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Victimology- Child Abuse and Exploited Children

Author: Janet Peter
by Janet Peter
Posted: Nov 20, 2018
child abuse


Child abuse laws are prevalent on all the facets of administration from the federal, state as well as the local levels. These legislations are meant to keep the children free harm, exploitation as well as danger. The passing of the child abuse prevention as well as treatment Act (CAPTA) by the federal government in the year 1974 and later reauthorized in the year 2010 is the largest legislation body that supports fair, ethical as well as legal treatment of children. The act serves to keep the children free from any abuse inclusive of sexual, physical, emotional as well as psychological (Invisible and Exploited Children: A Shame on Us All, 2012). The federal laws offer a standard as well as a guideline, but the governing of the majority of child abuse issues is by state laws as well as regulations.

All states have adopted laws that are meant to support the protection of children from all forms of abuse as well as neglect. Among the issues that the state laws address include the mandatory reporting, response to child abuse as well as neglect along with the statutes of limitations for the criminal as well as civil prosecution.

The Mandatory Reporting

The mandatory reporter laws establish specific professionals as well as individuals who are set as mandatory reporters. These laws require people to work closely with children in their professions and alert the police or any other appropriate authority about any suspected abuse. Beginning from March 2012, a total of 18 states passed laws that require their entire citizen with suspicion or knowledge of abuse to report the issue to the necessary authorities (Sluckin, 1998). The laws additionally establish penalties for the parties who fail to report the abuse. About the growing attention from the media relating to the issue of child sexual abuse, there as 87 bills currently that are pending in 29 state legislatures (Sluckin, 1998). The expectation is that more and more bills are going to be enacted to promote the designation of additional professionals being mandated reporters and in other cases requiring all the citizens to be mandated reporters.

Statute Of Limitations

The statute of limitations encompasses the deadline for the filing of lawsuits. The majority of the lawsuits have to be filed within a specific duration from the time the crime was discovered or committed. These statutes limitations normally vary from one sate to the next and also from one claim to the other. These statutes also differ about whether the charge is either of a criminal or civil nature.

Definition of Terms

To promote the prevention as well as response to the issue of child abuse as well as mistreatment effectively, it is imperative that there us common comprehension of the definition of the actions as well as omissions that constitute mistreatment of children. The child abuse prevention as well as treatment act offers minimum standards for the definitions of child neglect, physical child abuse as well as sexual abuse that all states should integrate into their statutory definitions for them to be eligible for federal funds. Under the CAPTA, child abuse, as well as neglect, encompasses any recent act as well as the failure to act on the part of the parent or caretaker that result in serious emotional, physical, exploitation, sexual abuse and even death (Berliner, 2000). It entails any act as well as the failure to act that presents the child with imminent risk of serious harm. The child, in this case, encompasses any persons who are under the age of 18 years and is not an emancipated minor. In the case of sexual abuse, the child is an individual who has not attained the age of 18 years or the age that child protection laws of the state in which the child resides describes.

Although the federal legislations define the minimum standards, every state has the responsibility of offering its definitions relating to maltreatment within their civil and criminal contexts. The issue of child mistreatment is subject to both the state laws as well as administrative regulations. The definitions if child abuse, as well as neglect, lies in three chief areas within every state’s statutory code. These include the mandatory child reporting statutes of the civil laws which offer definitions of child maltreatment to offer guidance to the individuals mandated to identify as well as report the suspected cases of child abuse (Pearce, 2014). The criminal statutes offer definitions on the types of child abuse mistreatment issues that are criminally punishable. In most of the jurisdictions, maltreatment of children us criminally punishable in the event some of these issues happen: murder, homicide, manslaughter, assault, false imprisonment, criminal neglect as well as abandonment. The additional issues include physical as well as emotional abuse, child prostitution, child pornography, rape, computer crimes, deviant sexual assault, child endangerment, indecent exposure as well as reckless engagement (Dubowitz, 2000). Juvenile court jurisdiction statutes offer definitions of the circumstances that are necessary for the court to possess jurisdiction over a child that is alleged to have been neglected or abused.

Scope of the Issue

Every year, hundreds of thousands of children in the US are victims of maltreatment. The data on the scope of the issue is chiefly drawn from the data that the state child protective services agencies report to the national child abuse as well as neglect data system. The overall number of children who have been maltreated remains unknown, but in the year 2012, there were more than 98,500 victims of maltreatment nationwide (Invisible and Exploited Children: A Shame on Us All, 2012).The term victim is about the children who have been found by the CPS to having experienced neglect or abuse.

