Child Neglect and Abuse in the USA

Child Neglect and Abuse

Child neglect and abuse take numerous forms categorized in the physical, mental, and emotional harm caused. The actions include maltreatment, lack of providing food and medical care, sexual abuse, exposure to harmful environments, and denying children their right to education, among other things. In America, the issue seems prevalent despite the government’s intervention and advocates pushing for stricter policies. Fortson et al. claim that although children do not experience child abuse and neglect similarly, one out of seven children has encountered it where severe fatalities fall on young children (8). Some authors claim that teenagers are more likely to experience traumatic incidents because, unlike the young ones, they will keep silent, hence the fatality. Farrell et al. come forth with a study suggesting that about 702000 children below 18 years met the same fate, but the most severe cases were children below three years. The statistics counter the arguments asserting that teenagers are more at risk compared to young children. However, the older group can defend itself, while the younger one remains defenseless.

Child neglect and abuse prevail for various reasons, but the most notable ones include poverty and corporal punishment. Underprivileged households lack the means to meet a child’s basic needs, and parents often expose them to harsh environments of prostitution and drug abuse. Schneider et al. trace the issue to the Great Recession’s impact on American families, where maternal physical and psychological aggression escalated the situation. Parents or mothers facing financial burdens have stress, which they transfer to their children in the form of child abuse and neglect. However, some scholars would argue that government protection and child support initiatives diffuse poverty as a risk factor. The point is valid to an extent, but it does not eliminate the fact that the inability to provide for a child and protect them can compromise a caregiver’s mental and emotional capacity, leading to child neglect and abuse. Corporal punishment has also escalated the issue as parents inflict pain and discomfort in the name of discipline. Zeanah and Kathryn depict children’s fragility claiming that maltreatment mainly of young children may likely lead to death. Although a child needs punishment to streamline their behavior, caregivers sometimes go overboard and cause severe harm. A child can die from fatal wounds or injuries in such cases. 

The child protective system has improved reporting, but as policies increase, abuse transforms to undetectable measures like emotional trauma. America has the highest suicide rate, where teenagers struggling with abuse and neglect rank among the top. Although most cases relate to other challenges like drug abuse or teenage pregnancy, a concerning percentage originated from parental dissociation, lack of protection, and psychological distress from maltreatment. Peterson et al. reference a study showing the deaths of 1670 children from abuse, while another 683000 remain struggling with the trauma. Among these will likely commit suicide or take the wrong paths like crime and substance abuse. Mills et al. support the point by demonstrating the cognitive impacts of child abuse and neglect (9). However, modern treatment methods have proven helpful in countering long-term psychological effects, allowing a child to transition into adulthood accordingly. Despite differing perception on child abuse and neglect, the shifting form of the issue calls for action, especially for child experts and the government. Children aged up to 18 years old need maximum protection even from their caregivers. The government can also increase economic support for underprivileged families and support positive parenting. Education in early life should also be a priority backed by improving parents’ skills. 

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Works Cited

Farrell, Caitlin A., et al. "Community Poverty and Child Abuse Fatalities in The United States." Pediatrics 139.5 (2017).

Fortson, Beverly L., et al. "Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Technical Package for Policy, Norm, And Programmatic Activities." (2016). 

Mills, Ryan, et al. "Child Abuse and Neglect and Cognitive Function At 14 Years of Age: Findings from A Birth Cohort." Pediatrics 127.1 (2011): 4-10. 

Peterson, Cora, Curtis Florence, and Joanne Klevens. "The Economic Burden of Child Maltreatment in The United States, 2015." Child Abuse & Neglect 86 (2018): 178-183. 

Schneider, William, Jane Waldfogel, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn. "The Great Recession and risk for child abuse and neglect." Children and Youth Services Review 72 (2017): 71-81. 

Zeanah, Charles H., and Kathryn L. Humphreys. "Child Abuse and Neglect." Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 57.9 (2018): 637-644. 

About Kanika Gautam 196 Articles
Kanika is an ardent writer and a serial blogger in addition to being the founder of where she writes about growing the happiness ratio of life. She is also a technologist, bibliophile, speaker, educator and writer.

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