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It'S Not Your Fault

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Autor:  anton  30 October 2010
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It's Not Your Fault

You never realize how good you have or did have it until you hear other people's stories. Until you hear that people actually lock their children in basements for punishment, or even burn them, do you understand that the occasional arguments within your own family is nothing compared to the way some other children are treated. If that does not convince you then take this situation into consideration: Dave Pelzer (a child abuse survivor), between the ages of four and twelve, was beaten, stabbed, starved and subjected to many methods of torture and cruelty. "Gripping my arm, Mother held it in the orange blue flame. My skin seemed to explode from the heat... finally I fell to the floor on my hands and knees. Mother then ordered me to climb up on to the stove and lie on the flames so she could watch me burn" (Dave). These kinds of things will haunt someone for the rest of their lives. The abuse and neglect of children has become a widespread occurrence, becoming more and more common and severe every day. My purpose for this paper is to prove that not only is child maltreatment a problem for young people at the time, but it is a cause of many adolescent and adulthood psychological issues and behavioral problems.

The definition of maltreatment is "cruel or inhumane treatment." Who would think these hurtful actions could be inflicted upon a child? Obviously many people, because child abuse is a major problem in the United States today. It is one of the leading causes of death for children - "about 5 children die each day in this country because of abuse and neglect. In 1996, there were over 3 million reports of neglected or abused children" (Connelly 13). There are four different kinds of child maltreatment; physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, or emotional abuse. Sexual abuse is the most common out of these categories (14). But, the results of all of these have the same consequences: problems later on in life. Patterns of family abuse have been related to such things as abusive child-rearing behavior, aggressive conflict, severe physical punishment, parental alcoholism, mental illness, criminality, and financial stress (33). These are just some of the results of child maltreatment. The factors of maltreatment consequences include the length of the abuse, the severity of the abuse, and the relationship of the abuser to the victim. Sufferers may have to live with their abusers the rest of their lives, such as their parents, sisters, brothers, cousins, uncles, etc. (7). Evidently, these kinds of situations could revisit and torment people for the rest of their lives, causing distressing problems that will make victims psychologically and behaviorally ill during adolescence and adulthood.

"As many as twenty percent of the victims of childhood abuse develop serious long-term psychological disorders" (Connelly 39). This statement tells it all. Twenty percent is a lot when you consider the millions of cases of child maltreatment. Psychological consequences are a major problem for child abuse survivors. There are many self-perceptual consequences of child abuse. Low levels of self-esteem, self-blame, self-disgust, self-denigration, and self-hatred are all different ways that a person could feel about themselves after living through maltreatment (NCOFV). "Researchers have found that being physically abused during childhood or adolescence may lead the victim to be more withdrawn and have lower self-esteem than others" (Connelly 32). Self-perception is a key factor in life, so it should be positive, not negative. Obviously most victims of child abuse cannot experience the feeling of optimistic self-perception, because they have been scarred for life. Victims may also endure other psychological problems, such as increasing anxiety. Anxiety is appalling, especially when it increases day by day, which is what happens to child abuse victims. It results in nightmares, difficulty sleeping, and symptoms of stress disorders. This symptom of child abuse will affect survivors greatly and get in the way of their everyday adulthood lives. Some abused or neglected children may also have paranoia. (Connelly 33). More severe psychological consequences of child maltreatment include chronic confusion, illogical thinking, inaccurate images of the world, difficulty determining what is real, suicidal ideation, fear, depression, and psychosomatic complaints (NCOFV). The effects of child abuse obviously come in great numbers, because there are hundreds of others that are not listed here. Even more severe consequences may result in psychological disorders.

People who have been abused as children may also suffer other symptoms, some leading to psychological disorders (Connelly 33). Some examples of these disorders include Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Mood Disorders, Depression, Antisocial Personality Disorder, and Anxiety Disorder (39). People with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder re-experience traumatic events over and over again, such as dreams, flashbacks, or stress around the events' "anniversary." Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may occur soon after a major trauma, up to many years later (PTSD). Another disorder resulted from child maltreatment is Antisocial Personality Disorder. Symptoms of this include unlawful behavior, physical aggression, lack of remorse, repetitive lying, truancy, delinquency, and substance abuse (ASPD). These may sound terrible, but the psychological disorder that is the most common and severe is Depression. A risk factor for Depression is child abuse. Symptoms of Depression are depressed moods, faltering school performance, failing relationships, and substance abuse (Dep). Feelings of Depression can get really strong and may cause low self-esteem, self-destructive behavior, or even suicide (Connelly 33). Noticeably, child maltreatment is a major factor in a number of serious psychological disorders, which will affect people in their adolescence and adulthood. But not only does child maltreatment affect teenagers and adults psychologically, but it also affects them in a behavioral perspective.

