What is Child Abuse?

7:40 pm - admin in Resources

  • Child Abuse and Neglect  happens in all social and economic strata of society, within all cultures, religions and races. Child maltreatment falls into 4 general categories:
  • Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse and Emotional Abuse

  • According to childwelfare.gov, although any of the forms of child maltreatment may be found separately, they often occur in combination. In many States, abandonment and parental substance abuse are also defined as forms of child abuse or neglect.

 

  • Neglect is the failure of a parent, guardian or caretaker to provide for the child’s basic needs and proper level of care.  It is important to distinguish between willful neglect and a parent or caretakers only being able to provide a reduced standard of life due to poverty or cultural norms.
  • Types of neglect include:
  • a)  FOOD- failure to provide an adequate diet and sufficient prasada.
  • Example: child is forced to eat old rotten prasada or child is given portions too small to satisfy their hunger.
  • b)  CLOTHING- failure to provide clothing adequate for the season.
  • Example: child is given no socks or sweater in wintertime.
  • c)  SHELTER- failure to provide a clean, hazard free place to live.
  • Example: house has garbage and excrement on the floor, exposed wires, insect and rodent infested.
  • d)  MEDICAL- refusal or delay in seeking necessary medical care.
  • e)  HYGIENE-   failure to keep the child clean, tidy, and bathed.
  • f)  SUPERVISION- failure to watch the child appropriate to the child’s developmental abilities to ensure his/her own safety.
  • Example: Parents repeatedly leave a 5-year old child alone sleeping while they go out; parent lets 3 year old run around temple parking lot unsupervised.
  • Example: Teacher fails to protect child even though the child has informed the teacher that he is being physically and sexually abused by older boys at school.
  • g)  EDUCATION- permitting chronic truancy, failure to enroll or provide home schooling  (where legally permissible) to a child of mandatory school age; inattention to a special educational need. Example:  an 8 year old child receives no schooling whatsoever.
  • h)  EMOTIONAL- failure to provide a climate that emotionally nourishes the child.
  • These situations do not always mean a child is neglected. Sometimes cultural values, the standards of care in the community, and poverty may be contributing factors, indicating the family is in need of information or assistance. When a family fails to use information and resources, and the child’s health or safety is at risk, then child welfare intervention may be required. In addition, many States provide an exception to the definition of neglect for parents who choose not to seek medical care for their children due to religious beliefs that may prohibit medical intervention.

 

  • Physical Abuse is non-accidental physical injury, ranging from bruises, welts, lacerations or burns to severe fractures or death inflicted by a parent, caregiver or other person who has responsibility for the child. Such injury is considered abuse regardless of whether the caregiver intended to hurt the child.
  • Forms of physical abuse include: punching, beating, shaking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap or other object), caning, burning, slapping, biting, kicking, ear twisting, throwing, stabbing, choking or otherwise harming a child.
  • Example: a student is whipped with a cane and red welts are visible, a parent slaps a child so hard across the face that black and blue marks appear in the shape of a hand; an infant is shaken so hard that brain damage occurs; a parent spanks an 11 month old.
  • a) Corporeal punishment can also be considered abusive if, although no single incident leaves a mark or results in an injury, the frequent and chronic use of such has a deleterious cumulative effect. (In a recently published study on spanking, researchers found that the more frequently spanking was used as a method of punishment ( three or more times per week ) the more antisocial behaviors the child developed.   Example: A child is spanked for every minor infraction, several times a week.

 

  • Sexual Abuse – An act of commission (perpetration) where a child is coerced, induced, persuaded, enticed, seduced, or entrapped into sexual acts with another person. The coercion can be either physical or verbal. The other person could be either an adult, an adolescent (12-18 years of age ), or even in some cases, another child (less than 12 years of age ) The abuser uses his/her position of authority or power (size, age, social position, cognitive differential ) to exert control.
  • Forms of sexual abuse include:
  • a)     Voyeurism (“Peeping Tom”)
  • b)    Indecent exposure / Exhibitionism (flashing)
  • c)     Taking pornographic pictures/ video of a child
  • d)    Having the child watch while the perpetrator masturbates
  • e)     Forced masturbation
  • f)     Kissing
  • g)    Fondling a child’s genitals
  • h)     Penetration of vagina and/or anus – digital/object
  • i)      Oral sex
  • j)      Sodomy
  • k)     Intercourse / Rape
  • l)      Exploitation through prostitution
  • m)   Incest
  • Sexual Harassment consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and/ or other inappropriate oral, written or physical contact of a sexual nature. Such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, and offensive environment.
  • Sexual harassment, as defined above, may include, but is not limited to the following:
  • a)     Verbal harassment or abuse;
  • b)    Pressure for sexual activity;
  • c)     Repeated remarks to a person with sexual or demeaning implications;
  • d)    Unwelcome or inappropriate touching;
  • e)     Suggesting or demanding sexual involvement accompanied by implied or explicit threats.

 

  • Emotional/ Psychological Abuse– A repeated pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth; conveying to the child that they are worthless, flawed, unwanted, unloved, or only of value to meet another person’s needs. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse is often difficult to prove and, therefore, child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm or mental injury to the child. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other forms of abuse are identified. This verbal battering seriously erodes and damages the child’s self-esteem and sense of worth as a person. Forms of Psychological Abuse:
  • a. Spurning– hostile, rejecting, humiliating parent/caretaker, acts that degrade the child.
  • Example: “You no good rotten kid, you’ll never amount to anything, you’re stupid, ugly, clumsy. I wish I never gave birth to you!” Or making the child who had an “accident” wear their urine soaked underwear on their head while inviting other children to mock them; forcing a child to cross dress while having other children jeer.
  • b. Terrorizing– parent/caretaker behavior that is likely to hurt, kill, abandon or place the child’s loved ones or the child in a dangerous situation.
  • Example: locking a child screaming in a dark closet or cupboard; randomly picking out a child from a line and hitting them for no apparent reason other than to instill fear; torturing or killing a child’s pet to instill fear and gain compliance.
  • c. Corrupting– acts that encourage the child in criminal, antisocial behaviors.
  • Example: taking a child shoplifting to teach them how to cheat or break the law.
  • d. Denying Emotional Responsiveness – ignoring the child’s need for love and affection.
  • Example: Chronically being cold and aloof to the child; providing only concrete needs while treating the child as an object, and not a person; no warmth or affection.

 

  • Abandonment – Many States consider this a form of neglect. Generally a child is considered to be abandoned when the parent/caretaker’s identity or whereabouts are unknown; the child has been left alone in circumstances where the child suffers serious harm; the parent/ caretaker has failed to maintain contact with the child or provide reasonable support for a specified period of time.
  • According to Child Welfare, “Substance Abuse is an element of the definition of child abuse or neglect in many States. Circumstances that are considered abuse or neglect in some States include: Prenatal exposure of a child to harm due to the mother’s use of an illegal drug or other substance; manufacture of methamphetamine in the presence of a child; selling, distributing, or giving illegal drugs or alcohol to a child; use of a controlled substance by a caregiver that impairs the caregiver’s ability to adequately care for the child”

Notes:

1. These guidelines recognize the normal stages of sexual development in children. There is allowance for what is natural and innocent activity while marking the distinction of abuse and exploitation.

2. These guidelines do not exempt one from observing local laws.  For example, in some places corporal punishment of any kind is against the law. Our parents, guardians, and care providers are expected to be aware of and observe local laws.

3. The examples provided are for general information. Not all States’ definitions will include all of the examples listed, and individual States’ definitions may cover additional situations not mentioned here.