What is child abuse? It is when a child has been intentionally hurt, or when a parent or caregiver fails to protect a child in their care, and the child is or can be hurt as a result. (Children's Aid Society, 2009) Child maltreatment can be categorized into several broad types including physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect/failure to provide, and emotional maltreatment. What are the effects of child abuse on the emotional development of the child, and does it have an effect on their adulthood?
The topic I chose to do my crisis intervention research paper on is childhood abuse. The objective of this paper is to allow for a better understanding of childhood abuse; the effects of childhood abuse; its impact on a child's emotional development; and its long term effects on one's adulthood. Definition of Abuse There are many different types of child abuse. However, this paper will focus on maltreatment and sexual abuse. Maltreatment is an area that encompasses many different things, such as physical abuse, child neglect, and emotional abuse.
Physical abuse may include the shaken baby syndrome, stabbing, punching, hitting, beating, biting, burning and any other action that harms a child. Though an adult may not intentionally want to cause harm, however, it still constitutes child abuse. Physical abuse in severe cases may lead to brain damage, disfigurement, blindness, and even death. Sexual abuse occurs when an adult encourages or coerces a child to touch another person in a sexual way, encourage or coerces a child to participate in any sexual activities or tells a child to touch him/herself for an adult's or older child's sexual purposes.
Why Does Child Abuse Happen? Does child abuse happen because a child has done something wrong numerous times? Or does it happen because of a child’s bad behaviour? The answers to both of these questions are NO! No child deserves to be kicked, punched, hit with objects, sworn at, yelled at, told they aren’t good enough, sexually exploited etc. Children do not ask to be abused. The responsibility of abuse falls solely on the abuser. Child abuse happens everywhere, for reasons only the family knows.
Some contributing factors include; stress of child care, stress of other reasons, frustration, lack of parenting knowledge, lack of support, little self care, immaturity and unrealistic needs, depression, drug/alcohol abuse, job loss and more. (Lamber D. 2002) Did you know that children in single parent households were at a higher risk of physical abuse and neglect than children in two parent households. Children living in single father households were more likely to suffer the highest incidence rates of physical abuse and emotional and educational neglect. Kail R. V. , & Zolner T. , 2009)Signs of Abuse In most cases, an abused child will not come out and tell you that they are being abused or neglected. There is an element of fear associated with abuse about the consequence of what could happen to them if they disclose and possibly even a feeling of betraying the abuser. Some children are lead to believe that the abuse is their fault and maybe even normal and so they feel ashamed to tell anyone.
However, there are some signs you can keep an eye out for which include: physical marks, anxiety, depression, nightmares, anger, low self-esteem, irrational fears, privacy issues, sleeplessness, withdrawal from family and friends. (Lamber D. 2002) In 1998 there were 135,261 reported cases of child abuse; 235,315 cases in 2004, and in 2008, an estimated 235,842 maltreatment related investigations were conducted across Canada; aboriginal children were identified as a key group, with 22 percent maltreatment related investigations.
In 46 percent of substantiated child maltreatment investigations, an estimated 39,460 investigations, at least one child functioning issue was indicated; Academic Difficulties 23 percent, Depression/Anxiety/Withdrawal 19 percent, Aggression 15 percent, Attachment Issues 14 percent, Intellectual/Developmental Disability 11 percent and Attention Deficit disorder/Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 11 percent. (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2010) Affects of Childhood Abuse
An adult who was abused as a child has a greater chance of becoming violent, suicidal, and abusive to their children than an adult who was not abused as a child (Kliest 155). Many researchers agree that childhood abuse has a negative effect on an adult's personal relationships. Whiffen stated that, a history of childhood sexual abuse appears to have an adverse impact on the quality of adult intimate relationships, and they report avoiding the development of close adult relationships because of their fear of rejection.
Physical abuse affects boy and girls differently. Compared to boys, girls are more likely to internalize their response to violence and experience, for example; suicidal ideation, eating disorders, low self esteem and psychological disorders. Boys are more likely to externalize their responses to violence, displaying increased aggression, delinquency and later in life spousal abuse. (Newton C. J. , 2001) Long Term Consequences of Childhood Abuse Childhood abuse can have long term consequences and can shape a child’s development and some adult characteristics.
