The Victimization of Children

Category: Culture
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The victimization of children has become prevalent in recent years. With many different types of victimizations, many are not aware of what is happening around them. The goal of this paper is to make readers aware of what is happening to children and how it is affecting them long-term. Another goal of this research is the prevention of child victimization, and to teach how to do so. With many different categories of victimization, it is crucial to know the differences and severity of each. This paper is meant to inform parents, children, friends, and family on how to keep the children closest to them safe.

Children are very vulnerable when physical and sexual abuse are concerned especially when involving their caretakers. Caretakers can range from babysitters to parents and siblings, making the children even more vulnerable. Children are also in extreme danger when it comes to sex trafficking and kidnapping. These kidnappers and pedophiles can be a complete stranger, or, unfortunately, someone they know or close relatives. The purpose of this paper is to make parents, siblings, family and friends aware of the problem, and to teach them prevention tactics to keep their children and loved ones safe.

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Years ago, kidnapping was prohibited and considered a vicious crime under the English common law. In the late 1800s, reports of child abductions began to appear in the United States. Many of these cases involved what could be considered a parent’s worst nightmare. As time progressed, violence worsened and sometimes lead to death. In a specific instance, in the 1930s, a kidnapper killed an infant even after he had picked up the payment that guaranteed the child’s safe return. Since then, if a person demands a ransom, or hold a person hostage, it is a federal crime which can lead the FBI to induce a manhunt. Under current state and federal law, a person does not have to exert force to detain someone, they can be manipulated or tricked into leaving with them and is still considered a crime. This is known as inveiglement. On top of holding someone against their will for ransom, the manipulator can hold the person until they commit a crime, or until they steal a child for whatever reason they put behind it. In the early 1980’s, the rediscovery of the pain and suffering from youth kidnapping was put into a new phrase known as “missing children.” Missing children was broader than kidnapped youth and applied to children whose whereabouts were unknown by their parents and guardians. Although, the establishment of this new phrase did not mean that the youth was in danger (Karmen. 249).

Statistics of kidnapping measure one of the most heinous crimes known to man. Because kidnapping outbroke in the early 1980s, there was no organization to monitor the problem. With that being said, because of such little data, ridiculous estimates were pushed into the public causing their level of fear to skyrocket. The UCR was little to no help in this specific crime circumstance because of how it was divided. Kidnapping was not a Part One index crime, and in Part Two, kidnapping was combined with other crimes known as “crimes committed against family and children,” and even under the section of “all other crimes.” In the NCVS, respondents were not asked about kidnappings. Unfortunately, crimes committed to children under the age of 12 are not even considered in the data. However, the National Incident Based Record System does keep track of kidnappings, although it is still relatively new (Karmen. 250).

The AMBER Alert started in 1996 and was developed as a warning system to help find abducted children. AMBER Alert system was created when nine-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas and then brutally murdered. AMBER is an acronym that means America’s Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response ( The goal of the AMBER Alert system was to scare possible offenders by letting them know they would be apprehended very quickly and punished accordingly. Another goal was to make sure the offenders or possible offenders knew that children would be saved in a timely manner, before they were injured, or possibly killed. The system worked by sending out a message when a law enforcement agency had reasonable belief that a child under the age of 18 was abducted and in inescapable danger of injury or death (Karmen. 256).

There are 5 things that are looked at when deciding when to send out the AMBER Alert message. The AMBER plans require that law enforcement agencies confirm an abduction. This must be done before the message is sent out. The second is related to the law enforcement, the child must be in extreme danger, or in serious risk of death before the alert is issue. Thirdly, there must be descriptive data. For example, the height, weight, hair color, age, and eye color of the child, as well as information about the abductor. Things like the vehicle the suspect is driving, the license plate number, and as much detail about the person themselves. With age being a description of the child, most states require a certain age before the alert can be sent. This is because if the system is overused, the effectiveness would be impaired. Lastly, the AMBER alert data must be entered into the National Crime Information Center system. This information includes the circumstances that surround the abduction of the child, and the case should be flagged as Child Abduction (

