Dose child abuse at a young age affect brain development. Day by day the safety and wellbeing of some children across the nation are threatened by child abuse and neglect. Child abuse is doing harm to child intentionally or not provides the essential needs for the child. Abuse child can be in physical, emotional, sexual in form or neglect. Each form has its different characteristics. Causes of child abuse can be parents causes, ecological causes or child problems. Parents causes involves parent who have background of emotional deprivation, unaware of difference between discipline and abuse, and isolated from the community. Teenage or single parent also can harm their children because they lack experience in raising children. Ecological causes which are related the environment surround the child. For example, poverty, overcrowding, substance abuse, and problems in marriage. Child causes include child disability and requirement of special needs. Child abuse has great impact on child’s life, damaging a child’s, self-esteem, ability to have healthy relationships, and ability to function at home, at work and at school.
Child abuse is one of the major issues that bring the attention of entire nation. Several organizations formed because it is not just an individual or familial problem. It takes different forms, physical or psychological maltreatment of children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define child abuse as “any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child” (http://www.cdc.gov/violanceprevention/pdf/CM-FactSheet-a.pdf)The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) define child abuse and neglect as “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker who result in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation” (What is Child Abuse and Neglect, 2008, para.2).
Every year millions of children suffer from different type of child abuse. Most child abuse results from attempt to punish or control the child. Parents try to punish their children when they are doing something wrong and to avoid spoiling the child, but these attempts will increase to produce physical harm to the child. Therefore, we must distinguish between physical discipline and physical abuse. The most common way to distinguish physical punishment from abuse is by the presence or absence of physical injury. “It is important to recognize that most parents do not want to beat their children. Virtually all parents feel regret after such an incident and most believe physical punishment is not an effective route to increase compliance, learning or respect for the parent” (Durrant, 1996, p.186).“In 2001, an estimated 3 million children were reported to state Child Protective Service (CPS) agencies as suspected victim of abuse and neglect. One million children were confirmed victim of maltreatment (physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, medical neglect, psychological abuse, other abuses), with another 4 million involved in referrals to Child Protective Services (National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, 2003a;2003b). Three fourths of the perpetrators were caregivers, and an additional one tenth were relatives.
However, only about one half of the child abuse and neglect report are investigated nationally, and on average only about one-third of the investigation find evidence of child abuse and neglect” (Potts & Mandleco, 2007, p 1208). Some people believe that the child abused by stringers only, but the truth that the child can be abused by parent, a friend of parent, neighborhood, or even a family member. There are four forms of child abuse that is neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse. The most common form of child abuse is neglect. According to Longman dictionary “neglect is pay insufficient attention to or ignore”. It means parents or caregivers fail to provide the important needs for their children. Neglecting the child can be noticed if the child lacks hygiene, dresses clothes which is dirty, old, and inappropriate for age and weather, frequently absents from school, always sick and no medical assistance provided, malnourished and isolated from others. These signs of neglect are mostly observed by people who are always with close contact to child like the teacher, doctors, nurses and neighbors. They are frequently the ones who notice, suspect and report child neglect. Neglect has three forms which are physical neglect, emotional neglect and educational neglect. Physical neglect is the most abuse noticed among children. Physical neglect can be seen in many ways for example if the parent not provides supervision, repeat shuttling of child from one household to another for a day or week at a time, not providing adequate food for their children, clothes, house, not seeking medical care for a serious health problem or not giving the child his treatment. Emotional neglect includes inattention to child’s need of affection and emotional support, expose child to extreme spousal abuse, permitting the child to use drugs and drink alcohol, refuse of medical assistance for child with psychological problems and applying high expectation that is inappropriate for child’s age and level of development. Educational neglect can be if the parent refuses to enroll the child in school, failure to provide the essential learning needs and allow frequent absence from school.
The second type of child abuse is physical abuse which is the clearest and has a huge physical effect on the child. “Physical abuse should always be suspected when there is an injury that cannot be explained, or when the history provided is incongruous with the physical findings or the child’s developmental level. Suspicion should also be aroused when the caregiver claims the injury was self-inflected, inflected by a sibling or when there is a delay in seeking medical services” (Potts & Mandleco,2007, p 1211). There are certain clinical manifestations can be observed in children who are abused physically which is “unexplained bruises or welts that appear in various stages of healing often in clustered patterns that reflect the shapes of the articles used to inflict injury, unexplained burns especially on the soles, palms, back, or doughnut-shaped (on buttocks or genitals), unexplained fractures to the skull, nose, or facial structure; multiple or spiral fracture; or dislocations and numerous fracture in various stages of healing and bald patches on the scalp” (Ashwill & Droske, 1997, p 1287).
