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    The Alarming Rate of Child Abuse in America

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    There are thousands of children each week that are abused and even killed at the hands of their parents, guardians and caretakers. Whatis even more astounding is the number of children that are abused and it is never even reported. According to the National Center on Child Abuse andNeglect.

    “In 1997 about 3 million children in the United States werereported as abused or neglected to government agencies that investigatechild abuse” (“Child Abuse”1). People who witness the child being abusedwill normally do two things: make a phone call to help the child or turnthere heads the other way because they do not want to get involved. How would one define child abuse? Child abuse, also referred to as childmaltreatment, is the result of physical or emotional trauma to a childinflicted from a parent or an adult caretaker (“Child Abuse”1). Child abusedoes not only affect those of a certain race or wealth. It does notdiscriminate from color, religion, sex or income.

    Child abuse can affectwealthy families as well as poor families. Child abuse is a cycle. Children who grow up in abused or neglectedenvironment are more likely to abuse their children than a child who grewup in a healthy one. The cycle continues until it is broken by that childor by someone who is willing to help the child. The first form of childprotection came from a group called Society for the Prevention of Crueltyto Animals. Mary Ellen, an eight-year-old girl, stood up in the SupremeCourt of New York in 1874 and told her story of how she had never receivedlove from her mother.

    The only thing she received from her mother was dailybeatings and whippings. The social worker that was working on Mary Ellen’scase turned for help to the founder of Society for the Prevention ofCruelty to Animals because the court was not going to acknowledge childabuse as breaking the law. The community activist that the social workercalled upon decided to use every resource he had to help convince thecourt. They won. The mother went to prison and Mary Ellen was adopted.

    Shortly after Mary Ellen’s case, the Society for the Prevention of Crueltyto Children in New York was formed (Morales 2). Mary Ellen’s case helpedopen the public eye on child abuse in 1874. There are several types of child abuse: physical, emotional, sexual abuseand neglect. There are two types of neglect; physical and emotional. Physical abuse is when a parent or caretaker is physically harming thechild, by beating, kicking or throwing them.

    “Physical abuse is 22% of allsubstantiated cased of abuse”(“Physical Abuse” 1). Physical abuse is theeasiest form of abuse to identity. The six physical indictors of abuse are bruises, burns, lacerations,abrasions, skeletal, head, and internal injuries. Bruising on a child’s body, when it is a result of abuse, is normally onthe body’s posterior and in unusual patterns.

    These are signs that thebruises are not accidentally related when in clusters, bruising on infantsand multiple bruising in various stages of healing. Second are burns on a child’s body are also done in unusual patterns. Some signs of burns not being accident related are immersion burns:doughnut-shape burns on the buttocks. Cigarette burns on the hands andfeet, rope burns from confinement, dry burns caused by irons are all signsthat the child is being abused. Third are lacerations and abrasions. When it comes to the lacerations andabrasions on the abused child’s body, it is usually on the lips, eyes, onan infant’s face, on gum tissue caused by the parent force-feeding thechild, and cuts on the external genitals.

    The fourth sign is skeletal injuries. Injuries include fractures of thelong bones from twisting and pulling, separation of bone and shaft, spiralfractures, detachment of tissue of bone and shaft, and stiff and swollenenlarged joints. Injuries like this are hard for a child to do on his orher own. The fifth indictors are head injuries. Head injuries include missing orloosened teeth, absence of the hair, hemorrhaging beneath the scalp fromhair pulling, retinal hemorrhages from hitting or shaking the child andnasal or jaw fracture. The sixth form of physical child abuse is internal injuries.

    Out of thesix, internal injuries are not visible to the naked eye. It requires adoctor’s examination and testing to see if the child has internal injuries. For a doctor to determine if the injuries are a result of abuse he or shelooks for intestinal injuries from hitting or kicking, rupture of heartrelated blood vessels and inflammation of abdominal areas. The doctor canusually tell if it was an accident relate injury or if the child was abusedby the injuries he or she had received. That is if the child gets to thehospital to be examined by a doctor (“Physical Abuse” 1).

    Other forms of physical abuse are Shaken Baby Syndrome and Fetal AlcoholSyndrome. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the leading cause of mental retardationin babies. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a birth defect that developswhile the mother consumes alcohol while pregnant. As a result of the motherdrinking, alcohol will travel not only through her body but travelsstraight through the placenta to the baby. When the baby is born, it ismore than likely it will suffer from low birth weight, have trouble feedingand sleeping, and since the baby is no longer in the womb, it will sufferfrom alcohol withdrawal.

    The face of the newborn will be distorted and disfigured. The eyes are mostlikely to be slit, the lips will be thinned, especially the upper lips, lownasal ridge and small jaw line. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can cause severeneurological damage. The child can suffer from attention and memorydeficit, hyperactivity, and difficulty with abstract concepts and problemsolving.

