What are the prevalent reasons for child abuse? Experts have traced the causes and precursors to child abuse and violence to the condition – both mental and emotional state of either the birth parents, or any appointed caregiver for the child – whether a kin or “non-kin” as having the most impact on the quality or deterioration of care for children. Although it has been defined in some studies that statistically, race has something to do with the predisposition of children to be remanded to the foster system, the problem is fundamental and lies in the core of existing family values and economic state of the nation.
I quote the study “Covering Child Abuse”: “minority and poor children are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system, and the reasons vary. Child welfare experts argue among themselves about whether the over-representation of African American children is due to bias in the system or to economic and social factors -- poverty, joblessness, absent fathers, substance abuse, higher overall levels of violence -- which leave some families more vulnerable to abuse and neglect… Douglas J.
Besharov, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, believes crack cocaine is part of the reason for the growth of the number of children in foster care over the last decade and why the growth occurred predominantly among African American children… With the rising use of crack cocaine beginning in the mid-1980s, increasing numbers of drug exposure ("Covering Child Abuse," 1997). What is the incidence of child abuse in a foster care setting? According to the most recent available data from the US Department of Health and Human Services Website – which is the 2003 Report on Children Maltreatment:
"Of the children in foster care during the period under review, 0. 57 percent or fewer were the subject of substantiated or indicated maltreatment by a foster parent or facility staff member. " To roughly estimate this, would be a little less than 90,000 children per year. This is till a lot considering the efforts and resources being put into the child welfare system. What’s worse is the far-reaching consequences of children being abuse not just inside of their homes – but more so in the child welfare and supposed “protective” agencies.
What are the direct consequences of child abuse? In a study by Garbarino, it was simply stated as follows: “Even a cursory review of the literature reveals numerous possibilities. These include death, permanent disability, developmental delay, speech and learning problems, impaired attachment relations, self- and other-directed aggression, psychosis (particularly multiple personalities), juvenile delinquency…” (Garbarino, 1987, p. 299). The impact is also far-reaching in the sense that in another study by Gelles, et. al.
as early as 1987, it was found out that most cases of child abuse were also done by prior victims of child abuse themselves. Multiplying that effect is almost catastrophic to even imagine. What can we do to stem the tide of violence against children? There is no simple solution to the question but there are things that can be done. First and foremost is the identification of the stakeholders whose participation can prove critical to a possible solution or provision of alternatives to the issue of child abuse and maltreatment.
These stakeholders are the parents, immediate relatives or kin of the children involved, social workers, other caregivers (non-kin), the media, immediate communities, state and federal agencies. Possible roles that each of these stakeholders may play are as follows: 1. Parents of the children. Usually, the parents of the children are the perpetrators of the abuse for one reason or another. However, they may still play a big role in the prevention of further abuse of their children by seeking help early and by acknowledging the problems that triggered the abuse.
This maybe in the form of substance and alcohol abuse. Parents may also be victims of abuse as children and this has to be confronted too. There are a number of counseling services and these are usually available to the public via the social service network or even private institutions who provide counseling services for free or with a minimum charge. If children can stay with their nuclear family, a lot of “systemic dislocation” and possible abuse down the line can be prevented.