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Child Abuse in the State of Alaska

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Child Abuse in the State of Alaska

' Child Abuse in the State of Alaska. Abuse 1

Beat them, starve them, neglect them and physically and mentally scar them for the rest of their life. How can we as a society stand by and watch our children be beaten, verbally and sexually abused, or killed because they were crying or something as innocent and natural as that. Children should not be punished for being curious, displaying emotions through sounds or being who they are, children.

“Alaska has four times the national average of child neglect and abuse states Christine Lawton” (personal communication, April12, 2004.) She states further that for a sizable impact to be made on the reduction of child abuse, the State of Alaska’s Health and Human services needs not only to hire more competent social workers, but to make the penalty for abusing children much more rigid. The most recent example was an article in the Letters to the Editor section of the Anchorage Daily News which read, “There is a larger concern for the protection of animals in the state than there is for the welfare of our children. A few months back couple in Kenai was sentenced to six years in prison for the neglect of a dozen dogs, none of which perished. However, an Anchorage man was sentenced to three years in prison for giving his child multiple skull fractures and upon further examination, there was evidence of previous leg fractures.” Lawton,C.(September, 2003) The line has to be drawn.

A higher level of involvement needs to be formed in the community. Know what some of the signs and indicators of child abuse are. Three of the most viscous and heinous are neglect, sexual abuse and physical abuse.

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Neglect is, according to Lane Veltkamp and Thomas Miller (1994), leaving a child unsupervised or failing to provide the child with sufficient direction or management.

There is lack of medical or dental care such as vision problems, anemia, hearing deficit or poor dental health. Malnutrition, lack of adequate shelter, poor hygiene, inadequate immunizations, and the lack of education are all indicators of physical neglect. Neglect also affects the behavior of children. They may start stealing or becoming truant. Delinquency is also a large problem with neglected children. But you don’t have to focus on the children to see that there might be neglect happening. The parents also show distinct characteristics of neglecting their children. They may abuse alcohol and drugs, have low self-esteem, little or no motivation to make changes in their lives or their own emotional needs weren’t met when they were children. Not all these examples have to be present for neglect to be happening, but being able to identify them is a step in the right direction.

Sexual abuse delves into the more traumatizing type of abuse. (Ray Helfer and Ruth Kempe 1987 p.45-52) There are at least 264 pornographic publications involving children. Sexual abuse of children is not only the vilest and horrific act a person can inflict upon a child, but the most damaging as well. Not just damaging to them physically, but emotionally as well. Some of the indicators of sexual abuse are that the child has sophisticated or unusual sexual knowledge, states that he or she has been sexually assaulted or may come on sexually to other children or adults. Others may include torn, stained or bloody underclothing, the child suffers from a sexually transmitted disease or

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that they simply have difficulty sitting or walking. Again, not all these signs have to be present for sexual abuse to be occurring.

Physical abuse (Chamberlain, 2001, p.92-94), is the most common among the cases of abuse reported. As mentioned earlier, Alaska has four times the national average of child abuse. The child from an abusive home is more likely to become an abuser himself. So being able to recognize the signs of physical abuse is extremely helpful. The child could have a multitude of different indicators. They may have different aged bruises on their body inflicted by specific objects such as a belt or cord. They may have multiple unexplained injuries, delay in seeking medical attention from a doctor or the abuser “hospital shops” so that the doctors don’t become suspicious. Remember this is a very short list. Being aware of what the signs and indicators are can help stop the horrible ways these abusers can and do harm children.

Verbal abuse is also one the top ranked forms of abuse in Alaska. (Brems and Namyniuk, 2002, p.472-475) Most children, 75-80%, will be a victim of some sort of verbal abuse. Whether it is by a parent or sibling the number is staggering. Being abused verbally not only affects children emotionally, but mentally

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