While children are always taught the term “stranger danger,” family abductions are hardly seen as a crime, but they are. There are three characteristics that distinguish family abduction from a typical custody battle, they are as followed: concealment, intent to prevent contact, and flight. In family abductions, the child is generally hidden and made to live a separate life. The abductor manipulates the child by making them go by a new name, cutting their hair, and sometimes even change their hair color. Once the harm of family abduction was recognized, all 50 states have laws that treat family abductions as a felony under specific guidelines. When children are abducted by family members, the child is often groomed by the abductor. This is an attempt to diminish the bond between the parent and the child. This brainwashing can continue for months before the abduction and may even continue during the abduction.

The child is also forced to go into hiding, so that they can conceal the child and avoid any kind of contact with the parent or legal guardian. Abducted children can also be made to fear people that could potentially help them; police, doctors, or even teachers. The child is usually given a new name, birthday or birthplace, and identity, and taught to lie about their past. The child may also be taught that the parent was dangerous, and that the abductor was fleeing to save their life. Because the abductor is focused on the new identity, the child is forbidden to grieve on the lost family and friends. On the other hand, the child is told that if he or she releases the “secret,” then the abducting parent or family member will be taken to jail and the child will never see them again. The changes and reshapes the child’s reality and viewpoints, not knowing what is or is not the truth. The abductor will more than likely keep the child out of school to avoid being discovered. This would hurt the child’s academic performance, and when the child returns to safety, and goes back to school, it can make it difficult for the child to relate to the teacher and other classmates. Overall, the abductor’s plans to create a “new” life for the child can have serious emotional, developmental, and psychological implications for the child (The Crime of Family Abduction. 2010).

The definition of child abuse is socially constructed and evolve over time. They can differ from country to country and even from different cultures within a state or society. For many years, parents were allowed to beat their children as they saw fit to enforce discipline. Cruelty of children is legitimate only when the child suffers from permanent injury or death resulted from the danger of the apartment. The House of Refuge Movement began in the 1800s to interfere on behalf of the beaten or neglected children. The priority of this movement was to prevent neglected children from turning into delinquents as they grew older (Karmen. 2015).

Child abuse can come in many forms, including physical. Other forms include; sexual abuse, neglect and abandonment, and emotional or psychological abuse. The first thought of most people when they hear the phrase, “child abuse,” they associate it with hitting or kicking a child. While these are part of the physical abuse, things like holding a child under water, tying up a child, or starving a child are physical too. Abusive head trauma, also known as, shaken baby syndrome, is a form of physical abuse. Shaken baby syndrome is the leading cause of death in child abuse cases in the United States. Sexual abuse occurs when a child is raped or forced to do any type of sexual act. This can range from making a child pose or perform pornographic pictures and videos, to making a child touch someone’s genitals. Neglect is considered any action, or the inaction, on the part of the caregiver that causes physical or emotional harm. This can include but is not limited to; locking a child in a closet or room, and/or failing to provide proper medical attention when a child is injured or sick. There are a few ways a person can tell if a child is being abused. The child can be sad or angry all the time. The child may act withdrawn, fearful, or depressed. Some children even engage in self-harm and may even contemplate or attempt suicide. A lot of abused children may struggle with relationships because they are unable to trust others, especially those in the same age group of their abusers, most likely adults. Another trait of an abused child is acting out or disruptive in class. Drug and alcohol abuse, as well as sexual promiscuity are also common when the child starts developing and growing into a young adult ( 2019).