    The infant’s body and organs never work properly and the childcould suffer from muscle, bone and joint problems. The genitals and heartcan be defected along with the kidneys. The vision, dental, hearing andgrowth can be destroyed and mental retardation, behavioral problems andepilepsy may occur. In severe cases of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, infants havebeen known to have still born or early death during infancy (“Fetal AlcoholSyndrome” 1). Shaken Baby Syndrome is where the infant is picked up and shaken by theparent or caregiver.

    The infant’s head is moved back and forth in fastmovement. The sudden whiplash motion can cause bleeding inside the baby’shead, which in return causes pressure to build up on the brain. The brainis then pulled apart, resulting in the injury to the infant. The muscles inthe brain are not fully developed yet and make the brain tissue extremelyfragile. Children up to the age of three are being reported with ShakenBaby Syndrome. There are no outside signs of internal injuries, making ithard for someone to notice until it is too late.

    The injuries that an infant sustained are life changing when it comes toShaken Baby Syndrome. The injuries include brain swelling and damage,cerebral palsy, mental retardation, developmental delays, blindness,hearing loss, paralysis and even death. Shaken Baby Syndrome, unlike otherforms of abuse, can be accidental. Shaken Baby Syndrome happens when aparent gets frustrated because the baby will not stop crying. It isestimated that 25-30 percent of parents or caretakers is not aware of theeffects of shaking a baby.

    To prevent this, a parent or caretaker shouldnever touch the infant or toddler when they are frustrated or angry. Walkinto anther room or leave the child in the crib and take deep breaths tohelp calm down (“Shaken Baby Syndrome” 1). Emotional abuse is another form of child abuse. Emotional abuse is when achild is not taken care of emotionally.

    The child feels neither love norlike. The child’s positive development is part of the psyche. If the childfeels that they are a burden to the parent or caretaker, the child’s self-esteem will be low. The parent or caretaker does not show any love to thechild. The parent or caretaker makes the child feel shamed, humiliated, andeven terrorized.

    There are five types of emotional abuse. The first one is rejection. Rejecting a child normally begins at birth. Themother or father does not bond with the infant. As a result of not bondingthe rejected feeling is passed to the child as it continues to grow. Theparent or caretaker may tell the child in a variety ways that they areunwanted.

    They call the child names or tell them to go away or that theyare worthless. The parent or caretaker will not play with or hold the childwhen the child needs it. The second type of emotional abuse is ignoring the child. The parentignores a cry or a plea for help. The parent shows no affection for thechild whatsoever.

    The third type is terrorizing the child. The parent makes the child afraidof him or her so the child will not act up or get into trouble at a youngage. The parent may even laugh at or ridicule the child for showing normalfeelings in public. The fourth type of emotional abuse is isolation. The parent does not allowthe child to play with other children or to even play with a pet.

    The childis forced to stay in their room or in another room in the house. The childis even forced to eat by him or her self. The firth type of emotional abuse is corrupting. This is when a parent letsa child do whatever the child desires. The child is allowed to use drugs oralcohol.

    The parent allows the child to watch whatever they choose to watchon television, too. There are some observable signs of emotional abuse in children. Someindicators are when children rocks themselves back and forth, sucks orbites self, is inappropriately aggressive, is destructive to others,suffers from sleep disorders, restricts play activities or experiences, anddemonstrates compulsion, obsessions, phobias, and/or hysterical outbursts. There are some behavioral indictors that a child will typically show toindicate the child is being emotionally abused. The child may say negativestatements about themselves. They may also be shy, passive, compliant, lagsin physical, mental and emotional development.

    They too may exhibit self-destructive behavior, be highly aggressive and cruel to others, and beoverly demanding (“Emotional Abuse” 1). Emotional abuse can be the cruelest type of abuse and can be the mostdestructive as well. Emotional abuse of a child can destroy what a childfeels and harm their sense of self-worth. Sexual abuse is another form of child abuse in today’s society.

    It isbecoming more open and public. In the past it was a hush, hush situation. It is difficult to talk about infants and children being sexual abused, butit happens every day. What is sexual abuse? Sexual abuse is any misuse of achild for sexual pleasure. There are three categories that sexual abusefalls into: non-touching, touching and exploitation. The non-touching of a child is when an adult takes their pictures forpornographic reasons, indecent exposure and exhibitionism, deliberatelyexposing a child to sexual intercourse and masturbation in front of thechild.

    The touching sexual offenses include fondling the child, making thechild touch an adult’s sex organs, and any penetration of a child’s vaginaor anus by an object that does not have a medical purpose. The sexualexploitation of a child is when the child is engaging in prostitution, in afilm, photographing or modeling pornography (“Sexual Abuse” 1). There is a small check sheet that parents, teachers, doctors or any othercaretaker of the child can look at that has these signs of sexual abuse. Ina younger child they should look for compulsive masturbation, bed-wetting,excessive curiosity about sex, altered sleep patterns, learning problems,separation anxiety, overly compulsive behavior, developing fears andphobias, sexually acting out with peers, becoming silent, developingtension symptoms such as stomach aches and skin disorders, and becomingseductive.

