The Psychological Factors Involved In Child Abuse

4319 words - 17 pages

Child abuse is a term impacted by copious multidimensional and
interactive factors that relate to its origins and effects upon a
child's developing capacities and which may act as a catalyst to
broader, longer-term implications for adulthood. Such maltreatment may
be of a sexual, physical, emotional or neglectful nature, each form
holding a proportion of shared and abuse-specific psychological
considerations (Mash & Wolfe, 2005). Certainly in terms of the effects
/ impairments of abuse, developmental factors have been identified
across all classifications of child abuse, leading to a comparably
greater risk of emotional / mental health problems in adult life
within the general population (Mullen, Anderson, Romans, & Herbison,

With respect to the identification of vehicles of abuse and potential
psychological risk factors, research has focused upon the
'Microsystems' - or individual relationships and environmental
structures - that exist within the child's life (e.g. family, societal
and economic factors), and victim/offender characteristics that
interact with such environmental aspects to precipitate abuse
(Garbarino, 1994; Mash & Wolfe, 2005).

Incidence studies have evidenced such victim-related characteristics
as age, gender, health, and childhood behaviour to render children at
greater risk of abuse (Mash & Wolfe, 2005; Sullivan & Knutson, 2000;
Mullen & Flemming, 1998). For example, children with mental / physical
disabilities have been identified as up to three times at greater risk
of abuse in comparison to non-disabled peers (Sullivan & Knutson,
2000; Crosse, Kaye & Ratnofsky, 1993). Birth complications,
child-temperament, chronic / serious illness and childhood trauma are
also well-recognised risk-factors of abuse in childhood

Research conducted in the United States of America clearly identifies
an interaction between victim age and abuse characteristics (USDHHS,
2003). There exists a negative correlation between the onset and
prevalence of physical neglect and victim age, for instance,
indicative of a young child's dependency upon the caregiver for
supervision and nurture (Mash & Wolfe, 2005). The incidence of
physical and emotional abuse is also most prominent during
developmental periods of independence, specifically the early,
pre-school and adolescent transitional stages of development (ibid).
Sexual abuse has prevailed most consistently, however, from an onset
of age 3 throughout childhood, highlighting the vulnerability of
children across the age-spectrum (ibid). Nevertheless, victim gender
is emphasised as an influential variable within the incidence and
nature of sexual abuse; for females have accounted for up to 80% of
reported victims and are more likely to be abused by male family
members in contrast to male...

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