When thinking about statistics on child abuse, it’s very helpful to know that the idea of “child abuse” is very controversial. Recently, in particular homes and cultures, child abuse has come to be seen as a major social problem and a main cause of many people’s suffering and personal problems. Some believe that we are beginning to face the true prevalence and significance of child abuse. There is more to child abuse than just the physical scars; children are affected socially, mentally, and emotionally. According to the American National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, in 1997, neglect represented 54% of confirmed cases of child abuse, physical abuse 22%, sexual abuse 8%, emotional maltreatment 4%, and other forms of maltreatment 12%.
Physical abuse is defined as physical aggression directed at a child by an adult. It can involve kicking, striking, shoving, slapping, burning, bruising, pulling ears or hair, stabbing choking or shaking a child. Child neglect is when the responsible adult fails to provide adequately for various needs. These may include; physical, mental, educational, and medical. Out of all the possible forms of abuse, emotional abuse is the hardest to define. It could include; name-calling, ridicule and degradation, destruction of personal belongings, torture or destruction of a pet, excessive criticism, inappropriate or excessive demands, withholding information, and routine labeling and humiliation. Most abused and neglected children never come to the attention of government authorities. This is true for neglected and sexually abused children, who may have no signs of harm. In the case of sexual abuse, secrecy and intense feelings of shame may prevent children, and adults aware of the abuse the child undergoes, from seeking help. Official government statistics do not indicate actual rates of child abuse. Government statistics are based on cases that were reported to social service agencies, investigated by child protection workers, and had sufficient evidence to determine that a legal definition of “abuse” or “neglect” was met.
We don’t often believe a problem is significant, or even real, unless those who say so can provide impressive surrounding statistics. The media often insists on such statistics for their stories, even if no good ones exist. The media often report on statistics, good and bad, without providing the information we need to evaluate their quality and meaning. The media seldom tell us how the problem was defined, what questions were asked, what methods were used to seek answers, and who was studied. (Hopper, Jim Ph.D. 1996.).
Physical child abuse effects vary from child to child, depending on six factors: the severity of the physical abuse, frequency of the physical abuse, age of the child when physical abuse began, child’s relationship to the abuser, availability of support persons, and child’s ability to cope.
Severity of physical abuse: How hard a child is struck is only one aspect of severity....