A pre-teen girl was tortured and killed by her mother. An eight- year old girl was absented from school and never missed. One year later she was found in a make shift grave by a park. A Polish father allegedly hacked his two young sons to death. These stories are all too familiar to us. They are extreme cases of child abuse. Child abuse is the intentional acts that result in physical or emotional harm to children by people they knew and trusted. The term child abuse covers a wide range of behavior, from physical assault to neglect of a child’s basic needs. Although the extent is difficult to measure, it is recognized as a major social problem. It occurs in all income, racial, religious, and ethnic groups and in rural communities. However, it is more common in groups below the poverty line.
By indicators, America’s ability to protect its children is less certain than ever. Child abuse has met epidemic proportion in this country. Although fatal cases of child abuse get the most press attention, they represent a small fraction of the much larger universe of neglect and abuse cases. According to the American Journalist Review, “Experts estimate that between 1,000 and 2,000 children die each year from abuse. That’s less than one percent of the roughly one million annual substantiated victims of abuse and neglect.” (Pg. 3) This paper will focus on a short history of child abuse, types and forms of child abuse; victims of child abuse; and the reporting of child abuse.
A child is any person under the age of 18 years. Abuse can take various forms. Public child welfare agencies have had historic responsibility to protect children from harm and cruelty that began well before the turn of the century. (Antler, 1981) Although child protection in North America began with a narrow focus on cases of physical cruelty, it soon broadened its focus to include physical neglect, abandonment, and child welfare in general. Thus, child abuse became only...