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Encyclopedia > Child abuse

Child abuse is the physical, psychological or sexual abuse or neglect of children. While most child abuse happens in the child's home, large numbers of cases of child abuse have been identified within some organizations involving children, such as churches, schools, child care businesses, and residential schools.[1][2] It also can occur almost anywhere (eg. kidnappings, random murders etc.) Physical abuse is abuse involving contact intended to cause pain, injury, or other physical suffering or harm. ... Psychological abuse refers to the humiliation or intimidation of another person, but is also used to refer to the long-term effects of emotional shock. ... Child sexual abuse is an umbrella term describing criminal and civil offenses in which an adult engages in sexual activity with a minor or exploits a minor for the purpose of sexual gratification. ... Kidnapper redirects here. ...

According to a recent UNICEF report on child well-being[3] the United States and the United Kingdom ranked lowest among first world nations with respect to the well being of their 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. Recently a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 50 infants in the United States are victims of nonfatal neglect or abuse.[4] In the US neglect is defined as the failure to meet the basic needs of children including housing, clothing, food and access to medical care. Researchers found over 91,000 cases of neglect over the course of one year (from October 2005- September 30, 2006) with their information coming from a database of cases verified by protective services agencies. [5] UNICEF Logo The United Nations Childrens Fund or UNICEF (Arabic: ; French: ; Spanish: ) was established by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 1946. ... The terms First World, Second World, and Third World were used to divide the nations of Earth into three broad categories. ...

There are many forms of abuse and neglect and many governments have developed their own legal definition of what constitutes child maltreatment for the purposes of removing a child and/or prosecuting a criminal charge. In the United States, the Federal Government puts out a full definition of child abuse and neglect and creates a summary of each State definition.[6]


Causes of child abuse

There are many causes of child abuse. Many child abusers were also victims of abuse. Mental illness is another common factor, with many abusers having personality disorders or other severe forms of mental illness. Psychosocial factors also play a role.

Parental choices and other unforeseen circumstances that place families under extraordinary stress ― for instance, poverty, divorce, sickness, disability, lack of parental skills and drugs are often associated with child maltreatment. Many of these factors may contribute to family stress that can result in child abuse or neglect. Understanding the root causes of abuse can help better determine the best methods of prevention and treatment. A boy from an East Cipinang trash dump slum in Jakarta, Indonesia shows what he found. ... Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the ending of a marriage before the death of either spouse. ...

Suicidal tendencies seem to erupt from children who were abused. The need for pain is increased and is normally satisfied by cutting themselves or pulling out of the hair. Coping with pain is something most abused children have to go through.

Effects of child abuse

There are many studies that demonstrate the negative psychological impact develop in an adult that was abused as a child that has not been treated to be cured from that experience, for example: drugs, promiscuity, depression, becoming an abuser, poor self-esteem, anxiety, etc. Many women and men who have been abused physically or sexually during childhood suffer from long-term disturbances. They have nightmares and flashbacks and may freeze in situations of extreme stress. Two recent studies found that survivors of child abuse have a smaller hippocampus relative to control subjects. If this is substantiated the discovery could fill out the profile of an abuse survivor and help define abuse.[citation needed] Child abuse in its various forms has numerous effects and consequences, both tangible and intangible, upon society, those mistreated, and those entrusted with the responsibility of its detection, prevention, and treatment.[citation needed] Child abuse can have dire consequences, during both childhood and adulthood. The effects of being abused as a child vary according to the severity of the abuse and the surrounding environment of the child. If the family or school environment is nurturing and supportive, the child will probably have a healthier outcome. Children with histories of maltreatment, such as physical and psychological neglect and physical abuse are at risk of developing psychiatric problems.[7][8] Such children are at risk of developing a disorganized attachment.[9][10][11] Disorganized attachment is associated with a number of developmental problems, including dissociative symptoms,[12] as well as anxiety, depressive, and acting-out symptoms.[13][14] A study by Dante Cicchetti found that 80% of abused and maltreated infants exhibited symptoms of disorganized attachment.[15][16] Psychiatry is a branch of medicine that studies and treats mental and emotional disorders (see mental illness). ... Mother and child Attachment theory is a psychological, evolutionary and ethological theory that provides a descriptive and explanatory framework for discussion of interpersonal relationships between human beings. ...

