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The Social Worker's Role In Preventing Child Abuse And Neglect

3857 words - 15 pages

Family violence is an issue that we as social workers will probably encounter during the course of our careers. While there are many forms of family violence, I view child abuse and neglect as the worst forms. Nothing bothers me more than knowing that somewhere, someone is abusing a completely helpless individual. I view it as our duty not only as social workers but also as humans to ensure that no child has to experience the pain and suffering involved with child abuse and neglect. This may seem like an impossible task, people have been trying for years to end child abuse with no success. I believe, however, that we have the ability to end the threat of child abuse. I hope to accomplish several things with this paper. First of all, I want you to come away from this paper knowing what child abuse and neglect is. Secondly, I want you to know how often it occurs and what the effects are. Finally, I will lay out a potential plan for ending the threat of child abuse and neglect that we as social workers can adopt and advocate for.

Part of the problem in dealing with child abuse and neglect is the lack of clear definitions. There are several types of abuse and neglect, all of which have their own definitions. According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) , five types accounted for most of the reported child abuse and neglect committed in 1996 . These five types were; physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, and medical neglect. Physical abuse is the most visible form of child maltreatment, defined as physical injury resulting from punching, kicking, beating, biting, burning, or otherwise harming a child (American Humane Association, 1999). Most states define sexual abuse as an act by a person which forces, coerces, or threatens a child to have any form of sexual contact or to engage in any type of sexual activity. NCANDS defines neglect as, a type of maltreatment that refers to the failure to provide needed, age-appropriate care. Medical neglect is the failure to provide needed medical attention to a child when financially able to do so, or offered other means by which you can obtain the needed care. Emotional abuse is commonly defined as a pattern of behavior that can seriously interfere with a child's positive emotional development (American Humane Association, 1999).
These definitions for the most part are meant to be guidelines not absolute definitions. A mother, who playfully threatens her child that she will be angry if she doesn't get a kiss on the cheek, will not be charged with sexual abuse even though it fits the legal definition. As social workers we must be prepared to allow for cultural differences in child rearing practices and not be quick to judge. What may seem like child abuse to one culture may not be considered abuse by another. "The vast majority of cases fall in a grey area between the extremes. Within this grey area, the decision to report an incident is a...

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