Child abuse is the intentional omission of care by a parent or guardian that can cause a
child to be hurt, maimed, or even killed. Child abuse can be either physical, mental,
emotional or sexual. Because of child abuse, Caprice Ried will never do the things that a
normal four-year old does. She will never play on a playground, or go to a sleepover, and
never go to school. All of this was taken away from her at such a young age, when she
died of child abuse. The foster parents, Patricia Coker, and her mother Betty Coker have
been charged with second degree murder for Caprice’s death. Caprice went without food
for days. She was also tied to a chair and beaten with a stick until she couldn’t walk.
Several days later, she was found dead.
As horrible as this story seems, this scene happens way to often. In 1996,
approximately 3,126,000 children were reported for child abuse. Currently, about 47 out
of every 1,000 children are reported as victims of child abuse and maltreatment.
Overall, child abuse reporting levels have increased 45% between 1987 and 1996.
In 1996, an estimated 1,046 child abuse and neglect related fatalities were
confirmed by Child Protective Services, (CPS) agencies. Since 1985, the rate of child
abuse fatalities has increased by 20%. Based on these numbers, more than three children
die each day as a result of child abuse or neglect.
In 1996, some states reported that almost 77% of these children that died were
less than five years old at the time of their death, while 45% were under 1 year of age.
The causes of death were 45% neglect, 52% physical abuse, 3% from a combination of
neglect and physical abuse. Studies of the general population show that anywhere from
6% to 63% of women were sexually abused as children. A 1985 L.A. Times national
survey found that 27% of women and 16% of men reported being sexually abused prior
to age 18. The true extent of sexual abuse in unknown.
The relationship between parental alcohol or other drug problems and child
maltreatment is becoming increasingly evident. And the risk to the child increases in a
single parent household where there is no supporting adult to diffuse parental stress and
protect the child from the effects of the parents problem.
Both alcohol and drug problems are widespread in this country. Almost 14
million adult Americans abuse alcohol. The number of illicit drug users exceeds 12
million. Illicit drugs include marijuana, cocaine, inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin, and
non-medical use of psychotherapeutics. With more than 6.6 million children under the
age of 18 living in alcoholic households, and an additional number of children living in
households where parents have problems with illicit drugs, a significant number of
children in this country are being raised by addicted parents.
Child maltreatment has become a national epidemic. More than one million
children are confirmed each year as victims of...