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Child Abuse and Neglect

Title: Comparison of the differences between Child abuse and Neglect

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Child Abuse and Neglect

Background
For along time we have recorder cases of child abuse and suffering. These reports have
been found in the sciences, arts and literature. According to the WHO (2002) there have been
recorded historical documents on child mutilations, abandonment, infanticide and many other
forms of violence against children. Back then in history children who were born weak, sick or
deformed in one way or another were often thrown away or locked away from the society. Most
often the children were killed, not feed and committed to hard labor. Though many organizations
and institutions have come up to the cause of the child, there is still global concern on the overall
rising cases of child abuse and neglect.
Definition of child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse and neglect occurs in a many forms depending on the social, economic and
cultural factors. These aspects determine the definition, scope and methods of handling each
child abuse and neglect case.
The WHO in 1999 defined child abuse and neglect as child abuse or maltreatment
constitutes all forms of physical and /or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or
negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to
the childs health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of
responsibility, trust or power.
Child abuse and neglect are sometimes defined in terms of the behavior of the perpetrator
while others consider the harm done to the child. They also vary across the legal, social, cultural,
medical and child welfare systems.
The legal definition of child abuse and neglect are defined and contained in the state and
federal laws. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway (2009) the child abuse

Child Abuse and Neglect

prevention and treatment Act, defines child abuse and neglect as, any recent act or failure to act
on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm,
sexual abuse, or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of
serious harm.
Based on these definitions we can therefore describe child abuse and neglect. Child abuse
is therefore any physical harm, sexual abuse, neglect, and emotional abuse. In 2002, WHO noted
that abuse caused by omission and commission by the parents and caretakers, which resulted in
the harm of the child is still abuse.
According to Tower (2005) child sexual abuse incorporated not only the inappropriate
touching of the child but also the involvement of the child in sex trafficking, pornography, and
prostitution. Sexual abuse in this case is either the direct sexual contact or the indirect contact.
Looking at the sexual acts committed against the child, one can clearly see the various instances
that a child can be said to have been sexually abused. By allowing and exposing a child to sexual
activity, with the intent of self gratification and the observation of the childs reaction constitutes
sexual abuse.
Abuse of the child that leads to physical harm is child abuse. A child that has been
intentionally or none intentionally harmed and resulted in a physical injury is an abused child.
According to the child Study Center (2003) physical abuse constitutes bruises and cuts, head
injuries, poisoning, fractures, sprains, burns and scalds, internal injuries, electric shocks and
death. It should be noted that spanking a child is not abuse, but if the act of spanking leads to
physical harm and injury then this constitutes abuse.
WHO (2002) reported that emotional abuse as the failure of the caregiver to give
adequate and supportive environment. This also includes any acts that have an effect on the

Child Abuse and Neglect

emotional development and health of the child. The acts here in question include the restriction
of the movement of the child, ridicule, threats, intimidation, cajole, discrimination, rejection, and
any type of treatment that is not physical.
To the Child Study Center (2003), emotional abuse or psychological abuse, is embedded
in all other forms of abuse. This means that any other form of abuse can result to emotional
abuse. If the abuse, leads to the lack of emotional and psychological healthy development of the
child, then emotional abuse occurs. This means that all forms of child abuse lead to emotional
effects on the child. To child Study Center (2003) emotional abuse is also the lack of the
provision of care, affection and support the child needs in order to develop emotionally. These
are the lack of praise, ignoring of the child, the withdrawal of attention and the lack of positive
reinforcement.
It is important to note that neglect is a form of child abuse WHO (2002). To the Child
Study Center (2003), neglect can be defined as the absence of particular events. The identified
types of neglect are physical neglect, which is the failure by the parent and caregiver to provide
the child with the physical needs. These needs are the basic human needs for food, clothing and
shelter.
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway (2009), neglect is the failure by the
parent and caregiver to provide food, shelter, clothing, medical care and supervision of a childs
health. To the Child Study Center (2003), this kind of neglect will constitute the failure to
provide for emotional needs, which leads to the failure to organically thrive. In addition it
includes medical neglect, where a parent and caregiver fail to provide and follow medical
treatment for the child, or fails to take seek medical attention. At the same time, it involved

