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Causes and Effects of Child Abuse

Info: 2382 words (10 pages) Nursing Essay
Published: 20th Oct 2021

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Tagged: substance abuse


Child abuse is one of major problem faced by many children around the world and its take the attention of all nations. Children can be abused by different people like parents, strangeness, and member of their families, teachers and other children at school or in the community. Regardless who are the abusers, causes and effects are all same like any other abuse. Child abuse can be categorized into four types: physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Each type has different causes and different effects on child life and on the community. In this paper I will highlight the causes and effects of it .The causes can be due to poverty, family stress, abuse of substances (drugs, alcohol …) and psychological problems. The effects depend on the type of the cause and it can be divided into three categories which can be seen in the individual and reflect in the community. These are Emotional effects, physical effects and behavioral effects. Treatment of child abuse after the recognition of the causes and its effect is important and before that the prevention or stopping it is the chief of all. There are several clear steps everybody especially the family need or must to follow it.

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Children are a gift from God to every parents dreaming of having a child. They have the right to be loved and treated will, unfortunately; still there are those who are suffering from abuse in the extremely sense of the word. It is also difficult to imagine that any person would purposely cause harm on any child .The word abuse is define as “make a bad or wrong use of” (Oxford Advanced, Learner Dictionary, 1977, P.4) and a child is defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as “Every human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable under the child majority is attained earlier”.Barent & Barnet stated , “Much as we might like to believe otherwise, child abuse is wide-spread””.(Barent & Barnet,1998) (P1207). There are several terms used by different agencies regarding child abuse. The United state Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define child abuse or maltreatment as “any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child (Child Maltreatment: Definitions, ,April 20, 2009, para.1). Moreover, some child development experts simply they define child abuse as any “act which fails to take care of the children. At present the rate of child abuse incidents increased rapidly and continuing and each child around the world in spite of his /her age, sex, race and religion can fall victim for abuse from the strangers or from member of his/her family. According to Child Protective Service agencies, state “in 2001 probable 3 million children were reported as suspected victims of abuse and neglect. They reported that young children are most at risk for being abuse or neglect, and 40% of the victims are under the age of 6 years “too “(Barent & Barnet, 1998) (P1207). Child abuse can include many types, has many causes and its affects the innocent children negatively and leaves deep and permanent marks on them. Child Abuse can happen because of poverty, family stress, abuse of substances (drugs, alcohol …) and psychological problems. Child abuses have different forms. It can be physical, emotional , sexual abuse and neglect. The abusers can be from family or a stranger and those are selected to express their difficulties or problems on the helpless children who are unable to defend themselves. The effects of any types of abuse what ever the cause is severe and various according to the form of abuse. It can be seen on the child, family and community.

Causes of Child abuse

There are several causes of child abuse. First cause is poverty. It happens when the family does not have the resources to provide or to meet the need of their family members especially children like food, proper dress, education ….ect. In some poor countries, number of families tends to sail their children to rich people and some they make them to work in very young age or they just leave them in front of any orphaned door because they are unable to meet their need and this consider as abuse for them. Family as we know is considers as core of safety to all children and it is an important sour of love and care. Family problems are the second cause of child abuse, it can be due to divorce so the child will be separated from the family and because of that a lot of problems raised such as both parents asking for their right to take the child. Moreover, child abuse almost occurs in many families with abused parents were they abused before therefore they are reflecting that on their children. Some of the parents are young and they don’t know how to deal with difficulties that they face when taken care of a child. The third cause of abuse results because the abusers are taken substances which make them unaware of them self or others around them. Substance abuse is become one of the main reasons for the increasing number of child abuse around the world. Through out different studies it was clear that parents with history of substance abuse, most commonly alcohol, cocaine, and heroin, were more likely to abuse their children. This substance can leads to developing abnormal behaviors by the abuser either they are from family or strangers. The last cause of child abuse can be psychological. Parents who do not have a support community of close friends or relatives living nearby may feel isolated. Some of the family members who are suffering from mental disorders tend to harm the child without knowing

Forms of child abuse

Child abuse can take different forms physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect as mention previously. Physical abuse includes scalding, beating or severe physical punishment and it is easiest to identify the dangers of physical abuse. Sexual abuse includes sexual assault, fondling of genital areas, and exposure to indecent acts or involvement in sexual pornography in the net or in some television channels. Sexual abusers steal from a child their childhood. Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse and unfair criticism, terrorizing acts, and lack of nurturance or emotional support. Child neglect can take on a number of different forms. For instance a child’s nutritional needs can be ignored, resulting in a deficient diet and, in turn, a “failure to thrive.” This type of neglect is not necessarily done purposely and it may result because parents have lack of knowledge regarding a healthy diet or from poverty. Physical neglect results when a child is not provided with shelter and clothing. Neglect can also come in the form of inadequate medical care, lack of proper supervision, and lack of educational opportunities. Finally, neglect also includes inadequate emotional care, where a child experiences a continuous lack of response to his or her crying or any other behavior in need of a response. A UNICEF report on child well-being stated that the United States and the United Kingdom ranked lowest among industrial nations with respect to the wellbeing of children. This study also found that child neglect and child abuse are far more common in single-parent families than in families where both parents are present. The type of neglect experienced by children can be dependent on the culture in which child lives. For example, in India one problem still faced by many young women is marriage in small age and some time they are still children. Due to extreme poverty, many girls are consider as a financial burden to their families and are in turn forced to marry in exchange for money. In some cases, young women are sold. As Segal (2001) notes, under both circumstances these children are inevitably physically abused.

