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In the twenty first century, the majority of countries in the world fight for democracy, justice, fair treatment and equal rights to all citizens, independent of their race, gender, social status and age. Children are not an exception. However, their age and lack of experience make them more vulnerable to violation of their naturally given rights. As they are unable to voice opinions and are unfamiliar with the social and justice systems, they often fall victims to adult or peer abuse. Even with the modern changes and fight for human rights, many children are abused at home, sold into slavery or suffer mental and physical abuse from friends, relatives and strangers. Current laws and regulations, as well as parents’ behavior, are helpless to defend children from abuse, and millions of them suffer globally and in the United States, which leads to the development of a generation of mentally unstable adults.
Child abuse takes place all over the world, and the laws are helpless to prevent people from using their physical strength and power of authority over children. Globally, the problem is much worse than in the United States, as the majority of countries in the world are still at the developing stages, and legislations are unable to control the corruption and financial gain, which dominate over justice. For example, in the European region, “at least 850 children aged under 15 die from child maltreatment annually” (World Health Organization [WHO], 2013). These statistics show that the amount of neglect is unacceptable according to the present standards. It must be noted that the largest number of child fatalities is registered in the Russian Federation and Ukraine, which take the two first spots in the statistics (WHO, 2013). This can be attributed to the fact that many laws are unable to control the population, and the authorities are corrupted beyond governmental control. It also shows the low value some parents and adults attribute to their children in this part of the world. Unfortunately, this problem exists everywhere, and it will take a long time to eradicate it completely.
In the United States, there is also a problem of child abuse practiced by adults and peers. According to the official statistics, “of children age 0 to 17 years in 2011, 41.2 percent were physically assaulted in the previous 12 months” and “there were 686,000 child maltreatment victims or 9.2 per 1,000 children in 2012” (NCVS). These figures provide an insight into the number of children suffering from parents, which leads to a very poor quality of life. When these children grow up, they will have a predisposition towards society, and oftentimes, they will develop aggressive tendencies towards other members of society. This is especially dangerous when abused children grow up to be parents and treat their children the same way they were treated. The abuse becomes a part of a vicious cycle, which can only be stopped by stricter laws and parental education. In the end, parents are the ones who are responsible for their child’s wellbeing.
In order to control and prevent child abuse, it is necessary to differentiate the types of abuse; there is “physical abuse, neglect, emotional abuse and sexual abuse” (NCBI, 2015). Physical abuse is defined as hitting, using body parts or objects to inflict pain to a person. Neglect is behavior which directly or indirectly leads to the absence of the required care the child needs. For example, this could be lack of attention to an illness from which the child is suffering and careless treatment techniques, improper feeding, inappropriate clothing for a particular season or hygiene. Emotional abuse is another major part of child maltreatment, because it takes longer to forget and makes a greater impact on the child’s psyche in the long run. Sexual abuse is considered a significant problem globally, as children are sold into slavery, prostitution or are abused by perpetrators and sometimes, relatives. This also traumatizes a child for a long time, which leads to insecurity, fear of intimacy, trust issues and low self-worth. This shows that prevention must exist on several levels: social, family and personal, so that the problem is dealt with most effectively from all perspectives.
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The importance of the study of this problem takes root in the general human behavior and norms which are set up by society. The vulnerability and inability to fight for own rights makes children easy victims for parents and peers. Concepts such as the justice system, proper care and lawful responsibilities are unknown to children, and it is easy to threaten a child until fear controls their lives and they are unable to report any misbehavior towards them. Education and prevention are key when dealing with this problem and must focus on several levels of prevention. The first one is “directed at the general population and attempt to stop maltreatment before it occurs” (Child Welfare Information Gateway, n.d.). These are the resources available to the public for proper treatment and information gathering, parental educational programs aimed at teaching how to raise children and what to do in stressful situations (Child Welfare Information Gateway, n.d.). Second one pertains to attention to poor physical factors and conditions, such as problematic neighborhoods, poverty, crime areas and generally unstable environment, direct approach to parents and assistance in care and support for parents and children (Child Welfare Information Gateway, n.d.). Third prevention measure is to address homes, parents and children who have already experienced abuse, so that proper steps are taken for the situation to not be repeated (Child Welfare Information Gateway, n.d.). Overall, it is much better to prevent any maltreatment before it occurs than to deal with it after.
The recent studies of this issue are focused on resilience, so that children who do experience abuse are taught to deal with their problems, and eventually, become healthy and effective members of society. As children are affectionate and easily influenced, posttraumatic stress must be dealt with as soon as possible to make sure that mental disorders do not turn into physical ones in addition to already existing issues (Happer, Brown, & Sharma-Patel, 2017). One of the projects being planned includes parenting educational programs with a strategy to involve local residents in gathering at public places, churches and community centers to raise questions of abuse. Another project is to use community problem solving possibilities with a strategy to include specific case studies and use methods which were used before and were successful, as well as received a great amount of support (Child Welfare Information Gateway, n.d.). A project centered on early intervention will use an approach of field reporting, brining results and comparing them to in-home based projects, so a difference in behavior and attitude changes are registered (Child Welfare Information Gateway, n.d.).
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Child abuse exists all over the world in spite the fact that it is punished by law. The regulations are ineffective in protecting children, and many individuals suffer fatal results, physical injuries and mental abuse which greatly affect their mental and physical health. To prevent this, society, parents and children must be addressed on several levels. The public needs to become more aware of the problem, while parents must be taught proper techniques of dealing with children and their behavior. Society should support programs that teach children how to deal with stress, abuse from parents and peers and teach children self-confidence, which will allow them to speak up and protect their physical and mental health as well as dignity. Since children are the future of any society, it is critical to ensure their mental and physical wellbeing.
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