Issues/Child Abuse II term paper 5402

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Imagine for one moment that you are not yourself any longer.

Visualize instead that you are a young girl; old enough to know right

from wrong yet still young enough to be terrified by the dark shadows

in your room. It is a cool autumn night and your parents have opted

to attend a party which you are not allowed at. "It will be fine,?

they say. Although you already know what is to come. Your uncle comes

over to watch you for the evening, and your parents are so pleased by

the fact that they do not have to find a sitter. As soon as he

arrives, your mother kisses you on the cheek and scurries out the door

to join your father already waiting in the car outside. The nightmare

begins. His slimy hands casually slide an ebony cartridge into the

VCR as he smiles at you seductively. You can feel his eyes worming

their gaze through your clothes every time that he looks at you. You

feel dirty and violated every time you think about what he does to you

when you are alone. He walks over to the couch and sits down next to

you. His hand slithers it way onto your knee and you cringe in

revulsion. "Don't be afraid, I won't hurt you,?he chides. Your mind

feels panicky as you feel his touch in more intimate places and you

scream involuntarily. His grip tightens as he places his hand over

your mouth. "We'll have to do this the hard way!?comes his intense

whisper. You flail your arms at him, but it doesn't help. His

writhing massive body is on top of yours, and you feel so powerless.

Eventually, you sink into a sobbing heap and simply wait for his

passions to stop. You wait for the nightmare to end. When he is

done, you limp to the laundry room and try fruitlessly to get the

blood stains out of your clothes. It is all your fault...

Abuse: The violation or defilement of;

What you have just experienced is one type of abuse that

occurs millions of times every year across America. Estimates of

abuse range wildly depending on the source of ones information. From

one to two million children per year are victims of child abuse.

(Dolan p.3) All sources agree on the simple truth that not nearly all

cases of child abuse are reported or even estimated. Man cases go

unreported, less than 50% by current estimates. (Dolan p.3) The

amount of child abuse is staggering to think about, let alone deal

with. By the age of eighteen one in three girls will have been

sexually molested and one in six boys will have been molested in that

same time frame. (WWW site). Although, throughout this paper we shall

discuss not only the effects of sexual abuse but abuse in all its

forms. These include Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Mental Abuse and

Neglect. We will also Touch upon the basic question of this report,

and that is, "How has child abuse changed over the last 100 years and

what effects has this had on the family??This brings us to our first

research area, change.

It is clear that families are undergoing a number of important

structural changes: families are smaller than in the past, with fewer

children and sometimes with only one parent; parents have children at

a later age; more couples live together without the bonds of matrimony

which was accepted as a sacred bond so few years in human history.

The source of this degradation of such a basic unit of society is

unknown throughout all areas of research which I canvassed in my

quest. It is a question that one person needs to answer for himself

and solve for himself. Something a young child is not capable of

doing.

Physical abuse has many forms. It may involve the hitting or

kicking of a child with the fists or the feet, or with another object;

such as belts, shovels, changes, ropes, electric cords, leather

straps, canes, baseball bats, sticks, broom handles, or assorted large

objects. Other forms of abuse include the pouring of scalding water

or coffee on a child's body, holding a child's head under the water of

a toilet bowl, stuffed into running washing machines, throwing a child

against a wall, shaking a child with extreme force or placing parts of

a child's anatomy on hot or burning objects to cause pain. (Author's

note: Sometimes in extreme cases the shaking of a child with such

extreme force as an aggressive abuser possesses can cause severe brain

damage as the brain is crushed from repeated impact against the skull.

This type of injury is especially damaging in babies and small

children.) Some experts say the For every reported case of physical

abuse over 100 are not reported. (Dolan p.7) Nobody knows precisely

how many children die each year from physical abuse at the hands of

adults. The National committee for the Prevention of child Abuse in

its annual survey of all 50 states estimates the 1,125 children died

from abuse in 1988, a figure that, according to the Committee's report

"most likely represents the lowest estimate of the problem.? What is

known is that reports of child fatalities resulting from abuse are

steadily increasing... (Neal p.1) Many times when physical abuse is

caused by a parent or guardian, the child is not taken for medical

help, even when wounds or injuries are very severe. When they are

taken into the hospital it is usually be a secondary member of the

family, one who may not have caused the abuse but did not stop it

either. This type of person might be called a facilitator. In the

past, there was much more discipline in homes and schools then there

is today. In one interview, I had the following response to the

question, What do you consider to be abuse; as compared to punishment

and discipline? "Beating with a stick the size of a telegraph pole.

Or forcing a kid to eat liver. That is what the government sees. I

see it as abuse if the child isn't learning from it. Kids way back

when were slapped on the wrist with rulers. They didn't go out and

kill each other as many of the kids do today.? (Towle E-mail) Many

people which I interview displayed one of two attitudes:

?No hitting or abuse was acceptable to them today

?More discipline is needed today than before

Many experts think that terrible pressures on today's family

are partly to blame for the excess of abuse in today's families.

