National Center on Child Abuse
According to the Staus, over 14 out of every 100 American children, ranging from 3 to 17, are subjected to abusive violence each year. This means that approximately six and a half million are abused each year in the United States out of the 46 million children that are categorized into the age group 3 to 17. These statistics are different from the statistic represented by the U.S. National Center on Child Abuse. According to the U.S. National Center on Child Abuse, around one million children are abused each year. This large range between the number of children abused each year is based on two reasons.
One reason the difference is so large is that the U.S. National Center on Child Abuse representation is only based on situations that come to attention officially (Staus, 1979). An issue with this is that the cases of abuse that are suspected but are not reported are then not included in the statistics. The second reason the difference in abuses per year is vastly different is that Staus’s representation is based on violent acts that are carried out and not just on injuries that are produced. Physical abuse can be defined as incidents involving injuries including bruises, abrasions, wounds, welts, lacerations, burns, cuts, bone and skull fractures, and other injuries that indicant physical injury (Knapp A., Knapp D, Brown, and Larson, 1997).
In a study on the long-term effects of child abuse sexual abuse was seen as charges given to people having to do with sexual acts including felony sexual assault, sodomy, rape, incest, and fondling or touching indecently (Cahall, 2014). Emotional abuse includes abuse that is not physical but rather emotional, including verbally abusing a person. Child abuse is a major issue among families. Intrafamilial abuse affects the lives of children in many extremities. In the textbook, Sociology in Our Times, the family is defined as relationships between people who live together with a formation of care and an economic unit for children, commitment, and people who identify as apart of the group. Families are responsible for the transmittance of cultural and social values, and they also provide emotional support. Typically, families provide love, security, acceptance, intimacy, and understanding to one another (Kendall, 2018).
The most important years of learning socialization is when children are young. This is because young children do not have the socialization beyond their family. These children cannot compare their family to the family of others when they have not extended outside of their families. When families are responsible for the abuse of their children, it may impact the development of the child negatively. So, the question that emerges when assessing the risks of child abuse victims is, how does child abuse from within the family affect the victim’s development through adolescence and adulthood?
Considering the crucial impact a family has on the development of socialization and the creation of values and norms for the child, it is hypothesized that those who are abused as a child will develop emotional and behavioral issues that will affect their relationships with others throughout their lives not only because of the history of abuse but also because they did not learn the cultural ideal ways of socialization or societal norms from their parents. The understanding of how child abuse affects the development of the victim is crucial in understanding the measures as well as the impact the family has on the outcomes opportunities a child will have access to. Child abuse has been found, through numerous studies, that it can lead to many internal and external behavioral issues (Moylan, Herrenkohl T., Sousa, Taijma, Herrenkohl, and Russo, 2010). Some psychological problems include anxiety and depression.
When a child is abused, the effects tend to carry on through their lives as they enter adolescence as well as adulthood. For example, children who were abused are more likely as teens to experience internalizing issues including depression. They are also more likely to experience externalizing behavior issues including violent perpetration and delinquency (Moylan, Herrenkohl T., Sousa, Taijma, Herrenkohl, and Russo, 2010). In another study that investigated the long-term effects of child abuse, children who had been abused were at an increased risk for intelligence and low academic performance.
Children with lower intelligence are believed to lead to lower academic performance that can also lead into adulthood and thus create issues in performing tasks that involve memory (Cahall and Spatz, 2014). Elam and Kteist assessed the later effects of child abuse and they observed that women who had encountered emotional and sexual abuse tended to have more issues later on in life, also. The likelihood of being abused by a family member was greater for women than the likelihood of being abused by a person outside of the family. Being abused by someone in the family is damaging because the emotional link between the relationship of the child and the family member has an influence on a possible outcome of psychological trauma and issues that emerge later on in adulthood (Knapp A., Knapp D., Brown, and Larson, 2017). Some issues associated with adulthood included sexual problems, eating disorders, addictions, depression, psychiatric hospitalization, and low self-esteem.
