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Child Abuse Prevention

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Child Abuse Prevention

I. What is child abuse?

Child abuse is a very sensitive issue that needs to by carefully handled. Child abuse is defined as a no accidental injury or pattern of injures to a child for which there is no reasonable explanation.

Child abuse consists of different types of harmful acts directed toward children. In physical abuse, children are slapped, hit, kicked or pushed, or have objects thrown at them causing wounds, broken bones, or other injuries. Severe abuse may result in major injury, permanent physical or developmental damage, or even death. Emotional abuse involves humiliation, dishonoring or other acts carried out over time that terrorize or frighten the child. Sexual abuse consists of a wide range of sexual behavior, including fondling, masturbation and intercourse. Sexual abuse can also involve children in pornography. Neglect, form of child maltreatment, involves the failure to feed or care for a child's basic needs or to adequately supervise the child.

Child abuse usually is not a single act of physical abuse, neglect or molestation, but is typically a repeated pattern of behavior. A child abuser is most often a parent, stepparent, or caretaker of a child. He or she can be found in all cultural, ethnic, occupational and socio-economic groups.

Indications of child abuse or causes of child abuse

There is no one single cause of child abuse, but there are certain common factors often present among the families where abuse occurs. This section discusses some of the common features of the homes, children and perpetrators of child abuse. This does not mean these factors are always present, or that if they are present, they will always lead to abuse.

Profile of homes where children were killed.

Perpetrators most often male

AFDC main source of support

Caretakers not married to each other

Drug or alcohol use

Criminal history that includes a violent crime

Victim was youngest sibling

Domestic violence in house

Previous abuse of the child


Child Death Review Teams in Colorado and Oregon have identified some "triggers" that occurred just before many children's death from abuse

infant's inconsolable crying

feeding difficulties

failed potty training

parents have exaggerated view of "disobedience"

Who is a child abuser?

Have been abused as a child - a life pattern of aggression and violence has been established.

Can be found in all cultural, ethnic occupational, religious and socio-economic groups and sexes

Have expectations too high for the child's age

Be angry with the child

Not know the best way to discipline the child

Uses abuse as a form of power

Not be satisfied with schoolwork

Have problems with employer or mate

Have financial troubles

Have a history of violence

Be immature

Have a cynical and distrustful personality

Be impulsive

Be isolated

Be unhappy with themselves

Have drug or alcohol addiction

Feel justified in their action or feels it was appropriate

Be depressed or have mental health problems

Possess few coping skills

Wants personal satisfaction over seeing to child's needs

May be a pedophile

Lives near or below poverty level

Behaviors that MAY be seen in a sexually abusive person.

Drug or alcohol abuse or other addictive behavior

Mood changes

Last to go to bed, or up during the night

Sexual preoccupation

Views child pornography



Seeks out relationships with children over adults

Erratic discipline

Prolonging physical contact with childrenÐ'...wrestling, tickling, bathing

Walks in on child while bathing or using the toilet

Interferes with child's normal friendships

Relates to the child with sexual undertones or manner

The emotionally abusive parent/caretaker.

Has unrealistic expectations of the child - developmentally, educationally or emotionally

Enforces unusual penalties or vaguely sinister punishment - it is one thing to place a child in time-out in their room for five minutes, and another to place a child in time-out in a locked closet for five minutes

Uses child to satisfy their own ego needs

Describes the child as bad, different, worthless or evil

Refers to the child as "It"

Uses child as a battleground for problems

High Risk Children and Homes

Children born to adolescent mothers

Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy

Physically or mentally disabled children




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