Imagine for one moment that you are not yourself any longer. Visualize instead that you are a young girl; old enough to know right from wrong yet still young enough to be terrified by the dark shadows in your room. It is a cool autumn night and your parents have opted to attend a party which you are not allowed at. 'It will be fine,' they say. Although you already know what is to come. Your uncle comes over to watch you for the evening, and your parents are so pleased by the fact that they do not have to find a sitter. As soon as he arrives, your mother kisses you on the cheek and scurries out the door to join your father already waiting in the car outside. The nightmare begins. His slimy hands casually slide an ebony cartridge into the VCR as he smiles at you seductively. You can feel his eyes worming their gaze through your clothes every time that he looks at you. You feel dirty and violated every time you think about what he does to you when you are alone. He walks over to the couch and sits down next to you. His hand slithers it way onto your knee and you cringe in revulsion. 'Don't be afraid, I won't hurt you,' he chides. Your mind feels panicky as you feel his touch in more intimate places and you scream involuntarily. His grip tightens as he places his hand over your mouth. 'We'll have to do this the hard way!' comes his intense whisper. You flail your arms at him, but it doesn't help. His writhing massive body is on top of yours, and you feel so powerless. Eventually, you sink into a sobbing heap and simply wait for his passions to stop. You wait for the nightmare to end. When he is done, you limp to the laundry room and try fruitlessly to get the blood stains out of your clothes. It is all your fault...
Abuse: The violation or defilement of;
What you have just experienced is one type of abuse that occurs millions of times every year across America. Estimates of abuse range wildly depending on the source of ones information. From one to two million children per year are victims of child abuse. (Dolan p.3) All sources agree on the simple truth that not nearly all cases of child abuse are reported or even estimated. Man cases go unreported, less than 50% by current estimates. (Dolan p.3) The amount of child abuse is staggering to think about, let alone deal with. By the age of eighteen one in three girls will have been sexually molested and one in six boys will have been molested in that same time frame. (WWW site). Although, throughout this paper we shall discuss not only the effects of sexual abuse but abuse in all its forms. These include Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Mental Abuse and Neglect. We will also Touch upon the basic question of this report, and that is, 'How has child abuse changed over the last 100 years and what effects has this had on the family?' This brings us to our first research area, change.
It is clear that families are undergoing a number of important structural changes: families are smaller than in the past, with fewer children and sometimes with only one parent; parents have children at a later age; more couples live together without the bonds of matrimony which was accepted as a sacred bond so few years in human history. The source of this degradation of such a basic unit of society is unknown throughout all areas of research which I canvassed in my quest. It is a question that one person needs to answer for himself and solve for himself. Something a young child is not capable of doing.
Physical abuse has many forms. It may involve the hitting or kicking of a child with the fists or the feet, or with another object; such as belts, shovels, changes, ropes, electric cords, leather straps, canes, baseball bats, sticks, broom handles, or assorted large objects. Other forms of abuse include the pouring of scalding water or coffee on a child's body, holding a child's head under the water of a toilet bowl, stuffed into running washing machines, throwing a child against a wall, shaking a child with extreme force or placing parts of a child's anatomy on hot or burning objects to cause pain. (Author's note: Sometimes in extreme cases the shaking of a child with such extreme force as an aggressive abuser possesses can cause severe brain damage as the brain is crushed from repeated impact against the skull. This type of injury is especially damaging in babies and small children.) Some experts say the For every reported case of physical abuse over 100 are not reported. (Dolan p.7) Nobody knows precisely how many children die each year from physical abuse at the hands of adults. The National committee for the Prevention of child Abuse in its annual survey of all 50 states estimates the 1,125 children died from abuse in 1988, a figure that, according to the Committee's report 'most likely represents the lowest estimate of the problem.' What is known is that reports of child fatalities resulting from abuse are steadily increasing... (Neal p.1) Many times when physical abuse is caused by a parent or guardian, the child is not taken for medical help, even when wounds or injuries are very severe. When they are taken into the hospital it is usually be a secondary member of the family, one who may not have caused the abuse but did not stop it either. This type of person might be called a facilitator. In the past, there was much more discipline in homes and schools then there is today. In one interview, I had the following response to the question, What do you consider to be abuse; as compared to punishment and discipline? 'Beating with a stick the size of a telegraph pole. Or forcing a kid to eat liver. That is what the government sees. I see it as abuse if the child isn't learning from it. Kids way back when were slapped on the wrist with rulers. They didn't go out and kill each other as many of the kids do today.' (Towle E-mail) Many people which I interview displayed one of two attitudes:
' No hitting or abuse was acceptable to them today
' More discipline is needed today than before
Many experts think that terrible pressures on today's family are partly to blame for the excess of abuse in today's families. (Dolan p.9) Physical abuse is termed sexual abuse when it involves the display or touching of genitalia or anything which is not a comfortable part of a normal person to person contact. This brings us to our next form of Child abuse, that of Sexual or exploitive abuse.
Sexual abuse is described as those activities by an older person for his or her sexual gratification without consideration for the child's psycho-social sexual development. Also, as contacts or interactions between a child and an individual of higher power when the child is being used for the sexual stimulation of that adult or another. (Ruth p.4) There are many categories of sexual abuse, these include; incest, pedophilia, exhibitionism, molestation, sex (statutory rape), sexual sadism, and child pornography. It is estimated that approximately three hundred thousand children are involved in child prostitution and pornography. (Kempe p.9) ...