Maltreatment of children is not a new phenomenon. It dates back far
into history, as far as the colonial times and even back to biblical times.
During the recent years child maltreatment has had an increase in the publics
eye. There are many factors to child maltreatment. There are four general
categories of child maltreatment now recognized. They are physical abuse,
sexual abuse, neglect and emotional maltreatment. Each category, in turn,
covers a range of behavior. The maltreatment of children not only affects the
children themselves, but also affects the family intern making it dysfunctional.
Physical abuse may be best defined as any non-accidental physical injury
by a person who has care, custody, or control of a child. The definition
contains two key aspects, the act is intentional or willful, and/or the act
resulted in physical injury. Accidental does not qualify as child abuse.
Physical abused children do not fit any type of stereotype. Abuse
occurs in all neighborhoods. Also, abusers come in all shapes, sizes, colors,
and sexes. There are many signs of physical abuse.
First the location and types of injuries, many time the parent or care
takers will deny any wrong doing or the child has suffered any physical injury.
There are always those injuries that consist of a normal childhood upbringing,
such as falling of their bike or bumping their head. Then, there are those
which they cannot be explained. When caretakers deny any injuries or have no
knowledge of an injury, there is a very strong likely hood that physical abuse
exists. Here are some of the signs of physical abuse.
Bruises happen for various of accidental reasons. There are also
bruises that are tell tale signs of abuse. Bruises have a time clock that can
tell when it happened. Also, the location of the bruise can tell a story.
Bruises on the front part of the body are often signs of normal bruises from
just falling ECT. Bruises found on the back of the arm, leg, lower back, the
butt and genital are suspicious bruises and often questioned bruises. Patterned
bruising is also a sign of abuse. Normal bruises are in various shapes and
sizes. While some bruises that are a patterned show strong signs of abuse.
These are bruises that have definite boundaries and sharp and curved edges. For
example rope, rulers, hand prints and so on. (wallace,38)
Burns are also a sign of abuse. Burns are patterned like bruises.
These burns would have sharp edges and spots that were spared from flexation.
Water immersion burns are common signs of child abuse usually caused by a
caretaker holding the child in the water. Also patterned burns which are burns
caused by pressing hot objects on the child bodies.(wallace,42)
Another sign of abuse is fractures. These types of fractures are signs
of abuse. Spiral fractures are usually breaks in the humerus or femur resulting
from twisting of the limb. Head and internal injuries are often signs of abuse.
Such as occasion, whiplash or shaken baby syndrome are examples of head injuries.
Chest and abdominal injuries are common in abuse. This is caused by hitting or
grasping a child.(Wallace,43)
Sexual abuse is defined as the sexual exploitation or sexual activities
of children. A child under these circumstances will indicate that the child’s
health or welfare is harmed or threatened. Intra familial sexual abuse includes
incest and refers any type of exploitative sexual contact between relatives.
There are many physical indicators of sexual abuse. Here are some
examples of physical indicators: difficulty in walking or sitting, torn, stained
or bloody underwear, bleeding, bruising and itching around the genitals and anal.
Frequent urinary tract or yeast infections. Pain on urination and so on. There
are no pattern or causes of conduct that leads to sexual abusers.(wallace,58 and
The definition of child neglect is the treatment or maltreatment of a
child by a parent or caretaker under circumstances indicating harm or threatened
harm to the child’s health or welfare. There are many theories of child neglect
from poverty to non-fit parents. There are also many indications to child
Some of the physical indicators are poor growth, constant hunger and
malnutrition. Poor body odor and hygiene, lice and inappropriate clothing.
Constant fatigue. Constant lack of supervision and unexplained bruises or
injuries as result of poor supervision. Unattended physical problems or medical
needs, such as lack of proper immunizations, gross dental problems, need glasses
or hearing aids.
Emotional neglect is the constant act or omission which is judged by the
community standers and professional expertise to be psychologically damaging to
the child. Rejecting the child is one form of child neglect. This is when
caretakers refuse to acknowledge the children’s worth or emotional need. For
example, a parent treats the child differently than his or her other siblings.