"Almost every survivor from a documented case of child abuse has experienced behavioral problems" (Connelly 34). Behavioral problems resulting from child abuse is not an uncommon thing. Almost every case of child abuse ends with the consequence of behavioral troubles, and may last from teenage years until later life (35). Some examples of behavioral problems include extreme shyness, fear of strangers, constant fighting with peers, self-mutilation, prostitution, and suicide attempts, along with many others. Other behaviors that people have shown in their adolescent years include insecure attachments to parents, difficulty trusting others, and chronic dissatisfaction with relationships (NCOFV). Expanding on the relationship perspective, as abused or neglected children grow older, they may try to make up for their vulnerable years by becoming dominant in other relationships during adolescence. Also, most victims probably feel betrayed and have difficulty trusting others. If the victim has been sexually abused by a parent, the incest can lead to role confusion (Connelly 36). Another serious behavioral problem is substance abuse. "Victims may use drugs and alcohol to blot out the painful memories associated with the assaults" (39). Large amounts of research and studies about substance abuse and child abuse have been conducted, and it has been found that sexual abuse affects the blood flow and function of the brain region for substance abuse (cerebella vermis). Child abuse impairs the development of the cerebella vermis. People like this are more likely to use drugs (SRC). Additionally, subsequent violence during adulthood also occurs. Maltreatment of the victims' own children may take place along with other abuse of others, such as dating violence. Some behavioral problems that are a result of maltreatment that relate to subsequent violence are increased aggression and criminal offending (NCOFV). "Many studies have found that childhood abuse and neglect, childhood family problems, and psychiatric problems, are common among offenders of violent crimes" (Connelly 33). The worst of these behavioral consequences has to be Shaken Baby Syndrome. Shaken Baby Syndrome results from forceful shaking of a baby. If the child does not die, they will require lifelong medical care for the associated disorders, such as cerebral palsy (37). Apparently, behavior problems and psychological issues form a pattern with child maltreatment. People suffer from both of these kinds of problems and they affect them during teenage years and later life, not just childhood.

Evidently, child abuse and neglect is not something to just look over. There are many ways that this kind of thing can be prevented. Some steps to help with child well being are as follows: First off, you can volunteer your time at children's homes to help give care to maltreated children. Also, discipline your own children thoughtfully. Everyone makes mistakes, so don't take out too much anger in punishment. Examine your behavior in these kinds of situations. As well, educate yourself and others about child abuse and inform children of their rights. Most importantly, know the signs of child abuse and always report a suspicion. Call the local police or child abuse line to report suspicious child maltreatments. For other ways of prevention, donate money to homes, associations, or groups that help protect kids from child abuse. There are many child abuse prevention acts in the making, but none have passed in the United States yet (Child Welfare). Eventually, cases of child abuse should decrease in commonality and larger amounts of adults and teenagers will become psychologically and behaviorally stable.

As you can see, child maltreatment is a cause of adolescent and adulthood psychological issues and behavioral problems. Fortunately, these kinds of consequences can be prevented if people take a stand against child abuse. If the correct actions are taken, more and more teenagers and adults will experience stable behavior and mentality. Also, treatment of survivors of childhood abuse is a complex and typically long term process. The best recommendation for anyone who has been abused and feels like they have a problem should gather as much information as possible and seek out people with whom they feel safe (Syked). Healing from abuse is a very personal process, and there is hope for people who are in need of help.

Works Cited

"Antisocial Personality Disorder." Yahoo! Health. 2002. 17 April 2002.

Child Welfare League of America. "10 Things You Can Do Now to Prevent Child Abuse." Colorado Christian Home. 2002. 18 April 2002.

Connelly, Elizabeth Russell. Child Abuse and Neglect: Examining the Psychological Components. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2000.

"The Consequences of Child Maltreatment: A Reference Guide for Health Practitioners." National Clearinghouse on Family Violence. 17 April 2002.

"Dave Pelzer: Dave Who?" BBC News. 27 January 2001. 24 April 2002.

"Depression." Yahoo! Health. 2002. 17 April 2002.

"Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder." Yahoo! Health. 2002. 17 April 2002.

"Remnants of Childhood Sexual Abuse." Syked! Self Help. 2002. 24 April 2002. http://syked.com/csa.html

"Researchers Find Clues Linking Child Abuse to Addiction." Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly. 14 January 2002. Student Resource Center. Brevard High School Media Center, Brevard, NC. 17 April 2002.



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