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 exhibitionism or involvement with pornography to full intercourse or child prostitution; where the developmentally immature victim lacks the authority or power to prevent her/himself being coerced into activities to which she/he is unable to give informed consent, which she/he does not properly comprehend but which – either at the time or later – the victim considers sexually abusive.
There are many categories of sexual abuse, which include incest, pedophilia, exhibitionism, molestation, sex (statutory rape), sexual sadism, and child pornography. It is estimated that approximately three...