It was also found that women who were abused as children had an increased risk of interpersonal, sexual, eating, and mental difficulties (Elam and Ktiest, 1999). It has been assessed by many researchers that child maltreatment tends to disrupt the normal process of emotional development. Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse tend to cause issues in many different categories such as academic performance, intelligence, economic opportunities, behavioral issues, and many others (Cahall and Spatz, 2014). A study conducted on soldiers in the U.S. Army, 305 female and 1,072 males, represents that physical-emotional abuse and sexual abuse has the possibility of causing stronger and lasting effects on children (Elam and Ktesit, 1999).
During this study, child abuse and psychological results in adulthood were measured. Out of the 1,072 males and 305 females, around half of these men and females reported physical abuse. Both physical-emotional and sexual abuse was assessed and around 34% of females and 11% of males had reported both. Based of off the findings from this study it was indicated that there was a higher occurrence of psychiatric disorders, attempted suicide, violence, and substance abuse from cases of people reporting severe physical abuse (Elam and Ktesit, 1999). This supports that child abuse affects children’s psychological development greatly, also. Not only is it presented that when physically-emotionally and sexually abuse leads to major psychological effects but with this, it is a possibility that it can a child’s social development as well as having the ability to relate to others.
A risk that is associated with an increased risk of child abuse is a family’s socioeconomic status. Although child abuse occurs at all societal levels, the rate of child abuse is much higher among those in the manual working families (Moylan, Sousa, Taijma, Herrenkohl, and Russo, 2010) Another study also states, families having low socioeconomic statuses have been found to have more disruption than families with higher socioeconomic statuses, and because of the amount of disruption among these families with low socioeconomic statuses, child abuse has been found to be higher in these families (Elam and Kteist, 1999).
A reason that may explain why child abuse has a greater rate among these families is that the income the family is bringing in causes the parents or guardians great stress. For example, families with an income of $6,000 a year had a child abuse rate that was 62% greater than that of other families. This also applies to the abuse rates for males and females. Men that were unsatisfied with their living had a rate of child abuse that was 61% greater than that of the rate of others who were satisfied with their living. Women who were unsatisfied with their living also had a rate of child abuse that was 71% greater than women who were satisfied with their living (Moylan, Sousa, Taijma, Herrenkohl, and Russo, 2010). Children that are victims of child abuse and growing up in families with a low socioeconomic status has an effect on the economic outcomes of the child in adulthood. Not only do families teach children cultural values, norms, and socialization, but social structures learned by children through their parents.
Children growing up with low socioeconomic statuses based on their parent’s socioeconomic statuses learn the roles within society and where they fit into society. People with low socioeconomic statuses tend to live in rough environments which leads to raising their children in rough environments. Exposure to rough environments has the ability to change areas in the brain related to regulate stress and navigate social and emotional experiences. When these areas have changed the effects that may result could include lessening the socioeconomic outcomes of the child. This may happen because of the fewer years of education which may lead to poor employment which leads to low wages (Nery, Fulco, and Merrick, 2018). From a symbolic interactionist perspective, the support from the family and also the guidance is extremely important during early childhood. The ideal cultural belief about childhood is that it should be carefree, safe, and freedom from economic, political, and sexual responsibilities (Kendall, 2018).
Families who follow the ideal cultural belief demonstrate emotional support, development on trust, and security. Children that are exposed to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse as well as premature economic and sexual demands often grow up in fear, danger, and many associated risks. This is presented in a study conducted by researchers studying family-of-origin variables and childhood sexual abuse survivors. It was found that women sexually abused as children were more likely to describe their families as overly controlling and not as unified as families in which the children had not been subjected to child abuse (Burke, 1996). Also, the parents of the children who were abused were more likely to not be involved or be interested in their children’s lives. Other issues between children and parents in abusive relationships included emotionally distant.
This was also supported in another study, where repeatedly, women who were survivors of sexual abuse and physical abuse had low self-esteem and depression (Wind and Silvern, 1994). This can be an issue because children develop their feelings of acceptance. With parents that are abusive and tend to be more emotionally distant, psychological problems begin to develop as the child continues to encounter these issues (Burke, 1996). According to a study published by Wind and Silvern, to avoid depression and develop self-esteem, parents must be empathic, present accurate mirroring, be emotionally available, and provide unconditional positivity. When abuse was associated with no parental support, low self-esteem and depression were strongly present.
