Statistical reports are showing that in the fiscal year 2011, approximately 700, 00 children were victims of abuse and neglect. Childhood sexual abuse especially is a subject that has been subject to much attention in the recent years. An average of 25% of men and women were victims of a form childhood or adolescent sexual abuse. Child abuse cases are reported less often, which means the number of individuals who have been victims could be greater. With such a great number of people being victims, therapy is becoming necessary than before. Psychiatrists and psychologists are well aware of symptoms and long term effects associated with childhood abuse and neglect. They, therefore, need a deep understanding and insight of what is needed in counseling. The paper will explore child abuse and neglect, its impact, reasons instigating child abuse, why it needs to be stopped, and how it can be brought to an end.
As it is famously known, child abuse is the maltreatment or sexually molesting a child. It may be in many forms ranging from a violent act from a beloved relative to seduction by a stranger. Delineating definition for child abuse is hard because of the various forms it can take; variation of circumstances it can it in, the different frequencies it takes place and relationships it is associated with. Irrespective of the definition it is accorded, child abuse usually results in negative psychological and physical impacts on the victims. However, not all childhood victims face long term consequences but they are highly susceptible.
A single reason behind child maltreatment is yet to be known. But with the aim of understanding child abuse and ways of mitigating the vice, it’s prudent to understand various reasons behind abusing children. Child maltreatment occurs across social-economic, cultural, religious and ethnic groups. The same makes the problem a diversified one, one that you can’t give a single description. Despite that, the causes show a trend and a viable summary can still be made. Psychological wellbeing of caregiver, history of maltreatment, substance abuse, attitude and knowledge levels, family structure, marital conflict, stress, age, parent child interaction, poverty and unemployment has been seen to be popular among the populations.
The consequences of child maltreatment and abuse are influenced by various factors. The phase and developmental prominence of the victim, the maltreatment victim faced the frequency of maltreatment, and the relationship that exists between child and perpetrator are popular factors that are likely to influence extent of consequences. In severe cases, the consequences are everlasting while others are eliminated through therapy. It is also unclear to researchers and scientists why, given the same conditions, some children experience severe long term impacts while others come out unscathed.
The impact of childhood abuse is usually discussed in terms of physical, psychological, behavioral and societal consequences. In reality, however, it is hard to separate these consequences. Physical damage of a child’s growing head-brains will, for example, result in psychological consequences like emotional difficulties or worse result in high risk behavior. For simplicity purposes, the paper deals with the consequences independently.
A major impact of child maltreatment is physical consequence. Physical effects of child abuse can be minor- cuts or bruises, or severe extending to live long scars such as broken bones and, hemorrhage. Physically abusing a child has also been associated with development of tumors, brain damage where vital regions of the brain fail to form or mature appropriately, lifetime health difficulties and in worst cases shaken baby syndrome. Shaken baby syndrome is known to result in learning disabilities, blindness and even mental retardation.
Many survivors experience psychological difficulties. As counteract, survivors tend to dissociate themselves as a protective mechanism of what they experienced while they were young. As adults, they may use the coping technique whenever they feel unsafe or threatened. These results in isolation, lack of trust, and fear. Survivors of child sexual abuse usually are characterized with feelings of confusion, nightmares and flashbacks and a difficulty experiencing feelings. Denial and self-repression is known to be a long term effect of child abuse. Whether or not survivors of childhood sexual abuse will forget the memories of such a horrible experience is a controversial subject. A section of therapists believe that sexual abuse can lead to trauma enough to erase memories of the abuse and represses the experience as a coping mechanism. Others claim that recorded memories are most likely false and their clients are forced to create them. Having a low self-esteem as a result childhood sexual abuse is known to result in reduced productivity and it takes a lifetime to deal with.
In researching child abuse, negative mental health has been found to be highly correlated. The same involves post traumatic symptoms, aggressive behaviors, eating disorders, helplessness, negative attributions and conduct problems. More recent child maltreatment has also been linked to psychotic disorders. At most extreme child sexual abuse has been found to result in disastrous mental health problems, suicide attempts, ideations and actual suicides. Psychological effects of child abuse have been of concern in most studies. Its prevention and handling victims forms a topic for future studies.
In particular, a longitudinal study by Christchurch in New Zealand has showed evidence that exposing a child to maltreatment involving sexual abuse, increased the riskiness of later mental related problems. They included ability to commit suicide and depression as well as high levels of anxiety disorders, substance abuse and anti-personality traits. The association shows persistence from the age early 16 to 25 years. After taking into account other adverse factors, psychological impacts remain central to usage to illicit drug abuse. There was no evident association between child maltreatment and a family’s economic status. Overall, after successful adjustments for a range of other parameters, youngsters exposed to maltreatment were 2.4 more times highly likely to experience mental disorders than those children not exposed like them.
