s life. This is one reason, as if any more were needed, as to why child abuse needs to stop.

State of Knowledge
There are many contributing factors that lead to child abuse. First of all, the life of the parents have a lot to do with abuse. "Research suggests that child abuse is more prevalent among economically disadvantaged families." (Vander, 1997). But, that finding does not mean that abuse is restricted to the lower class; it is found across the class spectrum. Other factors related to the family that lead up to abuse can include: "high levels of marital conflict, interspousal physical abuse, and job loss. In addition, child abuse is more common among parents suffering from a mental illness and substance addiction." (Vander, 1997). The above examples are just some of the reasons as to why child abuse may occur, but there are many others as well. Many instances of child abuse have much to do with how much the parent expects from his or her child. One example story goes as follows: "Henry J., in speaking of his sixteen-month old son, Johnny, said, \'He knows what I mean when I say \'come here\'.\' If he doesn\'t come immediately, I go and give him a gentle tug on the ear to remind him of what he\'s supposed to do. In the hospital, it was found that Johnny\'s ear was lacerated and partially torn away from his head." (Vander, 1997). Aside from expectations, misunderstanding is another leading cause of child abuse. A mother named Kathy made this important statement: "I have never really felt loved all my life. When the baby was born, I thought he would love me; but when he cried all the time, it meant he didn\'t love me, so I hit him." (Vander, 1997).