When studying child abuse, it is necessary to pay attention to the sexual abuse of children by men because such violence has become widespread in the entire civilized world. For victims, it is fraught with the fact that the realization of the terrible events of childhood can lead (and leads) a person to the “crisis of objective identity”, which for a long time leads him out of a full social and personal life, and often causes withdrawal into various forms of deviant behavior. The issue of sexual abuse of children by women is also important. Obviously, such abuses take place. At the same time, like other forms of deviant behavior of women, they often remain outside the field of view of researchers and law enforcement agencies (Young 1369–81).
The next issue that needs attention is the prevalence of child abuse in the process of pedagogical influence. As the data of medical statistics show, in the outpatient practice of pediatricians there is a significant number of sick children and adolescents who need to resolve their psychological problems. There are more than 40% of children show somatogenic psychiatric disorders; in 20% of cases – a variety of somato-vegetative symptoms, mainly of psychogenic origin; 10% had psychotic disorders; 14% of children were at risk because they were in unfavorable family conditions or were inadequately raised; at present, over 8 million children are diagnosed with psychosomatic disorders annually. Studies conducted during the last decade show that violence against children is more and more openly, brazenly, and unabashedly, acquiring increasingly sophisticated forms (Stoltenborgh 345–55). It can be said that child abuse occurs where and when children are actually harmed through insult, unjust punishment, beatings, excessive demands, or prohibitions of anything from “love of the child”. It includes physical ill-treatment, murder, harm due to lack of assistance, lack of necessary protection and care, harm to the psyche, and neglect.
Neglect is the absence of such necessary components of the normal development of the child as care, maintenance (food, clothing, etc.), health care, protection, control, and exactingness of parents or guardians. The concept of “child’s health” should be considered in this context vary widely: it is physical development in accordance with age, and mental health, and social maturity. It is important to pay attention to the fact that lack of exactingness and control on the part of parents is assessed not only as disregard but also as cruel treatment. The basis for this approach is the following considerations (Young 1369–81). In the process of pedagogical and socialization, the child must learn those norms and moral practices that have developed in society. Only then does he has a chance to integrate into the social space and take a certain socially approved position, which gives him the opportunity to act legally. Otherwise, he will have to go the way of forming a deviant or criminal career, which, growing from unfavorable conditions in the family, can develop in three ways:
- “Failure at school – acquaintance with criminal subculture – offenses – prison/colony – profound professionalization in the underworld”;
- “Failure at school – acquaintance with delinquent subculture – deviant behavior (abuse of alcohol, drugs, prostitution, etc.) – death or suicide”;
- overlapping the first and second directions.
Psychological or emotionally ill-treatment: behavior that causes fear in children; underestimated or overstated requirements, which testify to the non-recognition of the child by parents and prevent them from building up their own values. This includes mental rigidity; psychological pressure in humiliating forms (humiliation, insult), as well as some prohibitions of something allegedly justified by love; hyper-care, and excessive care, which can cause feelings of helplessness, uselessness, and absolute dependence on the child on the parents. Forcing “out of love” and neglecting children’s needs is also violence (Gould 500–06). Violence against the soul refers to a form of violence that is difficult to recognize and perceive. It makes the child insecure, compels them to keep apart, drives them into depression and sadness, or makes them aggressive and capable of retaliatory violence (maybe not now, but after a while, perhaps, in years). Signals of such violence are fearfulness, intimidation, obedience, apathy, depression, passivity, retardation of growing up, anxiety, helplessness, and non-communication. Violent physical treatment is a violent impact on a child that leads or can lead to physical harm (Young 1369–81).
Rigidity and intensity of violent behavior are assessed depending on the age and sensitivity of the child, as well as on the relationship between the adult and the child (there is an opinion that the more horrible the apparent manifestations of physical violence, the more terrible consequences for the development of the child. Studies, however, show that this is not the case, since children and adolescents differ significantly in their psychological characteristics. Sexual abuse occurs when a child is used by an adult or an older child (adolescent) as an object for satisfying sexual needs with or without violence (Morton 952–61). At the same time, the rapist abuses the child’s trust and uses his power capabilities. The most common forms of sexual abuse: verbal harassment; “Sexual touch”; oral, vaginal, and anal rape. The child does not always realize the importance of abuse (and he will not necessarily be physically harmed), so he can reasonlessly agree to the actions suggested to him (Hildyard 6–7).
The following definition is proposed, which generalizes the point of view of various authors who study the problem of child abuse. Child abuse is the actions (or inaction) of parents, caregivers, and others that harm the child’s physical or mental health. There are several types of ill-treatment: physical, sexual, mental (emotionally wrong treatment) violence, and lack of care (neglecting the basic needs of the child). Violence is any form of relationship aimed at establishing or retaining control by force over another person. Sexual abuse of children is any contact or interaction in which a child is sexually stimulated or used for sexual stimulation. Recognition of signs of child abuse and neglect of parental responsibility is the responsibility of employees of the bodies and institutions of the system for preventing child neglect and juvenile delinquency. Not always these signs are obvious and often only close contact with the child and his parents can reveal the cruel treatment of children.
Hildyard, Kathryn L., and David A. Wolfe. “Child Neglect: Developmental Issues and Outcomes.” Child Abuse and Neglect, vol. 26, no. 6–7, 2002, pp. 679–95, doi:10.1016/S0145-2134(02)00341-1.
Young, Joanna Cahall, and Cathy Spatz Widom. “Long-Term Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect on Emotion Processing in Adulthood.” Child Abuse & Neglect, vol. 38, no. 8, 2014, pp. 1369–81, doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.03.008.
Stoltenborgh, Marije, et al. “The Neglect of Child Neglect: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Prevalence of Neglect.” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, vol. 48, no. 3, 2013, pp. 345–55, doi:10.1007/s00127-012-0549-y.
Gould, Felicia, et al. “The Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect on Cognitive Functioning in Adulthood.” Journal of Psychiatric Research, vol. 46, no. 4, 2012, pp. 500–06, doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2012.01.005.
Morton, Cory M., et al. “Neighborhood Alcohol Outlet Density and Rates of Child Abuse and Neglect: Moderating Effects of Access to Substance Abuse Services.” Child Abuse and Neglect, vol. 38, no. 5, 2014, pp. 952–61, doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.01.002.