Table of Contents
Children face violation and violence everywhere - starting from abusive homes to troubled neighbourhoods. Some of their offenders are family members; this is often the case for very young victims. In a national survey of U.S. family violence, it was revealed that sibling aggression is the most common type of violence in the family, with "80% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 having physically assaulted a sibling at least once (Miller et al, 2012)." So for most victims, violence started at home and juveniles are the victims of abuse and neglect at the hands of their very own caregivers.
Research has shown that child victimization and abuse are linked to problem behaviors that become evident later in life. So an understanding of childhood victimization is essential in devising preventive strategies and not to forget homicide is one of the leading causes of juvenile deaths. Across the country, research has shown that there is domestic violence, child abuse and neglect.
The vast majority of child maltreatment cases involve neglect. Abused children perform poorly in school, experience mental health problems and abuse others when they become adults. These represent enormous costs to society in terms of funding needed for child protection, healthcare, substance abuse treatment, juvenile justice, mental health services and more.
Research has also shown that a juvenile’s risk of becoming a victim of a violent crime is potentially related to many factors. The child's exposure to violence and victimization will depend on the kind of family one is brought up and particularly where supervision is minimum. Access to Community support centers and the ability to procure services from legal counsels will also affect the attitude of the child. Because without legal counselling the victim is likely to spend a good amount of time in foster care.
Child protection has been primarily the area of focus for professionals in "specialized social service, health, mental health, and justice systems. Herman in her work, "Parallel Justice for Victims of Crime, (2010)", identifies where (a) such advancements have fallen short of stated goals, (b) been implemented inconsistently or without regard for all types of crime victims, and (c) relied on practices where victims’ needs remain unmet (Zweig, 2011).
As per the Maltreatment report, for FFY 2011, more than 3.7 million (duplicate count) children were the subjects of at least one report. One-fifth of these children were found to be victims with dispositions of substantiated (18.5%), indicated (1.0%), and alternative response victim (0.5%). The remaining four-fifths of the children were found to be nonvictims of maltreatment (Child Maltreatment 2011). Note duplicate counts indicate, the victim was identified in more than one incident in another point of time.
During Federal fiscal year 2010, an estimated 3.3 million referrals, involving the alleged maltreatment of approximately 5.9 million children, were received by CPS agencies (Child Maltreatment 2010).
Unfortunately, every year 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving nearly 6 million children (a report can include multiple children). The United States has the worst record in the industrialized nation – losing five children every day due to abuse-related deaths (Child Maltreatment 2009).
Children who have been abused or neglected in their growing years may respond in many different ways in future but there is no standard profile as such. Child abuse includes four major categories: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect (NCCAFV, 2013).
Typically, an abused or neglected child feels sadness, grief, and loss. The child may feel guilty or responsible for the harm done to him or her. A sort of low self-esteem creeps into his mind. Again, for some children, it may happen that they find it difficult to trust or find comfort from any adult; other children may grow up to be extremely needy. An abused or neglected child is often angry and that anger may take the form of tantrums, loud outbursts, violence, aggressiveness or depression, and self-destructive behaviors, such as substance abuse, and even suicide. Sometimes, the child may feel a sense of relief that someone knows what has been happening.
Child abuse or neglect in a family tends to be practised by the perpetrators in a manner as if nobody knows about it. When this abuse or neglect is reported, the family’s so-called 'secret' is exposed and the regular routine is disrupted. The family’s response at first is denial. The parents then direct their anger and hatred at the Child Protection Worker or look to another adult to lay the blame upon - perhaps a teacher or someone else whom they suspect may have reported the abuse or neglect.
Even the child victim could be blamed for “causing” the problem. When a child is removed from the family home, there is a great deal of sadness and loss. And, it is important to remember that most parents who abuse or neglect their children still have some emotional attachment with their children.
Child abuse and neglect can foretell the increased risks in future for criminality and violence; lower academic and occupational achievements; greater possibility of significant health problems and greater need for health care utilization; homelessness; and often long-term psychological disorders. Therefore, key factor in the development of emotional and behavioral disorders in children is their exposure to 'violence' - particularly family violence. Family violence generally "includes all types of violent crime committed by an offender who is related to the victim either biologically or legally through marriage or adoption" (Durose et.al, 2005).
When we try to analyze why perpetrators of domestic violence act violently, it is popularly accepted that these men learned violence in their "families of origin". The intergenerational or generational cycle of violence theory suggests that if one grows up witnessing violence or experiencing it, they are predisposed to become violent in their own intimate relationships (Harris & Dersch, 2001).
According to Herman, the current criminal justice system is like that of a communal response focusing almost exclusively on offenders, whereby society works to identify those who violate the law, adjudicate cases, and impose sanctions, including imprisonment and death (Zweig, 2011). The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), (42 U.S.C.A. §5106g), as amended by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003, defines child abuse and neglect as, in very few words:
Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act, which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.