As a result of abuse the victim can have lasting physical, emotional, social and cognitive impairment. As a result of the emotional effects of abuse, victim often has difficulty with peer relationships, in part because they have got too withdrawn or too aggressive. ” (Kail R. V. , & Zolner T. , 2009) Studies have shown that abused children are 25% more likely to experience problems in adolescence, including; delinquency, teen pregnancy, drug use, low academic achievement leading into adulthood with; criminal behaviour, involvement in violent crime, abuse of alcohol and other drugs and abusive behaviour.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway explains that in a study conducted in 1996, 80 percent of child abuse victims had symptoms of at least one psychological disorder by age 21. (CWIG, 2010) “Many abuse survivors are highly competent in their professional and personal lives, compensating for the adverse effects of an abusive childhood until some added stress is introduced, perhaps a physical illness, birth of a child, or the death of a family member.
Some children may seem resilient to abuse, some even becoming overachievers, but eventually the history of abuse catches up with them. ” (Newton C. J. 2001) Research has shown that the physical, psychological and behavioural consequences of child abuse impacts not just the child and family but the whole community. Characteristics of a Perpetrator A child who is being abused is commonly in a position on dependency of the abuser. The power imbalance between the child and the abuser often increase the burden of disclosure. (Newton C. J. 2001)
Some characteristics associated with the abuser are: misuse of alcohol or other drugs, poor emotional control, poor self control, overly critical of child, inability to trust others, absent of parenting skills or knowledge, low self esteem, inappropriate or excessive discipline and parental history of abuse. (VV, 2008) A potential abuser may demonstrate fear of losing control, having unrealistic expectations of a child’s behaviour relative to the child’s age and ability, appearing socially isolated or describing the child as difficult or bad or as the case of ones own disappointment. AECEO, 2000)
Treatment Victims of childhood abuse can seek therapy for a number of reasons, but rarely just because of the history of abuse. Many victims of abuse minimize the effects of the abuse. Therapists see clients for eating disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse disorders and more who have histories of abuse. It is important to help the client deal with the abuse as well as the psychological problems they report. Individual and possibly group therapy can take two years or longer.
The goal of undoing lifelong damage can be very difficult because the damage pervades every aspect of the client, and because there may be physiological changes to the client that can't just be counselled away. Medication can be useful for the symptoms of depression, anxiety and other symptoms, but should never be dispensed in the absence of counselling for the root of the problem. Later the survivor may need to undergo couples or relationship counselling when he or she heals to the point of finding a long term relationship. For children, play therapy and family therapy can be helpful.
Know when to report abuse to your local Children’s Aid Society If you have suspect a child or youth who is or appears to be under the age of 16 years old is in need of protection due to abuse or neglect, it’s your duty to report it. The Child and Family Services Act of Ontario was established in 1984 and its main objective is to promote the protection and wellbeing of children. (Barriere D. , 2008) Ontario’s Child and Family Services Aid (CFSA) will provide protection for these children, so that they are safe and well taken care of.
The Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services (OMCYS, 2009). Section 72. Of the Act states that members of the public, including professionals working with children, must immediately report any suspicions that a child may be in need of protection to a children’s aid society, in Ontario, professionals including teachers, doctors, nurses, police officers and social workers must report suspected or known cases of child abuse; or face a fine of up to $5000 and/or a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year.
Individuals who do not report child abuse who is in need of protection can face up to $2000 and/or imprisonment not exceeding six months. [CFSA s. 72. (4), (6. 2)] Never rely on anyone else to report, if you suspect, it’s your duty and the law to report. When dealing with abuse remember that anyone can be the abuser; a family friend, peer, parent, sibling, family member etc. (CAS, 2009)
Conclusion While the topic of childhood abuse receives considerable attention over the years, it still requires a great deal of improvement, understanding and studies. From my research I have concluded that child abuse is a vicious cycle that is conquered by self determination and treatment. An adult who has endured childhood abuse can become overachievers and highly competent in their professional and personal lives but eventually the history of abuse catches up with them if left untreated. (Newton C. J. 2001)