The problem of child abuse has been extensively studied in recent years. Despite the fact that all international organizations pay a special attention and implement special programs to protect children from abuses, the problem of child abuse is aggravated every year.
Child abuse is a global problem with serious life-long consequences. There are no reliable estimations of the prevalence of child abuse. Child abuse represents a difficult problem for the research. The available data can vary in a wide range depending on the country and a used research method. The estimations depend on the following aspects:
- Applied definitions of child abuse;
- A studied type of child abuse;
- A statistical coverage and quality of official statistical data;
- Coverage and quality of researches at which reports of victims, parents or tutors are required.
Nevertheless, according to the international researches, about 20 % of women and 5-10 % of men report that they were exposed to a sexual abuse in their childhood, while 25-50 % of all children report that were exposed to a physical abuse. Besides, many children are exposed to emotional or psychological maltreatment and are left without care.
According to data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), 51 States reported a total of 1,537 fatalities. Based on these data, a nationally estimated 1,560 children died from abuse and neglect in 2010. This translates to a rate of 2.07 children per 100,000 children in the general population and an average of four children dying every day from abuse or neglect. NCANDS defines "child fatality" as the death of a child caused by an injury resulting from abuse or neglect or where abuse or neglect was a contributing factor.
According to the estimations, annually there are 31 000 murders of children under 15. This figure underestimates the true scales of a problem as the considerable share of the lethal cases as a result of child abuse is incorrectly attributed to suicides, burns, drowning and other causes. Moreover, girls are especially subject to sexual violence, and maltreatment from the side of military men, representatives of security forces, other members of their communities, and humanitarian workers in the conditions of the armed conflicts and the camps for refugees.
Child abuse influences not only the self-respect of people as they grow older, but also their intellectual development and health. Communication in this logic chain is related to the physiological stress that undermines a weak organism of a child. Various factors and genes, which are inherited by children from their parents, predetermine their future development. In the early childhood, such important psychological concepts as basic trust to the world, ability to find contact with people, etc. are founded.
Psychological traumas in childhood play a very important role for the future. A psychological trauma is a mental reaction to the events important for a person that is a root of lengthy emotional experiences with that person being affected psychologically. Any significant event for a person can become the reason of a trauma: deception, treachery, disappointment, injustice, violence, and abuse. The purpose of this research work is to consider the problem of child abuse in the modern life.
Child abuse is any form of relationship directed on the establishment of control over a child by force. Child abuse does not include only slaughter. The sneers, insults, humiliating comparisons, unreasonable criticism can be also very injuring. Besides, it can be a rejection, coldness, leaving without psychological and moral support.
Child abuse includes the direct or indirect impact on a child for the purpose of a physical abuse; it is expressed in striking of the mutilations, heavy injuries, beatings, kicks, slaps, pushes, throwing of objects, etc. A corporal punishment in a family is one of the forms of child abuse. The evasion of the first medical care, deprivation of the sleep and possibility of the vital functions (for example, refusal of toilet or shower), the use of alcohol and drugs against the desire of a child are ranked as a physical abuse. The physical harm to a child for the purpose of the psychological impact is distinguished as an indirect form of child abuse. (Humphreys, 2006).
Signs of Child Abuse
It is possible to single out some obvious signs of child abuse in the presence of which it is necessary to inform the law enforcement agencies immediately:
- The traces of beating, tortures, traces of sexual violence or other physical impact.
- The neglected condition of children (pediculation, dystrophy, etc.).
- The lack of normal living conditions of a child: insanitary conditions of housing, non-compliance with the elementary hygienic rules, absence of sleeping berths, bedding, clothes, food and other subjects corresponding to the age needs of children.
- The systematic alcoholism of parents fights in the presence of a child, deprivation of a sleep, etc.
Forms of Child Abuse
There are the following forms of child abuse: physical, psychological, sexual, mental abuse, absence of care.
Physical abuse includes the actions (inaction) of parents or other adults as a result of which the physical and intellectual health of a child is broken or is under the threat of disorder.
Psychological (emotional) abuse is the behavior causing fear and psychological pressure in humiliating forms (humiliation, insult), charges to a child (abuse, shouts), humiliation of his/her successes, rejection of a child, committing violence in relation to the spouse or other children in the presence of a child, etc. Psychological (emotional) abuse is expressed in humiliation, insult, control of behavior, isolation, restriction of a child's circle of contacts, "brainwashing", interrogation, blackmailing, and violence threats.
Emotional child abuse is maltreatment, which results in impaired psychological growth and development. It involves words, actions, and indifference. Abusers constantly reject, ignore, belittle, dominate, and criticize the victims. This form of abuse may occur with or without physical abuse, but there is often an overlap.
Economic child abuse includes the control over the financial and other resources of a child, allocation of money for a child, extortion and enforcement to extortion. Economic child abuse also includes the ban on education and employment.
Sexual child abuse is any contact or interaction in which a child is sexually stimulated or used for sexual stimulation.
Neglect of the basic needs of a child is an inattention to the main needs of a child in food, clothes, medical and other types of care.
Child Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is one of the most urgent problems of the present-day life. According to the researches conducted in the USA, child sexual abuse is determined as any sexual experience of a child under 16 (in some sources under 18) with a person at least 5 years older.
