Child abuse is a despicable crime as it directed at the most young and unprotected segment of the population. Each year, there are almost three million children that are reported abused or neglected. The vast range of psychological diseases is reported to be connected with early childhood trauma, this is why this problem is very serious in United states. The paper explains the main reasons of child abuse as well as some ideas about the ways of preventing it. Also, the work includes the types of child abuse and the short description of each of them. The conclusion highlights measures used to combat abuse against children.
The Convention on the rights of children says that the object of special attention for the state should be children, who live in extremely hard social conditions. To such categories belong children of several groups: orphans; children left without parental care; children in socially isolated families; children from unemployed families or those that are forced to work; children victims of environmental disasters; children that left home; drug and alcohol addicts.
Violence against children
Violence is one of the main dangers for the well-being of society. Of course, children are the most unprotected category of the population when it comes to violence and abuse. They are vulnerable not only because they cannot defend themselves physically, but also because their very survival depends on adults, and they are not able to defend their own rights directly. In this regard, they often become victims of various injuries and damage to their identity and development.
Currently, there is no consensus about the root cause of domestic violence. A variety of micro - and macro theories was proposed: from the presence of mental disorders to the influence of socio-cultural values and social organization. The main disputes took place between the followers of psychological theories and those who believe in social causation. Psychologists have found a special role of such mental factors as the weakening of control instincts, frustration, aggressiveness, alcoholism and psychopathology in the growth of violence. The adherents of the theory of social causality focus on cultural norms, inciting violence, patriarchal social structure that is conducive to the dominant role of men.
Violence is closely associated with social stress in the family. Among the many issues that can increase the level of tension and lead to violence, there are: differences in parenting, sex, pregnancy, money troubles, unemployment, the need for long term care. Constant irritation can be partly explained by chronic anxiety about unresolved issues and conflicting requirements, which are imposed by society, the discrepancy between desires and capabilities.
Cruel and/or neglectful treatment of children is a typical manifestation of violence against children, which may jeopardize the survival of the child and has a detrimental effect on their physical, psychosocial, emotional, and sexual development. From the point of view of society as a whole and from the point of view of the welfare of future generations in particular, this leads to unfortunate consequences. For example, according to Daro (1988), children that suffer from abuse have behavioral problems and there performance at school is much worse than could be. These thoughts are confirmed by Culbertson and Willis (1988), who in their research showed that maltreated children have developmental delays in almost all areas, including language and cognitive skills.
In today's world, the abuse of children has many forms, including physical, sexual and emotional abuse, depriving children of proper care, and sexual exploitation of children for commercial purposes. This has serious implications for the health and development of the children and family well-being and society as a whole. This issue is complex and painful.
The state’s ultimate goal is to do everything to ensure that children can grow and develop in a world free from all forms of violence.
Study of the problems of violence against children, including abuse, abandonment in dangerous conditions (intentionally or accidentally) and bringing them to suicide, is of particular interest from the point of view of a child's right to life and the care provided by parents or other adults. Almost daily, reports of tragic accidents with children can be heard or read in the media: they die in fires, drown, fall from heights or are victims of accidents. They are mistreated, raped, or suffer from permanent injuries. It is reported that abused children have a higher possibility of being arrested for violent criminal behavior, delinquency compared to ordinary children (Widom et al., 1997).
Prevention of cruel treatment with children
Over the last 35 years, society and specialists started to pay more attention on the issues of child abuse. Epidemiological studies in several countries indicate that maltreatment of children is more common than it was thought. In addition, various studies indicate that maltreatment of children may be associated with serious development challenges, with social and emotional problems in the future life of children who become victims of such treatment. The institutionalization, prostitution, alcoholism and drug abuse, antisocial and criminal behavior, excessive use of mental health treatment services - including hospitalization in a psychiatric clinic and mistreatment of children in the next generation. These are possible negative results of this problem. According to Department of Health and Human Services research performed in 1993, approximately 50% of child abuse incidences occur in poor families (Bessel at al., 2001).
There is a need to prevent this problem, due to the following reasons:
1. The prevalence of this issue requires action beyond helping one individual child.
2. Long-term effects of cruel treatment with children (for example, those mentioned above) usually require specific programs to overcome them, and that needs significant public funds.
