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Child Maltreatment

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    Every person has had the opportunity to experience childhood whether it was bad or good. For some, childhood may have been awesome without any worries and then there are those whose childhood experience has been nothing but stress and family hardship in which those families ended up turning to public intervention for help. This policy analysis will elaborate on child maltreatment, who is impacted by it, The effect of maltreatment, and how it interacts with other social problems. Child maltreatment is a major social problem and it dates back from the 1700’s till the present date.

    It is divided into 4 categories which are sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Wissow defines child maltreatment as “an intentional harm or a threat of harm to a child by someone acting in a role of care taker”. Sexual abuse is the inappropriate touching of a child or viewing of explicit sexual material through an older person. Physical abuse is inflicting bodily injury by force. Emotional abuse is demeaning or overly distant behavior by parent that interferes with a child’s normal social or psychological development.

    Neglect which is considered to be the most life threatening is the failure of a parent to provide their child with shelter, food, support or medical care. Approximately 1. 4 million U. S children under the age of 18 experience some form of maltreatment each year. At one point of time it was left up to the family as being held accountable for the caring of children, but as time evolved public intervention has began to step in if a family is considered to be incapable of care or a risk to a child’s well being.

    In connection to children and families, public intervention has been mandated and guided by social welfare policies so known as Child welfare policies. In the 1700’s when parents could not care for and support their children they sent them off to work in a factory or for other families. This was labeled as child labor. Religious groups and others were not happy about the children being forced to work long hours so they began to press for reforms.

    Charles Dickens an English writer wrote the book Oliver Twist which helped publicize the cruelty of child labor. As a result the first orphanage was established and from 1802 to 1878 multiple laws were passed that shortened the working hours and raised the age limit. By the 1900’s the first federal children’s orphanages were established to give shelter to children who parents were deceased or no longer deemed fit to take care of the child. In the year of 1935 the Social Security Act of 1935 was established on August 14, 1935.

    As a result several programs came into act such as the old-age insurance, unemployment insurance, and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in which was originally known as Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) but later on in 1996 was replaced by Temporary assistance to needy families (TANF). During the 1950’s children were denied Aid to Dependent Children benefits if their mothers were unwed. This brought about The Fleming Rule in 1960. In 1961 the amendment to the Social Security Act established the creation of Foster Care of Aid to Dependent Children where the states received funding for foster care payments.

    Foster care was initially created as a temporary living arrangement for children who were at a high risk of poor life outcomes. The Social Security act was amended again in 1967 making it mandatory that all states have AFDC-Foster Care. There are several laws and acts that were passed in the best interest of children but I won’t touch basis on them all. The last act that I would like to discuss is The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (public Law 93-247). This act was passed in 1974.

    Each state were required to establish investigations systems and child abuse reporting procedures in order to receive the federal funding from the government for child abuse prevention and treatment. There is no specific age limit to who may become a victim of child abuse and neglect but the most targeted are younger children. They are more likely to be physically abused and sustain minor to serious injuries. Girls have a greater risk of being sexually abused then males.

    As stated on child welfare Information Gateway as a child grows older its impact can become more severe and effect their health and physical development, intellectual and cognitive development, emotional and psychological development, and social and behavioral development. The effect of maltreatment can become a long term consequence which affects the 4 developments I mentioned a moment ago. Child maltreatment victims tend to perform poorly on an academic level which causes another social problem in education. The witnessing of domestic violence also causes impact on a child.

    It has been stated that even if the child is not the target of domestic violence the witnessing of it can still affect that child and cause severe emotional and developmental difficulties as if the child was the direct target. If a child is present during an act of domestic violence the penalties are higher and the fines and jail terms are longer then if the child was not present. Lets’ take the state of Louisiana for example: If a child that witnesses domestic violence and is 13 years old or younger the minimum mandatory sentence for a first or second offense shall not be suspended.

    The minimum mandatory sentence imposed for a third offense shall be 2 years without suspension of sentence. The minimum mandatory sentence imposed for a fourth or subsequent offense shall be 4 years without suspension of sentence. It is also stated that the abuser has to cover all court cost and fees and cost of medical and psychological care for the adult that was abused and the child that witnessed the abuse. The public law policy number is 93-247. I t was passed in 1974, however it has been revised on numerous occasions with the latest being revised in 2003, by Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 (P.

    L. 108-36). The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act also known as CAPTA funds many states and aide to the prevention and treatment of child abuse and child neglect cases. Some of the many nonprofit groups and organizations receive federal funding and grants for many of their child abuse prevention activities and programs that are based in communities and/or schools. The outcome of child welfare policy is based on 3 important components Safety, permanency, and well being.

    1. Safety being that the child is protected from child abuse and neglect. 2. Children have permanency and stability in their living situation. 3. Children receive the appropriate services to meet their physical, and mental health needs and educational needs. In my own opinion the policy has improved since it was first implicated but there are still some areas that need touching up on for example the foster care program I don’t think a child should be removed from its home and placed into another strangers home.

    If child abuse and neglect is suspected in the home I think the child should be placed in the custody of another relative while the investigation is in progress. I think if it is done that way there would be a decrease in the number of children who act out or end up being anti social because they’re in an environment that they know nothing about. In conclusion the main points of my policy analysis focused on the safety and wellbeing and the implicating of policies for children who are victims of child abuse and neglect.

    Although the child welfare policy is still being improved and is getting better each time there are still some problems with system that need to be worked on. As social workers we work with tons of children and their families who may be victims of child abuse and neglect. Some recommendations would be the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, Indian Health Service, and Early Head Start. All these programs offer assistance in addressing the issue and providing the appropriate services to children and their families


    U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth and Families. Child Maltreatment 2006. Washington, DC, U. S. Government Printing Office, 2008. Slack, K. S. , Holl, J. L. , McDaniel, M. , Yoo, J. , & Bolger, K. (2011). Understanding the Risks of Child Neglect. Child Maltreatment: A Collection of Readings, 182. Leventhal JM (2003). Child maltreatment: Neglect to abuse. In CD Rudolph et al. , eds. , Rudolph’s Pediatrics, 21st ed. , pp. 463-469. New York: McGraw-Hill. Gilbert, R. Kemp, A. , Thoburn, J. , Sidebotham, P. , Radford, L. , Glaser, D. , & MacMillan, H. L. (2009). Child Maltreatment 2 Recognising and responding to child maltreatment. The Lancet, 373(9658), 167-180. Currie, J. , Widom, C. (2010) “Long-Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect on Adult Economic Well-Being” vol. 15 no. 2 pg 111-120 Child Welfare information Gateway (2009) Child Witness to Domestic Violence: Summary of State laws (online) Wissow, Lawrence (1995) Child Abuse & neglect pg 1425 (online source)

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