Isolating a child is when a caretaker does not allow the child to interact with
others. An example of this is when a child caretaker does not let them out of
the house or even out of their room. Another type of emotional abuse is
terrorizing the child, in which the caretaker establishes extreme fear and
fright into the child.(wallace,88)
Corrupting the child is another form of emotional abuse. This when the
care takers engage in anti social behavior with the child. Denying the child
emotional responses, also the caretaker fails to provide emotional resources
necessary for the child’s health psychological development.
Other types of child neglect are dirty or unfit homes. These are houses
that are dirty and health hazards to the child or any other person in the home.
Drugs and alcohol abuse are considered neglect to the child.
This happens when a caretaker uses drugs and alcohol to an excess, this
would make the caretaker is emotionally in unavailable to the child. Also, if
the child comes in contact with the substances, they can cause serious harm.
For example, if the child ingests the substance. When a caretaker refuses to
obtain acceptable medical services for a child, it is considered medical neglect.
Abandonment is also a form of neglect. This is when some caretakers conduct
indicates that conscious rejection of the obligations of parenthood.
Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect
Consequences of child maltreatment can be devastating. Researchers have
found that the effects of child maltreatment can affect the child’s life and
also the family itself. They have also found that not only the physical effect
of the abuse, but also the long term effect that will occur later on in life.
Physically abused children were found to be less attentive in school and
more inclined to have hostile attributes. They are also less likely to manage
personal problems and stress. Abused and neglected children from poor social
skills that will affect not only them, but the others around them.
Also, this will affect the child’s self-esteem and performance in their
world. Abused children can also lead to development delays and attention
The psychological and behavioral effects of physical abuse are sometimes
over looked. These are some psychological and behavioral symptoms of physical
abuse. The child might be easily frightened or fearful of adults and parents.
The child might be destructive to themselves and other people around them. Also,
extreme behaviors from aggressiveness to withdrawn. A child could attain poor
social relations and learning problems and problems with school. They could run
away or have delinquent behavior. Physical aggression and antisocial behavior
are among the most common outcomes of physical abuse. Some studies have shown
that physically abused children show more aggression than maltreated children.
Consequences of physical child abuse have included deficiencies in development
of stable attachments to an adult caretaker or parent. Poorly attached children
are in risk of diminished self-esteem and thus views themselves negatively.
(National Research Council,212)
Sexual abuse may affect each of the victims differently. Some of the
victims were affected more than others. It depends on a wide range of factors,
such as age of the victim, how much force was used and the duration of the
molestation. Also, the type of abuse will affect the child. The identity of
the offender will affect of the child, if the child knew or did not know the
molester. The age of the abused also has an effect of how much the child
remembers. One of the biggest factors is the personality of the child. This
will have the biggest determination of the effect of the child. The behavioral
effects of sexual abuse. The child also will have fear and inability not to
trust adults. They might also have anger and aggression toward people. The
child may exhibit inappropriate sexual behavior. A child might suffer from
depression, guilt and shame. More than likely, they will have problems in
school and social skills. Also, the child may have phobic or avoidant behavior
and regressive behavior.(National Research Council,215)
Consciences of neglectful behavior can be severe and powerful in early
childhood development. Also, lack of attachment may harm the development of
bonding between child and parent. Inter this could affect problem solving,
social relationships, and coping with stressful situations.
It has been found that in the long run, parents that were neglected
during their childhood often neglected their children. Also, the children that
have psychological damage from maltreatment are more likely to indulge in
suicide and self mutilation. Nonphysically abused children are more likely to
have depression and hopelessness.
Children with inappropriate sexual behavior, such as frequent and overt
self stimulation are a direct constituency of sexual abuse. Non-sexually abused
children later on in life also sometimes show sexual overtones. Sexually abused
children may show high levels of dissociation, a process in a product a
disturbance in normal integrative functions of memory and identity. Many abused
children are able to self hypnotize themselves or space out.
It has been found that abuse as a child has affected their stages of
life. Studies have found that abused children have lower intellectual
functioning and reduced cognitive functioning. Others have found language
skills and verbal ability to be affected by abuse. Also, studies have suggested
that today’s abused and neglected children are tomorrow’s problem adult.
You can see in the media a lot of killers in the world tod