Sample Research paper on Child Abuse


Child abuse has been in existence for quite a long time now however there have been more elaborate measures to try and protect the child a guarantee his rights of a child. Child abuse has been largely defined as the maltreatment of the physical mistreatment of a child. It could also be said to be molestation or neglect of a child. Mistreatment can be from a parent, a guardian or any other person.  A parent who neglects his child can be said to be. Child abuse may also result in serious harm or death to the child. Child abuse can be manifested in one or all of the following ways: sexual molestation or abuse, neglect of the child, abuse can be physical, emotional or psychological. Child abuse can have serious consequences to the wellbeing of a child, his parents and the society he lives in. to what extent is child abuse exercised, to what extent and what are the probable causes of child abuse. The society we live in has put in much effort in structuring laws and carrying out civic education and sensitization programs with the intention of curbing the manifestation of this vice.

Child abuse has existed for as long as time. Children have been victims of abuse from adults and parents ever since. Hartson and Payne (2006) state in their book that common law for example considered children as properties of their parents and therefore the parents could do as they please to the child. The same was the tradition in the United States. These cultures were widespread even after civilization and very little or nothing at all was being done to stop the vise. There have been several documented cases of child abuse reported allover but one such instance that captured the attention of the world is that of Mary Allen. This case marked a turning point on child abuse and how it was viewed in the 1870s. Mary Allen suffered extensive abuse where she endured frequent beatings at her foster parents’ home. At that time in the American society, there were no organizations that could help her. Her plight however captured the sympathy of the least likely defenders or organization, the American Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The attorneys representing the girl had a good convincing argument to the judge who penalized the foster parents. This classic case made a precedent and led to the great agitation of the 1874 for greater protection of children from instances of abuse. New York City was the first to come up with an organization mandated to monitor and deal with reported cases of child abuse (Flegel, 2009).

Child abuse has manifested itself in many different ways and the society and law enforcement agencies have had to think of ways to solve the problem and depart from the tradition where children were considered properties

How children are abused

Sexual molestation in children is where children are subjected to sexual acts by adults or perverted parents and guardians. According to Wakefield and Underwager (1988) the acceptance of the fact that sexual abuse indeed was prevalent and a big problem was only acknowledged in the 1970s. Children were largely abused by their relatives sexual abuse can take different forms. It can be through touching or non touching sexual acts (Wakefield and Underwager, 1988).

According to National Research Council (U.S.) (1993), neglect of children has been on a steady increase in the United States. Neglect has been the greatest contributor of fatalities in the United States. Neglect is where the parent or guardian or caregiver does not what is appropriate for the child. It could be housing or financial need for the child to be comfortable. Neglect can be manifested in several ways: there is the education neglect where the caregiver is required to enroll the child to basic education, not providing medical care and not providing shelter to the child.

There is also the physical type of abuse. Physical is that harm caused to a child. This harm can be anything less harmful like bruises to serious harm like broken bones. Physical abuse is traumatic and my automatically lead to psychological harm to the child. Psychological effects result from the other types of abuses including neglect. Children deserve to be treated with dignity. This will ensure that they have uninterrupted growth to be able to develop properly. Abuse distracts the smooth development of children (Jenny, 2011).

Causes of child abuse

It cannot be conclusive to really state the causes of child abuse but traditions have shown some to be very major. Some causes are:

  • Divorce or separation would cause a child to be neglected or suffer psychologically and emotionally.
  • Poverty would make it hard for parents or caregivers to provide for the child.
  • Lack of a meaningful employment may also lead to cases of child abuse
  • Depression has also been known to be a major cause of child abuse. For example a single mother neglected or rejected by the man and is raising the child may abuse the child out of bitterness.
  • Substance abuse is the single major contributor and cause of child abuse. People who abuse drugs have been known to be hostile and disrespectful to children. Children exposed to substance abuse at a tender age are most likely to be culprits of substance abuse by induction. The chances that a child born to a family that abuses drugs will equally abuse drugs in their adult life are very high.
  • Children with disabilities have been victims of abuse probably due to their situation. There are far much less cases of abuse of these special children compared to their abled counterparts.
  • Children born out of wedlock have also been abused. This may have resulted from depression and the difficulty faced by the parents raising them up.
  • In the US alone there have been several documented cases of children killed by non biological fathers.  Non biological fathers are likely to discriminate on children that are not their own. This phenomenon may be attributed to the inability or resentment of providing for a child that does not belong to him at the expense of his own (Cicchetti and Carlson, 1989).

