Child Abuse and Child Neglect Case Study Sample

Child abuse and child neglect are common forms of child mistreatment. Child abuse is one of the biggest challenges facing governments throughout the world. Child abuse cases are more severe in the less developed countries where children are used as laborers, form part of the military, and are at very high risk of child trafficking.

Worse still, children are also denied their basic rights to education, better shelter and, to some extent, even clothing. Although poverty contributes directly to child abuse increase in the developing world, there is part of parent neglect from the developed world where poverty is not as rampant.

Child abuse forms and causes, child neglect, Abuse of children, forms of child abuse, causes of child abuse

The most common form of child abuse is child labor. It is the obligation of the government to protect the children against maltreatment through necessary laws and setting up child support institutions.   

There are several indicators of child abuse as defined by the federal Child Abuse and Prevention Act. The act defines child abuse as the deliberate or undeliberate actions of the parent or the caretaker that may result to the death, physical injury, emotional harm, as well as sexual exploitation to a child, or failure to prevent such harm.

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It is, therefore, necessary to evaluate and familiarize with the various causes and forms of child abuse, including their prevention measures to ensure that every child is protected from abuse.

What are the Causes of Child Abuse?

The purpose of this case study will be to identify various causes and contributing factors to child abuse, prevention measures, and its impact on affected children. The study will evaluate each of the factors in detail and discuss their contribution to child abuse. It will also define the various effects of abuse on affected children and provide solutions as to how these effects can be mitigated.

Child Abuse Literature Review

Child abuse has different definitions across different individuals and societies. This explains why there are variations in the penal code definition of child abuse across different countries (Liddell, 2005). For example, physical abuse may be viewed as instilling discipline in some countries while, in others, it amounts to crime.

According to Liddell (2005), child abuse is relatively higher in European countries like Sweden than it is in America. Physical child abuse cases are highest in Africa and India. This is probably because the cultures of these nations promote strict child discipline. 

According to a report released by the United Nations (2006), child abuse is increasing at an alarming rate. The report also indicates that at least 50,000 children die as a result of abuse. Child abuse has also extended to include forced child prostitution, defilement, and child mutilations. Surprisingly, while these cases are rising, governments are doing very little to control the situation.

Child Neglect as a Common Form of Child Abuse

Child Neglect is the most common form of child abuse that significantly affects children during their development stages (Radford et al, 2011). Neglect includes leaving a child unsupervised, failure to feed the child adequately, failing to cloth the child properly, and failing to provide medical care to sick children.

Child neglect can be defined as the intentional or non-intentional actions of the parents. Physical neglect leads to emotional neglect in the case of children. However, the perception of child neglect as a form of child abuse differs across  cultures and beliefs. For instance, some cultures consider child neglect as a way of encouraging children to become tough and learn to depend on themselves (Radford et al, 2011).

Common factors that contribute to child neglect include food scarcity and insecurity. When food and security are limited, parents neglect the older children in order to meet the demand of providing for the younger ones. Therefore, in such cases, neglect, is not out of the parents’ choice, but is a result of uncontrollable factors that result to child abuse (Berger, 2004).

Additionally, child abuse can exist as the non-organic failure to thrive.  This results from the inadequate attachment between parents and their children. This arises despite enough provision of food and security. According to hart (2002), this factor, and its effects, are difficult to identify because it integrates with other factors that affect the emotional attachment of children to their parents.

Psychological Child Abuse

Worth noting is the fact that psychological mistreatment is a form of child abuse.  Children have a different understanding of various cognitive and interpersonal responses of parents to their needs.  Parental attention may significantly affect children psychologically (Redford et. all, 2011).

Parents and caregivers should be wary of situations that may portray their children as worthless, unwanted or endangered. In that regard, parents should focus on encouraging the skills exhibited by children, while responding to their needs. This is critical in shielding children against psychological maltreatment (National Committee to Prevent the Abuse of Children, 1995).

Relationship between Child Abuse Crime and Criminal Behavior

Child abuse is among the top reasons why children turn to crime in the latter years of their lives (Currie and Tekin, 2006).  According to Currie and Tekin, majority of abused children turn into crime and other forms of violence in response to the feeling of vulnerability brought by exposure to abuse.

The U.S Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (1996) reported that majority of criminals have a direct link to child abuse in their formative years. In some other countries where such linkage is hardly researched, the contribution of child abuse to criminal behavior is expected to be higher.

Crime has a great impact on society. It is, therefore, important to understand its correlation to child abuse (Ministry of Social Development, 2002).

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Factors of Child Abuse

Moreover, alcohol and drug abuse among parents and caregivers highly contributes to child neglect and psychological maltreatment of children.

Children born to parents who engage in illegal drug abuse are the most vulnerable to child abuse. Drug trafficking also contributes to child abuse as children are forcefully turned into drug traffickers by criminals. Drug abuse is also related to forced child prostitution, especially in developing countries.

Child Race and Color as a Factor of Child Abuse

Finally, child race and color is also a contributing factor to child abuse. Black children are the most affected by racial abuse. In addition to child abuse being high in Africa, the racial abuse of black children is also high in the United States and in other countries that have minority black populations ( Thomas, 1994). Coupled with alcohol and drug abuse by guardians, racism makes black children the most vulnerable to mistreatment in the world.

Solutions for Tackling the Abuse of Children

One remedy to the abuse of children is population control to ensure that children do not compete for the limited resources available to parents. It also ensures that they are given the much-needed care until they achieve the age of self-dependence. African governments, particularly, are making great effort to address the issue of population control.

