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Jeff Yunker
Professor Kate Ayers
Soc 101; 8:00am 8:50am

Child Abuse in the United States
Child abuse has been an ongoing social and human rights problem since the beginning of
time. I have found much information that explains child abuse and the effects it has on the child.
There are many factors that make for an abusive relationship between parent and child. The
purpose of this research paper is to discuss the causes, effects, and outcome of child abuse in
society. I also intend on presenting the factors that put some children at a higher risk than others,
as well as the relation between social class and child abuse.
Types of Child Abuse
There are four basic forms of child abuse: physical, sexual, psychological, and neglect.
Most of the time there are more than just one type of abuse occurring in the same household at
one given time. Any of these types of abuse can cause psychological abuse at the same time. For
instance, psychological abuse is evident in situations where there is physical abuse because the
parent is implementing a strategy to instill fear into the child by beatings or other physical
punishment. Or when a young mom neglects her child, the child is also receiving psychological
abuse that is detrimental to the childs development. To better understand the complicated
scenarios that lead to a child being abused I must explain the different types of child abuse.


Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is when an adult intentionally causes physical injury to a child. This can
be anything from spanking to breaking the childs bones from an assault. Three out of five
children die from abuse daily. The leading cause of death in children that is related to serious
trauma is homicide by their parents (Korbin 490).
Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is the act of an adult getting sexual satisfaction from any form of sexual
behavior through the interaction of a minor. This includes touching breasts or genitals,
masturbation, fellatio, cunnilingus, insertion of objects, intercourse, and even not touching at all
(Tish 961). Persuading the child to undress or the adult abuser actually undressing themselves in
the presence of a minor is sexual abuse too. A large percent of the cases in which sexual abuse
was found was involving a family member whom the child trusts and most of the perpetrators are
male (Tish 961).
Psychological Abuse
Psychological abuse occurs when the adult attempts to strip the childs sense of security
and self-esteem away by instilling terror. Dehumanizing, threatening, humiliating, and belittling
are a few examples of psychological abuse. Usually, psychological abuse is prevalent in
situations where other forms of abuse are taking place.


There are two different types of neglect: psychological and physical. Physical neglect
happens when the parent refuses to give the child the necessary things for everyday life such as
food, water, clothing, shelter, or medical care (Tish 961). Poverty is not child abuse though.
Psychological neglect would be best represented by a child exposed to domestic violence or drug
abuse in the home, and the child being subjected to this environment daily.
Social Factors Influencing Child Abuse Risk
Certain things must be considered when evaluating what is common between many child
abuse situations. Drug or alcohol abuse, social class, and the overall structure of the family unit
significantly increases the chances of an abusive relationship in a childs life. Families living in
poverty are much more likely to have child abuse going on in the home than a family of upper
class. Parents that are addicted to drugs are more likely to abuse their children than parents that
do not (Korsmeyer 288).
Drug Abuse
When a parent is under the influence of drugs or alcohol it impairs their ability to make
decisions and maintain a normal family structure for the child. Parents that abuse drugs are less
likely to have good parenting skills and they are more likely to have some kind of violence
happening in the household (Korsmeyer 289). There is a large percent of drug users that are
abusive to their children in the household. Studies were done that reported sexual abuse risk
increases with parents that drink or use drugs. The alcohol abuse gets in the way of the parent
providing an environment that would lessen the risks for sexual abuse, even if the parent is not
the direct abuser.

Social Status
Children living in poverty are more likely to have abuse happen to them in the form of
neglect. There is no proof that poverty causes abuse, but they have an evident correlation.
Parents that are living in poverty typically have more stress on a daily basis. A study used 2006
Kids Inpatient Database of the American Academy of Pediatrics and found that the highest
percent of abused children were those covered by Medicaid (Leventhal). Parents that are in
poverty are at a higher risk for drug and alcohol use which puts them at an even further risk for
abusing their children (Fundukian 765). Neglect is much more common to see in households that
are in extreme poverty (Fundukian 765).
Family Structure
The structure of a family plays a role in the probability of abuse occurring in a household.
One-parent households are harder to maintain leading to elevated stress due to the single parent
trying to keep the household up and paying for everything. Higher stress households are likely to
have child abuse, especially neglect (Fundukian 765). If the single parent spends their time
working to pay for the household needs they are not going to be home very much, resulting in
neglect. Without the time to devote to your kids development it becomes difficult to provide and
maintain a good social structure for the child. This makes for an increased risk for child abuse.
Effects Child Abuse Have on Children
When anyone experiences a situation that is traumatic to them it causes mental and
emotional damage that requires professional expertise to correct, if at all possible. There are
several conditions that result from child abuse.


Battered-Child Syndrome
A child that receives verbal, physical, or sexual abuse is a victim of battered child
syndrome. Usually there are more than one of these present in child abuse. Children that go
through this abuse show signs such as being quiet and withdrawn, lethargic, depressed, or violent
(Batten 354).
Shaken-Baby Syndrome
This is when an adult shakes the babys body back and forth, causing the neck and head
to whip violently, causing brain injury because the brain rattles around during shaking. Risk
factors for shaken-baby syndrome include male caregivers, financial stress, social isolation,
divorce/separation, and substance abuse (Hoyle 3945-6).
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex anxiety disorder that may occur
when a person experiences or witnesses an event perceived as a threat and in which he or she
experiences fear, terror, or helplessness (Frey 3507). Many adults that experienced abuse as a
child have this disorder because of the abuse. There are treatments available including different
types of therapy, group counseling, prescription drugs, and also naturopath therapies.
Other Effects of Child Abuse
Child abuse is detrimental to the child even after the abuse stops. The child is faced with
a lifelong recovery from the damage of child abuse. Adults and adolescence abused as a child
often have depression, anxiety, anger, and in some extreme situations, multiple personality

disorder (Tish 964). The recovery from being abused as a child may take years, if not an entire
lifetime, to correct.


Works Cited
Tish, Davidson. "Child Abuse." The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Ed. Laurie J. Fundukian.
4th ed. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 2011. 959-965. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30
Nov. 2013.
Korbin, Jill E. "Child Abuse." Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Ed. H. James Birx. Vol. 2.
Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference, 2006. 489-491. Gale Virtual Reference Library.
Web. 30 Nov. 2013.
"Child Abuse and Drugs." Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol & Addictive Behavior. Ed. Pamela
Korsmeyer and Henry R. Kranzler. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA,
2009. 286-292. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30 Nov. 2013.
"Child Abuse." International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family. Farmington: Gale, 2003.
Credo Reference. Web. 30 November 2013.
Leventhal JM, Martin KD, Gaither JR. Using US data to estimate the incidence of serious
physical abuse in children. Pediatrics. 2012;129(3):458464
Neglect." The Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health. Ed. Laurie J. Fundukian and Jeffrey Wilson.
2nd ed. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 2008. 764-765. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30
Nov. 2013.
"Battered Child/Spouse Syndrome." Gale Encyclopedia of American Law. Ed. Donna Batten.
3rd ed. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 2010. 534-535. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1
Dec. 2013.

Hoyle, Brian Douglas, and Rebecca J. Frey. "Shaken Baby Syndrome." The Gale Encyclopedia
of Medicine. Ed. Laurie J. Fundukian. 4th ed. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale, 2011. 3945-3948.
Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.
Frey, Rebecca J. "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder." The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Ed.
Laurie J. Fundukian. 4th ed. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale, 2011. 3507-3513. Gale Virtual
Reference Library. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.