The society is always in a state of conflict and therefore competition for the limited resources is one of the major causes of child abuse. When resources are limited the frustrations are passed on to the child who in this case is innocent. The rich will always want to be rich and the poor will always struggle to be rich. Carl Marx appreciated the competition in society (Leon-Guerrero, 2011).

There is the functionalist approach with regards to child abuse. The society is in a state of balancing at each time and when this state is frustrated or not achieved the society relapses to conflict. These conflicts trickle down to children who end up being abused by frustrated parents who cannot afford a comfortable living in the society

Symbolic interactionism on the other hand is the association of the members of the society. Once this association is not thee the children tend to be abused by other members of the society. When there is last, the predators are likely to prey on the child. This gives rise to cases of sexual abuse.

Common cultural instances of child abuse

Some practices have been seen as good examples of cultural practices or norms where children are abused. It is illegal to employ young children. It becomes child abuse when the children are made to work when they should be going to school. This is called child labor and it is a crime punishable by law.

According to Kendall and Funk (2012), child trafficking victims are not prostitutes par se but rather victims. Child trafficking rampant and is classified as child abuse. It is a crime as well. Child trafficking is where children are transferred or forcibly transferred to other states for exploitation or for other illegal purposes like prostitution and forced labor. Children trafficked are also at times forced to be child soldiers in conflict areas or radicalized into terrorism as is the case now (Kendall and Funk, 2012).

Impact of child abuse to individual

Child abuse can have a very serious impact on the child both in the short term and in the long term as well. The world of a child is greatly dependent on that of a caregiver and therefore it is right to say that that is their world. An abuse therefore from the person depended heavily upon can be catastrophic to the child. It is therefore right to say that the overall performance of the child will depend heavily on how he is treated growing up. The effects of abuse have the tendency to build up over a period of time. To remedy this situation, the problems must first be identified for a better solution.

Children depend heavily on their parents for security and safety. When these core responsibilities are not assured by the parents, then automatically the child will grow up an enemy of the word. The effects of the lack of care and security will have long term effects on the child and may be unable to sustain these attributes throughout his life. The child will be a danger to himself because he will most likely subject himself, in future, or disregard security and safety in his adult life.

A child that was sexually abused will not only have her sexual life significantly affected in future but will also lose significant trust. The child may have serious episodes of depression and may resort to antisocial behavior. The sexual life of the child will also be significantly affected and may have to go through several counseling sessions to have a normal sexual life.

Child abuse also affects the physical and the psychological wellbeing of a child when he grows up. These traumatic experiences may heavily affect the lifespan of an abused child. Some may even resort to suicide if no immediate assistance is given to mitigate the effects of an abusive childhood

Children abused have to undergo trauma. Trauma implodes in an individual and will definitely drive the child in his adulthood life to crime and other evils to ease the stress and pain experienced. Trauma is more psychological.

A child who is physically abused will most definitely suffer long term effects. The abuse will interfere with his ability to have lasting relationships; it also interferes with the physical growth. They also may suffer from various mental diseases. Physically abused people during childhood isolate themselves and are seriously anti social. Abuse may also greatly affect output and performance when employed. Abused people also exhibit a lot of aggression towards other people (Lemoncelli, 2012).

Impact of child abuse on society

Whereas child abuse is prevalent at the smallest unit of a family, its impact and costs is felt and paid by the society. A neglected child for example will require members of the society to pay to maintain the normal life of the child. Various departments in the society that respond to neglected children require money to provide the very necessities the neglected child needs, it could be medical or legal or social needs.