Approximations of the populace attributed to risk (PAR) propose that the abolition of child sexual abuse in the Christchurch group would manage to reduce the overall rates of mental health disorder in adults by 13%. Studies that have managed to specifically examine the long-term psychological health outcome for masculine survivors of child maltreatment and neglect are limited. Overall, study findings are indicating that female survivors are either experiencing more severe problems after severe child sexual abuse likened with men, or that the experience is largely comparable.
As the research on the mental health consequence of child maltreatment increases in magnitude, it is becoming more thrilling and sophisticated. The same is encouraging a more focused research based on determining solutions to pertinent problems. It is needed as a teaser of our age’s gender differences making us realize how influential meditating factors are on the mental wellbeing for victims of the aged vice- child sexual abuse.
Anxiety and stress are often long term effects of childhood sexual abuse. Childhood sexual abuse as frightening as it can be, usually results in stress long after the incident or after it has ceased. Many times the survivors experience chronic anxiety, phobias, and tension. Survivors of child maltreatment face difficulties in establishing interpersonal relationships. Signs and symptoms highly correlated with child hood abuse may hinder development of relationships and even their growth. The same is as a result of the difficulty to trust, being fearful of the past and of being different, and inability to create interpersonal boundaries, passive boundaries and abusive relationships in the past. Severe childhood abuse greatly reduces chances to adjust for intimate relationships. Sexual abuse is often initiated by persons a child loves and trusts, the same breaks trust making the victim believe that people they trust and love end up hurting them.
A high percentage of survivors-25%, are more likely to face teenage difficulties. They are prone to most teenage problems like unwanted pregnancies, drug abuse, and obesity as a result of overeating, sexually transmitted diseases, smoking and alcohol abuse among other difficulties.
Child abuse survivors are subject to disastrous societal effects. These are effects associated with the whole society at large. They can be categorized into two categories: direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include those associated with maintain a child welfare system which may outweigh the benefits if its efforts bear little fruit. Additionally, direct costs will include the expenditure in maintaining and conducting judicial procedures, law enforcement, and mental health systems. Indirect costs include: costs associated with juvenile protection and criminal activity, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence and low productivity as a result of unemployment and or underemployment.
Although research has shown there to be substantial relationships between long term effects and childhood maltreatment, each victim’s reaction, response and experience is not the same. And not all the victims face the long term effects but they are all as susceptible.
While the priority is given to prevention of child abuse and negligence from ever taking place, equally important is the fact that response is needed to children and adults who in the past have experienced any form of abuse and neglect. Over the past 3 decades, scholars and practitioners have an advanced understanding of effects trauma can result in. Further studies have been carried out on ways of increasing support to deal with these effects, create resilience, and, hopefully, prevent further instances of trauma.
With an effort to prevent child abuse it is recommended to carry out various child help mechanisms. These can include but not limited to: be a nurturing parent or guardian. Being a nurturing parent will involve someone playing the role being able to basic physical needs of a child. Additionally, such a person should be in apposition to be consistent in seeking to provide emotional support to the child who they take care of.
Help develop parenting resources. The same is a way of giving back to the society when you can. Being a parent who has successfully raised kids without a hitch, you would consider proving guidance to new parents. Such parents may not well be aware of some acts to be demeaning to their children.
Carry an undertaking at a local child maltreatment prevention program. As a way of triumphing n the war against child abuse and its related effects, joining a volunteer preventative program will be a good wake up call. In addition, blowing a whistle on suspected child abuse and neglect is necessary. Whistle blowing though prevents further and possible future child maltreatment; it is unlikely to result in a good end. But it would be good to report a suspect of child abuse, possibly to the nearest child help center or possibly the authorities.
As the paper illustrates, child abuse and neglect is a vice which as a society we should come together to conquer. Its impacts and consequences are far reaching and very disastrous in a worst case scenario. Educating the society on importance of proper child care is a good head start. It would be of benefit if ongoing research on the long term effects of child abuse were to continue. Sovereignty of the issue on the survivors of abuse and their well-being has been properly established. With this knowledge, it is uncontestable that those counselors should expand their knowledge and skills on handling child abuse and neglect victims. The same is for the better good of the society. Childhood maltreatment is obviously a traumatic experience to the victims and has many consequences on the lives of the victims.
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