Child Abuse in North America - Essay Example

Published: 2023-09-26
Child Abuse in North America - Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Violence Child development Child abuse Essays by wordcount
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1551 words
13 min read

Child abuse is a key issue that has been affecting children across the globe despite the numerous concerns that have been raised by various international organizations. Child abuse is considered to be the willful infliction of suffering and pain to children, particularly through emotional, physical, and sexual mistreatment. Although friends and families often overlook the issue of child abuse, issues such as shame, anxiety, and prejudice are considered to be the reasons why these violent acts against children are not recognized. Child abuse tends to have serious future consequences for the victim. Some of these consequences include impaired language, delayed growth, and challenges in personality development and behavior. In most cases, child abuse can be prevented; however, this has to involve the effort that systematically solves the protective and risk factors of the various interrelated levels or areas of risk such as society, relationships, community, and individuals. In North America, approximately 10 to 30 % of children are subjected to child abuse at a very young age. This means that in a group of a hundred children, one child is at risk of child abuse (Gould et al., 2012). However, these numbers tend to rise when cases of emotional abuse and neglect are included. In the United States, approximately four children aged below three years usually die due to child abuse daily (Bolen & Gergely, 2014). Both the boys and the girls usually have nearly the same rate of abuse, with the boys reporting approximately 48.5%, and the girls reporting approximately 51.2% of the cases. Research on child abuse found that approximately 82.2% of child abusers were aged between 18 and 44 years, while approximately 39.6% were aged between 25 and 34 years (Pereda et al., 2009). It is also clear that abused children usually know their abusers, who are either close family members or friends. From a sociological and psychological perspective, abused children in North America require society’s attention and more protection to promote and modify better legal regulations to punish the abusers because more and more children are being exposed to the risk of child abuse through the following effects: physical issues, behavioral issues, emotional issues, and mental health disorders.

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Behavior Issues

These are the issues that affect the child’s ability to relate and interact with other people, for instance, family members and friends. Some of the common behavior issues developed by the children who are abused and neglected at a very young age include, having violent behavior, abusing others, developing increased suicidal attempts, reduced social skills, and increased conflicts at work. According to Kaplow et al. (2008), child abuse and neglect is linked to internalizing behaviors such as feeling sad, withdrawn, and depressed and externalizing behaviors such as being hyperactive and aggressive. Therefore exposure to any type of abuse at an early age increases both internalizing and externalizing behaviours in either adolescence or adulthood. Jaffee & Maikovich-Fong (2011), indicate that children who were abused on numerous development periods, for instance, during preschool, toddlerhood, and infancy, developed more behavior issues than the children who were abused and neglected in one development stage or period. In most cases, the behavior issues are usually determined by various family variables such as the caregivers having low education levels, drug and alcohol dependency, and cases of being diagnosed with depression (Sousa, 2011). These variables also play an essential role in determining the type and severity of the behavior issues that one is likely to develop during either adulthood or adolescence.

Physical Issues

Exposing children to child abuse and neglect is perceived to trigger numerous physical issues and complications that usually affect them during adolescence or later in adulthood. Currie & Spatz (2010) indicated that child abuse is heavily linked to various physical health complications such as physical disabilities, substance use, health complications such as chronic heart diseases, and learning disabilities. According to Christian & Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect (2015), exposing children to one adverse experience increased the overall probability of the child having various physical complications at the age of six years and it tripled the probability if the child is exposed to more adverse experiences. Currently, most children exposed to child abuse at a very young age in the United States usually encounter various challenges that hinder their success. For instance, the abuse makes the child develop learning disabilities and physical disabilities that affect the child’s esteem levels, causing him or her to engage in substance abuse (Fergusson et al., 2008). In most cases, the physical issues are usually permanent, resulting to increased cases of premature deaths.

Emotional Issues.