Negative Consequences of Child Abuse

Emotional effects include low self-esteem, depression and anxiety, eating disorders, relationship difficulties, alienation and withdrawal, and personality disorders. In psychology, self-esteem or self-worth is a persons self-image at an emotional level; circumventing reason and logic. ... For other uses, see Depression. ... This article is about state anxiety. ... Personality disorders form a class of mental disorders that are characterized by long-lasting rigid patterns of thought and behaviour. ...

Physical effects include injury, death, lifelong health problems, cognitive difficulties, and physical disabilities. In medicine, a trauma patient has suffered serious and life-threatening physical injury resulting in secondary complications such as shock, respiratory failure and death. ... Look up disability in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Behavioral effects include problems in school and work, delinquency, teen pregnancy, suicide attempts, criminal or antisocial behavior, substance abuse, aggressive behavior, spousal and child abuse, and anger.many people need to understand that children will be children and donot abuse them. Teenage pregnancy refers to the controversial social issue of teenage girls getting pregnant. ... Also see Alcoholism and Drug addiction. ... In psychology and other social and behavioral sciences, aggression refers to behavior that is intended to cause harm or pain. ... Spousal abuse refers to a wide spectrum of abuse. ...


Given these possible causes, most professionals agree that there are three levels of prevention services; primary prevention, secondary prevention, and tertiary prevention.

Primary prevention

Primary prevention consists of activities that are targeted at the community level. These activities are meant to impact families prior to any allegations of abuse and neglect. Primary prevention services include public education activities, parent education classes that are open to anyone in the community for parents or abusers to interact with the child, and family support programs. Primary prevention can be difficult to measure because you are attempting to impact something before it happens, an unknown variable.

Secondary prevention

Secondary prevention consists of activities targeted to families that have one or more risk factors including families with substance abuse, teen parents, parents of special need children, single parents, and low income families. Secondary prevention services include parent education classes targeted for high risk parents, respite care for parents of a child with a disability, or home visiting programs for new parents.

Tertiary prevention

These families have already demonstrated the need for intervention, with or without court supervision. Prevention supporters consider 'tertiary prevention' synonymous with treatment and entirely different from prevention through family support.

Children would sometimes rather stay at school than go home. Sometimes that points out there is a family issue.


The following are a few examples of empirically supported treatments for child trauma.[17]

Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy has been used to help children exposed to any type of trauma, although it was originally designed for survivors of sexual abuse. It targets trauma-related symptoms in children including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), clinical depression, and anxiety. It also includes a component for non-offending parents. Posttraumatic stress disorder[1][2] (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to one or more terrifying events in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. ... On the Threshold of Eternity. ... This article is about state anxiety. ...

Abuse-focused cognitive behavioral therapy was designed for children who have experienced physical abuse. It targets externalizing behaviors and strengthens prosocial behaviors. Offending parents are included in treatment, to improve parenting skills/practices.

Child-parent psychotherapy was designed to improve the child-parent relationship following the experience of domestic violence. It targets trauma-related symptoms in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, including PTSD, aggression, defiance, and anxiety.

National and international child abuse prevention organizations


International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect

The International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN), founded in 1977, is the only multidisciplinary international organization that brings together a worldwide cross-section of committed professionals to work towards the prevention and treatment of child abuse, neglect and exploitation globally.


  • To increase awareness of the extent, the causes and possible solutions for all forms of child abuse.
  • To disseminate academic and clinical research to those in positions to enhance practice and improve policy.
  • To support international efforts to promote and protect the Rights of the Child.
  • To improve the quality of current efforts to detect, treat and prevent child abuse.
  • To facilitate the exchange of best practice standards being developed by ISPCAN members throughout the world.
  • To design and deliver comprehensive training programs to professionals and concerned volunteers engaged in efforts to treat and prevent child abuse.

