People may not be aware, but any one of their peers, friends, or neighbors may be victims of child abuse. Every day, someone experiences physical, emotional, neglect, and/or sexual abuse. Abuse can lead to death or injury for the rest of a victim's life, from either the perpetrator or themselves. In order to prevent child abuse society must: recognize the types of abuse, understand common causes of abuse, know the characteristics of abusers, and realize the effects abuse has, not just on the child, but on families and communities across the world.
Child abuse prevention must first begin with understanding the different types of abuse. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) defines abuse as the motive, act, or lack of action of a parent or guardian that leads to a physical or emotional injury (Rein 11-12). Each state defines abuse differently; Pennsylvania defines physical abuse as the recent act or lack of action by a perpetrator causing or risking a serious non-accidental physical injury to a person that is under the age of 18 (Clark 351). Corporal punishment, a controversial topic in physical abuse, is defined as deliberately inflicting physical injury because the child misbehaves. Types of corporal punishment include spanking, slapping, pinching, choking, paddling, or hitting the child with objects (Gerdes 182-190). Part of the debate over physical abuse is whether schools should be able to use physical punishment on their students. Some believe that corporal punishment is the only way to teach children about misbehaving and that a minor pain is justified if it corrects a larger problem (Gerdes 198-201). Others think corporal punishment may lead a child to believe violence is acceptable or to think they deserve the beatings. It is important for a parent to understand the difference between physical abuse and discipline. Physical abuse is often unpredictable. Abusers use fear to control their victims and when the abusers escalate, the abuse becomes harsher (Smith and Segal 3). Forensic Interviewer Ashley Rehm believes there are better means to discipline a child:
There is no need for physical discipline. I think that there are other ways for disciplining such as setting consequences for behavior that could include time out,
losing privileges such as: taking TV away, taking movies away, taking events
away, things like that, or creating behavioral charts for rewards systems. I think
that they have better advantages to them than actual physical punishment or
consequences (Rehm n.p.).
Pennsylvania describes emotional abuse as an action or failure to act that leads to a mental injury of a child (Clark 352). It also includes refusing to give a child his/her treatment for medical illnesses. Emotional abuse interferes with a child's ability to develop at the pace of their age level. Emotional abuse victims tend to receive a limited or lack of attention or affection. They are also compared to others in a...