Emotional issues are perceived to be the issues that affect one's thoughts or opinions concerning various issues in the society. For instance, having challenges with trust and intimacy, having challenges accepting that violence is a basic part of relationships, and having low self-esteem. Nowak (2015) indicates children who experience severe cases of abuse and neglect at a very young age usually have a higher probability of developing emotional issues during adolescence. Reports on child abuse in North America indicate that children who develop emotional issues such as low self-esteem and increased inability to cope with stress usually end up engaging in alcohol and drug use at a very young age (Mann & Barnett, 2013). According to Gunderson (2017), approximately 28% of students who develop emotional issues due to child abuse usually engage in drug and substance abuse at a particular point in life.

Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders are conditions that usually affect one’s behaviour, mood, and thinking. Some of the common mental health disorders developed by people who were abused during childhood include anxiety disorder, behaviour disorder, depressive disorder, personality disorder, eating disorders, attachment disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. According to Mersky et al. (2013), Most of the mental health disorders are usually associated with child abuse, particularly during adolescence. A study on child abuse indicates that adolescents and children who have had a history of child abuse are three times likely to develop depressive disorders than the children who are not maltreated during childhood (Stoltenborgh et al., 2013). According to Manchikanti (2011), a study on children who had been neglected and abused affirms that approximately 62% of the children achieved a criterion of having one mental health disorder.


Child abuse and neglect are considered to be a sensitive issue in North America due to the increased impacts that it has on children when they reach adolescence or adulthood. Some of the common effects developed by children later on in life include first, mental health disorders, which usually affect one's behavior mood and thinking, such as post-traumatic disorder. Secondly, the emotional issues that affect one's opinion and thoughts concerning various issues in society, such as low self-esteem. Thirdly, the behavior issues that affect one’s ability to relate with other people. Fourth physical issues such as premature deaths, learning disabilities, and physical disabilities.


Bolen, R. M., & Gergely, K. B. (2014). Child sexual abuse. Praeger/ABC-CLIO.

Christian, C. W., & Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. (2015). The evaluation of suspected child physical abuse. Pediatrics, 135(5), e1337-e1354.

Currie, J., & Spatz Widom, C. (2010). Long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect on adult economic well-being. Child maltreatment, 15(2), 111-120.

Fergusson, D. M., Boden, J. M., & Horwood, L. J. (2008). Exposure to childhood sexual and physical abuse and adjustment in early adulthood. Child abuse & neglect, 32(6), 607-619.

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Gunderson, A. (2017). Understanding Recidivism Through Child Abuse and Mental Health. Chicago Policy Review (Online).

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Manchikanti GĂłmez, A. (2011). Testing the cycle of violence hypothesis: Child abuse and adolescent dating violence as predictors of intimate partner violence in young adulthood. Youth & Society, 43(1), 171-192.

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Mann, R. E., & Barnett, G. D. (2013). Victim empathy intervention with sexual offenders: Rehabilitation, punishment, or correctional quackery? Sexual Abuse, 25(3), 282-301.

Nowak, C. B. (2015, December). Recognition and prevention of child abuse in the child with disability. In American Journal of Medical Genetics Part C: Seminars in Medical Genetics (Vol. 169, No. 4, pp. 293-301).

Pereda, N., Guilera, G., Forns, M., & GĂłmez-Benito, J. (2009). The international epidemiology of child sexual abuse: A continuation of Finkelhor (1994). Child abuse & neglect, 33(6), 331-342.

Sousa, C., Herrenkohl, T. I., Moylan, C. A., Tajima, E. A., Klika, J. B., Herrenkohl, R. C., & Russo, M. J. (2011). Longitudinal study on the effects of child abuse and children’s exposure to domestic violence, parent-child attachments, and antisocial behaviour in adolescence. Journal of interpersonal violence, 26(1), 111-136.

Stoltenborgh, M., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Van Ijzendoorn, M. H., & Alink, L. R. (2013). Cultural–geographical differences in the occurrence of child physical abuse? A meta-analysis of global prevalence. International Journal of Psychology, 48(2), 81-94.

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