People encounter numerous social problems, which result in serious and long-lasting consequences. However, in terms of severity, few can be compared to child abuse, with it being one of the most pronounced and common issue of the contemporary world. Naturally, it has to be addressed as quickly and efficiently as possible, before the effect it has on society becomes irreversible. However, in order to address this issue properly, one must possess comprehensive knowledge about its features and peculiarities. Therefore, it is necessary to review the problem of child abuse at both local and global scales, paying attention to the current preventive measures taken by the society and recent scientific advances in this field.
In general, child abuse is a cruel treatment of children that can be expressed in a form of physical, sexual, or emotional violence. Lack of care also falls into this category, contributing to the problem complexity, with it being present both in the developed and developing states. In particular, in the U.S., more than 20,000 children have died, becoming victims of their own relatives, in the course of the last decade. Moreover, the level of child mortality due to the adult violence is three times higher in the U.S. than in Canada and eleven times higher than in Italy. As a result, each year, millions of cases of child negligence and abuse are recorded in the country. According to McCoy and Keen, the primary reason for such situation is the fact that among the developed countries, the U.S. is in the leading position in terms of teenage pregnancies, exclusions from high school, violent crimes, imprisonments, and poverty. Such factors are directly related to abuse and negligence. The international statistics does not show positive results as well. Currently, about 10% of the boys in the world become subject to sexual abuse during their childhood while for the girls, this figure reaches 20%. In terms of physical violence, the share of victims is even larger, varying between 25% and 50% of the population. In other words, the expression of violence towards children has become a common practice, with up to half of them becoming a subject to maltreatment. Such alarming facts indicate the severity of this issue. That is why further analysis of this social phenomenon is needed.
The importance to study the problem of child abuse stems from the fact that it is a global problem with serious, often life-long consequences. In particular, any form of violent treatment of childhood increases the chances of chronic diseases, reduced life expectancy, and deviant behavior among the victims. Given the fact that children are the foundation of future society, it is obvious that their maltreatment will affect their ability to develop and prosper in the long-term perspective. In addition, poor health condition will reduce the productivity of the society member and lead to the growth of healthcare costs, thus increasing the strain on the budget. Additionally, the psychological issues and abnormal behavioral patterns that emerge as a result of the violence experienced during the childhood may eventually transform into criminal behavior, affecting the integrity in society in a negative way. All these facts are related to the maltreatment of children, thus it is important to study and analyze this issue.
Due to the severity of child abuse, numerous organizations, such as World Health Organization (WHO), developed ways to prevent this problem. According to the official position of WHO, the multisectoral programs aimed at supporting parents and teaching them the principles of comprehensive child-rearing are the most effective ways of preventing the maltreatment. These initiatives include cases when social workers visit families in order to support and educate them. In addition, group sessions are organized for adults where they receive advice on how to raise children, improve their knowledge about child development, and create personalized strategies for their positive treatment. The WHO also recommends to implement specialized programs aimed at preventing head injuries, which result in childs shock syndrome, by informing young parents about this condition directly in the hospitals before the newborn is discharged. Additionally, it is necessary to mention the initiatives to prevent child sexual abuse that involve informing children about their human rights, training to recognize the threatening situations, etc. Thus, the majority of projects meant to address the problem of child abuse are educative in their nature. It means that it is not complicated to implement them and their effect can be eminent in the long-term perspective.
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At the same time, one can argue that the preventive measures proposed by the WHO are not always applicable to certain settings, especially in the underdeveloped counties and communities that have limited access to education. Thus, the problem of child abuse remains relevant, attracting the attention of numerous researchers and becoming the object of a wide array of scholarly works. In this regard, it is necessary to mention the research conducted by Prinz, who focuses on the analysis of the role of parenting in the process of prevention of child maltreatment. In this work, he claims that the materialistic approach to the problem solution, which focuses on the utilization of public health strategies in the field of parenting with the subsequent involvement of the community and service sectors ensure a multidisciplinary approach to the issue. However, he also notes that the stigmatization of parents that resort to such services may hinder the implementation of the project, thus he advises to use the media so as not to perceive such practices as stigmatized. Still, the reliance of this initiative on the public health system makes it applicable in various settings, including those with the poor accessibility to education.
On the other hand, the work by Mason et al. is dedicated to the issue of malnutrition that occurs as a result of child abuse. The authors argue that childhood obesity is one of the primary effects of domestic violence, being caused by psychological and physiological factors. Thus, the prevention of the latter will result in the improvement of the overall health level of society, as well as reduce the probability of deviant behavior due to the lowered self-esteem. At the same time, Mason et al. acknowledge the limited access to the existing methods, which address the child abuse problem. As a result, they provide recommend to develop an effective plan of actions. In particular, it is necessary to combine the measures that ensure child physical safety with psychotherapy to uncover the potential psychological traumas and address them. Such method helps to prevent the development of obesity, as well as abnormal behavior that may potentially result in new cases of child abuse in future. Thus, it is possible to state that the issue of maltreatment of children is being reviewed comprehensively, with its different aspects being taken into account by numerous scholars.
The conducted review of child abuse problem has proven that it remains relevant despite the efforts taken by the international organizations, being present both in the developed and developing countries. The educative nature of the existing preventive measures reduces their applicability, leading to the need for more materialistic approaches aimed to address the issue. As a result, nowadays, child abuse remains the object of attention of various researchers that review it from different standpoints (psychology, healthcare, physiology, etc). A wide array of innovative solutions they offer makes it possible to address the issue in the long-term perspective. It means that its negative consequences will reduce leading to the harmonious development of global society.