Child Abuse: The Blight Of A Nation

1734 words - 7 pages

Child abuse is a devastating problem within society that must be prevented before it takes place. It often becomes a brutal cycle wherein the abused grow up to become the abusers (about 30 percent). It is also important not to categorize abusers too strictly as child abuse can happen in all types of families. Although numbers suggest that abuse is more likely to occur in the poorest families, it is important to realize that richer families are more likely to be able to hide the abuse. Sadly in our society, the family is the most violent of social settings. As a civilized society, it is our job to protect the ones that cannot protect themselves. The way we treat our children today will determine what our society will be like tomorrow.Defining child abuse is a complex issue with many factors involved. Some definitions are problematic such as the one that states that child abuse is "violence carried out with the intention of, or perceived as having the intention of physically hurting the child." The fact is that nine out of ten parents find it perfectly acceptable to spank their child. (E&BZ 459) This definition also does not account for mental abuse and nonviolent acts of neglect. When determining child abuse one should ask the question, "Is this child being put at risk?" There are four categories that are now generally accepted of child abuse. The first of these is physical abuse, which would include beating, scalding, severe physical punishment, and a type of abuse known as Munchausen by proxy. This rare form of abuse occurs when a parent or caregiver causes the child to be sick in order to receive medical attention and support. The second form of abuse is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse ranges anywhere from incest to forced child pornography. Child neglect is the third form of child abuse. A neglected child would be deprived of the necessities to be healthy physically or emotionally. Some of the examples of child neglect are lack of nutrition or lack of sanitary living conditions. The fourth type of child abuse is called emotional maltreatment. This would include verbal abuse and belittlement or a lack of emotional support from the caregiver. (National Academy Press 59) Each of the distinct patterns of abuse can be equally disturbing and have permanent negative affects on the victim.According to an article in the South Mississippi Journal, Forrest County was recently ranked third in the number of investigations of child abuse or neglect in the state. It was reported that there were 758 investigations in Forrest County in the last year alone. As reported in the article, more than three children die each day in the home as a result of abuse. In 2001, an estimated 1,300 children died of child abuse and neglect and most were under the age of six. (Mitchell 1) Governor Haley Barbour recently declared April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in an attempt to raise awareness of the growing social problem. There were 4,335 cases of child abuse and neglect...

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