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Child Abuse

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As students who are becoming to be parents in the near future and have children it is useful to understand the difference between parental discipline and child abuse which is one of the most important things a parent should know. Parental Discipline is all about teaching children to choose right over wrong in a responsible and loving way, while abuse is about harsh punishment done in a cruel or irresponsible way.

Did you know that a report of child abuse is made every ten seconds and that more than five children die every day as a result of child abuse and approximately 80% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4!

Firstly I'm going to be defining the term parental discipline and then move on defining child abuse and finally state the difference between them.

When discussing abuse and discipline, some would argue that any physical force constitutes abuse, where others maintain that spanking falls under the category of reasonable discipline.

Parental discipline includes a balance of corrective action (punishment) when the child does wrong and positive reinforcement (rewards) when the child does right. Corrective action includes careful criticism of the child's actions and grounding. Spanking and paddling are controversial forms of corrective action, but in most cases they are not considered abuse. The goal of discipline is to raise a well-adjusted child, one who makes responsible decisions, has strong social skills and respects rules and order. Discipline comes in many forms such as verbal, body language or physical contact. A parent may cross the line with their physical and emotional behavior towards the child resulting in child abuse rather than discipline.

Child abuse is any act that causes a risk of serious harm. Abuse is separated into two categories, emotional and physical. Emotional abuse involves doing things that hinder a child's self-esteem but do not necessarily cause physical harm. It also includes unreasonable amounts of criticism, making physical threats, and withholding love, support and guidance. According to the CNN news article that was published on the 15th of April 2010 there was a man who has tortured a 4-year-old to death by hitting him with fists and kicking him on his arms and legs for wetting his pants! This is what is called physical child abuse which is causing a child injury through punching, kicking, throwing, burning or inflicting harm in some other way. Physical discipline such as spanking generally is not considered abuse as long as it is reasonable and the child is not injured.

In drawing the line between parental discipline and abuse, it comes down to a question of harm. If the action causes the child physical or emotional harm, it almost certainly is child abuse. If it does not cause the child physical or emotional harm, it probably is not. Abuse demonstrates anger and hostility, make child listen and involves humiliation



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