Effect of Childhood Neglect on Adult Romantic Relationships Marriage Term Paper

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¶ … Childhood Neglect on Adult Relationships

"Our children are our future." This phrase was used by U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln addressing the importance of child care and welfare. And yet while we may value our future, we see many cases in which this phrase is overlooked and children are put in harm's way. In some cases they are even abused by family members or caretakers. How is child abuse defined? What laws are in place to mitigate the situation? U.S. law defines child abuse and neglect as:

Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm (NAI, 2010).

Emotional abuse of a child is often more difficult to notice. While physical abuse can be seen, emotional abuse cannot. It may take years until the abuse can be detected from the behavior of a child, and in most cases it will surface in an unpleasant scenario, such as acts of violence. The public needs to understand that prevention of emotional abuse is imperative since it can prevent future violence against others. We need to see the signs and act upon them as early as possible to help the child. Children who are subjected to corporal punishment are, in fact, far more likely to become emotionally depressed, and if the punishment evolves into abuse, even more likely to manifest certain psychosocial issues, especially at the onset of puberty (Christie-Mizzel, et.al., 2008).Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Effect of Childhood Neglect on Adult Romantic Relationships Marriage Assignment

Sexual child abuse is a very complicated form of abuse and, like emotional abuse, not easy to determine externally. This is often due to the child's feeling of guilt toward the abuser and/or others, and the lack of outward, or noticeable, physical signs. It is important to recognize that sexual abuse does not always involve body contact with the abuser (Saisan, et.al., 2009). While the public tends to think about sexual predators as non-family members, most sexual abuse takes place in surroundings in which the child is comfortable, and with adults he or she trusts. Sexually abused children are unlikely to come forward and accuse the abuser because the abuse often leaves the victim with feelings of shame, guilt or remorse. Additionally, children who are subjected to sexual abuse are often told by their abuser that this is a "special secret," and that it would be bad to tell anyone else about the behavior (Itzin, 2000, 3-6).

One of the most common forms of child abuse is neglect. Every day we see in the news that parents or caretakers of children have left them in their cars, or at home alone, while doing other tasks where the children were not involved, or too much of a burden. Later these "guardians" where shocked when they were asked by authorities about the reason for their neglect. It is important to remember that children are not sufficiently developed cognitively to solve numerous problems that may occur when left alone or unsupervised for a lengthy period of time. Adults have the responsibility for maintaining the overall safety of a child under any circumstances ("What is Child Abuse and Neglect?" 2007).

Prevalence and Statistics -- Statistics on social issues are sometimes difficult to verify because only reported cases become part of the record. Most scholars agree that for every reported case of abuse, there are 2-3 or more unreported. Some of the statistics surrounding child abuse and neglect are staggering. When one considers, for instance, that almost 60% of the reported cases of child abuse are from neglect, and then extrapolates that figure out into the general population, it is no wonder we have a society with severe issues surrounding intimacy, effective relationships, and even the ability to bond appropriately with a significant other (Jouriles, et.al., 2008). As children age, abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy and three times less likely to practice safe sex. They are 2.5 times more likely to abuse alcohol and almost 8 times more likely to develop some sort of substance abuse. 30% of these people will abuse their own children in some way, costing the United States over $110 billion per annum. By the time a child turns 21, 80% who were abused will have some form of psychological disorder, from the inability to form permanent attachments and bond to more serious issues. Abuse occurs across every ethnic and socio-economic like, within all religions, all levels of education, and all geographic areas. Children who are abused are over 50% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile and 30% more likely to commit violent crimes or be arrest as adults. In fact, 14% of incarcerated men were abused as children, and almost 40% women ("National Child Abuse Statistics," 2009).

Consequences -All types of child abuse and neglect leave lasting scars and significant impacts on children. Some of these scars might be physical, yet the emotional scarring leaves longer lasting effects. Both physical and emotional abuse is damaging to the child's sense of self and the ability to have healthy and productive relationships. Children with a long history of abuse or neglect often manifest psychiatric problems or a disorganized attachment style. This is indicated by the inability to understand the appropriateness of relationship building between different people in one's life (e.g. The teacher, the mailman, the parent, the sibling). When a frightening caregiver is either aggressive or neglectful of a child (either mild or direct physical/sexual behaviors) a child tends to block out the source and retreat inward, establishing walls and boundaries. As the child ages, this detachment may be focused in a seemingly normal exterior, but a clear inability to form positive, intimate relationships. In fact, a child with this disorder finds intimacy, whether physical or emotional, frightening and with the possibility of failure and let-down. Adults may be able to experience sexual activity with others as long as it is recreational, they may even be able to date -- as long as the primary modicum of the relationship remains superficial and deep honesty and the removal of barriers required. Ironically, this type of behavior usually peaks during a crisis situation, and either ends the potential relationship, or sends enough signals that both parties get psychological help (Wilkerson, et.al., 2008).

There are three major classes of defects that tend to follow abused children into adulthood, all making it difficult to accept the necessary means to find a balanced and appropriate relationship. They are the emotional deficits manifested over time, the cognitive effects that are sometimes masked but often permanent, and the time/space perception deficit, usually mitigated by adulthood with the exception of situations involving extreme stress of vulnerability:

Emotional Deficits -- the emotional deficit is the easiest to identify. Early childhood abuse or neglect often limits a child's normal development activities, resulting in significant emotional backwardness. These problems often manifest into poor coping skills as adults who may feel little control over events, and often overcompensate by being to controlling. These individuals, as adults, have a very difficult time with authority, and in relationships find it difficult to compromise (Miller, 2003).

Cognitive Deficits -- Cognitive deficits usually hit the core childhood developmental functions of language and socialization. Children and adults who face a perceived threat have different neurochemicals that relax, causing the brain to be in a hyper or aroused state for an extended period of time, which affects the ability of normal cortex functioning. When an adult is put into this state, it is difficult for them to assimilate new information or to participate in complex conversations or meetings that require a great deal of conversation (Minnis, et.al., 2006).

Time/Space Perception Deficits -- Usually, the time deficit is well covered by adulthood; individuals have learned during their late teen years to cover this up, or coping mechanisms with which to handle it that are not public or easily observed. As a child, this part of the deficit expresses as difficult with chronology in vocabulary, but also as poor time management skills. Their lack of predictability within their own lives causes them to be less structured in their outside life. As adults, these individuals usually fight for control over their time, but then often do not use that time for something substantive or productive. While at work, this, along with the other baggage caused by neglect, makes for a difficult office mate, or even friend (Taylor, et.al., 2007).

These are but a few of the issues surrounding the effects of abuse and/or neglect patterns occurring in childhood. It is clear that the span and range of abuse is larger than thought and that perhaps the American divorce and psychological counseling statistics are also reflective of these behaviors. Indeed, the masks and coping mechanisms people use to get through life and close the door are quite pronounced. It is especially true, and rather sad that there are so many abused children, but… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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