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Child Abuse in the United States

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Essay title: Child Abuse in the United States

On Monday, January 6, 2008, four young children were thrown off a bridge to their death by their own father. Lam Luong confessed to authorities on January 9, 2008 that he had thrown his children off the Dauphin Island Bridge in Alabama after a fight with his wife. The children ranged in ages from just a few months to three years old. Family members of Lam had told authorities that Lam had a drug addiction and initially they were worried that he had sold the children for drugs. The result was worse. In another recent story, a woman named Cornice Kabbelliyaa, 34, plead guilty to one count of first degree assault and two counts second degree assault. “She stabbed her foster daughter's eyes with hypodermic needles, scorched her tongue with a stove-heated fork and dropped 10-pound weights on her feet. Chornice Kabbelliyaa attributed her horrific behavior to severe mental illness, childhood sexual abuse and depression.” (2007, Seattle Times, Women gets 14 years for Child Abuse)

Unfortunately, many stories similar to these are becoming very common in the news today. Many of the children in these stories end up dead. 79% of the children killed are younger than four years of age. More has to be done to protect children from abuse. Hopefully, we can protect and prevent against child abuse by educating people with statistics, facts and resources.

What is child abuse? “Child abuse is doing something or failing to do something that results in harm to a child or puts a child at risk of harm. Child abuse can be physical, sexual or emotional. Neglect, or not providing for a child's needs, is also a form of abuse.” (Medline Plus, 2008 U.S. National Library of Medicine) Child abuse consists of any act that endangers or impairs a child's physical or emotional health and development. There are many different types of child abuse. “Physical abuse is characterized by physical injury, usually inflicted as a result of a beating or inappropriately harsh discipline. Sexual abuse includes molestation, incest, rape, prostitution, or use of a child for pornographic purposes. Neglect can be physical in nature (abandonment, failure to seek needed health care), educational (failure to see that a child is attending school), or emotional (abuse of a spouse or another child in the child's presence, allowing a child to witness adult substance abuse). Inappropriate punishment, verbal abuse, and scapegoating are also forms of emotional or psychological child abuse.” (The Broken Spirits Network. (2005) Child Abuse)

“Children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. While 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States, experts estimate that the actual number of incidents of abuse and neglect is 3 times greater than reported.” (Child Help- Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse. (2006) National Child Abuse Statistics) This epidemic has become a very serious problem in the United States. A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds in the United States. Statistics have increased over the past 10 years. Reported cases of child abuse have increased 63% and reported cases of fatalities caused by child abuse have increased 48%. These numbers are outrageous, and they keep rising. Many children, who are abused, have parents who abuse drugs or alcohol. Reported cases show that 9 to 10 million children under the age of 18 are affected by parents that abuse drugs or alcohol. Children in families where domestic violence is present are 15% more likely to get abused. Experts believe that an increase in population and an increase in reporting are the cause for the increase in the statistics.

Unless we educate people about child abuse the statistics will only get worse. Research states that 80% of young adults who have been abused have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, such as depression, by the age of 21. Children who are abused are 59% more likely to get arrested as a juvenile and 28% more likely to get arrested as an adult.

In order to prevent child abuse and protect children in United States, we need to educate parents, caregivers, physicians, teachers and any other person close with children on what signs to look for in an abuse victim or an abuser. A few characteristics to look for in a child abuser are controlling behavior, alcohol and/or drug abuse, denial of any accusations of abuse and he or she places blame on the victim. In most cases, the biological father is the abuser. Characteristics to look for in a child abuse victim are changes in behavior, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, reckless behavior, reluctance to spend time with certain people, isolation from friends, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide attempts or self inflicted abuse. There are also physical signs one can look for in a suspected victim, such as, unexplained cuts, bruises, burns

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