Term Paper: Abused Children Develop Antisocial Behavior

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[. . .] Physical abuse can be suspected with the common signs, such as burns, bruises, bone or skull fractures. Death from physical abuse, such as the shaken baby syndrome, was among the leading causes for children less than a year old (Black). Studies revealed that physical abuse changed children's behavior in many ways.

Psychological experts maintained that sexual abuse constituted sexual arousal in a child and the child's willingness to act on it, conditioned by alcohol, drugs or the misconception that there was nothing wrong about the act (Black). There were greater chances of sexual abuse if the child was developmentally disabled or vulnerable some way. This type of abuse was often discovered when genital or anal injuries or abnormalities, including the presence of sexually transmitted disease, were noticed in a child. Behavioral signs included anxiety, poor school performance, suicidal tendencies or attempts, excessive masturbation and an unusually sexualized behavior often gave sexual abuse away.

Emotional abuse was often detected with the loss of self-esteem, sleep disturbance, headache or stomach ache, school absenteeism and leaving home (Black 2004). Neglect develops from a parent's negative feeling towards a child or the parent may truly care but is unable to provide for the child's needs because of the parent's depression, drug dependence, mental handicap or other problems. Findings said that neglected children did not receive sufficient nourishment or emotional and mental stimulation (Black) and this lack hampered their normal physical, social, emotional and mental development. Underweight, delayed language skills and emotional instability were among the consequences.

Doctors, social workers, other professionals, child welfare agencies and the police conducted physical and psychological examinations and interviews of abused children (Black). Reporting to the authorities, treating the child's injuries and protecting him or her from further harm were primary measures in child abuse cases. These authorities could then evaluate if moving the child to another willing and qualified relative or a foster family would be in the best interests of the child, whether long or short-term (Black). Further investigation could reveal that the child's siblings were abuse victims themselves, as reports found that about 20% of siblings were.

Victims of child abuse have been observed to perform poorly in school, develop antisocial personality or behavior, turn to drugs or alcohol, try suicide or become emotionally unstable (Black 2004) through adulthood. Health care professionals can treat the condition by detecting and treating physical and emotional symptoms in the victim and also help perpetrators through re-education. They can also refer the problem family to community and individual programs (Black). There are government home visitor programs focused on high-risk families and on teaching children how to ward off attempts at sexual abuse. Parents should begin to teach their children starting at 3 years old how to parry "bad touches" and confiding such attempts by anyone. Parents must also take extra care in choosing babysitters and other caretakers. There are organizations in many places that can be turned to round-the-clock for occurrence or suspicion of child abuse (Black).

Parents' mistreatment or abuse of their own children leads these children to form antisocial or problem behavior as adolescents and as adults. Previous and recent studies presented substantial evidence that angry, abusive and aggressive parental behaviors spill over to these children up to three generations (Conger 2003) through social learning. These behaviors, therefore, directly influence the different social behaviors and relationships of their children in adolescence and adulthood. Parents' anger, hostility or emotional support essentially determines if a child will be a supportive or rejecting adolescent. Hostility between parents and an adolescent conclusively predicts problematic romantic and family relationships later in his or her life (Conger). These latter studies also demonstrated that parenting in the first generation directly affected the bond between parents and child, one of the most important human bonds in life.

Another study offered evidence of this intergenerational continuity (Conger 2003) wherein aggression in youth is often followed by aggressive parenting and that kind of parenting, in turn, appears to contribute to aggression in children. This particular study expounded on the utter significance of parenting in the intergenerational transmission of antisocial or problem behavior, as previous findings already documented, and how normative approval of aggression, aggressive fantasies and verbal aggression maintain aggressive behavior through time.

The study also suggested the use of family-based and social-cognitive interventions as the best strategies in halting or preventing child aggression and abuse (Conger) and these strategies can be further improved to account for variables that account for the continuity of aggressive behaviors through generations.

Still another study focused on the transmission of problem behavior from parents to toddlers, the appearance of this behavior in preschool and how it affects academic performance (Brook 2002). It was a longitudinal study that investigated the intergenerational passing on of risk factors from grandmothers, parents to toddlers across three generations. Findings indicated that the characteristics of the parent-child relationships tended to continue or replicate themselves across generations. It found that a grandmother or mother who was cold, dissatisfied, exercised inappropriate control, characterized by conflict and had limited contact became a model for adolescents who repeated the traits in relation to their own toddlers or children. It added that the kind of grandmother had with the parent as the adolescent relationship between them increased the probability of impulsiveness, rebelliousness, irresponsibility and other psychological problems in adolescents, and in turn, the parent-child relationship. This is the hypothesis of mediating relationships (Brook). In turn, the grandmother's behavior towards her grandchild could have been mediated by her own mother's behavior when she was an adolescent, her mother's personality as a young adult and their relationship when the grandmother was a toddler (Brook).

According to the study, hostile maternal behaviors go through a cycle of intergenerational continuity (Brook 2002). Its findings suggested that aspects of parent-child relationships passed from generation to generation, directly by modeling the behaviors and indirectly by influencing the development of personality traits that characterized the relationship. It meant that parent-child relationship was an important mediator between the parent's characteristics and those of the child (Brook). Intervention goals should, therefore, address the parent-toddler relationship in changing the potentially adverse link between parental characteristics and the toddler's development. This was the first study on the longitudinal effects of the relationship between the grandparent and the parent as an adolescent across three generations (Brook). It also suggested that reducing the risk of transmission in the first two generations would reduce the risk between the next two.

Mothers of problem children and mothers of non-problem children from both stressed and happily married settings were the subjects of another study in measuring and determining how they appraised their children (Kendziora 1998). Findings showed that there was no significant difference between their appraisals. These mothers understated their children's the amount and intensity of their children's negative behaviors but they neither under-classified nor under-estimated the intensity of their positive behavior, either. The study found that they had no difficulty in identifying the positive behaviors of their children, but not the negative ones. It determined that they understandably under-classified their children's negative behavior and over-classified the negative (Kendziora and Leary 1998) and, at the same time, mistakenly noticed the negative behavior of unfamiliar and un-related children than their own. It found that these mothers were less affected by, or more upset with, misbehavior with children less than four years old and more with those between eight and 12 years old. This implied that mothers of even hardest-to-manage children would be reluctant to label or describe their children as negative (Kendziora and Leary). The mothers, however, generally agreed with the investigators on the concept of proper or positive behavior.

Building a proper relationship takes time, effort and sacrifice on both sides and parent- child relationship certainly requires all these. Parents have their own conflicts to work out and doing so can put their relationship with their children in jeopardy. These children who got caught in a violent interaction between their parents went through a nightmare that did not seem to come to an end (Ballard 2002). Familiar fights with loud, angry and injurious words, accompanied by noises, things breaking and screaming could create deep-seated anxiety and loss of self-esteem in frightened children. They would imagine that the conflict was several times deadlier than it really was and they were unaware if someone was getting hurt or killed or they were next (Ballard). Their fear could easily turn to rage that would need an outlet some time later. In time, that anger could go inward and manifest itself as a distrusting, vindictive attitude, a hatred of people in the form of or through over-eating, under-eating, drugs or sex. All that violent experience had to be externalize if they knew how and children who witnessed such events or arguments between their parents would need to act or take it out on someone else or other people.

Their broken sense of personal security could take… [END OF PREVIEW]

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