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Child Abuse

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Adolescence is a very critical time in a person's life. It is a time where physical and sexual abuse can greatly effect the child's cognitive development. During child development, people grow most, mentally and physically. Children are dependent

upon elders and trust in anyone displaying power and leadership in their life. Child abuse occurs at home, daycare centers and many other places. Teachers, doctors, nurses, even physical therapists notice signs of child abuse and neglect, but are hesitant to bring the problem to attention. Anyone caring for an abused child should obtain help from social workers, home health agencies, financial counselors, psychologists, local mental health facilities, alcohol and drug treatment centers, and parenting centers. Children are at great risk and people who notice any signs of abuse must report it to an authority if the problem is going to be resolved. The impact of these crimes on young victims can be devastating; the violent or sexual crimes committed against these children can lead to an "intergenerational cycle of crimes." The main issue is that child abuse is neglected which allows it to happen more frequently. Earlier identification of child abuse can decrease the economic burden placed on society that goes along with medical care and of course to prevent improper development of children.

Abuse involves cruel or violent treatment of another human being, especially any

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kind of sexual assault. "The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1996 defines child abuse as 'any recent act of failure to act, on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk or serious harm.'" (Haley and Stein, 54-55) This abuse can include any type of physical violence such as: punching, kicking, or even burning a child. Sexual abuse of a child involves any type of sexual activity involving that of a child and an adult. Emotional abuse incorporates any act on a child that will impair his ability to lead an emotionally stable life. "In 2003, 48.3 percent of child victims were male; 51.7 percent of victims were female. 83.9 percent of victims were abused by a parent. 40.8% of child victims were maltreated by their mothers acting alone; another 18.8 percent were maltreated by their fathers acting alone; 16.9 percent were abused by both parents."( These statistics show how often and how, by both mothers and fathers how children are abused. Not only strangers molest children it also includes: grandparents, parents, siblings, other family members, stepparents, family friends, coaches or even teachers.(Vachss, 17) Professionals in all in all states and even ordinary citizens are required by law to report any child abuse to responsible authorities. The responsible authority in most states is the police while in other states it may be child welfare. (Finkelhor and Ormrod, 2) This should be changed to the notification of both authorities in every state. When a child is assaulted, and child welfare is notified this is not the end of the situation. This is also not only a question of child welfare but of crime.

Abuse may begin when a parent who is already anxious, depressed or hostile tried to control a child physically but loses self control and ends up shaking or beating a child.

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Some adults say that child abuse is discipline and for example say something such as: "You asked for the beating by talking back." (Smith 80-81). To some parents, punishment and discipline are the same thing which is extremely untrue. Discipline is used to help children to learn and abuse is used to control and even hurt the child. Haley and Stein, 55) There is not one specific reason for child abuse, but a vast number of reasons why parents may harm their child. Other consequences include an increased likelihood of future substance abuse, aggressive behaviors, high-risk health behaviors, criminal activity, depressive and affective disorders, personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, schizophrenia and abuse of their own children and spouse. These parents that were abused as parents do in fact abuse their own children, but this is not the case for all abused parents. Parents that were not abused as children have been found to be more physically, sexually and abusive to their children than parents who had been victims of such abuses themselves. At first glance the child can seem fine, act normal, obtain high goals, and even be

crowned Miss America but in most cases underneath their projected self image the child is living in fear. Their fear and painful feelings do not subside with time or distance from the abuse. Abused children have learned that their world is an unpredictable, often hurtful place. The adults who care for them may be angry, impatient, depressed, and distant. Further, they can be transformed, without warning, into hostile, violent people as told by a psychologist:

"Many abused children display remarkable emotional resilience, says

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psychologist Kenneth A. Dodge of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, who conducted a study with John E. Bates of Indiana University in Bloomington and Gregory S. Pettit of Auburn (Ala.) University. But at school, about one third of these kids continually express anger and provoke conflict." (Science News,"Charting the Aftermath of Child Abuse.")

In the mind of an adolescent or abused adult these suppressed memories or feelings bury themselves deep inside the conscious mind. The painful memories or feelings bury themselves deep inside the unconscious mind. The painful memories can be triggered at any time or place by a varied number of ways, sometimes bringing that person to a standstill which can have an adverse effect on their current life. The withholding of these feelings can cause damage to a persons psyche. Children physically abused by parents are likely to have impaired ego functions. "That damage may put them in a risk for personality disorders later in life, said Ricky Fenzi, Ph.D., of Geha Mental Health Center, Petah Tiqva, Israel, and his associates."(Splete, 24)) In most cases where abuse is not discovered until later on in the victim's life most victims say that they were too scared to come forward because of what could happen to themselves and even the abuser.

Parents have the greatest effect on the development of their child out of anyone, and without the loving support from them, children are likely to be negatively effected, thus leading to adverse consequences. Although most



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