Term Paper: Child Abuse and Neglect Are the Child Protection Services Protecting Our Children

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¶ … child abuse from all angles to try to understand what we as a society may be doing wrong, and also what we may be doing right to help the young victims of child abuse. What part does the Child Protection Agencies play in protecting our children? Are the States laws helping or hindering the process? I will present research data, which will show the increase of child abuse from year to year. Additionally, the discussion will review the history of child abuse, tracing the changes in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and discusses the challenges that are faced today by the child protection system.

Child abuse and neglect has been a topic of discussion for many years. In recent years it seems that the abuses against children have skyrocketed into a national and international epidemic. In many cases the abuse of children comes at the hands of parents or guardians who are supposed to protect the children and their interests. There are many reasons why child abuse exists including familial, economical and social issues that are systemic and difficult to combat. The purpose of this discussion is to examine child abuse and neglect as it relates to the role that society plays in allowing such things to occur. The research will also focus on what society is doing to combat the problem and keep children safe. Let us begin our discussion by providing definitions for the terms child abuse and neglect.

What is Child Abuse and Neglect?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Child Abuse is defined as "doing something or failing to do something that results in harm to a child or puts a child at risk of harm. Child abuse can be physical, sexual or emotional." The NIH also explains that neglect is a type of abuse in which children are not provided with what is needed to sustain life (i.e. food and water).

The following graph shown the increase in child deaths per day as a result of child abuse from 1995 until 2003

Both child abuse and neglect are punishable by law and children can be removed from their homes if alegations of abuse or neglect are proven. In either case the general public and people who are expected to protect the interests of children such as teachers or doctors can report suspected cases of child abuse to child protective services. The role of Child protective services will be discussed in greater detail in a later section of this report. For now let us discuss the history of child abuse.

History of Child Abuse

According to Tzeng et al. (1991) children throughout history have been the victims of child abuse. There have even been some archeological findings that have suggested that child abuse existed as far back as prehistoric times.

In many societies corporal punishment was seen as the norm and was used to discipline children. Child abuse has also been used to educate children as it pertains to cultural and religious ideas and morals. The corporal punishment or abuse of children was also utilized to please gods or expel unwanted spirits.

The author points out that in the rituals of ancient Greeks and Romans children were sacrificially killed. In addition in some civilizations fathers, in accordance with the Patria Protestas of 700 B.C., could legally trade, maim, or kill their children if the so desired. Children were also killed in Ancient Greek Societies when they were found to be deformed or retarded because it was believed that such children would weaken the society. This was allowed because children were believed to be property.

Moreover scholars have concluded that the most prominent type of child discipline before the eighteenth involved severe beatings and an estimated 50% of the European population died during infancy as a result of child abuse or neglect. The author further explains that Throughout history, Judeo-Christian influences have had a tremendous impact on many child-rearing practices. The Bible has been used as a rationale and justification for harsh punishment of children (cf. Holland, 1988; Harcourt, 1986; Aries, 1962). The basic belief that aggression is necessary for proper moral training is reflected in biblical passages such as: "Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell" (Proverbs 23: 14) and "He that spareth the rod, hateth his son, but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" (Proverbs 13: 24) (Holland, 1988).,

Instances of the aforementioned beliefs can be found throughout the bible and in most cases to themes concerning children are made clear. The first of which is the idea that children are expected to both honor and obey their parents. The second theme is the reliance upon corporal punishment to discipline children. On the other hand, the presence of these biblical themes does not mean that all Christians approve of child abuse. In fact the author points out that many religious organizations have been at the forefront of child protection and advocacy both nationally and on global scale. However it has been evident throughout history that religious beliefs can greatly impact the manner in which children are treated in a society. As it relates to American society in general Christianity has been a driving force in providing a foundation for the way that children are treated in our society, including the beliefs Christianity holds as it pertains to physical punishment.

Although the physical abuse of children was present in ancient times, only in more recent history has the issue of child abuse and neglect become a social concern of significant proportions. Additionally, the abuse and neglect of children has only in recent years become an issue that required immediate attention as it pertains to societal protections. The authors point out that so little attention was paid to child abuse and neglect that an association designed to prevent cruelty to animals existed prior to an association to prevent child abuse. In fact, the Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children was created in New York City by the same people who established the Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals in 1875 (Kempe & Helfer, 1972).

In the 1700's and most of the 1800's, there were really know boundaries or legislation that prevented the abuse of children. Families engaged in corporal punishment and there were certainly times when such punishment turned into abuse. In addition to abuse neglect was often a prevalent problem in certain areas of the country. A great deal of this neglect was present because many people were poor and simply could not properly meet the basic needs of their children. It is also important to remember that during this time there was no welfare state and people could not rely on the government for housing or food as they can today.

With these things understood, in 1909 the first White House Conference on Children took place. Three years later in 1912, the government created that legislation Federal Children's Bureau designed to confront issues regarding the welfare of children regardless of class. Overtime the American government and society started to recognize, children as a special class of people. Additionally during the 1940s and 1950s child psychology and social work began to be prominent and social programs designed specifically for children began to come into being.

The author also reports that the advent and popularity of the television began to bring about increased public awareness concerning the abuse and neglect of children during the 1960s. The author explains that in 1962, amendments were made to the Social Security Act that required all states to "to develop a plan to extend child welfare services, including protective services, to every political subdivision."

Since the sixties there has been substantial effort on behalf of the government, society and researcher to understand and prevent child abuse and neglect. Some of these efforts have been successful while others have failed miserably to protect children. In any case, the federal government and state government of striving to improve the lives of children throughout America by protecting them from abuse.

Types of Abuse

Child abuse in general is very detrimental regardless of the form. Children who are abused in any way can develop serious emotional and psychological scars that can last a lifetime. This section of the discussion will explain the various types of abuse and the impact of such abuse on children.

Physical Abuse

The physical abuse of children is quite common and is often dismissed by perpetrators as discipline. Physical abuse can be inclusive of hitting, beating, kicking and anything else that causes physical harm. In some cases children may be physically abused for many years, in other cases the abuse may come suddenly. Also within families siblings may receive different treatment and one child may experience worse physical abuse than the other siblings in the family. In either case physical abuse can have serious effects on the psyche of a child well into adulthood.

Mental/emotional abuse

Mental or emotional abuse most often occurs… [END OF PREVIEW]

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