Smack! Mother hits me in the face, and I topple to the floor. I know better than to stand there and take the hit. I learned the hard way that she takes that as an act of defiance, which means more hits, or worst of all, no food. I regain my posture and dodge her looks, as she screams in my ear. Please, I say to myself, just let me eat this time. Hit me again, but I have to have food. Another blow pushes my head against the tile counter top (Pelzer, 1995). This is the beginning of a typical day for David Pelzer, a victim of child abuse for four years.
Child abuse is the physical, emotional, or sexual mistreatment of children. That is the typical definition coming from the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. But ask anyone who has been a victim of child abuse, and they might tell you that child abuse is like living in hell, never knowing what might happen to you, and never knowing when it will end. Nobody should have to feel that helpless, and victims are usually left with an uncountable amount of psychological effects. Everyone needs to become more aware of the signs of abuse, and become more educated of a problem that keeps growing every day.
Child abuse can incorporate a wide variety of abusive actions, from acts of commission, to lack of action or omission (Kliegman, 1997). Abuse can start even before the birth of a child, such as maternal drug abuse and failure to seek the usual prenatal health care during pregnancy. After birth, child abuse is divided into four basic forms, and each area overlaps into another. The four areas are physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and emotional abuse.
Children who are at high-risk for child abuse include mentally retarded children, premature infants, infants with chronic medical problems, colicky babies, and children with behavioral problems (Kliegman, 1997). The parents feel that their babies are not as good as they should be. Parents might feel embarrassed to have a child who has some kind of problem. So to alleviate their mortification, parents will take it out on their children. However, there are so many other children who experience child abuse and do not fall under the category of high-risk children.
Physical abuse is defined as inflicting physical pain on a child. Physical pain can include hitting, punching, slapping, or any other violent act that may or may not leave a mark on the body. Children who have been physically abused may experience the following psychiatric disturbances: anxiety, aggressive behavior, paranoid ideation, posttraumatic stress disorder, depressive disorders, suicidal attempts, poor self-esteem, depression, dissociative disorders, substance abuse, and violent behavior/outbursts (Kliegman, 1997). These problems are a direct result of a child feeling lonely, or even guilty, like it was his or her fault that these unfortunate incidences occurred.
Neglect results in more deaths than physical abuse. Neglect occurs when the parent’s belief system runs against the...