The other factor that directly contributes to child abuse is neglect. Neglect can be classified into two categories. These include intentional and non-intentional. Intentional neglect can be addressed through government institutions that ensure responsible parenting and punish parents who deliberately ignore their duties to children.

The institutions should also educate parents on the advantages of responsible parenting and the effects of child neglect. By having tougher measures and penalties against people who break laws, irresponsible parents will be compelled to perform their child rearing duties, hence reducing cases of child abuse.

On the other hand, non-intentional child neglect can only be addressed by finding lasting solutions to causative factors. For instance, children who are neglected by their parents because of lack of food and security should be placed under care by the responsible government agencies.

As a result, these children will have their needs taken care of and prevent criminals from introducing them to drug trafficking and forced prostitution to make a living. It is also the responsibility of governments to provide security to its citizens. This will reduce cases of parents neglecting their children due to insecurity.

Psychological maltreatment is also a contributing factor to the rising cases of child abuse. Responsible parenthood can help reduce cases of children feeling threatened by helping them control their emotions. Encouraging positive thinking in children may also reduce negative emotional feelings, hence reducing feelings of being unwanted or unappreciated.

Some children run away from parents or caregivers due to psychological torture. Once these children are free and no longer at the control of their parents or care givers, they are vulnerable to child abuse. Considerations also need to be taken before placing children under foster care. Worth noting is the fact that some foster parents may not be responsive to the needs of the children and may cause them emotional problems.

It is impossible to compel emotional attachment between parents and their children. In addition, cultures and beliefs differ across different societies. For instance, some cultures view child upbringing as a reserve responsibility of the mother. In such cases, fathers are excluded from playing their role of parenthood. This may negatively affect the upbringing of children in case the mother is a weak parent.

Worse still, children growing in such conditions fail to seek help from their fathers when faced with problems deemed difficult to discuss with their mothers. With modernity, such negative approaches to parenting should be completely shunned and the responsibility of raising children embraced by both parents. Such cultures should also be integrated with the demands of the modern society where parental roles are shared.

The racial child abuse of black children can be the addressed by implementing policies that eliminate racial discrepancies and discourage racially motivated child abuse. Law enforcers should also be on the frontline to ensure that such children are protected.

In cases where parents are unable to raise their children in a responsible way, law enforcers should also ensure that such children are placed under government agencies for children welfare. These agencies play a vital role in shielding children against abuse.  They help in finding responsible foster parents so that the adopted children are brought up in safe environments.

Abuse of Children Due to Poverty in Developing Countries

Governments in less developed countries should also ensure the rights of every child are protected. This is achievable through providing food and security especially to children who are less fortunate to have such privileges. These governments should also ensure children rights are a priority and punish criminals who involve children in their activities.

The international community through the United Nations can also play a role in stopping child abuse through donations to children in areas stricken by poverty. Children who have a previous exposure to war and criminal activities are hard to integrate back into the society. International intervention in countries facing civil wars can prevent warring sides from involving children in their conflicts.

Poverty and violence are two major threats to children rights. In developed countries, poverty may not be a big issue but violence is to the extreme. For instance, cases of gun violence among children his rising at an alarming rate. Such cases are directly related to exposure to abuse in tender stages of development.

On the contrary, in developing countries, poverty levels are extreme and the leading cause of child neglect. In such countries, children may turn to crime as a survival tactic. Therefore, poverty reduction interventions are possible ways of reducing cases of child abuse and, indirectly, crime rate. 

Finally, governments should also encourage responsible parenting through motivation and conducting seminars to teach responsible parenting. Additionally, they should use law enforcement and penalties to discourage parents from neglecting their children.

Discussion and Conclusion

Child abuse is a very broad issue that is not adequately addressed in the world. This is despite the fact that every child has the right to get protection against abuse from the law, parents or caregivers.

Normally, child abuse occurs due to parents failing in their responsibility of identifying and meeting the needs of their children. Additionally, due to scarcity of resources, children are left vulnerable to abuse especially in developing countries. 

Worsening the situation is the fact that governments, especially in developing countries, are struggling with other priority issues like meeting food and security demand. Therefore, child protection is a lesser government priority. In some cases, during tribal and civil wars in Africa and Asia, children are used as soldiers, a direct form of mistreatment. 

These factors are the greatest hindrance to progress in child protection. Although these factors cannot be solved immediately, a lot can be done to reduce the rising cases of child abuse and to protect children rights.

For example, governments can play a role in achieving child protection by using law enforcement agencies. The police, children protection welfare groups, and children rights agencies should coordinate to mobilize resources for preventing the abuse of children.

On the other hand, considering that governments are normally occupied with other priorities like food and security, the society itself can play a vital, supporting role in assisting the government to reduce cases of abuse by reporting child abusers, conducting seminars to address the child abuse vice, and practicing responsible parenting. Such societal interventions can complement government efforts to reduce intentional child neglect and abuse.

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Berger, L. M. (2004). Income, Family Structure, and Child Maltreatment Risk. Children and Youth Services Review 26(8): 725–748.

DEP, US. “Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS–4).”

Ministry of Social Development. (2002). Agenda for Children. Wellington: Ministry of Social Development. Available

National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse. (1995). Current Trends in Child Abuse Reporting and Fatalities: The Results of the 1994 Annual Fifty State Survey [Working Paper 808]. Chicago, Illinois: National Center on Child Abuse Prevention Research (21 p).

Radford, L., Corral, S., Bradley, C., Fisher, H., Bassett, C., Howat, N., & Collishaw, S. (2011). Child abuse and neglect in the UK today.

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