Types of Child Abuse and Their EffectsAdriana ForoglouMiss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’sAbstractThis report on Types of Abuse and Their Effects on Children outlines the different forms of child abuse and the effects that manifest. There are four main types of abuse separated into two common categories: acts of commission (i.
e., physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional/psychological abuse) and acts of omission (i.e., neglect) (e.g.
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, physical neglect, emotional neglect, medical and dental neglect, educational neglect, inadequate supervision and exposure to violent environments). While children are not responsible for their abuse, certain characteristics have been found to increase their risk of maltreatment, called risk factors. Conversely, protective factors also exist. Certain indications are shown through a child’s behaviour, which point to stress and abuse, which can help identify when a child is being maltreated. This paper aims to explore the influences of abuse on a child, in both short and long-term effects, including the effects on the child’s brain development. Through teaching and modelling practices, guardians exert a great influence on the behaviors and the futures of their children.
Types of Child Abuse and Their EffectsIt is recognized that it was once considered acceptable for a parent to abuse their child. Today, child abuse is a well-established societal concern. It is evident from the compiled research, that maltreatment has significant consequences, not only on the affected child, but on their families and community at large. As adults recovering from this, many find it difficult to thrive.
Experiments investigating the effects of abuse on children have shown there are many long-term effects if the abuse is not identified early. These findings have shown children who are abused have been shown more likely to repeat the cycle of violence by abusing their own children. This revictimization is an endless cycle if not treated with the proper resources and support. This paper will be focused mainly on the following questions:How is child abuse identified?What might influence a child’s likelihood of being abused?How does being abused affect individuals, both in short and long-term aspects?DiscussionGeneral DefinitionsChild abuse is the maltreatment by an adult of a child, therefore inflicting harm to the child’s physical or emotional health. Any act of commission or omission by any caregiver thus resulting in serious harm, potential of harm, or threat of harm to a child is considered abuse.
The perpetrator may be a parent, caregiver, or any person in a custodial role (e.g. clergy, coach, teacher). If the failure to act results in the harm of the child, it remains to be considered child abuse. While the majority of abuse cases involve an older figure with authority, an older child can is also considered a perpetrator.
Abuse may be a single or numerous incidents. There are four main types of abuse that exist: physical, emotional, sexual and neglect. Acts of commission. Sexual, emotional and physical abuse are all considered acts of commission. Any words or actions which causes harm is included in this, whether or not this was the intended consequence.
Intention is defined not by the consequences by as the act in itself. For example, if a caregiver purposefully pushes a child, but does not intend for that punishment to result in a bruised leg. Acts of omission. Neglect in the form of dental, medical, educational, emotional and lastly, physical are all types of this mistreatment.
Also included are inadequate supervision and exposure to violent environments.Legal definition. In Canada, each province and territory sets an age range for protection services when this occurs, a law in which the age of a child is defined. In Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, a child is considered to be any individual under the age of sixteen. In Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta, the “age of protection” is eighteen. In British Columbia and Yukon this range is any person younger than nineteen years of age. It is important to note children with disabilities are eligible for child protection services until 19. On the federal level, there are many criminal laws established as prevention of child abuse.
In British Columbia; the Ministry of Children and Family Development is responsible for child welfare; and the legislation for child protection is the Child, Family and Community Service Act. The Ministry of Children and Youth Services is responsible for this in Alberta; with the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. The Child and Family Services Act and the Ministry of Social Services is responsible for child protection in Saskatchewan. In Manitoba, the Child and Family Services Act and the Department of Family Services and Housing is established to secure child welfare. In Ontario, the obligation goes to The Child and Family Services Act and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. In Quebec, the Loi sur la protection de la jeunesse (Youth Protection Act) is the legislation and the agency is the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux.
The Children and Family Services Act of Nova Scotia is overseen by the Department of Community Services. The Department of Health and Community Services manages the Family Services Act of New Brunswick. In Prince Edward Island, the Department of Social Services and Seniors is responsible for child protection while they have the Child Protection Act. Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Health and Community Services has instituted the Child, Youth and Family Services Act. The Yukon Health and Social Services has established the Child and Family Services Act. In the Northwest Territories, the legislation is the Child and Family Services Act, operated by the Department of Health and Social Services.
