Child abuse remains a significant problem around the world. The reasons for child abuse are diverse and tend to be different from a situation to another. It is found that children of different disabilities such as hearing, learning and visual impairment are at higher risk of being abused especially from their care givers. Another cause is Low socio-economic status and high social stress which lead some people to abuse drug and alcohol. Hence the severity of alcoholism and drug abuse increase the tendency to abuse others increases as well. Also it is clear that children of young ages are more likely to be abused by females than elder children who are abused more by males. Moreover, the abusing childhood experience can be a cause for an adult to abuse children, especially if this adult suffered rejection, maltreatment and violence in his or her childhood.
The end effects of child abuse can be shown as physical effect which range from minor injuries to severe brain damage and even death. Another effect is the psychological manifestation where the child may have low self esteem and depression. Furthermore, the social effects associated with undesirable behaviors such as criminal behaviors and alcoholism.
Causes and Effects of Child Abuse
Child abuse is a major public health crisis. It affects children of all ages, colors, social classes and ethnic groups. The latest statistics estimate that more than 900,000 children are victims of child maltreatment. Abuse occurs at all ages but is most common in younger children. Child abuse may manifest as skin injuries, skeletal trauma, head injury, or many other forms. (Tenney-Soeiro & Wilson, 2004).
In fact, there are several causes for child abuse like in children with variety of disabilities or behavioral problems who can increase parental stress to the instant that causes child abuse. Moreover, low socio-economic status and high social stress are strongly linked with abuse. Also a personal history of abuse and rejection may lead a person to abuse others. In addition, there are also certain and important effects of child abuse and neglect on the physical, psychological, and behavioral development of children. Thus, these consequences affect the victims themselves and society they live in.
Causes of Child Abuse
To begin with, there are several causes that lead to child abuse and neglect. First of all, children with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, visual and hearing impairments, low birth weights, and physical health problems are at slightly increased risk of being physically abused. Also prematurely born and chronically ill children are at same risk level. In other words, children who for one reason or other place stress on psychologically vulnerable parents are most at higher risk of abuse. Children with disabling conditions can increase stress on parents because such children are difficult to manage specially among inexperienced parents. Children that show significant cognitive impairments, or those that barely communicate, or who are limited in mobility due to disability can be considered as chronic stressor for child care providers (Howe, 2005).
Low socio-economic status and high social stress also play a role for physical abuse of children. Here the children usually descend from parents with typically poor educational achievements. Many social conditions raises the risk for child abuse and these conditions include poor housing condition , unemployment ,large family size , illness and the presence of new baby in the family .Physical abusers of very young children are more likely to be female, while abusers of older children are predominantly, though not exclusively, male. However, there is a tendency to overestimate maternal abuse and underestimate paternal or male abuse (Corby,2000). Whatever the age of the child is, most of child death occurs as a result of male violent behavior. Parents with depression and a personality disorder, and drug or alcohol abusers, are at higher risk of harming their children physically. In fact the more severe the alcoholism, the more likely violence is to occur. Parents who are alcohol abusers or with mental problems are typically subjected their children to prolonged physical abuse and neglect.
Last but not least, it is perhaps not surprising to learn that the childhoods of many physically abusive parents turn out to have been cruel and loveless. Children that are killed or murdered are more likely to be killed by their mother if she suffered from some sort of maternal rejection or neglect during her childhoods. Parents who extremely suffered from family arguments , witnessed home violent behavior, physical maltreatment, absence of warmth, cruel punishment, and parental mental health problems were at higher risk of being aggressive and intrusive with their own children. Mothers who were physically abused in childhood are more likely to react to helplessness and need with hostility, while sexually abused mothers appear more likely to react to their children by withdrawing.
And Crittenden, reviewing 35 years of research in the field of physical abuse, concluded ‘that parents at the dangerous extremes of otherwise common child-rearing practices are those who live in the most dangerous circumstances and have themselves experienced the most danger in the past’ (Crittenden, 1998). It can be concluded that all physically abused children become physically abusive parents themselves, the majority of physically abusive parents were themselves physically abused and felt neglected during their childhoods. Abused parents that do not abuse their children are more likely to had support from their partner, had a positive relationship with an adult (for example, a teacher or a relative) during childhood, or received some form of therapy during adolescence. The majority of abusive mothers report being severely beaten in childhood by their own mother, while about half say their father attacked them. Moreover, children who witness violence between their care providers are more likely to become violent and difficult to manage. Such behavior simply adds to the mother’s stress and tendency to deal with her children intemperately.
