Child maltreatment is one of the most urgent concerns in the contemporary social sciences domain. Child neglect and abuse cases occur very frequently, and academic and practice-oriented efforts need continuous improvement to eliminate this problem. While child maltreatment is relevantly addressed in the scholarly literature, it is essential to identify the risk factors, reasons, symptoms, and ways of solving this problem on both theoretical and practical levels. This paper aims at exploring the causes, effects, prevention, and treatment of child neglect and abuse in order to understand the state of affairs around this disturbing social problem. The research topic is of a high level of relevance due to the key role of childhood development in the overall human life span. The elimination of childhood problems will contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of the adult population in the future.
Child maltreatment is a broad and complex concept that entails a wide range of problematic issues, including neglect, sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, which traumatize children and endanger their health, well-being, and life. As the analyzed literature indicates, the most frequently observed causes of child abuse and neglect derive from several risk factor domains (Mulder et al., 2018). Firstly, on the family level, the causes of neglect and abuse of a child include single-parent families, large families, physical abuse at home, low social support, poverty, and deviant family demeanor. Secondly, on the parents’ level, the risk factors include the parental history of criminal or mental problems, unemployment, substance abuse, history of parental neglect, and insufficient education. Thirdly, on the child level, perinatal, physical, and mental problems are commonly identified as causes of neglect and abuse (Mulder et al., 2018). All these causes have a severe adverse effect on the development of a child.
There are significant negative implications of child maltreatment for a child’s well-being and health later in the lifespan. According to Nemeroff (2016), there is a range of psychiatric and medical disorders and social problems related to the traumatizing experience of abuse and neglect in childhood. These issues range from PTSD, major depression, and substance abuse to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, suicide attempts, and other disorders (Nemeroff, 2016). Given the severity of consequences, the problem of child maltreatment is addressed on both preventative and treatment levels.
The prevention of child abuse and neglect is performed in various forms. It is commonly aimed at raising awareness about the phenomenon, providing necessary resources to identify and report the cases, and initiating special agencies aimed at controlling childcare. On the one hand, preventing measures are applied to minimize the influence of risk factors, which is manifested through large scale policies of eliminating poverty and improving social standards of life (Prinz, 2016). On the other hand, the efforts are put to improve parenting quality by using knowledge in “child development, family interaction, and developmental psychopathology and resilience, and change processes” (Prinz, 2016, p. 401). These measures are implemented at community and governmental levels. To provide treatment to children that have been victimized in a family, admission to several providers by Child Protective Services is possible (Swenson & Schaeffer, 2018). They include family therapy, medical assistance, outpatient clinics, and other measures of treatment.
In conclusion, child neglect and abuse are an internationally recognized phenomenon manifested through parental neglectful attitude, sexual, emotional, or physical abuse of a child. The problem’s causes are rooted in poverty, family history of criminal or mental issues, substance abuse, single-parent families, and other socio-economic and psychological factors. The adverse outcomes are observable across a child’s lifespan and might lead to social, psychiatric, and medical disorders and deviances. Preventative and treatment measures are implemented to educate parents and improve the population’s overall socio-economic status to eliminate the problem
Mulder, T. M., Kuiper, K. C., van der Put, C. E., Stams, G. J. J., & Assink, M. (2018). Risk factors for child neglect: A meta-analytic review. Child Abuse & Neglect, 77, 198-210.
Nemeroff, C. B. (2016). Paradise lost: The neurobiological and clinical consequences of child abuse and neglect. Neuron, 89(5), 892-909.
Prinz, R. J. (2016). Parenting and family support within a broad child abuse prevention strategy: Child maltreatment prevention can benefit from public health strategies. Child Abuse & Neglect, 51, 400-406.
Swenson, C. C., & Schaeffer, C. M. (2018). A multisystemic approach to the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. International Journal on Child Maltreatment: Research, Policy and Practice, 1(1), 97-120.