Nunavut has its government agency, the Department of Health and Social Services, responsible for child welfare, in accompaniment to its legislation, the Child and Family Services Act.Child abuse is established as a child having suffered, suffering, or at risk of suffering harm. With no guardian able or willing to protect them from harm, harm is defined as a child’s physical or emotional well being at risk and any detrimental effect of a significant nature.
This includes substantial and serious effects that are more than transitory, and must be demonstrated in the child’s presentation, function and behaviour.Risk Factors Many issues are taken into effect when considering the reasons for child abuse. There are certain factors discovered through extensive research which have been found to increase the risk of maltreatment by making children more vulnerable to abuse. These common patterns of data are called risk factors, and may or may not be direct causes.
Risk factors are found in the past of the child’s guardian; the environmental situation (e.g. limited finances, poor housing and homelessness) in which the child lives, which often directly impacts the ability to meet a child’s needs; and in the attributes of the child themselves. Risk factors of victimization. There is an increased probability of being abused as a child younger than four years of age, as well as the child being a product of an abusive relationship, an aspect that can lead to detachment between a child and parent.
Some parents struggle to understand how to provide appropriate care for their child when there are special needs (e.g., disabilities, mental health issues and chronic physical illness) involved. Helping these people to identify and understand their child’s needs can greatly reduce the risk of a child being abused, especially in the form of neglect, according to research conducted by Cleaver, Unell, and Aldgate (2011). A child with a mental or behavioural disability (e.g.
, depression, anxiety, developmental delays and personality disorders) is at a heightened risk of abuse. This risk increases in proportion to the level of disability, but also vary according to the type of disability. Thus, not not all disabilities are at equal risk. Reviewed by Maclean et al. (2017), it was revealed those with autism, Down syndrome and certain birth defects (e.g.
, spina bifida) were not at an increased risk. In fact, intellectual disabled children were most prominent. They were twice as likely as children without any sort of disability to have been maltreated. Risk factors of perpetration. Many factors contribute to child abuse, several of which parents are accountable for. Some have a lack of understanding of their own parenting skills and need to adjust their expectations for their child’s needs and development. There is no direct link between having been abused and going on to harm others, but the effects of being abused can last well into adulthood. Some individuals manifest this difficulty in dealing with these results as abusing their own, struggling to provide safe and appropriate care.
Another factor is substance abuse. Not all guardians involved in alcohol and drugs harm their child, but the risk is heightened. This can render them unable to care and provide for the child’s practical and emotional needs. Other individual factors of perpetration include parental characteristics (e.g., young age, low education, single parenthood, large number of dependent children and low income); nonbiological, transient caregivers in the home (e.
g., mother’s male partner) and a caregiver’s thoughts and emotions justifying these maltreatment behaviors.When parents have mental illnesses, they might struggle to look after children the way they are able to when fully well. In cases where families have no support network, this can result in children having to undertake extra responsibility (i.
e. for their own care and for other family members). According to an analysis made by Jütte et al. (2014), some parents’ mental health problems (e.g., suicidal and self-harming behaviour, psychopathy and anxiety), could place a child more at risk for abuse. This is a common feature in serious child abuse cases. During the perinatal period (i.
e., the short time period before and after birth), it is outlined by Jütte et al (2014), when mental illness is present in a parent, there is an interrupted healthy bond between the child and parent.Family risk factors. Certain family risk factors are also notable factors in the infliction of harm. Social isolation can lead to an increased risk of this, mainly due to the lack of a support system needed for the emotional needs of the guardian. With the high unavailability to access the proper resources because of low-incomes, this creates a lack of opportunity to improve, as well. Disorganization, dissolution and violence within a family, especially domestic abuse, make up a huge risk in child abuse.
Research by Hester et al. (2007) has shown intimate partner abuse is a risk factor that increases the likelihood of child neglect and other forms of abuse. Having a child witness this is a form of abuse in itself, as, according to a study conducted by Cleaver et al. (2011), the emotional and impacts can be very traumatic. Furthermore, families under pressure with heightened or continued stress can seriously affect how well a parent can look after a child. In fact, parents with low incomes are more likely to feel chronically stressed than parents with higher incomes. In addition, there is a trend of high stress levels in people living in poorer neighbourhoods.
Community Risk Factors. Community violence is a factor that increases the risk of a child being abused. When a child is surrounded by an environment of concentrated poverty (e.g.
residential instability, high unemployment rates and high density of alcohol outlets), it automatically puts them at a disadvantage. This also provides poor social connections, consequently obstructing them from the resources they need if they are being maltreated. Protective FactorsWhile there are risk factors, there also exists protective factors which exist at various levels. These refer to aspects in a child’s life that limit their risk of being abused.