    In prepuberty and the teenage years, the signs can be stealing, runningaway, starting fires, excessive bathing, being withdrawn and passive, girlspulling up their skirts, sexual inferences in school artwork, teachingothers how to masturbate, becoming aggressive towards peers, succumbing toperiods of deep depression, falling grades, and alcohol or drug abuse. Inthe older children sexual abuse indictors can be suicide attempts, earlymarriage, running away, pregnancy, substance abuse, and getting in troublewith the legal system. The physical indicators are bruises or bleeding inexternal genitalia; complaints of painful or itching genitalia; difficultyin sitting or walking; torn, stained or bloody underclothing; sexuallytransmitted diseases and pregnancy, especially in early adolescence. Thesesigns are what to look for if you suspect a child of being sexually abuse.

    If a child is sexually abused, when they grow up they normally havetroubled relationships with the opposite sex (“Sexual Abuse” 1). Child neglect is a little different from the other types of child abuse. Itis also the most common of all child abuse. Child neglect is also referredto as child maltreatment.

    Child neglect is when a parent or caretaker fails to provide the most basic needs for a child. A child’s basic needs include providing them with shelter, food, clothing, education, supervision, medical care and the other basic needs they need to grow and develop to their physical, intellectual and emotional capacity. There are four types of neglect: physical, educational, emotional and medical. Physical neglect is when a parent or caretaker does not give a child the necessary health care that he or she is in need of, child abandonment, and no supervision. Educational neglect occurs when a child does not attend school regularly and receives the special educational training he or she needs.

    Emotional neglect is when a parent shows no feeling toward the child. The parent fails to provide the psychological care that the child needs. Medical neglect is the failure to provide the appropriate medical care for the child. Sometimes religion gets in the way of providing the need of medical care. These cases generally do not fall under the definition of medical neglect; however, sometimes the states will obtain a court order forcing medical treatment of a child in order to save the child’s life. Child neglect is the most common of all types of abuse.

    Severe neglect can lead to death because the child’s basic needs are not given to them. Child fatalities due to child maltreatment are rising (“Neglect” 2). ” In 1997, the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, NCANDS, reported that there were an estimate of 1,196 child deaths that year due to child neglect” (“Child Fatalities” 2). Children are the most vulnerable group in our society. Child abuse is now more widely spread.

    The increase in cases that are reported each year shows that people are becoming more involved with children. The public news has a lot to do with the increased numbers of child abuse being reported. The public wants to help fight this awful abuse that children are facing in today’s society. In 1874, Mary Ellen’s case helped to finally open up the eyes of the court and make a law against child abuse. Up to then, the only law for abuse was for animals. Before then, there was no law for child abuse.

    The activist that formed the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals helped and Mary Ellen from being further physically and emotionally abused by her mother. Today, we are more capable of saving our children from being abused. There are numbers of organizations out there to help the abused children. I recently bought a CD of Martina McBride’s Greatest Hits, and when I heard this song I cried. This song fits almost perfectly with this subject: She walks to school with a lunch she packed. Nobody knows what she’s holding back. Wearing the same dress she wore yesterday. She hides the bruises with linen and lace. The teacher wonders but she doesn’t ask. It’s hard to see the pain behind the mask.Bearing the burden of a secret storm sometimes she wishes she was never born. Through the wind and rain. She stands hard as a stone. In a world that she can’t rise above but her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place where she’s loved. Concrete AngelSomebody cries in the middle of the night the neighbors hear, but they turn out the lights. A fragile soul caught in the hands of fate when morning comes it’ll be too lateRepeat chorus statue stands in a shaded place. An angel girl with an upturned face name is written on a polished rock. A broken heart that the world forget repeat chorus (Bentley and Crosby)Concrete Angel! Is that how children are to be remembered when they are put into the ground by this unspeakable act of violence? Too many children in today’s society are dying.

    This song is something to think about. When you see a child that is being abused or you suspect that they are being abused, please tell someone. You might be the only chance they have! The children today are our future for tomorrow!

    Work Cited

    • Bentley, Stephan and Rob Crosby. “Concrete Angel”.
    • Martina’s Greatest Hits. BMG Music. 2001. Child Abuse.
    • http://encarta. msn. com/find/print. asp?;pg=8;ti=761562624;sc=0;.
    • . . Child Fatalities Fact Sheet. http://www. calib. com/nccanch/pubs/factsheets/fatality.cfm
    • Emotional Abuse. http://www. preventchildabuse. com/emotion. htm
    • Emotional Abuse. http://www.safechild. org/childabuse3. htm
    • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. http://www. preventchildabuse. com/fas. htmSeeking a Cure for Child Abuse. Alex Morales.…Neglect. Abuse. Abuse. Baby Syndrome.

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