Child Abuse and Neglect

mental neglect, where the parent or caregiver fails to seek corrective and therapeutic procedures
for children with cases of emotional and behavioral disorders Child Study Center (2003).
On the other the neglect of the parent to provide education and learning opportunities to his
child, is a form of neglect. Every child has the right to education, and failure to provide them
with the opportunity to get an education is neglect Chalk et al (2002).
Comparison
Having looked at the definitions and having described child abuse and neglect then one
can boldly give the differences, while comparing and contrasting. From the definition it is clear
that neglect is a form of child abuse; therefore there are similarities between the two. The first
aspect of neglect that makes it a form of child abuse is the fact that failure by the parent and care
giver to provide basic human needs, which are physical needs. When a parent and care giver fails
to give the child the required physical needs, and when the lack of these needs lead to physical
harm like malnutrition, and disease from sleeping out then it is physical abuse.
Furthermore when the child is neglected to the point that they are homeless as a result of
being kicked out of home or run away to seek help constitutes neglect. In such a situation, if the
child experiences harm in the process of them running away then, the parent and caregiver can
be prosecuted for neglect and child endangerment Chalk et al (2002).
Neglect and all its forms, constitute emotional abuse. A child that is neglected, lacking
the attention they need to grow and develop suffers from a lack of emotional development. In
this case the child, who has been denied the opportunity to have personal interaction as they
grow, can develop interpersonal relationship difficulties Chalk et al (2002). This implies that the
child will grow with the lack of an emotional side. These children are often, aloof, and distant,
they treat others in a cold manner as they are not able to relate. The harshness they learnt from

Child Abuse and Neglect

their caregivers creates a hostile personality in them. Therefore by causing retarded emotional
growth on the part of the child a parent or caregiver is committing emotional abuse.
On the other hand an adult who exposes their children to drugs either over counter or
illegal drugs neglects the health of that child. Often women who use drugs, alcohol, and smoke
when they are pregnant cause a retarded development of the child. Some of the children born of
the addicts are withdrawn as they had already developed a taste for the drugs. When a parent
neglects their childs health they are physically abusing them.
In addition when these parents and caregivers give the child drugs, alcohol, and even
cigarettes, they are exposing them to dangerous health hazards. Such an adult neglects the
welfare of the child. It is not uncommon to find these children addicted by the time they hit
adolescence.
Sexual abuse, either the direct or indirect sexual exploitation of the child can be viewed
as neglect. This happens in cases where the adult ignores the childs environment. To Tower
(2005) when they expose the child to sexual materials, acts and language they are abusing them,
at the same time an adult who ignores the childs plea for help when they are abused are
neglecting the child. Some mothers have been known to ignore a childs complains of sexual
abuse even from their fathers as they wouldnt want to loose a source of financial support.
In conclusion emotional, physical, medial and mental neglects are forms of child abuse. It
is clear that neglect cannot be separated from abuse, as the two are correlated. Often a child that
is abused is also neglected, and more often than not the child who is suffering any form of abuse
is emotionally abused and neglected. The reason why it is important to deal with the two at the
same time is because we often do not consider neglect as abuse, nor do we look at child
endangerment as neglect.

Child Abuse and Neglect

Bibliography
Chalk, R. Gibbons, A. and Scarupa, H.J. (2002). The Multiple Dimensions of Child Abuse and
Neglect: New Insights into an Old Problem. Washington, NW. Child Trends.
Child Study Center (2003). Child Abuse and Neglect: Definitions, Consequences, and Treatment.
NY, Child Study Center, 7:4.
Child Welfare Information Gateway (2009). Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect. US state
Statutes. Retrieved 23rd June, 2010 from
http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/define.cfm
Tower, C.C. (2005). Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Boston, MA. Allan &
Bacon/Longman pub. Retrieved 23rd June, 2010 from
http://vig.pearsonptr.com:8081/samplechapter/020540183X.pdf
WHO (2002). Child Abuse and Neglect by Parents and Other Caregivers. World Report on
Violence and Health, retrieved 2nd June, 2010 from
http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2002/9241545615_chap3_eng.pdf