Though they have not been studied nearly as extensively or rigorously as risk factors, they are equally important to consider and learn to identify. While other potential protective factors have been identified, having a supportive family environment and social networks has been confirmed to decrease the effect of the risk of abuse. Ongoing research will determine whether the following aspects do indeed lessen the threat of abuse: nurturing parenting skills, stable family relationships, household rules and child monitoring, parental employment, adequate housing, access to health care and social services, caring adults outside the family who can serve as role models or mentors and lastly, communities that support parents and take responsibility for preventing abuse.
General IndicationsA maltreated child may display physical and emotional signs of stress and abuse. Possible manifestations of these include: wariness and distrust of adults; sucking and biting excessively; bedwetting; soiling; demanding and aggressive behaviour; sleeping difficulties, including frequent tiredness; low self-esteem; difficulties relating to adults and peers; abuse of alcohol and drugs; seemingly being accident prone; no explanation or providing inconsistent, vague and unbelievable explanations for injuries (e.g., broken bones, bruising, burns and welts) in different stages of healing; suicidal thoughts; attempting suicide; difficulty concentrating; reluctance to go home; creating artwork about abuse; poor hygiene (e.g.
, unwashed hair, body odour); constant alertness; extreme compliancy, passiveness and withdrawnness. Included in this is also the “failure to thrive”, defined as when babies losing weight and therefore fail to reach development milestones.Neglect Neglect is a form of abuse which is often disregarded or forgotten. It occurs when the basic needs of a child are not met. This ongoing failure of a guardian to provide these thus negatively affect the child’s health and development. These needs may be physical (e.g.
, food, shelter, clothing, hygiene and appropriate supervision), medical (e.g. mental health treatment and medical recommendations), educational (e.g., proper schooling and special education needs), emotional (e.g.
, nurture and stimulations). A child’s needs. Published in 1985, Christine Cooper’s parenting checklist provides a description of a child’s basic needs. It is still used by many medical practitioners today. Firstly, there must be basic physical care (e.g., warmth, shelter, adequate food and rest, hygiene and protection from danger).
The second definition is affection (e.g., physical contact, holding, stroking, cuddling, kissing, comforting, admiration, delight, tenderness, patience, making allowances for certain behaviours, making time, general companionship and approval). The third component is security (e.g., continuity of care, expectation of stable family unit, a predictable environment, consistent pattern of care and daily routine, simple rules, consistent controls and a harmonious family group.
There must be the stimulation of innate potential (e.g., praise and encouragement, development of skills through responsiveness to questions and play by promoting educational opportunities). Guidance and control (e.g.
, the teaching of adequate social behaviour within the child’s understanding and capacity). In this, the parent must also provide a model for the child to copy (e.g.
, honesty, concern, kindness)). A guardian must also allow the child increased responsibility in relation to their age (i.e., beginning with self care and the tidying up of toys and dishes, and gradually elaborating decision-making so the child has to learn to function by gaining experience through their own mistakes and stresses).
Lastly on her list is increased independence (i.e., the child should have the freedom to make their own opinions about the various aspects in their life within the confines of their family’s and society’s code), which allows the child to see and feel the outcome of their own capacity.Physical Abuse Physical abuse is comprised of a non-accidental injury inflicted on a child by the means of beating, kicking, shaking or throwing them.Sexual Abuse Sexual abuse is a younger or less powerful person is taken advantage of by a more powerful child, youth or adult for sexual gratification.
This can be imposed with or without force or the threat of force. This includes contact acts such as being touched in sexual areas (i.e., mouth, breasts, buttocks, anus, genital area), forced to touch another’s sexual areas, held in a sexual manner, and anally or vaginally penetrated. Also included are non-contact actions, which encompasses being shown sexual videos, being flashed or exposed to sexual body parts in person or through technology, forced to listen to sexual talk, forced to pose for seductive photos, and forced to look at the sexual body parts of another person.How to stop it.Failure to take action to stop the harm is also considered child abuse.Emotional AbuseChild ResponseSome factors that can influence a child’s response to trauma include their age, developmental status, type of abuse, how often and how long the child was abused for, the severity of the abuse and the relationship between the victim and abuser.