Child abuse is the intentional omission of care by a parent or guardian that can cause a child to be hurt, maimed, or even killed. Child abuse can be either physical, mental, emotional or sexual. Because of child abuse, Caprice Ried will never do the things that a normal four-year old does. She will never play on a playground, or go to a sleepover, and never go to school. All of this was taken away from her at such a young age, when she died of child abuse. The foster parents, Patricia Coker, and her mother Betty Coker have been charged with second degree murder for Caprice's death.

Caprice went without food for days. She was also tied to a chair and beaten with a stick until she couldn't walk. Several days later, she was found dead. As horrible as this story seems, this scene happens way to often. In 1996, approximately 3, 126, 000 children were reported for child abuse. Currently, about 47 out of every 1, 000 children are reported as victims of child abuse and maltreatment.

Overall, child abuse reporting levels have increased 45% between 1987 and 1996. In 1996, an estimated 1, 046 child abuse and neglect related fatalities we reconfirmed by Child Protective Services, (CPS) agencies. Since 1985, the rate of child abuse fatalities has increased by 20%. Based on these numbers, more than three children die each day as a result of child abuse or neglect. In 1996, some states reported that almost 77% of these children that died were less than five years old at the time of their death, while 45% were under 1 year of age.

The causes of death were 45% neglect, 52% physical abuse, 3% from a combination of neglect and physical abuse. Studies of the general population show that anywhere from 6% to 63% of women were sexually abused as children. A 1985 L. A. Times national survey found that 27% of women and 16% of men reported being sexually abused prior to age 18. The true extent of sexual abuse in unknown.

The relationship between parental alcohol or other drug problems and child maltreatment is becoming increasingly evident. And the risk to the child increases in a single parent household where there is no supporting adult to diffuse parental stress and protect the child from the effects of the parents problem. Both alcohol and drug problems are widespread in this country. Almost 14 million adult Americans abuse alcohol. The number of illicit drug users exceeds 12 million. Illicit drugs include marijuana, cocaine, inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin, and non-medical use of psychotherapeutics.

With more than 6. 6 million children under the age of 18 living in alcoholic households, and an additional number of children living in households where parents have problems with illicit drugs, a significant number of children in this country are being raised by addicted parents. Child maltreatment has become a national epidemic. More than one million children are confirmed each year as victims of child abuse and neglect by state child protective service agencies.

Every day at least three children die as a result of abuse or neglect. State child welfare records indicate that substance abuse is one of the top two problems exhibited by families in 81% of the reported cases. Recent research on the connection between alcohol or drug problems and child maltreatment clearly indicates a connection between the two problems. Among confirmed cases of child maltreatment, 40% involve the use of alcohol or other drugs. This suggests that of the 1. 2 million confirmed victims of child maltreatment, and estimated 480, 000 children are mistreated each year by a caretaker with alcohol or other drug problems.

Additionally, research suggests that alcohol and other drug problems a refactors in a majority of cases of emotional abuse and neglect. In fact, neglect is the major reason that children are removed from a home in which parents have alcohol or other drug problems. Children in these homes suffer from a variety of physical, mental, and emotional health problems at a greater rate than children in the general population. Children of alcoholics suffer more injuries and poisonings than children in the general population. Alcohol and other substances may act as dis inhibitors, lessening impulse control and allowing parents to behave abusively. Children in this environment often demonstrate behavioral problems and are diagnosed as having conduct disorders.

This may result in provocative behavior. Increased stress resulting from preoccupation with drugs on the part of the parent combined with behavioral problems exhibited by the child adds to the likelihood of maltreatment. Histories of parents with alcohol and drug problems or parents involved in child maltreatment reveal that typically both were reared with a lack of parental nurturing and appropriate modeling and often grew up in disruptive homes. Family life in these households also have similarities. The children often lack guidance, positive role modeling, and live in isolation. Frequently, they suffer from depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

They live in an atmosphere of stress and family conflict. Children raised in both kinds of households are more likely to have problems with alcohol and other drugs themselves. Pregnant women who use alcohol may bear children suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS is the leading known environmental cause of mental retardation in the western world. Each year 4, 000 to 12, 000 babies are born with the physical signs and intellectual disabilities associated with FAS, and thousands more experience the somewhat lesser disabilities of the fetal alcohol effects.

Children of alcoholics are more likely than children in the general population to suffer a variety of physical, emotional, and mental health problems. Similar to maltreatment victims who believe that the abuse is their fault, children of alcoholics feel guilty and responsible for their parents drinking problem. Both groups of children often have feelings of low self-esteem and failure and suffer from depression and anxiety. It is thought that exposure to violence in both alcohol abusing and child maltreating households increases the likelihood that the children will commit and be recipients of acts of violence. Additionally, the effects of child maltreatment and parental alcohol abuse don't end when the children reach adulthood.

Both groups of children are likely to have difficulty with coping and establishing healthy relationships as adults. In addition to suffering from all the effects of living in a household where alcohol or child maltreatment are illegal. While research is in its infancy, clinical evidence shows that children of parents who have problem with illicit drug use may suffer from an inability to trust legitimate authority because of fear of discovery of a parent's illegal habits. Some individuals can and do break the cycle of abuse. These resilient children share some characteristics that lead to their successful coping skills such as ability to obtain positive attention from other people, adequate communication skills, average intelligence, a caring attitude, a desire to achieve, a belief in self-help.

Additionally, the involvement of a caring adult can help children develop resiliency and break the cycle of abuse. However, a significant number of individuals fall victim to the same patterns exhibited by their parents. Those who have been severely physically abused often have symptoms of post-traumatic disorder and dissociation. Individuals suffering from mental health disorders may use alcohol and illicit drugs to decrease or mitigate their psychological distress. Research suggests that adults who were abused as children maybe more likely to abuse their own children than adults who were not abused as children. One explanation for the continuing cycle is the secrecy, denial, and stigma involved in both problems.

