Family Violence and Child Abuse

Family Violence and Child Abuse

Seldomly do people realize how often child are abused by parents, not always through violence, but in other various factors that can traumatize a child. The textbook Heavy Hands written by Denise Kindschi Gosselin has an entire chapter on child abuse and the different types of abuse that are involved against these children. Historical accounts tell us that children have always been abused and neglected by one or both parents; it is not uncommon or newly revealed (Gosselin 81). Along with the textbook assigned in class, there are other scholarly articles that analyze the effects of numerous types of abuse that children can go through in a family and points out ways to identify when this is happening to children. Child abuse is a major problem included in family violence and with all its hardships, there are interactive ways and solutions for others to stop in and prevent the abuse from happening.

When children are abused and neglected they often carry these scars on into their adulthood and never develop naturally and fully because of the abuse their parents have gave to them. Although not always, these abused and neglected children can become perpetrators themselves on multiple kinds of violence including family violence, murdering, domestic partner violence, intimidate partner violence, etc. The children that must carry this burden into adulthood have not had proper treatment and care that they should properly have. Battered child syndrome refers to the repeated mistreatment or beating of a child which results in physical and/or psychological injuries (Gosselin 87). Battered child syndrome is an important phrase to be define in the situation of child abuse and neglect. Gosselin wrote of infanticide being the murder of a child before his or her first birthday in the ancient times (83) and that it is still a problem to this day in our society. It has been seen time and time again on news of how cruel parents can be with their children and how their negligence has led to the death of their child. The most traumatic story that pops into my head is the story of Casey Anthony. It is such a horrific and gruesome story to read about, and it is so hard to think a parent could do such things to a child they are supposed to love and care for.

A crucial part in helping abused children was to implement federal and state laws and the first major change came from Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). CAPTA requires states to assign an agency to receive and investigate reports of alleged child abuse and neglect. Along with this act, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was established (Gosselin 89). Both the act and the center were great implementations for child abuse initiatives, and in time the means for helping abused children would become more abundant.

The issue of child abuse in family violence is of high importance to not only the general public, but also policy makers and researchers. I say this because of all the tragedies we see more often than we should in news stories. Mall shootings, school shootings, terrorists’ attacks, bomb threats, etc. Children that have experience the worst of child abuse growing up are at a higher percentage than others to become a harm to society that we see in these news stories. It is important for all the public, not just policy makers, to be aware of what causes these people do what they do.

I do not believe this issue has received as much attention as it should because of how the media can twist stories of tragedies caused by delusional people to get better ratings. For example, the media does not care if this child was sexually abused or physically beaten everyday of their childhood. The media cares about the fact they are socially isolated, frequent adult websites, and anything else they can focus on to make the public believe what they want them to believe. But we need to focus on someone’s past as a child to understand why they have become what they have. What they experienced growing up is what is their reality. Murders have a different sense of reality than us because of how they are raised versus how a child should properly be raise and taken care of.

A scholarly article written by Jennifer Harman, Edward Kruk, and Denise Hines looked at parental alienating behaviors. In this article, they label behaviors of such alienating acts, including emotional aggression, neglect, legal aggression, and physical aggression (Harman et al. 2018). Emotional aggression can be in the form of creating fear into a child by terrorizing them mentally and physical aggression can include sexual behaviors, hitting a child, or even throwing items at children. With physical and emotional abuse children develop disorders that carry into their adult lives. Their trust levels diminish, and they become abusers themselves because of the way they were treated as children. They are mentally broken and believe an alternate reality that their abusive parents have created for them.

Another scholarly article Child Abuse and Family Violence as Determinants of Child Psychopathology written by David Wolfe and Peter Jaffe looked at adjustment disorders of physically abused children, children on battered women, and sexually abused children. Physically abused children are at risk of problems in the expression and regulation of emotional reactions (Wolfe & Jaffe 1991). Children without proper parental guidance do not receive the emotional support they need. This lead to children not being able to express themselves in a proper manner nor are they able to react emotional to certain stimuli properly. Children that are physically abused have a harder understanding of their own emotions and the emotions that other children express towards them.

Children who witness violence towards mother also exemplify a heterogeneous population that exhibits adjustment problems ranging from chronic developmental impairments to more specific stress-related disorders (Wolfe & Jaffe 1991). The stress these children experience leads to health problems including eating disorders and weight management, difficulties sleeping or sleeping too much, and lack of responding to other authoritative figures. This varies between boys and girls. Boys tend to be more aggressive in nature acting out, not listening to elders, and have a destructive behavior. Girls on the other hand become needier, are socially withdrawn and shy, and are dependent on parental interaction.