The last type of child abuse is sexual abuse which is the least frequently reported of child abuse. According to (Potts & Mandleco,2007) “Sexual abuse is defined as exploitive sexual act(s) imposed on a child who lacks the emotional, cognitive, or maturational development to deal with the actions (Giardino, Brown, & Giardino, 2003)”. Sexual abuse can be in different ways which are pressuring the child to engage in sexual activities, exposing the child genitals, sexual contact with the child, incident exposure of genitals to a child, and physical contact to child genitals. Everybody believes that the girls are more often abused sexually, but the fact that both girls and boys are sexually abused. Studies have shown those sexual abuse victims are usually between 6 and 9 years of age. Ashwell made it clear that children will show some physical signs such as ”difficulty walking or sitting, torn, stained or bloody underclothing, pain, swelling or itching of genitals, pain on urination, bruises, bleeding or lacerations involving the external genitalia, vagina, or anal area and excessive masturbation” (Ashwell & Droske, 1997, p 1289).
Understanding causes of child abuse is important to address the problem in order to prevent it. Specialists and experts who evaluated a bused child’s environment and family background have come out with three causes for child abuse which are parental causes, ecological causes and child problems. Parental causes include parents who are very young and lack of experience of taking care for children are more likely to neglect child’s need. For example; teenage parent or single parent never learned the skills necessary for good parenting. Although, parents who suffer many problems and they cannot control their anger which will inflict their children by abusing them physically. On the other hand, parents who were abused when they were children are more likely to abuse their own children too. It is like cycle of violence and abuse. Also, some parents raise their children same the way as they rose even if parents were abused. Some parents do not differentiate discipline from abuse which lead to physically abuse their children in order to teach them the right things. Parents who physically abuse their spouses can also abuse their children. At same time, parents who suffer from mental disorder, anxiety or depression cannot take right decision for themselves, either for their children.
Ecological causes involve abusing drug and alcohol by parents. Parents who are drunk they cannot think properly for the needs of their children. Also, they are unrealistic in their behavior which can lead to abuse their children without even feeling that they are doing so. Some studies show that poverty play major role in abusing children. As the parents face financial difficulties, they cannot provide child’s need. Also, those parents usually isolated and lack of social support. On the other hand, if couple have problem in their marriage that may inflict their children emotionally.” Some parents are aware they are mistreating a child but are unable to stop. Other abusive parents literally hate children or are disgusted by them. The child’s need, sloppiness, crying, or dirty diapers are unbearable to the parent. Abusive mothers tend to believe their children are intentionally annoying them. In many cases, troubled parents expect the child to love them and make them happy. When the child cannot meet such unrealistic demands, the parent reacts with lethal angry. Such parents are more likely to physically abuse their children” (Coon, 2004, p 154).
Child problems include handicapped children. Caring of child with special needs is difficult and need family and community support. Some parents ignore the needs for the child which lead to abusing child’s rights. All types of child abuse regardless the causes; affect the child by some way. The effects of child abuse vary depending on the type of child abuse. Some of these effects are physical and other are emotional or psychological. Studies show that sexual and emotional abuse has the major impact on child. Effects can be classified to short term effects and long-term effects.Short term effects can easily detect and the signs of abusing show in short period. For example; wound, burns or fracture that occur after physical abuse, which healed after seeking medical treatment. Child will show some sexual behaviors include sexual play with dolls. Child will be aggressive, fear of parents, fear to go home, and isolated from public. Child will fight to other student in class. Child may have difficulty in speech and cannot express feelings. Child who has been abused by his parent will not trust them to provide physical and emotional needs, which eventually lead to lack of trust to other people in the community.Long term effects are signs that difficult to detect at beginning of abusing incidents and will progress with the developmental process of the child which lead it to occur after long time. Almost it will occur in adult age if child did not seek medical assistance. For example; the adult will have difficulty to establish normal relationships with other. Adult survive from child abuse, can have unexplained signs of fear, anxiety and depression. Adult survivor of sexual abuse can abuse other children which is the cycle of abusing. Also, the adult may suffer from sexual transmitted disease. The adult will have difficulty to express feeling and may turn to substance abuse (alcohol or drugs). The adult may attempt to suicide.
To sum up, child abuse is worldwide problem affecting children from birth to 18 years of age. There are different types for child abuse which is neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. There are three main causes for child abuse which is parent causes, ecological causes, and child problems. Based on causes many effects can be observed on the child which affect child emotionally, physically and social development.
In my opinion detecting the early signs of abuse will end further harm to child, better chance for recovery, and appropriate treatment will be provided for the child. Since the family is the core of love and care for the child, it is important to bring their attention and highlight the causes and effects of child abuse, so they can play significant role in stopping the matter. Therefore, proper awareness of the community plays an important role in preventing this problem from going further.