Many child maltreatment cases do not get reported and many children of alcoholics go unidentified. Within both populations, victims often are afraid to speak up because they do not think anyone will believe them. Often they do not realize that what seems to be normal behavior is indeed maltreatment, and learn to repeat these behaviors unconsciously. The lack of positive parental role modeling and lack of development of coping skills increases the difficulty of establishing healthy relationships as an adult. It may not be until they seek help disturbed adults that they are made cognizant of the root of their emotional problems. Research has shown that when families exhibit both of these behaviors (alcohol / drugs and child maltreatment), the problems must be treated simultaneously in order to insure a child's safety.

Although ending the drug dependency does not automatically end child maltreatment, very little can be done to improve parenting skills until this step is taken. It should be noted that the withdrawal experienced by parents who cease using alcohol or other drugs presents specific risks. The effects of withdrawal often cause a parent to experience intense emotions, which may increase the likelihood of child maltreatment. During this time, lasting as long as two years, it is especially important that resources be available to the family. In 1995, an estimated 1, 2115 child maltreatment deaths were confirmed by child protective services (CPS) agencies. This figure under counts the actual number of maltreatment fatalities, however, as some number of accidental deaths, child homicides, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) cases and deaths attributed to underestimated causes should be labeled child maltreatment fatalities.

According to a 1993 study, and estimated 85% of deaths due to parental maltreatment were coded as due to some other cause on the child's death certificate. Over three children dies each day last year as a result of parental maltreatment. National survey conducted by the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse (NCPCA) early in 1995 suggests that the number of confirmed child abuse fatalities increased 39%over the last 10 years. This trend is not surprising given the increase in poverty, substance abuse, and violence experienced by many communities. Based on the data collected from 37 states and the District of Columbia, a little over 3 million children were reported for child abuse in 1995, approximately 2% more than had been reported in 1994. Overall, child abuse reporting rates have risen by an average of 4% each year between 1990 and 1995.

The total number of reports has increased nationwide by 49% since 1986. Young children are at the highest risk of dying from maltreatment. Research indicates that between 1993 and 1995, 85% of fatalities occurred to children under the age of five, when 45% of children under the age of one. Other studies have found that child abuse ranks as the second leading cause of death, after accidents, for children between the ages of one and five years old. It is difficult to pinpoint one main cause for all fatalities attributed to child maltreatment.

Between 1993 and 1995, 37% of all fatalities were the result of neglect, 48% from abuse, and 15% as a result of both forms of maltreatment. As a result, a few factors related to these fatalities seem to present themselves year after year. According to 1995 report by NCPCA, states reported that substance abuse, by the abuser, was involved in anywhere from 4% to 65% of all substantiated cases. Additionally, 46% of children who died between 1993 and 1995 had prior or recent contact with CPS agencies. This may signify that these are the only deaths that are investigated by many states. As a result, we can expect that a high percentage of reported deaths involve such children.

Also, however, there is much difficulty in providing sufficient services to all victims which may also contribute to child maltreatment fatalities. Improving the ability of child protective services agencies to assist their clients by reducing caseloads, expanding training of caseworkers, and funding more treatment services for victims will help reduce fatalities. Child protective services, however, cannot prevent all fatalities single-handed ly. Other formal institutions such as schools and hospitals as well as informal, personal networks should play an active role in identifying and assembling families at risk of abusive or neglectful behavior. Finally, alcohol and drug treatment services need to be expanded and made more accessible to pregnant and parenting women. One of the most promising prevention strategies for reducing early childhood injuries is the provision of comprehensive home health visitors to all expectant and new mothers, or at the very least, to mothers in high risk neighborhoods.

In 1991, NCPCAintroduced Healthy Families America, a comprehensive home visiting initiative. Such services offer instruction and support regarding prenatal care, parenting skills, household management, and coping with environmental dangers. As a 1996 report on Hawaii " healthy Start home visitation program concluded, home visiting produces measurable benefits for participants in the areas of parental attitudes toward children, parent-child interaction patterns, and type and quantity of child maltreatment. Evaluations of other home visitation programs also are underway, specifically evaluations of Healthy Families America sites. Its form of primary prevention demonstrates not only a social commitment to a child's well being from the point of birth, but also a strong commitment to the welfare of society. The NCPCA is committed to preventing child abuse before it occurs.

Since child maltreatment is a complex problem with a multitude of causes, an approach to prevention must respond to a range of needs. Therefore, NCPCA has designed a comprehensive strategy comprised of a variety of community-based programs to prevent child abuse. Reflective of the phases of the family life cycle, this approach provides parents and children with the education and support necessary for healthy family functioning. Based on what is known or believed to enhance an individual's ability to function within the family unit, several program areas offer a continuum of educational, supportive and therapeutic services for parents and children enduring throughout the school years. Although a community may not choose to offer services in all program areas, as a group they respond to the needs of all family members.

In conclusion, I usually feel that there are pro's and con's about everything. But I cannot find one pro in child abuse. I feel that child abuse is one of the worst crimes in the world today. Child abuse hurts and kills so many helpless children. Many adults take their frustrations out on them and when they realize what they are doing is wrong, their children have either been seriously hurt, have turn against them, or could have even been killed. Child abuse is a chain that rarely broken.

When children are abused, they learn to do the same to their children. When a child does actually break the chain, they can still have emotional problems as adults. Bibliography 1) By Rachel L. S warns New York Times Wednesday, February 25.

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