Child abuse is a global concern in the present day society. To a large extent, children who are exposed to abuse and mistreatment during their formative years tend to suffer from various conditions including depression, drug addiction, learning disorders, and sexual behavior problems. Despite the fact that child abuse has severe consequences, the issue is often brushed aside and not given the attention it deserves.
This paper discusses child abuse and the harm it causes to individuals and to the society at large. It is developed based on research undertaken by different scholars regarding the welfare of children and focuses on sexual abuse as a form of child abuse. The discussion makes reference to three important writings. One is a renowned journal article, the other is an article by an activist group, and the third is a book on domestic crimes, family violence and child abuse.
Types of Child Abuse
According to research findings, cases of child abuse stood at approximately 3,195,000 in 1997 (Kolk, Hopper and Crozier 1). Sadly, this number has continued to increase steadily over the years and this is an obvious indication that millions of children are victims of child abuse. In spite of efforts by stakeholders to contain the situation, very little has been achieved in the fight against the vice.
The most common types of child abuse are neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse (Kolk, Hopper and Crozier 1). Apparently, neglect is the most prevalent and accounts for close to 52% of all cases of child abuse. It is followed by physical abuse at 26%, sexual abuse at 7%, and emotional abuse at 4 %.
Impact of Sexual Abuse on Children
Subjecting children to sexual abuse leads to various problems that interfere with their development process. For example, a sexually abused child tends to be withdrawn and this affects his or her level of socialization. To a large extent, sexual abuse is mainly as a result of acts of commission by the perpetrator. Usually, the damage caused by sexually abusing a child is deliberate and often leads to serious repercussions.
Based on research findings, people indulge in child sexual abuse for different reasons. In some cases, it is done as a ritual by family members or by individuals who are mentally unstable. Approximately 1% to 5 % of child sexual abuse cases are performed for ritualistic purposes (Flowers 139). To a large extent, the perpetrators of child sexual abuse are people who have some form of authority over children. The early exposure to sex may cause a child to start sexual activities at a very early age. Children may also be exposed to sexual language that is inappropriate for their age. Sexual abuse may also cause the victim to be engaged in high-risk behaviors.
According to a study undertaken in the United States, a strong relationship exists between sexual abuse and health problems (Lamont 3). Among other things, exposing a child to sexual abuse raises his or her chances of experiencing health problems later in life. Sexually abused children end up with either anal or vaginal pains. They may also be exposed to sexually transmitted infections at a very tender age and this could affect their growth process. In addition, such children end up performing dismally in the class room unlike their counterparts. The academic achievement of sexually abused children is thus greatly affected.
How Sexual Abuse Links to Domestic Violence
The relationship between sexual abuse and domestic violence springs from the fact that children affairs are best handled at the family level. It is thus the responsibility of parents or those taking care of children to create a healthy environment for the development of children. To a large degree, most perpetrators of child abuse are those who are closest to them and especially parents. Research indicates that parents make up 81% of perpetrators of child abuse (Kolk, Hopper and Crozier 3). Approximately 11% of child abuse cases are by individuals who are related to them. Children may also be abused by people who are not related to them. However, such cases fewer compared to the others.
Studies further indicate that the number of female perpetrators is higher than that of male perpetrators. While 65% of child abuse cases are by female perpetrators, 54% are attributed to male perpetrators. This alludes to the fact that children are more likely to be abused by females than males.
How Sexual Abuse Links to Beliefs about Children
The general belief is that children are innocent people who need tender care from those who are older than them. By and large, the responsibility of ensuring that children live in a safe environment rests on parents, relatives, and the wider society. Regardless of the relationship that exists between a child and an older person, abuse should not be entertained.
As earlier noted, sexual abuse has a very negative effect on a child’s development process. For this reason, any attempt by anyone to sexually abuse a child amounts to violation of his or her rights (Lamont 2). Every child has a right to grow in an environment where his or her feels respected and well taken care of. In the absence of such care, the development process is greatly hampered. The later consequences of a poorly developed child are usually very unpleasant and the society must work hard to ensure that children are brought up in a healthy environment.
Without a doubt, child abuse poses a serious danger to the present day society. As explained in this paper, the ever increasing number of reports about child abuse globally presents a major challenge. It is thus imperative for stakeholders to join hands and come up with an effective strategy for dealing with the menace. Despite the numerous efforts directed to addressing the problem of child abuse, there is quite a lot that still needs to be done.
In my opinion, state governments should enlist the support of the general public in their efforts to address the problem. A good starting point is to see to it that the society is educated on the importance of caring for children during their formative years. Parents should be made aware of the serious repercussions of sexual abuse in the life of a child. Proper education and caution is likely to change the attitude of people and redirect their energy to doing what is right and beneficial for children as they grow.
Educating members of the public is useful in bringing people to a level where they will be willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that children are provided with the best care possible. This will ensure that every child gets an opportunity to grow in a healthy and caring environment.
Flowers, Barri. Domestic Crimes, Family Violence and Child Abuse: A Study of Contemporary American Society, North Carolina: McFarland, 2000. Print.
Kolk, Bessel, James Hopper and Joseph Crozier 2001, Child Abuse in America: Prevalence and Consequences. PDF file.
Lamont, Alister 2010, Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect for Children and Adolescents. PDF file.