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Child Abuse: How to Break the Cycle of Violence

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Federal law defines child abuse as any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, exploitation, or an act of failure which presents a risk of serious harm. Maltreatment at a young age has the potential possibility of isolating and traumatizing a child’s life forever. Contrary to some people’s belief, these children don’t get used to trauma. The impacts of childhood abuse affect the victims severely and follow them into their adulthood. Mental illness, physical disabilities, intergenerational abuse, behavior issues, and societal problems are all possible outcomes of abuse. Because of the effects child abuse causes, it is, in fact, a serious problem in today’s society.

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For instance, psychological issues and mental illness is a common outcome of abuse. Childhood trauma is a risk factor for borderline personality disorder which can severely affect a person’s lifestyle and well-being. Emotionally, the children who are being neglected do not understand completely what is happening to them. Their minds begin to isolate themselves from everyone and everything, which leads to the inability to put forth trust in anyone and a constant fear state for future human relationships. Children start to grow older and never receive the opportunity to develop trust in anyone. Depression is one of the most commonly occurring consequences of abuse. Depression can last a lifetime if not treated and can cause victims to harm themselves. Depression can lead to drug use, alcohol abuse, and high-risk behaviors. It is a strong disorder that can completely take over one’s self and change how they behave. Low self-esteem contributes to the severity of depression because of the insecurities that abuse brings to a victim. Being told they are nothing and do not matter molds their minds to believe it themselves. The restraint from fighting back can potentially limit their language responses causing unpredictable or explosive actions.

Specifically speaking, brain disorders are likely to develop which last a lifetime in most cases. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is any range of behavioral disorders occurring in children, including such symptoms as poor concentration, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. This disease and PTSD are often confused with each other when victims are seeking treatment. 30% of children in violent communities suffer from PTSD. The communities that children suffer this abuse in play a vital role because of the surrounding neighbors and the environment around them. 63% of pastly-abused children develop bipolar disorders due to the mood swings and random attacks by their perpetrators. Generalized anxiety disorder, sleep paralysis, neonatal challenges, and cognitive delay also could affect a victim. Dissociative identity disorder is a severe condition in which two or more distinct identities, or personality states, are present in and alternately take control of an individual. 98% of people diagnosed with DID suffer from childhood trauma. Mental illnesses take extensive medication and care to treat, which is only possible for a small percent.

Furthermore, victims of abuse are lead to believe that violence is an appropriate method for responding to stress. Being maltreated approximately doubles the probability of engaging in many types of crime. The effects worsen for children from low socioeconomic status backgrounds. Crimes such as assault, robbery, and murder are all ways for the victims to take out their anger on innocent people because they never learned any better. Bullying is a common way for victims to acquire status symbols. Putting other people down can often lead to making the bully feel better about them. Overwhelming sense of loss or neglect could trigger a criminal background for victims of abuse. Loss of family members and close friends can make the child feel isolated due to the loss of their only loving figure causing them to act out. Failure for psychologists and therapists to address the problem causes victims of abuse to never receive the help they need and continue their streak of violence. These criminals never truly realize the impact they are making until someone puts a stop to it. Difficulties learning at school can cause children to drop out and often go the wrong way in life. Juvenile delinquency is common for high school dropouts and can lead to drinking, drugs, and illegal actions.

Breaking the cycle of violence takes extensive measures. Intervention at family and relationship levels and addressing working and childcare conditions for parents can both reassure the children are living in a safe and loving environment. Weekly check ups from social services on homes that are suspicious of abuse could prevent any more violence on children. Parenting programs can help fix and address how some parents address stress and violence and can control their actions. For example, the PCAV (Prevent Child Abuse Vermont) is an organization that promotes and supports healthy relationships within families, schools and communities to eliminate child abuse. The actions made by an abuser can potentially teach children that violent behaviors are okay and influence them to do the same to others.  

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