Child abuse

Child abuse
Child abuse is a term used to refer to the physical, sexual or psychological mistreatment, or neglect of a child, by someone who is expected to take care of him or her. Commission or omission, leading to harm on the child amounts to child abuse, with reference to the caregiver, or parent. This paper seeks to find out the causes of child abuse, from a social and psychological perspective. The stand that is taken before the research is the fact that there is no justifiable reason as to why one would abuse a child. The reason for this hypothesis is that a child is an innocent creature, who would barely hurt anyone. Such a creature does not deserve to be subjected to any ill treatment, or denied basic needs in life. Therefore, before starting the research, this is a notion that is to be used as headway to help in finding answers that can aid in understanding child abusers.

Literature review

According to Watkins, child abuse is one of the most complex issues, considering the major causes to which it can be attributed. There is no single cause that can be identified to be unique to the causes of child abuse. As Watkins explains, the best way to analyze this issue is at the individual level. Therefore, understanding child abuse is not about understanding the external environment of the abusers. Instead, it requires careful study of the individual, in order to come up with an accurate conclusion (Watkins, 2009). With this as the first step, there would be need to study the relationships of this abuser. This could also go a long way in understanding the causes of child abuse, as Watkins explains. Finally, he also states that the local community of the abuser could also have a great hand in the intention and actualization of child abuse actions. This proves to be a major eye opener in the research.

Baruah focuses on the specific factors that affect the likelihood of an individual to mistreat a child. Just like Watkins, he makes the same classifications, only with specific examples. For example, at the individual level, he states that there are several factors that may affect the likelihood of occurrence. The first factor that is described in the book is age. In the explanation, Baruah says that the age of an abuser may tell much about their tolerance levels. In the modern world, many youths are becoming parents before they are mature enough. For some of them, the pressure of bringing up a child may be too much, that they take it out on their children. This may also be true for old people, who may have been left with the role of taking care of their grandchildren, with little energy left to fend for them. The other important factor that Baruah talks about is the sex. Mostly, this has been applied for the case of sexual child abuse. As the book says, the sex of the guardian, in relation to that of the child, obviously has a role to play in child abuse. Baruah connects these two factors, mentioning that their combination could lead to a high likelihood of sexual child abuse (Baruah, 2003).

Although not detailed, the book by Fernandes gives tremendous insight on the possible causes of child abuse. Mainly, he deals with the factors that are connected to the society of the abuser. The first fact that has been mentioned in the in the social factors is cultural norms. There are some cultures that have different ways of disciplining children. The fact that there are many cultures in the world ensures that there is no standard way of punishing, or disciplining, children. Due to this, there are some cultures that allow child abuse, without the knowledge of the society that they are infringing on the rights of the child. The other factor that has been explained is that on economic inequality. This is a factor that mainly focuses on omission, as opposed to commission, with regards to child abuse. Inequality in the distribution of economic resources, as explained in the book, makes it more difficult for guardians to provide basic rights for children. In addition, it takes away the attention of the guardians from the children, as they always seek to provide basic necessities. Although the book has discussed many other factors, this is the major one that has been addressed Fernandes, 2009).

According to Langwith, one of the major psychoanalysts in the world, Elizabeth Young-Bruehl is a good source of information on child abuse. In connection to this, the book specifies that the key to understanding the causes of child abuse is based on a close insight on human psychology. According to the book, beliefs regarding the treatment of children are what shapes perceptions towards children and child abuse. Most of the people in the world believe that a child is supposed to receive anything that comes from the direction of the parent. In other words, it does not matter what the parents offer their children. As long as it is from the parents, it is assumed to be fair and just. In addition to this, as long as a child is in the hands of a guardian, the people around do not seem to be interested in how he/she is treated (Langwith, 2011). Instead, they believe that a parent will always do what is best for the child. However, this is a notion and perception with which Langwith disagrees. In most of the book, emphases are put into the fact that the society has a huge role to play in the protection of children against child abuse.

The book by Newton and Gerrits pays special attention to a different cause of child abuse, which makes it unique. Unlike other books, this one talks about the relationship between the child abuser and his/her spouse. According to this piece, different spouses have different relationships, based on choice, or circumstances. One major consideration linked to child abuse is abuse on a spouse. According to the book, a person who abuses their spouse is more likely to abuse the child, as opposed to someone who does not. This is a fact that has been proven by research from different interested parties. Despite this insight, it is not possible to know, accurately, if strife in a marriage is the major cause of child abuse. In the same way, it is difficult to establish if child abuse, as well as abuse of the spouse is caused by the tendencies of the abuser Newton & Gerrits, 2011).