Reporting of child abuse


Depending on the country, the agencies responsible for investigating child abuse are either managed nationally, regionally, or locally. These agencies may be called Child Protective Services (CPS), Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), or by other similar names. In the U.S., these agencies are usually listed in the state government section of the telephone book under "Children" or "Health" or "Human Services". In a few instances in the U.S., some of the functions of these agencies are outsourced to private individuals or companies. Child Protective Services is the name of a governmental agency in many states in the United States that responds to child abuse and neglect. ...

People who investigate claims of child abuse may be called a "children's social worker" (CSW) or a case worker. A social worker is a person employed in the administration of charity, social service, welfare, and poverty agencies, advocacy, or religious outreach programs. ...

Reporting abuse and neglect in Australia

Child abuse and neglect is the subject of mandatory reporting in most Australian jurisdictions. Usually professional people such as doctors, nurses and teachers are bound to report strong evidence of abuse or neglect. State authorities, such as the Child Protection Unit of the Department of Human Services (Victoria), have statutory authority to investigate and deal with child abuse. Please wikify (format) this article or section as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ...

A document from Child Protection and Family Services, in Melbourne states: "The service system is facing escalating and changing demand pressures and we are increasingly aware of growing client complexity. Too many children, young people and families are coming back into the child protection system on a repeat basis with services making little impact on their issues. The analysis confirms this and identifies the need for a strategic rethink if we are to achieve better outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and their families. "[18]

Reporting Abuse in the UK

All professionals who work with children, such as teachers, health professionals and the like are required to report to social services (or the police as appropriate) any 'concern' amounting to possible 'significant harm' (neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse) regarding a child's welfare. The police and social services operate a multi-agency approach in cases of serious abuse. A system of referrals to Social Services so that one authority held all information started in the 1960s following the death of Maria Colwell, but was insufficiently effective and a number of notorious cases over the years have resulted in several major overhauls of the system, the most recent following the death of Victoria Climbie in 2000. Social Service departments, organised regionally, are required to investigate reports of abuse, keep records and take appropriate action to protect children. This can range from the provision of advice and support to families through to immediate removal under an Emergency Protection Order, and Care Proceedings which may result in permanent placement of the child outside the family. The threshold to enable a court to make an order is actual or likely significant harm. In care proceedings the welfare of the child is paramount and all information affecting the welfare of a child must be disclosed by professionals, including lawyers, regardless of their clients' interests. Adjo Victoria Climbié (November 2, 1991 - February 25, 2000), better known as Anna Climbié or Victoria Climbié was born in Abobo near Abidjan, Côte dIvoire, and aged seven was sent by her parents to Europe with her great-aunt Marie Thérèse Kouao for a chance for...

See also

Mother and child Attachment theory is a psychological, evolutionary and ethological theory that provides a descriptive and explanatory framework for discussion of interpersonal relationships between human beings. ... Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is a clinically recognized condition that results from extended exposure to prolonged social and/or interpersonal trauma, including instances of physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse (including sexual abuse during childhood), domestic violence, torture, chronic early maltreatment in a caregiving relationship, and war. ... Emotional dysregulation (or affect dysregulation) is a term used in the mental health community to refer to an emotional response that is not well modulated. ... Incest is defined as sexual relations between closely related persons (often within the immediate family) such that it is either illegal or socially taboo. ... Subpoena Duces Tecum (Latin for: bring with under penalty of punishment). ... A subpoena ad testificandum is a court summons to appear and give oral testimony for use at a hearing or trial. ...