While child abuse has immediate affects, there are an abundance of long-term effects on physical, psychological, behavioral, and societal health. Physically, the child could suffer from impaired brain development. The abuse and neglect can result in important regions of the brain failing to form or grow as it should. These negative impacts on the maturity of the brain results in lowered academic abilities, slowed speech, and is linked. to mental health disorders. Psychologically, the child may suffer from poor mental and emotional health. More apparently, the child would suffer from cognitive difficulties. This results in things such as repeating grades multiple time because of the inability to comprehend. Because of the immaturity of the brain, behavioral issues are very prominent. Many studies have related child abuse with future juvenile delinquency, which can lead to an adult life full of crime. Unfortunately, alcohol and drug abuse are very common among adults who were abused as children. Constant abuse as a child often leads to abusive behavior in their adult life, which creates another cycle of child abuse and neglect. Societal consequences potentially involve the entire community, directly and indirectly. According to a study funded by the CDC found that $124 billion dollars were put towards the lifetime cost of child maltreatment and related facilities in the span of 1 year. Indirectly, costs represent the economic consequences to society due to child abuse. These costs are related to the increase of health-care systems, criminal activity, mental illness, drug abuse, along with domestic violence (Child Welfare Information Gateway. 2013).

When recalling these memories of childhood abuse, whether sexual or physical, it can cause a lot of disturbance for the victim. Research has shown that is it not unusual for these victims to go decades without having any memories of the abuse. Researchers have also come to the conclusion that victims of trauma tend to disassociate. This means that the person is disconnected from ‘here and now’ when thinking about the memory, sometimes this can also include delayed recall and amnesia. The human brain does not simply ‘replay’ memories, which is why memories are not completely accurate. Unfortunately, this can cause imagined events to be mixed in with what actually happened. Because of this, memories are confusing and can be frustrating because the victim may never know what actually happened. This can cause problems in current relationships including confusion and doubt. Luckily, there are many licensed professionals that can help victims sort out these problems (Hopper. 2019).

When dealing with victimization, the court is involved in order to find justice for the victim, and hopefully punishment for the offender. In order to make the court process less stressful for victimized children, practices must be easy for a child to understand. Because of the large concern of children being “re-victimized,” the court created new laws and new practices in order to reduce trauma for the child. The most effective strategies do not require any statutory authority. For instance, providing a child friendly waiting area. This can be as simple as providing toys and books for the child to engage with while they wait for their turn in the court room. Even painting a room in brighter colors and adding graphic pictures to the wall can make a child feel more comfortable and safe. Another technique that is helpful is allowing the child breaks during their testimonies. Because they are young and vulnerable, when telling their experiences, it can be very difficult for them. Allowing them breaks gives them a chance to regather their thoughts and feelings to reduce the stress of giving a testimony. Using simpler terminology in child victimization cases is a key factor in reducing the trauma and stress for the child. For example, a study in Massachusetts’ said that children commonly defined “disposition” as something that was in the wrong place. In this instance, it would probably be easier for a child to understand that the final decision of the judge is the disposition. One of the more important factors is preparing the child on what to expect when they enter the courtroom. This can be done through tours of the court and educating them on the court process. When a child has an idea of what will happen, even if it is not detailed, the child will be less stressed and more likely to cooperate (Innovative Practices in the Courtroom. 2000).

While child abuse and neglect by parents and legal guardians, and sexual abuse are very prominent in child victimization, they are not they only type of victimization children face. Sibling abuse is seen almost just as often as child abuse. A little less than half of children under the age of 18 are involved in sibling abuse. This can range from pushing and hitting, to the use and threat of weapons. Victims of sibling abuse tend to be looked over because in most cases it can be hard to differentiate abuse and normal family arguing. In order to identify sibling abuse, there are key factors to look for. If the abuse targets one sibling that is not old enough, or strong enough to defend themselves, that is sibling abuse. Sibling abuse is repetitive, and can be psychological, physical, social, cyber, and even financial. Ways to prevent sibling abuse is to avoid giving older siblings more responsibility, intervene when conflicts seem to keep inflating, and to create a strict set of rules against name-calling, teasing or threatening (Healing Abuse Working for Change. 2018).”

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The Victimization of Children. (2021, Apr 10). Retrieved from