Child Abuse (cont.)
John Mersch, MD, FAAP
Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What is the scope of the child abuse problem?
- What age child is abused?
- Are girls more often abused than boys?
- Is the pattern of abuse different for girls and boys?
- What is known about the perpetrators of child abuse?
- Is there an association between poverty and child abuse?
- Who abuses children?
- What is child abuse?
- What does the term child neglect include?
- What actions are viewed as physical child abuse?
- What constitutes emotional child abuse?
- What is sexual child abuse?
- What causes child abuse deaths?
- What factors predispose a person to child abuse?
- How is alleged child abuse evaluated?
- How is child abuse treated?
- How can child abuse be prevented?
- What more can be done to prevent child neglect?
- Are people who were abused as children more likely to become criminals later in life?
- Child Abuse At A Glance
Are girls more often abused than boys?
Yes. Girls are somewhat more likely to be abused. According to statistics published in 1996, about 52% of victims of maltreatment were female and 48% were male. Data obtained in the federally funded 2005 study demonstrate no significant change in these values.
Is the pattern of abuse different for girls and boys?
Studies have shown a consistent pattern regarding the abuse and neglect inflicted on children of different genders. Approximately 75% of sexual abuse is inflicted upon girls. Girls also are more likely to suffer from emotional abuse and neglect. Boys, on the other hand, are more likely to experience physical trauma (other than sexual abuse). When focusing solely on cause of death, studies indicate fathers are more likely to kill their child via physical abuse, while mothers kill by neglect (for example, starvation).
What is known about the perpetrators of child abuse?
Over 75% of inflicted abuse is a result of parental action. Parental risk factors include young or single parents, those who did not graduate from high school, and those who either were abused themselves as children or endured a severely dysfunctional home life. Adults using drugs, abusing alcohol, and those with psychiatric disease (for example, depression, impulse-control disorders) are more likely to abuse children. Females account for 61% of perpetrators.
A common theme when interviewing abusive individuals is an unrealistic expectation of infant or child behaviors. Often they expect developmental-milestone maturity beyond the age of the child (such as toilet training). Commonly, the child is incapable of providing what many parents anticipate to be unconditional love. The normally self-centered nature of childhood behavior clashes with the abusive adult's expectations with disastrous results.
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