Child Abuse and Neglect


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The day began like any other day. It started with the hustle and bustle of the children
rushing into the classroom, tearing off their winter gear and throwing it into the coat room. I noticed, however, one of the smaller boys named Tommy wasn't wearing a winter coat or hat. I thought that maybe his parents hadn't realized how cold it was out that morning. So I tried to push the idea out of my head so I could start the day, after all the Pledge of Allegiance had already begun. Later on at recess, I had told the children to get dressed to go outside. I held Tommy inside for a minute so that I could give him one of the coats that had been donated to the classroom. When I had reached to help him put the coat on I realized he became uneasy. I continued to help him, however, and I was shocked at what I had saw. It was cigarette burns on his neck. I suddenly realized I was witness to a serious case of child abuse! “According to the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, more than three million cases of child maltreatment were reported in 1995. In that same year at least 1,215 children died because of child abuse and neglect.” ( Child Abuse and Neglect ). There are several types of child abuse. The primary types are physical, sexual, emotional abuse, and neglect.

Physical abuse is the most visible form of child abuse. Physical abuse can be defined as “non accidental trauma or physical injury resulting from punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning, or otherwise harming a child” (American Humane ). If the child is being physically abused then you may notice bruises, swollen areas, or marks on a child’s face. In severe cases you may notice “human bite marks, cigarette burns, broken bones, puncture marks, or missing hair” ( American Humane). If you can not actually see physical abuse then you may notice something is wrong when a child begins to act up behaviorally. Some behavioral indicators include “withdrawn or aggressive behavioral extremes, complaints of soreness or uncomfortable movement, wearing clothing that is inappropriate for the weather, discomfort with physical contact, or becoming a
chronic runaway”(American Humane). I think these indicators or physical abuse are very
important for teachers, so they are aware of children who are being abused.

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The children who are being abused probably don’t feel like they can confide in anyone about it. For this reason, the child’s teacher should be aware of the signs of abuse. If a child can’t help themselves then it’s up to the adults in their lives too. Parents may turn to physical abuse, because they can’t control their child’s behavior, or because the child is not living up to their expectations. The parents may be thinking that they are just punishing their children. This by no means is an excuse for child abuse.
Parents need to realize that children will act like children. They will be loud, rude at times, fight with siblings, etc... but these are all normal characteristics of a child. In 1995, the National Committee to prevent child abuse reports that “49% of child maltreatment fatalities were caused by physical abuse”(American Humane). This percentage, is so high yet I don’t see or hear anything
being done to stop the abuse. I also found that the most common cause of death related to child abuseåAMILY~2HTM teacher notices these things occurring frequently then they should report the cases to a child protection agency.

Another form of abuse that children endure is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is defined as
“employment use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or any stimulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct; or rape, and in cases of caretaker or inter-famillial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children”(mandatory reporting). Sexual abuse may be done by either an older child or adult. Children who are sexually abused behave differently when the abuse first begins, possibly shy, withdrawn, or even aggressive. The child who is being abused may begin to care less about what they look like, because they want to be.

Physical neglect is another form of abuse. Neglect is a much harder type of abuse to
judge. Neglect might mean a “parent or caretakers failure to give the child food, clothing, hygiene, medical care and supervision” ( Prevent Child Abuse in New York). . For example, a child could be inadequately dressed for the weather. This could either be a cause of neglect or poverty. That is why neglect is hard to prove to child protection services.

Another form of abuse that is related to neglect is emotional abuse, which is also hard to detect. Emotional neglect would be withholding of love, ignoring or blaming a child and regularly threatening a child. This may make a child have a difficult time developing close relationships later in life, because they don’t know how to love.

I didn’t find much research on the topic, but I also believe that mothers that drink, smoke, or use illicit drugs during their pregnancy are also abusing children. One example that I found was a six year old girl named Elisa, born addicted to crack cocaine, who died as a result of drug addiction. She suffered her whole life because of her mother’s addiction. ( What I Should Know About Reporting Child Abuse).

There is no certain person that abuses children. It could be a parent, baby-sitter, teacher, friend or relative. The abuser can be any age and either male or female. There are many reasons, however, why a person becomes an abuser. On major reason might be that as a child the abuser was abused, and is resentful of what happened to them. The abuser may also use drugs and alcohol frequently causing them to act out on children. The abuser may abuse a child because they are stressed due to a job loss, financial burden, illness, separation or divorce ( Child Abuse and Neglect). The children might be so fearful of the abuser that they won’t tell anyone what is happening to them or the child might not know any differently and believe that they deserve the abuse that is being inflicted on them.

To protect children from child abuse there is a Child Protection Act. In all states the Child Protection Acts “require certain professionals and institutions to report suspected child abuse, including health care providers and facilities of all types, teachers and other school personnel, social workers, daycare providers, and law enforcement personnel” ( Mandatory Reporting of child Abuse and Neglect). In the same article, I also read that many states require film developers to report child abuse. I thought that was a good idea, since they may develop pictures of children being abuse. If you fail to report a child abuse case then you can be charged with criminal liability
(Mandatory Reporting ) . Two main reasons that people do not report child abuse are that they are unfamiliar with state reporting laws and ignorant about the signs of abuse. ( What I Should Know About Reporting Child Abuse). Many people don’t what to get involved in other people’s problems for fear of what might happen to them. I also found, in my research, that if children are taken out of their home because of abuse, and then put back into their home after a period of time the abuse still continues and could even escalate ( What I Should Know About Reporting Child Abuse). Even if you have a suspicion that abuse has occurred it should be reported. If the adult does not put all fears aside about reporting the abuse the child could end up seriously injured or dead.

If your are the parent of a child being abused you must realize that it is difficult for them to confide in you. They might be ashamed or feel like the abuse is their fault. If your child sums up enough courage to tell you about the abuse you must not react angrily in front of them. You should let your child know the abuse is not their fault and that you are not angry with them.

In the profession of teaching, educators should be aware of the realities of child abuse and how it manifests itself in a child’s life. Some forms of abuse are quite obvious such as the physical injuries or bruises, while other forms may be emotionally seated, subtle and difficult to identify. While in a school environment, the child is likely to feel in a safe harbor and not exhibit any obvious outward signs. Another factor is the age of the children. Young, elementary age groups would tend to be more open about sharing their home experiences with a trusted, respected teacher. Older elementary children can be more restrained, and less likely to open up because of
fear of retribution from the parents or other abusers. Still older, middle school or high school age students would be far more likely to express themselves to their peers than to educators. Another serious form of abuse within the school environment
wasn’t aware of the effects that child abuse has on children. I believe that all students going into the field of teaching should be informed about the seriousness of child abuse and what they can do to stop it.


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