(Dolan p.9) Physical abuse is termed sexual abuse when it involves

the display or touching of genitalia or anything which is not a

comfortable part of a normal person to person . This brings us

to our next form of Child abuse, that of Sexual or exploitive abuse.

Sexual abuse is described as those activities by an older

person for his or her sexual gratification without consideration for

the child's psycho-social sexual development. Also, as s or

interactions between a child and an individual of higher power when

the child is being used for the sexual stimulation of that adult or

another. (Ruth p.4) There are many categories of sexual abuse, these

include; incest, pedophilia, exhibitionism, molestation, sex

(statutory rape), sexual sadism, and child pornography. It is

estimated that approximately three hundred thousand children are

involved in child prostitution and pornography. (Kempe p.9) Many

times men or woman who abuse children were abused when they were

young. In this way, abuse is very much a self fulfilling prophecy, or

circle problem. Historically, sexual abuse was not as much of a

problem as it is in modern times. Incidences of sexual abuse are

highest in urbanized technologically advanced societies. We hold this

to be self evident because the basic need of the sexual drive is

denied a constructive (at least, less destructive) outlet in modern

society. In other cultures and times, prostitution was a valid form

of employment, and this niche provided an integral outlet for

connoisseurs of sex. (I.e. nymphomaniacs, and satirists). Without

this vent men with sexual frustration may turn to the less reactive

child as sexual prey. Due to the black market prostitution of

children, a twelve year old boy can earn upwards of a thousand dollars

per day selling himself on the streets of Los Angeles. Sexual abuse

can have severe consequences on the mental development of a children.

(Mental? Did someone mention mental?)

Mental Abuse of a child can involve several different

activities. These can involved the common verbal forms, i.e. yelling,

neglect, constant insults, etc. They also involve certain forms of

mental torture and neglect. Mental abuse is one of the most damaging

forms of abuse, because unlike rape or other forms of sexual or

physical abuse, mental abuse will be with you all of your life. I

would offer this analogy to shed light what I am trying to communicate

here. Physical and sexual abuse are like roadblocks in the road of

life. They are there for a while, but you get over them eventually.

Mental abuse, on the other hand, catalyzes the disillusion of the view

of the street. If someone is always insulting you, always telling you

that you are no good: then with time, your mind becomes accustomed to

it, and begins to believe it. This especially is a damaging

consequence for young children and infants, who are as dependent upon

mental support as they are for their physiological needs. It is an

utter violation of such a relationship. Mental abuse not only affects

the child, and the family, but society as a whole. In one of my

interviews I received the following response to the question; What do

you feel is the greatest misconception about abuse in today's society?

"We still don't understand how much real damage it does, not only to

the child but to society as a whole. Most people never fully recover

from child abuse. Our society has never recovered from child

abuse...?(Kimball E-mail) This brings us to our final area of

discussion on the subject of child abuse, that of neglect.

Neglect is the most prevalent form of child maltreatment. "The

statistics are staggering. A recent Study prepared by the American

Humane Association states that, nationwide, neglect consistently has

accounted for the greatest number of maltreatment reports; in 1988

alone it represented sixty three percent of the approximately two

million cases of reported incidents of the three predominant forms of

child maltreatment: physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.?

(Steinbach p.8) Neglect is the unlawful withholding of a child's

basic needs. Food, Water, Shelter, Clothing; these are all things

that a child needs to live an effective life in today's society. To

deny a child these things is to leave him lower on the ladder of needs

than he or she would conceivably be otherwise. Neglect is by far more

prominent than any other forms of child maltreatment, but, continually

it is the least prominent villain in child abuse advertising schemes.

Why are people so unwilling to admit this problem? Why do Americans

consistently look overseas and across borders when sending their

charitable donations? The problem is here! It is not imagined.

Unlike the demons who lurk in the darkness of children's closets, this

villain will not vanish at the flip of a light switch. Many of these

children do not have their own closets or lights...

In conclusion, we have gone over the most important points and

facts about the different types of child abuse and what their affects

are on children. We have tried to shed some light on this unspoken

about, and shunned subject. The answer to the question which was

posed at the beginning of this paper is vague a best and unanswerable

at worst. Child abuse has always been around, and it always will be

around as long as other people care more about themselves, than about

others. The golden rule is the ultimate answer, the most dignified

quest. The last hundred years have only brought about changes in the

discussion, description, and definition of child abuse. These things

have helped do away with child abuse significantly, but the

eradication of this most cursed of diseases is not in the sight of

those who look to the future. I leave you with this final quote,

spoken by a one Mr. Andrew Vachss.

"The effect that child abuse has not just on the victims, but on their

subsequent victims and on society as a whole, is, in my judgment, far

more devastating than the threat of drugs, of political upheaval, of

economic disaster, or of environmental destruction... I really think

that child abuse is the most significant threat not just to the

quality of life in this country, but to life in this country.?

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