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child abuse and considers it as the cause for people developing differential perceptions in life and elevating crime rates. It has 15 sources.
Although caregivers give their undivided attention to children, there is always a chance that a child might be exposed to danger. This danger can be in any form, such as a fire in the house, falling and injuring one's self or child abuse. Child abuse may be the unsuitable actions of an adult towards a child that leads the child to develop distorted perceptions of life. These actions by adults may cause a child to grow up and do the same thing to other children or it may simply result in a child lacking trust in people no matter how kind they are or even over trusting people, hoping to let out the emotions held back. (Fergusson et al., 1996)
Child abuse causes instability in the character and perceptions of a child which results in the distorted image of the child's self causing the child to have an ambiguous attitude towards other people in the future.
Child abuse can occur at any time and by anyone. The child maybe even more severely affected if a known person has carried out the abuse. A known person may be a family friend, a stepparent or even a parent. According to researchers, the younger the child is when the abuse occurs, the worse it affects him or her. The abuse may have even worse affects if it has been accompanied by violence. Another couple of important factors to consider are the length of time that the abuse went on for, and was it deliberately done. But to begin with, why does child abuse take place? This is a question tat is synonymous to asking why do people rape? The basis for answering questions lies in Freudian theory.
Freud holds that the basis of human action of possessiveness is the dominant human instinctual drive, which is libidinal or sexual. Every human being instinctively is like an animal. As animals act in accordance with their survival instinct, human beings too are said to possess the same capability. The will to dominate in order to prove one's strength is something that some human beings cannot contain, and hence, very similar to the way that an animal may mark his territory or forcefully take control of females, human beings may choose to abuse the weaker ones. It is this attitude in the animal kingdom that guarantees their survival, and human beings in spite of being aware of moral understanding, somehow cannot refrain from unleashing their animal instincts. This is quite similar to the Biological view. Reite (1987) suggested that there are many factors that influence the mother-child animal instinctive bond. Parental neglect here is an important factor, which leads to the child being put at risk. Barash (1982) reinforces this theory by 'The culling process', in which the weakest in a group are neglected in case of food shortage. However, this does not adequately explain child abuse the way that Freudian theory does.
Pavlov (1927) and Skinner (1953) in their view of the Learning Theory assert that behavior is shaped and is a learned response to external stimuli. Since they consider behavior a conditioned response it is not possible to observe it, and it does not provide any root to an abuser's actions.
According to cognitive approach, individuals are thought to perceive, order, construct and think about the world as an important key to their behavior. Larrance and Twentyman (1983) assert that attribution theory might aid in explaining why parents abuse children even if they have not been abused in the past. White et al. (1989) present a useful model in cognitive approach, which is as follows:
Sees the child as an extension to themselves.
Ascribes conventional roles as they see themselves.
The child is an individual with its own changing needs.
According to this model, abusers fit into the first category.
Whichever theory that one chooses to follow, it must be realized that even without a theory to assess the nature of child abuse, it is clear enough that the act is unforgivable. It is perhaps an act of a wild person if not a wild animal.
According to statistics, one can so easily see that there is an unbelievably high number of these occurrences. The following are few of the statistics:
Girls are sexually abused three times more often than boys
Boys have a greater risk of emotional neglect and of serious injury than girls.
Children are consistently vulnerable to sexual abuse from age three on.
Children of single parents have a 77-percent greater risk of being harmed by physical abuse, an 87-percent greater risk of being harmed by physical neglect, and an 80-percent greater risk of suffering serious injury or harm from abuse or neglect than children living with both parents.
Children in the largest families are physically neglected at nearly three times the rate of those who come from single-child families. (Brown et al., 1999)
In addition to this, a child may be directly involved in a conflict between two parents. S/he may be abused physically too as a result, leaving indelible scars in his or her mind. Few of the affects of child abuse are given below:
Imitation: Physical abuse of one parent towards another or if a parent abuses the child may result in the child growing up to do the same thing to his or her children or towards the spouse. They may either be violent and harm their spouses or they may be submissive towards them, accepting this way of life that they lived through as normal
Targets of Violence: Some parents chose to attack their children in order to get their way and coerce their spouses into doing what they want. Parents may abuse their children to keep them in line so that they do not irritate the other volatile parent.
Neglect: This is something that is inevitable when the abuser dominates the situation. The caregiver may not be able to give the child the attention that is required. Especially in infants and toddlers this may cause difficulty in areas of development and overall well-being.
Emotional Disorders: Phobias, depression, stress disorders, stuttering, insomnia, impaired concentration difficulty in school, psychosomatic illnesses, low Confidence and low self-esteem are a result of children not being able to handle life situations in chaotic/abusive home environment.
Self-blame: This may result from being the basic subject of the dispute. Parents may conflict over the child's rearing leading to violent confrontations. This is highly upsetting for children as they begin to think that they are the cause of the problem. They think that since the quarrelling is because of them, and so, if they were not there none of this would happen.
Low Self-esteem: This is a common characteristic of children from violent homes. They lose the sense of value for themselves and think that their lives are worthless. This is because they could do nothing about the situation themselves so they don't have control on the outcome of things. This explains the confusion, helplessness and powerlessness that become part of their personality. (Eshtain, 1993)
In addition to the above, there are several more points that may be noted. The ones above however are the most significant findings. Factors such as culture, minorities, ethnicity, race, and sex demonstrate significance in the statistics. This is said because of the fact that child abuse is largely related to families and households that are strained economically. Since a large percentage of the minorities are in economic problems in the United States, it is understandable that they are more ignorant than others. Ignorance plays a vital role as well, as a lack of understanding and narrow mindedness play important roles. (Abney, 1995)
In addition to this, it also must be asserted that there are several people who come from cultures that abuse children. It is a common practice for these kinds of people, and on immigrating to the United States they have brought these inhumane practices along with them. (Comas-Diaz, 1995)
As statistics indicate, the occurrence of child abuse in America is extremely high. There are many people who have been severely affected in this way and it has caused them to waste their lives. But there are some that don't give up on themselves easily, even though they may be regarded as some of the worst victims of child abuse.
In an interview with Bob McMillan, Holli Marshall (Victim/Survivor) describes what she went through between the ages of five and thirteen. In her own words she says, "At 5 years old I was raped by an 18-year-old male babysitter. Since then, in separate incidents, I was abused, raped, and incested by my brother and several neighborhood boys.... My mother constantly tried to commit suicide. So, she couldn't take care of me, much less herself. I'd go days without food, having my clothes changed, and without being held or nurtured. My…[continue]
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