When parental support was present, the abuse did not predict depression or self-esteem issues. Based off of the qualitative data received, children of intrafamilial abuse were more likely to be brought up by parents who were seen as unsupportive and cold as well as being exposed to higher levels of life stressors. If parents were unsupportive and abusive, then children were more likely subjected to adult low self-esteem and depression (Wind and Silvern, 1994).
Children may develop a feeling of isolation as well as being powerless and beginning to deny their feelings when subjected to abuse. Children who are exposed to parents that are emotionally distant and lack normal social functioning can subject those children to be associated with less of an ability in social functioning and also the ability to related to others. Another factor that has been assessed related to child abuse is the rate of abuse among mothers and fathers. Based on the study conducted by Staus, the rate of child abuse per hundred children for women was 75% greater than the rate of child abuse among men. The difference was 10.1 per hundred children for men and 17.7 per hundred children for women. Reasons to explain the rate of child abuse committed by females is based on societies structures and norms (Staus, 1979).
Children are supposed to be taught the correct behaviors and attitudes set forth by society by their mothers. When the child does not adhere to the norms of society the mother tends to feel frustration, anxiety, and guilt about their children as well as their responsibilities as a mother. Based on the statistics presented in Staus’s study, women who were full-time housewives had a rate for child abuse that was 50% larger than women who had an outside job as well as tending to the house and taking care of the children. Those of the women who worked outside of the house had a child abuse rate, 10.3, that was similar to the rate of men, 10.1 (Staus, 1979). Based off of these statistics, when boys were punished by their mothers they had a much greater chance of abusing their own children later on whereas girls abused by there mothers had only a smaller chance of abusing their children later on in adulthood. But when girls were punished physically by their fathers they had a much greater chance of abusing their children later on in adulthood whereas for boys it was not much of an increased risk. When assessing the results from this study, a symbolic interactionist realizes that when a child is taught that violence corresponds with those within the family issues may emerge.
An example is when a parent physically disciplines their child for placing dirty objects into their mouth. A child learns what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. When a parent smacks a child for doing something wrong. Not only is it teaching the child what is supposed to be wrong and to not do it again, but this is also teaching the child that those who love you will hit you and using violence within the family is morally right. An issue that may emerge, associated with viewing violence and love together, is when a child becomes a perpetrator later on into adolescence and also into adulthood. The risk for later perpetration of intimate partner violence and victimization is increased for a child who is exposed to violence.
A study on boys ranging from 14 to 19 that were abused as children had an increased risk to threaten and perpetrate physical abuse against current or recent dating partners than boys their age that had not been abused as children. Those who had encountered abuse as a child had committed two times the amount of offenses as the children who had not been abused (Herrenkohl and Jung, 2016). Another study that was conducted on parents with a history of child abuse in Minnesota concluded that 40% of parents who were victims of child abused had also abused their children, 30% of parents did not take care of their children, and 30% of parents did take good care of their children (Voothuis, Bhandari, Out, Bakermans-Kranenburg, IJzendoorn, 2014).
Children who had been physically abused were more likely to be arrested for violent crimes. Regardless of which type of abuse, people who had encountered any type of abuse were found to have a higher likelihood of being arrested for violence but also perpetration of abuse among their own children. When associating family with later perpetration among children, it can be explained that children who become perpetrators occur because they were taught that violence occurs with those associated with love. The way they had learned how to socialize was characterized by violent acts as well as the possibility of emotional abuse. Family as an institution is crucial when dealing with child abuse. The family transmits cultural values and norms while teaching children how to socialize with others. When this is disrupted and child abuse occurs, the effects of child abuse among children and parents are strong and lasting.
The effects transmit through adolescence and adulthood. They can not only affect the life of the child but also the relationships the child will create with others as well as when they have their own children. From a symbolic interactionist perspective, it is extremely important that the interactions between parents and children are positive and also create an understanding of societal norms and values. Communication and interpretation of the interactions between parents and children create an understanding for children for how they are supposed to interact with others within society. When assessing the long-term effects that child abuse has on a child age at onset, gender of victim, duration, presence of other forms of abuse, family reactions, relationship of the abuser, and family functioning all affect the impact on the life of the child. While there are many risk factors associated with child abuse, the risk factors are hard to distinguish since there is not one factor that accounts for child abuse.
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