In addition, if abused children become parents at a relatively young age, their ability to remain available and responsive under the stresses and strains of looking after their own children is limited. For example, physically abusive mothers were exposed to more stressors and less emotional support in the previous year compared with mothers who had not physically abused their children. A review of theoretical approaches shows that an abusive parent’s own abusive childhood is believed to be a more important factor for predicting child physical abuse than aggressive models outside the parent’s personal network’ (Coohey & Braun, 1997). From the same review we can conclude which history of violence experience is best to predict if the mother is more likely to abuse her children or not. It’s found that assaults by three types of well-known network members (her own mother, a previous partner, and current partner) increased the chance that a mother would physically abuse her children. Being abused by one’s own mother dominated the effects of all other predictors. The second most important probability effect was a current abusive partner (Coohey & Braun, 1997).
Effects of Child Abuse
As a result of the above causes, there are certain effects that might result from child abuse. Research now shows that the physical, psychological, and behavioral consequences of child abuse and neglect impact not just the child and family, but the community as a whole (Iannelli, 2007).To start with, the physical effects range from minor injuries to severe brain damage and even death. Physical abuse in infants and children can lead to brain dysfunction and sometimes to death. Most death victims of abuse and neglect are under age 5. In 1991, an estimated 1,383 children died from abuse or neglect; 64 percent of these deaths were attributed to abuse and 36 percent to neglect (McCurdy & Daro, 1992). A child does not need to be knocked on the head to get brain injuries. It’s has been indicated that infants who are shaken vigorously by the extremities or shoulders may sustain intracranial and intraocular bleeding with no sign of external head trauma. Thus early neglectful and physically abusive practices have destructive consequences for their small sufferers. Physically abused children have been found to have more mild neurologic signs, serious physical injuries, and skin markings and scars than their non-abused peers (Kolko, Moser, & Weldy, 1990). Not only is that but for most abused children fractures common. Multiple fractures and fractures in different stages of healing are also findings that may indicate abuse and emphasize the need for obtaining full skeletal surveys on children under 2 years of age when abuse is suspected (Hyden & Gallagher, 1992). In addition, burns account for approximately 10% of all child abuse and have a mortality rate of 30% (McLoughlin & Crawford, 1985).For most abused children burns are common and well marked especially on the dorsal aspect of the hand buttocks and perineum. Children who have been sexually maltreated, and some who have been physically neglected, have shown discriminating sexuality and signs of genital manipulation. For the most part, serious biological effect of child and adolescent sexual abuse is the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and syphilis.
Furthermore, abused children show higher levels of depression, hopelessness, and lower self-esteem especially in physically and sexually abused children. The longer period of physical abuse the greater emotional difficulties are found in those children. Also anxiety symptoms such as fearfulness, phobias, insomnia and nightmares may manifest in such cases. These symptoms may prolong and produces serious mental health consequences such as Difficulty establishing and maintaining relationships, eating disorders and suicidal attempts.
What is more is that physical violence and unsociable behaviors are among the most consistently recognized childhood outcomes of physical child abuse. Sufferers of child abuse and neglect are at higher risk for criminal behavior and running away. Considerably less is known about connections between childhood abuse and other problem behaviors, such as teenage pregnancy, alcohol use and drug abuse, self-destructive behavior, and suicide. Many children who suffer from the psychological effects of child abuse often become child abusers themselves or can become perpetrators of violent crimes. Many inmates in our jails and prisons have been victims of child abuse (Dunning, 2004) .Alcohol and drug use are both illegal for teenagers, creating a natural confusing of alcohol or substance use with criminal behavior. For example, alcoholics often attempt other destructive behaviors, including suicide attempts (Schuckit, 1993). Diagnoses of alcoholism are complicated by the presence of antisocial personality disorder, which in turn, may include components of criminal behavior and sexual promiscuity.
To sum up, there are multiple causes that lead to child abuse and neglect. In addition, it appears that there are dangerous effects that results from child abuse. Therefore, a number of primary and secondary strategies can be taken to prevent the several types of abuse and child abuse consequences. The primary strategies include parents training on parenting skills and dealing with disabled children, children education on self defense and report of any type of abuse. The secondary efforts should concentrate on investigation of child abuse reports by child protection agencies, clinical treatment of physical and psychological injuries, family counseling, self-help services, the provision of goods and services such as relief care, legal action against the abuser, and removal of the child or the offender from the home.