In the same year, there were approximately 3 million referrals that were made to the CPS regarding one or more children in a family, with almost two-thirds of the referrals being screened in for investigations relating to probable maltreatment. The screened in cases indicate that the referral was deemed necessary for the investigation as well as assessment relying on the state statutes as well as agency guidelines. For 1000 children in the year 2012, roughly 12 of them were victims of maltreatment (Dubowitz, 2000). The following findings indicate the reported child victimization rates by the main types of maltreatment as the NCANDS states for the year 2000.

Characteristics of the Victims

The assessment of the victims during this period indicates that 54% of the child maltreatment victims were girls while 46% were boys. Although the rates of most models of maltreatment were identical for both the boys and girls, it is evident that more girls than boys were victims of sexual abuse. The youngest, as well as the most vulnerable children, are those under the age of 3 years, having the highest victimization rate, at 18 for children for every 1000. In general, the rates of victimization were declining as the children grew older, although the victimization by age differing by the form of maltreatment. Regarding child neglect, it was found that more than half of all the reported victims (61.8%) had suffered neglect which was inclusive of medical neglect, with the rate estimated to be 8 in every 1000 children (Dubowitz, 2000). The additional element is taken into consideration is the fact that there are children who were reported to have been victims on more than one model of maltreatment.

In the case of sexual abuse, it was found that one-fifth of all the victims identified during this period (20.4%) were sexually abused, with the estimate rate being one child in every 1000 children. The case of psychological maltreatment was less than one tenth for the period (8.2%) being victims of psychological maltreatment, with the approximated rate being less than one child in every 1000 children (Invisible and Exploited Children: A Shame on Us All, 2012). Although children of all races as well as ethnicity were victims of maltreatment, the rates of victimizations were varied.

Out of all the cases involving child maltreatment that were reported during this period, 51.6% of the victims were white, 23.7% of these victims were African American while 12.2% were Hispanic, 2.6 Native Indian American and 2.4 were Asian Pacific Islander. These figures are a representation of the children who have been referred to the CPS, investigated and consequently found to be having credible evidence relating to maltreatment (Berliner, 2000). Additional studies indicate that there are no major differences in the rates of mistreatment between races but that particular races receive different attention during the referral, investigation as well as service allocation process.

The Fatalities As A Result Of the Maltreatment

According to the NCANDS, there were approximately 1500 children who are known to CPS to have died. As a result abuse as well as neglect in the year 2000. More than two-thirds of these children (45.6%) were less than one-year-old. Additionally, the fatalities are a result of maltreatment was more frequently associated with neglect (35.6%) than the other model of maltreatments inclusive of physical abuse (Berliner, 2000).

According to the NCANDS, most of the victims (79.9%) were maltreated by a parent. The attribute is not surprising considering that child maltreatment is defined to be the neglect or abuse of children by their parents or care givers. The definition of individuals falling under the category of caregivers includes the daycare workers, caregivers; residential facility staff, household members as well as relatives vary from one state to another. More than three-fifths (60.1%) of the maltreatment perpetrators were women, with approximately 43% of this group of women perpetrators being less than 30 years of age (Dubowitz, 2000). Although mothers were the regular perpetrators of physical abuse and neglect which are the most common types of maltreatment, fathers were the commonly identified with the perpetration of sexual violence.

Factors That Contribute To Child Abuse As Well As Neglect

There is no unitary known cause if child maltreatment and neither is there a common description that takes into consideration all the families in which children are victims of neglect and abuse. The occurrence of child maltreatment is across the religious, social economic, racial, cultural as well as ethnic groups. Although there are no specific causes identified to cause a parent or any other caregiver to neglect or abuse a child, research has identified various risk factors and attributes that are commonly linked with maltreatment (Dubowitz, 2000). The children who live in families, as well as environments in which these factors are prevalent, have a higher likelihood of experiencing maltreatment. There is a disclaimer in that the factors that cause maltreatment in one family may not cause the vice in another family.

