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Two Points to Ponder Regarding Child Abuse and Neglect

Two Points to Ponder Regarding Child Abuse and Neglect

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Published by Jane Gilgun
In this article, I ask about the roles other people can play in the lives of children who have experienced abuse and neglect. This is an important question because few abused children and their families receive professional services, either through voluntary participation in family education and treatment programs or from child protection agencies. Far right legislators have reduced budgets for services to families and children, which puts abused and neglected children and youth at increased risk. The smallest kindness helps.
In this article, I ask about the roles other people can play in the lives of children who have experienced abuse and neglect. This is an important question because few abused children and their families receive professional services, either through voluntary participation in family education and treatment programs or from child protection agencies. Far right legislators have reduced budgets for services to families and children, which puts abused and neglected children and youth at increased risk. The smallest kindness helps.

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Published by: Jane Gilgun on Apr 02, 2012
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01/21/2013

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TwoPointstoPonderRegardingChildAbuse&Neglect:TheSmallestKindnessHelps
ByJaneGilgun
Summary
Inthisarticle,Iaskabouttherolesotherpeoplecanplayinthelivesofchildrenwhohaveexperiencedabuseandneglect.Thisisanimportantquestionbecausefewabusedchildrenandtheirfamiliesreceiveprofessionalservices,eitherthroughvoluntaryparticipationin familyeducationandtreatmentprogramsorfromchildprotectionagencies.Farrightlegislatorshavereducedbudgetsforservicestofamiliesandchildren,whichputsabusedandneglectedchildrenandyouthatincreasedrisk.Thesmallestkindnesshelps.
WhenChildrenDoWell
illionsofchildrenareabusedandneglectedeachyearintheUnitedStates.Mostofthesechildrennotonlydonotgoontoperpetrateabuseandneglectthemselvesbutalargepercentageappeartodoaswellandsometimesbetterthanchildrenwhowerenotabusedandneglected.Thissuggestsnaturallyoccurringprocessesthathelpsomechildrendowelldespiteadversities.Theyhaveshownresilience,orcapacitiestocopewith,adaptto,andovercometheeffectsofabuseandneglect.Researchandtheorysuggestthatchildrenwhodowellunderdifficultcircumstanceshaveatleastoneparentwhoisemotionallyavailabletothechildrenandprovidesthesafetyandsecuritythatchildrenrequiretoshowresilience.Typicallytheseparentsnotonlyhavecapacitiesforsecureattachments,buttheyalsohavesupportiverelationshipswithotherpeople,havegoodjudgment,goodcapacitiesforkeepingthemselvesonanevenkeelemotionally,andhavegoodcopingskills.Oneofmanystudies
M
 
thatsupporttheseideasshowthatchildrenexposedtodomesticviolencefoundthatchildrenwhoshowedresilienceascomparedtochildrenwhodidnothadfewerworriesandfearsandmotherswithbettermentalhealthandparentingskills(Graham-Burnametal,2009,citedinGraham-Burnam&Howell,2011).Theseideasdonotmeanabusedandneglectedchildrenrequirenoresponsefromotherpeople.Onthecontrary,atleasthalformorechildrenwhoareabusedandneglectedhavedifficultyinavarietyofareas,suchasschoolwork,formingfriendshipswithotherchildren,andindevelopingtheirowninterestsandtalents.Thisnotonlyaffectsthequalityoftheirlivesbutitaffectsthequalityoftheircontributionstothequalityoflifeofothers.Sincethesechildrenrarelyreceiveanyprofessionalservices,otherpeoplehaverolestoplayinthepromotionofchildren’sresiliencewhentheyhaveexperiencedabuseandneglect.Inshort,teachers,youthworkers,childcareprofessionals,friends,andneighborshaverolestoplay.Whatdoyouthinktheseotherscando?
LegalDefinitions&HarmfulParentalBehaviors
Anotherpointtoponderisthedifferencesbetweenlegaldefinitionsofabuseandneglectandchildren’sexperiencesofharmfulparentalbehaviors.Anexampleofthisisthelegaldefinitionofmedicalneglect,wheretheissueisframedasoneofparentalobligationalone.Whenparentsfailtoprovideneededmedicaltreatment,theyareliabletochargesofmedicalneglect(Dubowitz,2011).Dubowitz(2011)citedacaseofasixyear-oldgirlwhohadfourhospitalizationsforsevereasthmaattacks.Aweekafterdischargefromherlatesthospitalization,thechildappearedtobedoingwellatplannedmedicalcheck-up.However,hermotherhadnotboughttheprescribedmedicationforthechild’scondition.Themotherexplainedthatshewaswaitingforhernextpaycheckasshehadnomedicalinsurance.Herhusbandandthechild’sfatherhadleftthefamilythreeyearsbeforeandpaidnochildsupport.Whoisresponsibleforthemother’sfailuretoprovideherdaughterwithmedication?
Discussion
Well-functioningsocietieshavehighinvestmentsinchildren.Thecutbacksinservicestochildrenhaveplacedfarmorechildrenatriskthanhasbeentrueinthepast.Thesecutbacksraisetotheforegroundsomethingthathasalsobeenafactoflife.Ittakesavillagetoraiseachildren.Nomatterthestateoffundingforsocialservices,families,friends,neighbors,teachers,childcareprofessionals,youthworkers,policeandpeoplefromallwalksoflifecanmakepositivecontributionstofamiliesandchildren.Thesmallestkindnesseshelp.
References

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