Various forms of ill-treatment of children are a difficult and complex problem requiring concerted efforts of a number of systems - social security, health, education, police and justice, - all of whom have the authority to address this problem.
Cruelty to children is culturally determined: what is violent behavior in one society may be acceptable in another, or even in different groups of one society. Any prevention efforts should take that into account. Nevertheless, it is important to find an acceptable solution to this problem.
Broadly speaking, there are four types of child abuse:
Neglect (Wang et al., 1997)
1. Physical abuse refers to the use of physical force that may result in various physical injuries.
2. Sexual abuse refers to the involvement of children and adolescents in sexual activities with older people without understanding what they do, and/or without their consent.
3. Emotional abuse towards the child includes strong humiliation, blatant violation of the intimate sphere of the child, constant criticism, severe punishment, etc.
4. Neglect is lack about the basic physical needs of the child, such as the need for food, clothing, hygiene, medical care and proper supervision.
Prevention of abuse of children
The main goal is to increase awareness and knowledge of the population regarding the scope of the problem and its consequences. The change of people's attitude to the abuse of children probably will lead to social and legal reforms.
It is required to develop a special programs aimed at parents that include education on child development, based on existing accumulated professional knowledge, but also contain specific guidance on the actions of parents towards the child depending on the situation and level of development of the child.
There should be created preventive programs for children that include such things as the child's right to say "no", the legality of the immunity of the body and recognition of the signs of danger. Preferably, such programs should be widely used in schools, centers at the place of residence or centers of public health. These programs should work on permanent basis.
A number of questions should be assessed in detail and deeply considered. These include issues such as the mandatory reporting of cases of ill-treatment, punishment and alternatives to imprisonment, limitation of actions, expert evidence, the impact on children, victims, the criminal investigation against the person who committed the criminal acts, and the question of state responsibility for ensuring the child protection and the necessary rehabilitation treatment.
There are institutions that are responsible for the protection of the child, for providing treatment and other services for children who are victims of abuse, and/or their families (for example, institutions of mental health treatment, various social services, domiciliary/residential care services). All employees of such systems should be trained in order to familiarize themselves with the basic characteristics of this problem, check the availability of the relevant services and how to use them, as well as to understand some of the legal aspects associated with this problem.
An important and hard thing is social protection of children with disabilities, especially those who due to their illness, deviations in mental development, limited ability to self-service were brought up and educated at home. The parents of these children - young families and single mothers face not only medical and economic but also social problems.
The growth of diseases associated with heredity, unfavorable course of pregnancy and childbirth contribute to the increase in the number of children with disabilities because these diseases are hardly treatable. Leading places among the causes of disability are diseases of the nervous system and sense organs, mental disorders, congenital malformations.
The main efforts in solving medical problems of child disability are directed to prevent the birth of babies with severe malformations, early-from the moment of birth, the rehabilitation of children with disabilities and children at risk.
Social services focus on the socio-pedagogical assistance for families with disabled children and young disabled people, performing the role of mediator between people with disabilities and family members, teachers, friends, and other social institutions.
An important "tool" is the use of different media.
The widespread use of television, radio and newspapers provides an excellent opportunity to conduct a systematic campaign for the prevention of cruelty to children.
Special articles on the problems associated with the abuse of children should be published in children's and youth magazines or other media aimed at children.
The problem of child abuse is a classic intersection of individual, family and social problems.
The prevention of cruelty to children is an enormous task.
The process of solving this is a slow, often frustrating process and requires initiative, knowledge, belief and patience.
Bessel A., Hopper J., Crozier J., (2001). CHILD ABUSE IN AMERICA: PREVALENCE AND CONSEQUENCES. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, 2001.
Culbertson, J., Krous, H., & Bendell, D. (1988). Sudden infant death syndrome. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Daro, D. (1998). Public Opinion and Behaviors Regarding Child Abuse Prevention 1998 Survey. Center on Child Abuse and Prevention Research, National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse.
Wang, C.T., and Daro, D.(1997). Current trends in child abuse reporting and fatalities: The results of the 1997 annual fifty state survey. Center on Child Abuse Prevention Research, National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse.
Widom, C.S., and Maxfield, M.G. (1996). A prospective examination of risk for violence among abused and neglected children. Annals New York Academy of Science. :224- 237.