The victim is often put into situations where they are physically deprived of the things they need to make appropriate decisions. For instance they may be deprived of sleep or food so that they can be more easily manipulated. Mental abuse may also involve teasing or name calling. In many cases the perpetrator is very aware of the victim's weaknesses and uses them to humiliate or subjugate the victim.
The sexual abuse of children is increasing throughout the world and has increased drastically in recent years. Sexual abuse can include the molestation and/or rape of a child. In many cases children are sexually abused by someone that they know, rather it be a neighbor, a parent or an acquaintance. Sexual abuse can also have lasting effects on the psyche of an individual. Studies have found that children who experience sexual abuse are more likely to become promiscuous as teenagers and young adults. In addition a significant percentage of teenage mothers were sexually abused as young children. Several studies have also confirmed that as much as 80% of the female prison population in America has been sexually abused, usually at the hands of family members.
What factors contribute to Child Abuse?
As was previously mentioned in this discussion religious beliefs often play a monumental role in the abuse of children. A very recent case in which more than 400 children were removed from a Polygamists Ranch in Texas is a prime example of this. This particular ranch is part of the Mormon sect is known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This sect has long been under scrutiny for sexual abuse against young girls. Members of the sect that were able to escape have explained their difficult childhoods and being forced into marriage at very young ages. The Associated Press reports that Investigators determined that there is a widespread pattern and practice of the (Yearn for Zion) Ranch in which young, minor female residents are conditioned to expect and accept sexual activity with adult men at the ranch upon being spiritually married to them,"...McFadden said the girls were spiritually married to the men as soon as they reached puberty and were required to produce children."
In this case it is becoming more and more evident that children were/are being abused in the name of religion. In addition to the sexual abuse, children and adults at the ranch have reportedly been subjected to mental and physical abuse.
In addition to religious beliefs, child abuse is often a cycle that occurs when children who are abused become parents. In many cases people never seek the help that they need in dealing with the wounds caused by abuse. As a result they repeat many of the same mistakes with their own children and it becomes a cyclical pattern.
In addition research has suggested that poverty plays a substantial role in child abuse and neglect cases. In fact an article published in Journal of Studies on Alcohol, explains that Neighborhood studies on child abuse have concluded that neighborhood factors are differentially associated with child physical abuse and child neglect., in fact Drake and Pandey (1996) discovered that the percentage of poverty was positively correlated. In addition there was a negative correlation between two parent families and physical abuse and neglect.
The study also found that parent who dropped out of high school was more likely to neglect their children.
In addition to the aforementioned causes of child abuse and neglect, we also live in a society that glorifies violence. In some ways it is evident that our society has become desensitized to any type of violence even if it is against children. In addition sex and sexuality are no longer held as sacred, instead everything is on display.
This often leads to perversion, which can lead to the sexual abuse of children.
As you can see, there are several factors that contribute to the prevalence of child abuse and neglect throughout the country. These factors include religious beliefs, cycles of abuse, poverty and education levels. If we as a society were willing to face these factors and work to eradicate them, child abuse could decrease substantially.
Understanding the Impact of Historic policies on Child Maltreatment
Some of the first laws concerning the maltreatment of children involved labor laws. There was a time in this country when very young children worked under dangerous conditions in factories and other dangerous environment. As was mentioned previously in the discussion amendments to the Social Security Act and changes in the manner in which society views children has contributed greatly to the protections that children now have under the law.
Child Abuse and Neglect Laws and State Statutes
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, the terms Child abuse and neglect are defined by Federal and State statutes.
The department explains that "The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (42 U.S.C.A. 5106g), as amended by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003, provides the foundation on which State definitions are based. CAPTA established a minimum set of standards that define child maltreatment. Each State is then responsible for its own definitions of child abuse and neglect that meets these standards within its civil and criminal codes."
This means that the states are responsible for formulating laws that are in compliance with CAPTA. In addition, states are responsible for maintaining a government agency that enforces the laws of the state as it relates to child abuse. Individual states are also expected to create the criminal penalties that people face if they are convicted of child abuse or neglect. Although laws concerning child abuse and neglect differ from state to state, the United States has made a concerted effort to tackle the issue of child abuse. Some sates are more aggressive and better organized in their efforts to protect children than others.
The Role of Child Protective Services
Child Protective Services or CPS is the name used by most states as it pertains to the state agency that handles cases of abuse and neglect within the state. Although the federal government has certain statutes in place to protect children, it is the actual states that are responsible for creating more specific laws and enforcing these statutes and laws. Child protective services receives complaints about abused and neglected children and the state is responsible for ensuring that each complaint is checked out, this is usually done through a home visit or a series of home visits. If the CPS worker finds that the child is indeed neglected or abused, the child is removed from the home and placed into the states care, some children are placed in foster homes while others may be placed in group homes.
The exact policies vary somewhat from state to state, but in most states parents are given the opportunity to regain custody of their children after completing the programs and training ordered by the court. Once these things are completed and CPS believes that the children are no longer in danger they can be returned to their parents. However in other cases parents don't meet the standards established by the court and the child remains in foster care or may be put up for adoption.
Throughout the country Child protective services works hard to try and ensure the safety of children. However, it is no secret that this particular agency is often overwhelmed in many states as a result of a lack of funding and understaffing. In addition, in many states there is a lack of foster care parents to take in children who have been placed in the system. As a result of all of these factors there have been many cases in which children have been left in the care of parents who were abusive or neglectful. In some instances children have been killed or seriously hurt as a result.
The consequences of Child Abuse
The consequences of child abuse are devastating and far reaching. The sbuse not only affect that child but also the society as a whole. For the children the siffer abuse problem such as juvenile delinquency, promiscuity, depression/mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse often arise. In addition, many people who are abused become abuser, which creates another cycle of abuse.
The society as a whole suffers from the effects of Child Abuse because of the resources that are often required to assist children who have been abused. For instance, the CPS worker receives pay, the foster parents must be paid a certain amount each month and the child may have to undergo psychological or medical treatment as a result of the abuse or neglect. In addition a large percentage of the people who commit crimes in our country were victims of childhood abuse. When people are robbed, or raped or murdered tohe sense of safety for the entire community is greatly decreased.