Child Abuse and Neglect Term Paper

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Child Abuse and Neglect

The following describes a case study scenario in which I am an experienced, protective services worker about to do the first home visit with a new family. It goes on to speculate what might happen, the families reactions, cultural variations and engagement tools and recommendations.

Crosson-Tower, C. (2010). Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect Eighth Edition. Boston: Pearson Education Inc.

Huston, A.C. (Ed.). (2003). Children in poverty: Child development and public policy. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Jones, E.D. (2004). The North Lawndale Family Support Initiative: Findings from the interim process evaluation. Chicago, IL: National Center on Child Abuse Prevention Research Report.

Pelton, L.H. (2008). Child abuse and neglect: The myth of classlessness. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 48, 608-617.

While many service bureaucracies focus on a single family member as the client or patient, my site visits suggested that the needs of children in particular (and probably other family members as well) may be impossible to solve, and perhaps even to diagnose, if a program's focus is on the individual child rather than the family. In fact, programs may need to learn a great deal about the family as a whole if they are to diagnose and solve the problems of children. At the simplest level, an example is a problem for a baby that is caused by interaction between a teen mother and her own mother, the baby's grandmother: [One caseworker:] "Most of the grandparents will tell them, "Don't hold the baby, you're going to spoil it." . . I spend a lot of time trying to talk to grandparents." [Another caseworker:] "[You] have to go back to the grandparents. These kids [the teens] -- all they hear is 'You're stupid. I didn't do it that way.' So after a while they figure, 'If I touch this baby, it's wrong.' So, 'Here, momma, take it' (Jones, 2004, pg. 44).

Two examples are shown below, to illustrate more fully the way in which children's needs are nested in a family context and intimately connected with the parents' and other family members' own personal well-being. The first example comes from Oklahoma's Integrated Family Services (IFS) System, which serves multiproblem families:

A seven-year-old boy came to the attention of a school principal because of both physical and emotional health problems. The boy had long been prone to seizures and self-destructive behavior and was just starting to threaten other children. When the principal called us, he found that IFS was already working with the family because the mother was on AFDC and herself had multiple problems. I (IFS worker) called a meeting of all of the agencies who had contact with the family to talk about the child's needs. As a result, the boy was admitted and sent to a diagnostic center for several months of testing and treatment; the mother received needed services such as mental health treatment and literacy training; and the Child Protective Services worker changed her mind about the possible outcomes for the case and concluded that the mother had the potential to be an adequate parent (Huston, 2003. pg 117).

In this example, the needs of the child turned out to be related to the needs of the mother -- and, perhaps more important for the service delivery system, part of the solution to the child's needs lay in providing services to the mother so that she could help him. According to my colleague IFS case worker, "What the child really [may] need is a mother who can cope" (Herr, et al. 1999. pg 2). In the second example, in which meeting a child's needs again depends on an adult's well-being, serving the child depends critically on the service deliverer's relationship with the adult. The illustration comes from a one of my home visits:

I made a home visit to a young (18-year-old) mother who had suffered physical and sexual abuse as a child. During the visit, the I picked up and played with the young woman's 8-month-old child and observed how the child responded. Then she asked the mother a specific question about her experience with the child: Did she ever feel as though she were "climbing the walls" and just had to get out of the house when the baby was crying? The young woman said yes, and the case manager asked what she did at such times: Was there anyone she could leave the child with so that she could go on a walk? The teen responded that either she left the baby with her friend downstairs and went for a walk, or she put the child in the crib, closed the door partway, and went into another room. I seemed satisfied with these responses, and she later told the interviewer that, while she has no reason to suspect any abuse or neglect in this case, she realizes that the teen is somewhat unstable and under great stress, so she likes to keep close watch on what is going on (Pelton, 2008. Pg 609).

In this example, my key contribution to the child's well-being comes through my attention to and friendship with the mother. Only the case manager's strong personal relationship with the teen enabled her to keep a constant eye on the case while not being perceived by the teenager as intrusive, only the strong relationship permitted her diagnosis that the child was doing fine, and only the relationship permitted her to provide preventive services in the form of low-key advice. These links between a child's needs and the well-being of the family as a whole reinforce the conclusion that effective family service deliverers need a trusting relationship with the family and an ability to reach out across systems (Crosson, 2010; pg 12). In particular, the links between child and family well-being suggest that serving children in multiproblem families requires that the service deliverer know both child and family well and be able to reach out across the service system to help all family members.

2.) We shall now discuss the three types of preventions with examples.

References:

Crosson-Tower, C. (2010). Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect Eighth Edition. Boston: Pearson Education Inc.

Herr, T., Halpern, R., & Conrad, A. (1999). Changing what counts: Rethinking the journey our of welfare. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University, Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research.

Wolock, L, & Horowitz, B. (October 1984). Child maltreatment as a social problem: The neglect of neglect. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 54, 530-543.

Huston, A.C. (Ed.). (2003). Children in poverty: Child development and public policy. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Jones, E.D. (2004). The North Lawndale Family Support Initiative: Findings from the interim process evaluation. Chicago, IL: National Center on Child Abuse Prevention Research Report.

Many of the "preventive services" offered by the sites (Wolock, 1984. Pg. 535) parenting education and support for parents' ability to nurture their children-occur not through formal services but through the relationship between the family and the case manager. Essentially, neglect is about omission, a breakdown to meet the critical developmental needs of a child for nutrition, housing, medical care and education (Crosson-Tower, 2010. p. 68). However, several of the sites also provide more formal services, such as support groups, classes, or workshops. For example, all three of the teen parent programs provide teen support groups that touch on parenting issues as well as other topics such as self-esteem, health and nutrition, and family planning. In addition to knowledge about parenting, these programs generally emphasize providing mothers with the warmth and support that they are seen to need in order to be warm and supportive, in turn, to their children. Some of the programs also emphasize the actual practice of new attitudes and skills in interacting with children (Herr, et al. 1999. Pg 6). For example, in the TASA Next Step program, teen parent support groups are paired with on-site child care, and the sessions are planned so that mothers meet without their children for the first portion of the visit and with the children for the second.

What exactly does it mean to serve children through this case management relationship? What does the relationship offer besides referral to specific, functional services like those already discussed? More generally, the family-oriented case managers in the site programs serve children by:

1

Keeping an eye on children themselves and helping families gauge how their children are doing;

2

Providing parents with support and friendship, assistance in improving important family relationships and in dealing differently with their children, and information about parenting or children;

3

Providing friendship, support, and role models for a child directly; and encouraging other service deliverers to respond more effectively to a child's needs.

Prevention occurs at three levels: primary prevention activities that are directed to the population at large, secondary prevention efforts that target families judged to be at risk of child abuse and/or neglect, and tertiary prevention focusing on families in which abuse already has occurred and steps must be taken to prevent a recurrence. Child physical abuse is only one form of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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