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Child Abuse Essay

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Running Head: CHILD ABUSE

Child abuse

[Name of the writer]

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Child abuse


The definition of child abuse comprises four types of abuse and neglect: physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and emotional/psychological abuse. Despite the delineation of these four categories, there is little consensus about how to define abuse. This lack of universal definition makes it difficult to assess the prevalence of child abuse and point to its existence. Moreover, as a result of cultural differences in child care and socialization, certain behaviors may be identified as abusive in one cultural context but not in others.

These four forms of child abuse are difficult to define because parenting and disciplinary practices vary across cultures. For example, the practice of separating the infant from his or her parents by putting the child in a separate room or in a crib after birth is common for many parents in the United States. In contrast, this practice is seen as neglectful and hurtful among others who view the infant as totally dependent on the parents after birth. Thus, it is the parent's responsibility to be close to the infant in order to identify and respond to the infant's ongoing needs. Hence, in these cultures, the infant may stay in the same room as the parents or sleep in the same bed.

An Asian custom called cao gio involves rubbing a small, warm coin on the child's body. This practice is considered a common folk remedy for fever, but it may be seen as abusive by other cultures. Another example concerns the use of caretakers to watch young children. In some cultures, for example, the use of a full-time nanny or babysitter is considered neglectful because the child is deprived of seeing his or her parents and having the consistency of parental care. Yet in other cultures, the use of hired caretakers is a common practice. Similarly, although some cultures value extended family members who take on child-rearing and caretaker roles, other cultures view parents who engage in this practice as not fulfilling their parental responsibilities. These examples and the differing child care practices they illustrate highlight the complexity associated with any attempt to define child abuse in a cultural context.


Any discussion of the prevalence of the four forms of child abuse must begin with the caveat that all types of child abuse are greatly underreported and underestimated. It is difficult to accurately state the prevalence of the four types of abuse in the United States because of problems with the identification of abuse, the underreporting of abuse, and as mentioned earlier, the lack of an agreed-upon definition of abuse. Some studies provide a glimpse into the prevalence of underreporting. One report found that one state's vital records had underreported child deaths from abuse by almost 60%. In a study of hospital emergency rooms, it was found that child abuse had occurred in 10% of all blunt trauma patients under five years of age.

The underreporting of abuse is related to several factors. It is known that victims of child abuse often do not report the abuse.



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