Child abuse is one of the fastest growing social problems in the United States. A social problem is, “a condition that a significant number of people believe to be a problem. A condition in which there is a sizable difference between the ideals of a society and its actual achievements” (Coleman et al. 2006:2). However, society has changed the way it views the issue, and is working towards finding a solution to this awful problem. Child abuse encompasses four main areas: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. Child abuse is considered a sociological phenomenon because it is a learned behavior. Learning the social patterns as to why people abuse will give a better understanding to its reasons, and also the development of society in the way that it views children. 3.6 million children were victims of abuse in the year 2006. Sixty four percent were victims of neglect, sixteen percent suffered from physical abuse, and eight percent were sexually abused. Also in 2006, 1,530 children died as a result of abuse; an average of four children everyday (Child Welfare Information Gateway 2008).
A study was done by David G. Gil, author of Violence Against Children: Physical Child Abuse in the United States and Journal of Marriage and Family, conducted a study about the types of child that was abused. His findings indicated that children of all ages are abused. He also found that abused children are more likely to come from single-parent homes or from large families. Income, occupation, and education are all factors that indicate the higher rates of abuse. Most children in his sample were abused by their mothers, and fewer than half the abused children in his sample were living with their biological fathers (Coleman et al. 2006: 39).
As the growing numbers of cases are seen in the area of child abuse, society must take more precautionary methods to increase awareness and willingness of victims to speak out, and be sure that the many support groups are available to them. “The child abuse dilemma is complicated by yet another disturbing question. How can a society that is healthy conscious enough to require air bags in automobiles, limits on advertising for cigarettes, and warnings about alcohol consumption during pregnancy be so ineffectual about the neglect, abuse, and murder of its children?” (Costin 1996:5).
There are often many different factors that lead to child abuse, which sometimes include more than the abusers state of mind, including their circumstances such as poverty, drugs, alcohol, and disability. However, the leading cause of child abuse is poverty. In a study done by the National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, it was found that abuse is fourteen times more common in poor families whose income is under $15,000 (Bartholet 1999:4).
According to Califano (2001), another reason for child abuse is substance abuse.
Alcohol, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana are...