INTERGENERATIONAL NATURE OF CHILD MALTREATMENT
(Name of Student)
INTERGENERATIONAL NATURE OF CHILD MALTREATMENT
Intergenerational child maltreatment has been a taboo topic in previous research on child abuse with very little research undertaken on the topic despite the gravity of the issue in modern society. Intergenerational child maltreatment will form the topic for this research study, with exploration of the forms of child abuse and to examine the patterns of child maltreatment and adaptive coping to the numerous forms of child abuse among survivors of the vice. The hypothesis for this research will therefore be: experiencing more types of abuse would determine the relation between the history of child abuse and maladaptive behaviour of coping.
In conducting this study, secondary sources of data would be used and analysed with the aim of coming up with a logical conclusion to the above topic and for efficient articulation of the hypothesis as inscribed above.
Child maltreatment is a common problem in many societies globally. The effects have a toll on individuals, society and communities. Every year, in the United States alone, approximately 3.5 million reports of child abuse are investigated. Of this figure, approximately 800,000 children are victims of child abuse.
In the substantiated cases, about 59% of the cases involved neglect of children, 10.8% were victims of physical abuse, 8% suffered some form of sexual abuse and 4% were abused emotionally. A further approximately 5% suffered other forms of abuse other than the ones already mentioned. It has also been determined that children who suffer one type of maltreatment have high chances of going through victimization in numerous forms. For instance, maltreated children have higher chances of experiencing community violence like being a witness in murders, drug deals, shootings. Those who witness domestic violence at home are more likely to face sexual and physical abuse. The implications of this vice are serious. Research has demonstrated over and over again that traumatic experiences can have a negative effect on the physical and psychological health of a child.
A victim of child abuse and neglect may internalize and even publicly externalize behaviour like depression, sexualized behaviour, anxiety, conduct disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Adults with a history of child maltreatment have been known to suffer depression, eating disorders, substance use disorders, suicide ideation and sometimes attempts, borderline personality disorder and abusive and violent character.
There are three main theories associated with intergenerational transmission of maltreatment. To begin with, the social learning theory assumes that most physically punitive parents of guardians end up bringing up aggressive children. This is attributed to the fact that the child has learnt that particular pattern of responding to different scenarios. Aggression and violence are gradually learnt through patterns of punishment to shape behaviour and positive reinforcement.
Secondly, an argument has been made that there is a relationship between genetic or biological component of a child and aggressive behaviour. This theory stipulates that a parent’s character of violence or aggression could be inherited by a child. Aggression is taken as a characteristic that has its base in temperament. The parent’s reaction is seen as a response to the inherent character of the child, learnt while growing up. This inherited character then forms a factor in the continuation of the cycle of maltreatment, with chances of the child maltreating his or her own child or using corporal punishment later on in life.
The third theory posits that genetic factors and social learning (interaction with the larger environment) are believed to have a bearing on intergenerational violence transmission. Many researchers have come to an understanding that genetic predisposition merely exposes an individual to the risk of expressing violent behaviour. Of more effect is the interaction of environmental factors and genetics, which have been noted to increase the risk of violent action.
An investigation into individuals who had been adopted by non-relatives and exposed to low genetic and environmental risk showed low base rate criminality levels as opposed to their counterparts who were exposed to both genetic and environmental risks, or one of either genetic or environmental risks. Therefore it is safe to conclude that the interaction of biology and the environment are major contributors to the rates of criminality in such people.
It is imperative to note that the intergenerational nature of child maltreatment cannot be as a result of one single factor. All these theories herein contribute to the issue. In addition to that, all the four forms of child family violence (these are physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and witnessing violent activities in the society) have a correlation backed by statistics. The relationship between physical abuse victimization and witnessing violence in the society when a child is growing up is believed to be the strongest.
Gaps in Literature
There are substantial defects in knowledge on child maltreatment, as suggested by recent surveys on the topic. There has arisen an urgent need for the testing of theory. In addition to that, there is need to build longitudinal study designs to increase diversity of data collection methods and to include samples taken from populations that are non-clinical. The testing of theories is essential in the expansion of knowledge on child maltreatment. Many researchers continue to favour the practice of subsuming child maltreatment in their research work on child malpractice, drawing deductions that have been proven to e inaccurate. Instead of such assumptions, researchers on the topic should extend their scope deeper into the vice and come up with more accurate statistics that would paint a clearer picture of the matter as it is.
In order to answer the questions that remain unanswered in the examination of child maltreatment, confusion in the estimation of incidence should be eradicated. Such confusion is attributed to definitions that are used in research, practice, law and policy not being precise ad accurate. Studies on maltreated children below the age of 10, for instance, give divergent consequences and causes of maltreatment from cases involving adolescents.
Moreover, attempts at preventing child maltreatment or even intervention at an early stage of the practice continue to be frustrated by lack of reliable statistics on the identification and mitigation of risks for child maltreatment. If these statistics were available, it would have been easier to study trends and learn signs of maltreatment
Another point of concern is the fact that the treatment of children who have been maltreated is not sufficient. Treatment that has turned out to be successful has not been understood well enough to be applied in other cases. This has rendered knowledge on child maltreatment inadequate for application to new cases. The inadequate treatment given to children who suffer maltreatment is due to lack of enough knowledge on matters to do with child maltreatment.
Another deterrent factor in the study of child maltreatment has been the fact that most studies have been focused on parents while investigating maltreatment. The health and developmental needs of children have been ignored. To add on that, the wrong interventions have been taken in an effort to address child maltreatment, like placing children in foster homes or institutions that care for children. In some cases, these interventions have been retrogressive, causing more harm to the children than benefits. The unique needs of children are not addressed with the seriousness they deserve due to lack of information on maltreatment.
Relevance of Studies on Child Maltreatment for Policy
Because child maltreatment cases are increasing by the day, studies on child maltreatment should be exhaustive so as to be applied in the treatment of new cases. Lack of such information has been the main reason for stunted development in the field. This has further complicated the formulation of policies on child maltreatment.
Another approach that would work towards formulation of policies would be the harmonization and coordination of duties between scholars and clinicians. Because they perform different duties and have different approaches to the topic of child maltreatment, their work should be harmonized to come up with one policy document that can form the benchmark in studies on this topic.
Properly articulated studies would also contribute a great deal to the treatment and prevention of child maltreatment. The correct operationalization, conception and dissemination of research should be undertaken in such a way that it would be beneficial to the formulation ad implementation of policies against child maltreatment.
Beckett, C. (2003). Child protection an introduction. London: SAGE.
Framework For Prevention Of Child Maltreatment. (n.d.). Framework For Prevention Of Child Maltreatment. Retrieved March 20, 2014, from https://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/overview/framework.cfm
Guterman, N. B. (2001). Stopping child maltreatment before it starts emerging horizons in early home visitation services. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.
Healey, J. (2006). Child maltreatment. Thirroul, NSW: The Spinney Press.
Myers, J. E. (2012). Child maltreatment a collection of readings. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications.
Ritacco1, G., Suffla, S., & Seedat2, M. (2013). A CRITICAL REVIEW OF CHILD MALTREATMENT INDICES: THEORETICAL ASSUMPTIONS, PSYCHOMETRIC PROPERTIES AND CROSS-CULTURAL APPLICATION. South African Medical Research Institute, 5(9), 1-14.
Thoburn, J., Chand, A., & Procter, J. (2005). Child welfare services for minority ethnic families the research reviewed. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Tonmyr, L., & Doering, L. (2003). The Nature of Knowledge in the Population Health Perspective: The Case Study of Child Maltreatment. International journal of mental health promotion, 5(1), 38-44.