  1. ^ B.A. Robinson (2001 October 25) Abuse at Canadian Native Residential Schools ReligiousTolerance.org Accessed 2007-09-13.
  2. ^ [1] "Getting Away with Murder—Of children" and "Missed Clues—Lost Lives : TORONTO STAR, 1998"]
  3. ^ http://www.unicef.org/media/files/ChildPovertyReport.pdf
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect: Summary of State Laws, that is part of the 2005 State Statute series by the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
  7. ^ Gauthier, L., Stollak, G., Messe, L., & Arnoff, J. (1996). Recall of childhood neglect and physical abuse as differential predictors of current psychological functioning. Child Abuse and Neglect 20, 549-559
  8. ^ Malinosky-Rummell, R. & Hansen, D.J. (1993) Long term consequences of childhood physical abuse. Psychological Bulletin 114, 68-69
  9. ^ Lyons-Ruth K. & Jacobvitz, D. (1999) Attachment disorganization: unresolved loss, relational violence and lapses in behavioral and attentional strategies. In J. Cassidy & P. Shaver (Eds.) Handbook of Attachment. (pp. 520-554). NY: Guilford Press
  10. ^ Solomon, J. & George, C. (Eds.) (1999). Attachment Disorganization. NY: Guilford Press
  11. ^ Main, M. & Hesse, E. (1990) Parents’ Unresolved Traumatic Experiences are related to infant disorganized attachment status. In M.T. Greenberg, D. Ciccehetti, & E.M. Cummings (Eds), Attachment in the Preschool Years: Theory, Research, and Intervention (pp161-184). Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  12. ^ Carlson, E.A. (1988). A prospective longitudinal study of disorganized/disoriented attachment. Child Development 69, 1107-1128
  13. ^ Lyons-Ruth, K. (1996). Attachment relationships among children with aggressive behavior problems: The role of disorganized early attachment patterns. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 64, 64-73
  14. ^ Lyons-Ruth, K., Alpern, L., & Repacholi, B. (1993). Disorganized infant attachment classification and maternal psychosocial problems as predictors of hostile-aggressive behavior in the preschool classroom. Child Development 64, 572-585
  15. ^ Carlson, V., Cicchetti, D., Barnett, D., & Braunwald, K. (1995). Finding order in disorganization: Lessons from research on maltreated infants’ attachments to their caregivers. In D. Cicchetti& V. Carlson (Eds), Child Maltreatment: Theory and research on the causes and consequences of child abuse and neglect (pp. 135-157). NY: Cambridge University Press.
  16. ^ Cicchetti, D., Cummings, E.M., Greenberg, M.T., & Marvin, R.S. (1990). An organizational perspective on attachment beyond infancy. In M. Greenberg, D. Cicchetti, & M. Cummings (Eds), Attachment in the Preschool Years (pp. 3-50). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  17. ^ Cohen, J.A.; Mannarino, A.P.; Murray, L.K.; Igelman, R. (2006). "Psychosocial Interventions for Maltreated and Violence-Exposed Children". Journal of Social Issues 62 (4): 737-766. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.2006.00485.x. 
  18. ^ Pyke, Brownwyn (2002-09-01). Integrated Strategy for Child Protection and Placement Services (pdf) (english). Retrieved on 2007-10-17.

Year 2007 (MMVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar in the 21st century. ... is the 256th day of the year (257th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... A digital object identifier (or DOI) is a standard for persistently identifying a piece of intellectual property on a digital network and associating it with related data, the metadata, in a structured extensible way. ... Also see: 2002 (number). ... is the 244th day of the year (245th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar in the 21st century. ... is the 290th day of the year (291st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

The Open Directory Project (ODP), also known as dmoz (from , its original domain name), is a multilingual open content directory of World Wide Web links owned by Netscape that is constructed and maintained by a community of volunteer editors. ...

  Results from FactBites:
Child abuse - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3032 words)
Child abuse is the physical or psychological maltreatment of a child by an adult often synonymous with the term child maltreatment or the term child abuse and neglect.
Child abuse and neglect is the subject of mandatory reporting in most Australian jurisdictions.
Alice Miller is a psychologist noted for her work on child abuse and its effects upon society as well as the lives of individuals.
Child Abuse: Encyclopedia of Children's Health (2485 words)
Child abuse is the blanket term for four types of child mistreatment: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect.
A rare form of physical abuse is Munchausen syndrome by proxy, in which a caretaker (most often the mother) seeks attention by making the child sick or appear to be sick.
EMOTIONAL ABUSE Emotional abuse is the rejecting, ignoring, criticizing, isolating, or terrorizing of children, all of which have the effect of eroding their self-esteem.
  More results at FactBites »



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