Methods and data

Understanding the psychology of child abusers is difficult, judging by that fact that children can barely express themselves. Apart from getting views from the abused children, the abusers and authorities were the remaining sources of direct information. This research needed more accurate responses, to aid in understanding the causes of child abuse. With this in mind, it was important to talk to the people who were abused, as children. Finding this people among other people in society was difficult. It has to be made possible by a distinguishing factor. The first step in the method used was to identify people who had grown up in foster families. In the school environment, it is easy to know something about everyone, which is why it was easy to identify them. Among them, sensitively conducted interviews on whether they were abused as children made the chosen students fewer and more objective to the research. In the end, five students, who had been abused as children were used as interviewees for this research, based on personal consent and expression skills, which were vital for the interview. Using them, it would be easier to get a more direct perspective of child abusers, ensuring that the causes of child abuse are well identified. Five interviews were conducted on these students, with their consent, each lasting about 25 minutes. This allowed ample time for the interviewees to express what they thought as causes of child abuse.


Some of the interviews, especially the first one, took more time, due to the emotional content expressed. In the first case, the boy explained that the major cause of physical abuse, from the father, was caused by substance abuse. As he explained, when his father was sober, he was the best man that he ever knew. Since his mother passed away, his father had turned to drugs for a solution. He says that he never understood his father, after he became addicted to the drugs. For years, he was abused by a father who had always been so kind and gentle. This story recurred for the second interviewee, suggesting a trend. The other interviewee brought in a major insight to the research. This 16 year old boy explained that his mother had high expectations for her son. In every step of the way, her goals for her son were very clear. When his son was unable to achieve these goals, she became frustrated. She started abusing him, until reports were made to authorities.

The fourth interviewee shed light on two issues seen in research from secondary sources. The first issue is that of habit. The young girl explained that her father used to abuse her mother, since she was little. Information from her relatives revealed that it began, even before she was born. Her father ended up extending the habit to his child, making matters worse. Although the mother could stand abuse, she could not stand to see it occur to her child. This was why she reported it, despite the fact that she was an illegal immigrant engaging in an illegal business. This saw them both incarcerated leaving their daughter in the hands of a foster family. The other girl interviewed was important, as she represented sexual child abuse. When both her parents passed away, she was left in the hands of her 34 year old uncle, who was happily parried. In one year, the uncle was divorced, leaving him to take care of his niece, the interviewee, alone. As she grew, he started making advances to the innocent child, abusing her, sexually, for more than 2 years. Later, the child was rescued by her teacher, who noticed discomfort in the child, after paying close attention.


First, it is important to acknowledge the fact that the findings disagree with the hypothesis of the research. Clearly, there is a reason behind every identified case of child abuse, as shown through the conducted interviews. Despite this, there was some information that accurately coincided with information obtained from the chosen literature. For example, the fact that personal psychology is important can be explained by the case of substance abuse, as well as unusually high expectations on children. These two reveal irresponsibility and inability to handle disappointment, both vital qualities for any parent or guardian. However, an important fact was revealed, although it was not mentioned in the literature review. As explained by one of the interviewees, the uncle abused her sexually, mainly because of the troubles that had befallen him. After a divorce, he was left with a girl child, yet he was not mature enough to assume fatherhood, without the presence of other family members.


This research reveals a major component of child abuse causes; the government. It is better for the government to ensure that children are in the right hands, as opposed to rescuing them. Most of the identified causes of child abuse are ones that the government can anticipate, through thorough and accurate research on conditions of the conditions of every child. For this reason, policy makers and researchers should give more attention to government efforts and faults, with regards to child abuse. On its part, the government should invest more resources in educating the public about child abuse, in order to have more cases reported. Finally, although this research was successful, it only used a small sample. Its procedure, carried out at a larger scale, would be more inclusive of different populations, providing vital information to combat child abuse.



Watkins, H. (2009). Child abuse. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.

Baruah, A. (2003). Child abuse. New Delhi: Reference Press.

Fernandes, B. J. (2009). Child abuse. Detroit: Lucent Books.

Langwith, J. (2011). Child abuse. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.

Newton, S., & Gerrits, J. (2011). Child abuse. St. Catharines, Ont.: Crabtree Pub. Co.

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