The last category Wolfe and Jaffe looked at were sexually abused children. Sexual abuse of children by adults has been linked to a number of childhood and adulthood problems, including panic disorders, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, somatic complaints, sexual dysfunction, and low self-esteem (Wolfe & Jaffe 1991). These symptoms of sexual abuse create a lot of tension for these children in their adult lives. Sexually, they are inactive and a hard time connecting with someone on this level because of the trauma they have experienced as children. It is important for them to find someone to emotional support them through this hardship and ensure there is no pressure felt in their sexual lives. It is a difficult situation for both partners to be in and they must exhibit strong support that does not falter.

The last scholarly article found on Family violence and child abuse was Posttraumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents Exposed to Family Violence by Gayla Margolin and Katrina Vickerman looked at child abuse and parents’ domestic violence that can lead to children developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Events that fall in the realm of family violence can include physical or emotional aggression and involve at least one family member as a victim and another as a perpetrator. The actions vary widely in severity, from minor aggression to the death of a family member (Margolin &Vickerman 2011). Whether the violence portrayed is as little as yelling at a child or it be as severe as a child witnessing the murder of one of their parents, PTSD is something that can be developed in these children witnessing and experiencing the violence.

Margolin and Vickerman give about four recommendations for assessing family violence and the symptoms that children will show that could lead to PTSD. However, I believe the third and fourth recommendation are the most important to highlight. Third, any assessment of children exposed to domestic violence should include an assessment of PTSD. Fourth, PTSD should be considered as potential mediating variable between family violence and other child problems (Margolin & Vickerman 2011). It is important in the cases of child abuse to ensure it is thoroughly investigated whether they are experiencing PTSD. PTSD can highlight between family violence and child abuse giving signs to experts who can determine what the next plan of action will be to stop child abuse from occurring anymore in a given household.
Numerous articles and websites offer information on what anyone can do to prevent child abuse from occurring. This information includes recognizing when child abuse is occurring.

The signs are not always something to be seen, but it can be taught to recognize when a child is experience emotional hardships and these are signs of child abuse. Another step highlighted in multiple sources is to be supportive of the children. Children imitate what happens in their own homes and what they have learned from their parents. Social workers, educators, and those that work with children can determine when a child is acting from child abuse.

This leads to the next step, which is to document and report when these events are witnessed. Everyone who sees child abuse occurring is a bystander. It is their option to stay quit or to do something about what they have seen. Society needs to become proactive and reactive bystanders instead of staying silent. Lastly, the most important step for any issue is to raise awareness. As stated before, child abuse is often hard to see as it can be emotional, and this is where awareness must be raised. Raising awareness gives the general public a better understanding of the situation and gets them involved into become advocates to helping the cause and to hopefully end child abuse from occurring anymore in homes.

Child abuse is a major concern involved in family violence. The articles and textbook have explained what child abuse is and what experiences children have from physical to emotional pain, sexual abuse, and posttraumatic stress disorder. It is important for the public and policy makers to be aware of these issues and determine ways to help prevent child abuse from occurring. Children that experience abuse carry the scars into adulthood and their realities are altered from what the norm is. It is the job of the public, social workers, educators, policy makers, etc. to help raise awareness to the issue of child abuse and explain the solutions that everyone can use to get involved to help prevent child abuse in family violence.

Reference List

Gosselin, Denise K. Heavy Hands: An Introduction to the Crimes of Domestic Violence. Upper
Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000. Print.
Harman, J. J., Kruk, E., & Hines, D. A. (2018). Parental Alienating Behaviors: An
unacknowledged for of family violence. Psychological Bulletin, 144(12), 1275-1299. https://0-doi-org.wizard.umd.umich.edu/10.1037/bul0000175
Wolfe DA, Jaffe P. Child abuse and family violence as determinants of child psychopathology.
Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science/Revue Canadienne des sciences du comportement. 23(3), 282-299. https://0-doi-org.wizard.umd.umich.edu/10.1037/h0079021
Margolin, G., & Vickerman, K. A. (2011). Posttraumatic stress in children and adolescents
exposed to family violence: I Overview and Issues. Couples and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 1(S), 63-73. https://0-doi-org.wizard.umd.umich.edu/10.1037/2160-4096.1.S.63

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