Causes and Long-Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect

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Child abuse is defined by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services as being, "Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation"; or "An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm."(Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect 2015). Abuse can be divided into three different categories: physical, sexual, and mental. In our society, the act of abuse is a common factor in everyday life. Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving more than 6 million children. One widely accepted estimate of sexual abuse is that one in four girls and one in eight boys will be abused before the age of eighteen. A common definition that is given for child sexual abuse: “child sexual abuse is any action perpetrated upon or nearby a child that is sexual in nature and disturbing to the child.” Parents may find this definition too easily applied to parental affection. It would be very easy for a stranger seeing a mother or father kissing their child to believe it was an act of sexual abuse, according the definition above. It’s not likely, nor desirable that parent’s will stop showing affection to their children. If that were to occur, then we would be introducing another way of hurting children, depriving them of affection they need to grow and develop into healthy adults. However, in today’s day and age, many parents have a fear that well-meaning strangers may misunderstand their actions. Unfortunately, there are the instances when this does occasionally happen. The courts have an empirically verifiable definition for child sexual abuse in order for them to be able to convict someone accused – put simply, they need a definition that can be proven with hard, physical evidence. This makes a problem for all the children abused in ways that do not leave a mark. In my research, I came across this definition by author Jean Renvoize, who attempts to take all three points of view into consideration. Her definition is as follows: Child sexual abuse is any type of sexual exploitation of a child or adolescent by any older person or adult for the stimulation and/or gratification of that person, which is not necessarily confined to physical contact and which may range from exhibit... ... middle of paper ... ... gone over the most important points and facts about the different types of child abuse and what their effects are on children. Child abuse has always been around, and it will always be around as long as other people care more about themselves, than about others. The golden rule is the ultimate answer, the most dignified quest. The last hundred years have only brought about changes in the discussion, description, and definition of child abuse. These things have helped do away with child abuse significantly, but the eradication of this most cursed disease is not in the sight of those who look to the future. The effect that child abuse has not just on the victims, but on their subsequent victims and on society as a whole, is, in my judgement, far more devastating than the threat of drugs, or political upheaval, of economic disaster, or of environmental destruction…I really think that child abuse is the most significant threat not just to the quality of life in this country, but to life in this country. "Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect in Federal Law." U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Web. 4 March 2015.

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