Researchers note that there is the major correlation between poverty and maltreatment although it has been found that most of the families living in poor conditions do not harm their children. It is thus imperative that the professionals are intervening in the case of child maltreatment take into consideration the multiple and complex causes of the problem. Additionally, it is imperative that these professionals customize their assessments as well as treatment of the children along with the families to satisfy the specific needs as well as circumstances of the family.

The risk factors that are associated with child maltreatment largely fall into four huge dimensions. These include the parent/ caregiver attributes child factors, family factors as well as the environmental attributes. The factors that describe parental/ caregiver who are abusive or neglectful include those who have low self-esteem, those who believe that event that occurs in their lives are predetermined by external factors that are beyond their control (Invisible and Exploited Children: A Shame on Us All, 2012). Additionally, those caregivers and parents who have poor impulse control, anxiety, depression, as well as antisocial behavior, are factors that predispose these to be abusive as well as neglectful. Family factors that contribute to the cases of abuse and neglect include environments that have high rates of marital conflicts, single parenthood, domestic violence, unemployment, social isolation as well as financial stress. Although these factors may not cause maltreatment by themselves, they regularly contribute to the negative patterns that relate to the functioning of the families (Dubowitz, 2000).

The children are never responsible for the fact that they are victims of maltreatment. Certain issues, however, have the likelihood of making the children more vulnerable to the maltreating behaviors. Factors as the child’s age as well as development encompassing physical, emotional, mental as well as social factors can increase the vulnerability of the child to maltreatment. These attributes are dependent on the interactions of these attributes with the subsequent parental factors (Dubowitz, 2000). The environmental factors encompass the combination of the family, parent as well as the child factors. The environmental factors encompass poverty as well as unemployment, social isolation along with the diverse community attributes. It is imperative that there is the reiteration of the fact that majority of the parents, as well as caregivers living in these models of the environment, are not always abusive.

Proposed Changes

The various changes that are going to advance the cases of children protection include ensuring that the federal law introduces measures and policies that are going to promote the reporting rate of the child maltreatment cases. In this case, the policies that the federal government needs to legislate should be compelling all the states to legislate laws requiring all members of the public to report any case of child maltreatment. To make it compelling for the states to introduce these legislations, federal funding should be pegged on the complete legislation of these policies by the state governments. The Florida statute should make the penalties relating to the failure to report tougher for all the members of the public who fail to report the evident cases of abuse (Dubowitz, 2000). By making the sentences of these individuals who fail to report the incidents tough as well as publicized, the state is going to succeed in its deterrence function by discouraging the probable perpetrators with the fear of being reported as well being prosecuted.

The advantages of the current law encompass the fact it makes it possible for the various professionals to report the evident cases of child maltreatment. The disadvantage is the fact that other individuals who are not within these professions may not be inclined to report the cases. It is thus imperative that the law requires all members of the public to report the possible cases of child maltreatment.

The advantages of the proposed changes revolve around the fact that there is going to be an increase in the reporting rates along with the tough penalties for those who fail to report. Thus, the consequent deterrent effect of these changes serves to discourage any probable perpetrator from carrying out the vice for fear of the imminent reporting and prosecution.

The disadvantage of the changes is the assertion that some malicious people could abuse the anonymous reporting option to spoil other’s names. Additionally, some states may not be comfortable with the requirements, and since it is a condition to receive federal funding, they lose the funding, which will hurt the overall efforts to deal with the vice.


It is a requirement that every child grows up enjoying the diverse benefits that come with growing in a safe as well as the nurturing environment. The reality that there are hundreds of thousands of children reported as being victims of abuse and neglect annually makes the situation very depressing. As the paper describes, there are various interventions by different stakeholders aimed at promoting the protection of the children. The widespread nature of the child maltreatment vice makes it imperative that all the stakeholders take concerted efforts in the promotion of the safety of these children. Interventions designed to promote the safety of the children along with the environments they live in are necessary to promote their safety.


Berliner, L. (2000). What is sexual abuse? In H. Dubowitz & D. DePanfilis (Eds.), Handbook for child protection practice (pp. 18-22). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Dubowitz, H. (2000). What is physical abuse? In H. Dubowitz & D. DePanfilis (Eds.), Handbook for child protection practice (pp. 16-17). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Invisible and Exploited Children: A Shame on Us All. (2012). Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing, 35(2), 73-74. doi:10.3109/01460862.2012.678264

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at Melda Research in academic writing agencies if you need a similar paper you can place your order for a custom research paper from research paper company.

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