Child abuse can negatively affect a physical, psychological and reproductive health of a child, and his or her behavior. Though, the consequences for victims can be absolutely different. Except the influence on a child, sexual abuse influences society. It incurs huge expenses, such as medical costs, lost efficiency and bad health of a child.
Child sexual abuse or pedophilia is an involvement of a child in a sexual contact with an adult in any form (sexual touches, oral genital stimulation, coitus, etc.). Even if there is no threat or obvious abuse such a contact all the same is admitted as compulsory and illegal as a child is not considered mature enough to give the informed consent to participation in sexual interaction. The informed consent assumes a sufficient degree of an intellectual and emotional maturity, which allows a child to realize the sense and possible consequences of the made actions to the fullest extend.
First of all, child victims of sexual abuse are easily coerced into silence, through a combination of guilt, shame, and threats of various kinds. Second, sexual abuse destroys the spontaneity and freedom of childhood, and imposes a state of lonely terror upon the victim. Following this assault upon childhood itself, profound long-term psychological problems almost inevitably result..
The problem of child sexual abuse (both physical and emotional) stuns with its scales all over the world. There are two types of sexual abuse:
- With a physical contact (sexual touches, touches of genitals, oral-genital stimulation, coitus, rape);
- Without a physical contact (being present during a sexual intercourse, enforcement to undressing, photo sessions for pornographic films, exhibitionism).
Child sexual abuse can have serious consequences. The effects of child sexual abuse are: physical (AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases; physical traumas; functional disorders; bad state of health; obesity; desire to commit a suicide); psychological(posttraumatic stressful syndrome; depression; fear and panic; nutritional disorders; sexual disorders; understated self-appraisal). Moreover, child sexual abuse effects a child's reaction to abuse. This reaction is called "a rape posttraumatic syndrome". This syndrome can have a complicated form (with a row of psychiatric problems) and a hidden one (when a victim does not say anybody about the case of a sexual abuse). The syndrome has two stages of effects: short-term and long-term consequences.
The first stage includes physical and emotional changes. Children can experience insomnia and involuntary screams at night. Moreover, the appetite can both increase and decrease; sickness and stomachache can also appear. The second stage is a long-term process, including changes of a lifestyle, nightmares and fears. The changes of a lifestyle can include the changes in a daily schedule of a child. At this time, children participate in public life rarely; search for support from the family, without explaining the reasons of the changed behavior.
Consequences of Child Abuse
Adult people, who experienced any type of abuse in their childhood, often suffer from the accompanying psychological diseases. Such people are inclined to suicides, alcoholism, drug abuse and pathological hoarding. Children and teenagers, who became the victims of child abuse, copy the gender model they see and reproduce it in the next generation.
Consequences may be mild or severe; disappear after a short period or last a lifetime; and affect the child physically, psychologically, behaviorally, or in some combination of all three ways.
The consequences of child abuse are divided into short-term and long-term.
Short-term consequences include physical damages, condition of alarm, fear, depression condition, disorders in a sexual life. Long-term consequences include unwillingness repeatedly to create a family, hatred to all people; psychosomatic diseases include neurosises, mental diseases, dependence on another's opinion, unwillingness to have close relations, socialization violation (80 % are inclined to crimes, 40 % - to cruel activities), alcohol and drugs abuse and also the risk of becoming a prostitute.
Moreover, child abuse can have social consequences, such as loss of human lives, gender inequality, high level of unemployment and poverty, loss of productive members (invalids) and high expenditures of the government on the rehabilitation of children, a judicial system, investigatory measures, and treatment of children.(Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2008).
The multisectoral approach is necessary for prevention of child abuse. The programs, which support parents, are effective and impart positive parental skills. They include:
Nurses visit parents and children at home for support, training and providing information;
Training of parents, usually in group, for improvement of education related skills of children, expansion of knowledge of a child development and stimulation of the strategy of positive treatment of children;
The multicomponent actions, which usually include support and training of parents, pre-school education and care for a child.
The other programs on the prevention of child abuse are also prospective.
The programs on prevention of head injuries as a result of a physical abuse (called "a syndrome of a shaken child"). Usually these programs are aimed at young parents.
The programs on the prevention of child sexual abuse. They are usually implemented at schools and train children in the following areas:
- Property and body rights;
- Difference between good and bad touches;
- How to distinguish the menacing situations;
- How to say "no";
- How to tell about an abuse to the adult person.
Such programs are effective in strengthening of the protective factors from child abuse (for example, knowledge of sexual violence and protective forms of behavior), but there are no data whether such programs promote the reduction of scales of other types of violence. The earlier such programs (for example, cognitive development, behavioral and social competence, educational training) are implemented in life of abused children, better for children and society as a whole (for example, reduction of a number of offenses and crimes). Besides, early recognition of the cases in a combination to a continuous care for children, who have become the victims of violence, and families, can promote the reduction of scales of the repeated abuse and its consequences.
Thus, it is possible to conclude the paper, saying that child abuse is a very important and vital problem of the modern world. People become more aggressive and the number of cases of child abuse has been increased recently all over the world. The governments of the most developed world countries take special measures to decrease the rates of child abuse: target programs are implemented and give good results; however, it is absolutely impossible to eliminate the problem from social life of any country. Any kind of child abuse is a very difficult psychological problem that can affect the whole life of a person. In order to ease this problem it is necessary to support a child both emotionally and psychologically.