A person abused during childhood will most likely have the effects exhibited by his input in whatever he does. The output will be low and will not have motivation to work due to impairment caused during childhood. A person who went through abuse will be ranked low on performance compared to one who was raised properly. Output affects the overall production in a society.

People who were abused during childhood are also most likely to engage in crime and drug abuse. The effects of such behavior will be felt by the society directly. The security of a society will be compromised and this will greatly affect the economic performance and freedoms of other people.

The society will also bear the costs of rehabilitating and taking care of people suffering from long term effects of abuse subjected to them by their caregivers during childhood. This will include medication, shelter and counseling costs.

Past attempts to solve child labor

The history of child abuse is long and historical. The United States came up with what they called mandatory reporting that required cases of child abuse to be reported by professionals in the society. This mandatory reporting was exercised from the early 1970s. In 1974 legislation Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was put in place to help deal with cases of child abuse. It must be noted though that prevalence of child abuse is still high (James, 2008).

The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) has had the mandate of gathering data and statistics on child abuse. This has greatly helped other agencies to analyze data and come up with ways of tackling child abuse. The data has also been used by the state to enforce laws against child abuse. According to Ascione (2004), there is need for sound data collection systems to be able to measure the level of kindness and abuse.

My own solutions

Responsibility of raising children does not only belong to their parents but the society at large. This therefore bestows responsibility on each member of the society to provide best care for children whether own or not.

The government should be at the forefront in preventing child abuse by putting in place mechanisms that help detect and promptly prosecute those reasonable for such vices. However there is more that can be done to prevent occurrence of child abuse. For example, the government should help alleviate poverty by improving the standards of living of members in the society. Poverty is one major cause of child abuse. With proper employment opportunities, the caregivers are able to fulfill their obligations of providing adequately for the child’s physical and emotional needs.

The government should also set up elaborate measures to control drug and substance abuse. This can be achieved by effective control and monitoring of border posts of illegal entries. Proper surveillance should also be available.

Basic counseling services should be made easily available to both the victims of child abuse and caregivers. The society should invest in setting up centers that offer these essential services.


Child abuse is still rampant and widely exercised by the society.  There however have been numerous efforts to tackle child abuse through enactment of laws and formation of monitoring and reporting organizations.

Whereas I sought to fine the main cause of child abuse, there seems to be no single probable cause of child abuse. The causes are diverse and the only way to tackle the problem is by avoiding the reactionist mentality and tackling the vice at its onset. Child abuse can be prevented by making sure the society does not get to levels of frustration that otherwise have a ripple effect on the child. Measures should also be put in place to distract caregivers from resorting to child abuse.



Ascione, F. R. (2004). Children and animals: Exploring the roots of kindness and cruelty. West Lafayette, Ind: Purdue University Press.

Cicchetti, D., & Carlson, V. (1989). Child maltreatment: Theory and research on the causes and consequences of child abuse and neglect. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cicchetti, D., & Carlson, V. (1989). Child maltreatment: Theory and research on the causes and consequences of child abuse and neglect. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Flegel, M. (2009). Conceptualizing cruelty to children in nineteenth-century England: Literature, representation, and the NSPCC. Farnham, England: Ashgate.

Hartson, J., & Payne, B. (2006). Creating effective parenting plans: A developmental approach for lawyers and divorce professionals. Chicago: American Bar Association.

James, R. K. (2008). Crisis intervention strategies. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.

Jenny, C. (2011). Child abuse and neglect: Diagnosis, treatment, and evidence. St. Louis, Mo: Saunders/Elsevier.

Kendall, V. M., & Funk, T. M. (2012). Child exploitation and trafficking: Examining the global challenges and U.S. responses. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Lemoncelli, J. J. (2012). Healing from childhood abuse: Understanding the effects, taking control to recover. Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger.

Leon-Guerrero, A. (2011). Social problems: Community, policy, and social action. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Pine Forge Press.

Wakefield, H., & Underwager, R. C. (1988). Accusations of child sexual abuse. Springfield, Ill., U.S.A: C.C. Thomas.