Effects of Child Abuse

Based on the above child abuse with its various forms and causes it has several effects too. It can be short, and others are lifelong so it is differ according to the severity of the abuse and its type. Children with a history of abuse are at risk of developing psychiatric problems. Furthermore, new research linked between exposure to child abuse in all its forms and rates of many chronic conditions that adult develops. The strongest evidence comes from the Adverse Childhood Experiences like V. J. Felitti, MD Kaiser Permanente and R. F. Anda, “series of studies which show relations between exposure to abuse or neglect and higher rates in adulthood of chronic conditions, high risk health behaviors and shortened live span”. The effects of child abuse can be divided into three categories which can be seen in the individual and reflect in the community. These are Emotional effects, physical effects and behavioral. Starting with emotional effects which include low self-esteem, depression and anxiety, eating disorders, bad dreams; bed wetting, difficulties in building relationship, isolation, and personality disorders. Physical effects include life threatening injuries, death, lifelong health problems, difficulties in understanding, and physical disabilities. Finally, Behavioral effects that include problems in school the progress of mental development , criminal behavior, pregnancy of girls in small age, suicide attempts, substance abuse, aggressive behavior, abuse others and anger.

In conclusion, it is clear that child abuse is a global problem. It occurs due to several causes which can be financial stress and poverty, adult use of alcohol and other drugs, parents are not having basic knowledge of child care and development. In addition adults can abuse children in different ways for example physically, emotionally, sexually and by neglect. So it is important or must be aware of the signs which may leads to abuse and detect it. These characteristic can appear in:

  • Families who are isolated and not involve with the community.
  • Parents who are having history of abused as children.
  • Families who are most of the time facing money problems.
  • Parents who abuse drugs or alcohol so they become impairment caused by being intoxicated.
  • Parents who are very inflexible in disciplining their child.
  • Parents who show too much or too little concern for their child.
  • Parents who feel they have a difficult child.
  • Parents who are under a lot of stress

The effect of these problems are found in the child and then in the community as a result. The effects on a child depends on the degree of the abuse is, the greater the abuse, the greater the effect on the child. Abused children also exhibit conditions like difficulty in building up relationships with others so he/she will be isolated from community. A feeling of guilt and anger can be develop and may become abuser him/herself later in adult stage.

It is clear that child abuse regardless of its cause leaves more than just bruises or words; it is a matter which needs a greatest attention since it involves the future generation of the world. Not only they will suffer from the physical and mental abuse, they suffer many long-term effects, including delays in developmental, refusal to attend school, separation from community and anxiety disorders. Even though, child abuse is still continuing and complex problem with many causes, we should not build a negative attitude toward its prevention. Therefore everybody responsible in stopping child abuse by reducing if not eliminating the causes yet we feel angry at abuser who can take away a spirit of a child. Around the world there are many agencies with different program trying their best to stop it. This can be done by adapting several plans for example:

  • Preventing and treat individual with substance abuse
  • Parents listening to their children and talk with them.
  • Educating new parents on the parenting skills since Children need to know that they are special, loved and capable of following their dreams.
  • Stopping child abuse when seeing it.
  • Teaching the child the difference between acceptable and unacceptable touching, and to trust their instincts about people.
  • Educating the parents about the signs of abuse so it will be easy to detect it.

Children are an important element in any community; they desire a maximum love and care should be given to them without any restrictions. They are deserves a healthy, save childhood and the opportunity to grow up to normally and become contributing adult able to serve and build up a healthy community. We all want to protect them and guide them in the right direction.


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Potts, N. L., & L.Mandleco, B. (2007). Pediatr ic Nursing, caring for children and Their Families (Second Edition ed.).

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study,Retrieved December 18,2009, from http://www.acestudy.org/

The Relationship between Parental Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Child Maltreatment. Retrieved December 18, 2009, from http://www.childabuse.com/fs14.htm

The Reality of Child Abuse cause and effect. (2009). Retrieved December 18, 2009, from http://stopabusega.tripod.com/id6.html

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What is child abuse and neglect?. Retrieved December 20, 2009, from http://www.orgeon.gov/DHS/children/abuse/abuse-neglect.shtml


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