Policymakers are increasingly focusing on children exposed to domestic violence. Before 1999, children, exposed to adult domestic violence, were inconsistently reported to child protective services and were mostly invisible (Edleson et al., 2006). Edleson et al.points out that a child is considered to have been exposed to domestic violence when a parent or any other person responsible for the care of the child:
l engages in violent behavior that imminently or seriously endangers the child's physical or mental health;
l engages in repeated domestic assault that constitutes a violation of section 609.2242, subdivision 2 or 4;
l engages in chronic and severe use of alcohol or a controlled substance that adversely affects the child's basic needs and safety; or
l conducts repeatedly domestic violence, as defined in section 518B.01 in the presence of the child.
Child neglect is the most common type of maltreatment given to children. Neglect has never been debated and discussed so much like Child abuse. Neglect has gone unreported for most of the times, even professionals have also used it without much importance (DePanfilis, 2006). Formal confrontation of such "perpetrators of neglect" with courts is necessary to create tension in their minds so that out of fear, they take care of their neglected children (DePanfilis, 2006).
The juvenile victim justice system operates on the basis of initial reports made to police or child protection authorities. The differences in state laws and levels of interagency cooperation, and investigative practices vary greatly among jurisdictions. Acknowledging the existence of a juvenile victim justice system drives towards informed policy decisions and improved outcomes for juvenile victims (Finkelhor et al, 2005).
According to Zweig, it was Herman who paid special attention to the emotional impact on victims. Herman documents that many crime victims are left devastated by such experiences, with high rates of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and substance abuse. Victims are left to deal with the fact that the harm they have suffered and the trauma they have experienced was a product of an intentional and cruel act of another human being. Herman points out that the needs of victims is indeed a crime-prevention strategy. Zweig also supports Herman's view that victims of crime are likely to become offenders in future (Zweig, 2011).
We can see that "more than 2.5 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States annually with hundreds of deaths related to child abuse reported each year" (NCCAV, 2013). Hence, increasing child abuse and neglect of children creates an urgent need for research on:
l the conditions that are responsible or threaten children's safety and sense of personal security at home or outside;
l the conditions that hinder parents', relatives', and other community members' efforts to ensure children's personal security;
l the 'relevance' and 'outreach' of the programs and practices ensuring children's protection from harm and their consequent recovery from physical violation; and
l the social systems such as community and society in promoting children's safety, improving care-giving quality, and facilitating the mitigation of emotional suffering and and physical pain.
There is a need for a survey of laws, policies and programs relating to prevention of child abuse and neglect. California runs Prevention services with other funding sources, which include services with combined funding under Child Welfare Services, Promoting Safe and Stable Families, Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and local funds. Children's Bureau has funded such studies earlier. Funds are also available from Institute of Justice.
Reducing family violence is very urgent as prevention is better than cure. The expenses associated with hospitalization and medical services to treat injuries resulting from abuse, child protective services (CPS), foster care and rehabilitation, or police investigations and prosecutorial expenses are quite high, which would mean additional burden on the state exchequer.
The scope of the research covers the court's response to family violence and family violence per se has not been discussed in detail. The Federal Government recognizes that everyone involved in the protection of children is committed to the goals of safety, permanency, and well-being of every child. However, the stakeholders in whom the public has placed its trust, need to improve and strengthen "the dependency systems and cross-system supports" (Flango & Kauder, 2009). Performance measurement is only one step in that process, but it is one of the critical steps need to be taken.
To better serve and protect vulnerable children, we must first know how our current systems are doing. The need for a study is relevant, for example note the following context: "The adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 require a permanency hearing to take place within 12 months after the child has entered foster care. Many State laws simplify this to 12 months from the date of placement. Many children never need to attend a permanency hearing because they are reunited with their parents or guardians before the hearing would occur" (Flango & Kauder, 2009).
The increasing statistic does not support the fact that the preventive measures are working. Though various organizations are in favor of promoting policies that draw from research and existing knowledge about effective child welfare practice. Research can only tell us whether the quality of the staff is good enough to practice the policies or that the courts need to look at their own performance in regards to the effectiveness of the policies.
It has been noted by Children's Coalition of Indiana that inconsistent service provisions prevent children from accessing the services they need to be safe or gain some permanency if they are unable to stay at home. Children whose parents are not represented by legal counsel in court on matters related to child abuse/neglect, remain in foster care for longer periods of time. Sometimes supporting agencies lack that inclusive approach of bringing the adult victims and children together. They place blame on adult victims for abusing children and for not being able to address the serious needs of their children.
Neglect has been identified as the most common form of maltreatment for victims in 2003.; and many children were the victims of more than one type of maltreatment (Snyder & Sickmund, 2006). However, in this paper we have not described violence in detail. At this stage we did not touch upon the gender issue as well. We remained focused upon violence and the responsive mechanisms.
Durose, Matthew R., Harlow, Caroline Wolf, Langan, Patrick A., Motivans, Mark, Rantala, Ramona R. & Smith, Erica L. (2005). Family Violence Statistics (Including Statistics on Strangers and Acquaintances). National Criminal Justice Reference Service 1-800-851-3420, US Department of Justice, Washington.
DePanfilis, Diane, 2006, Child Neglect: A Guide for Prevention, Assessment, and
Intervention, Child Abuse and Neglect User Manual Series. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Edleson, Jeffrey L., Gassman-Pines, Fenny & Hill Marissa B. (2006, April). Defining Child Exposure to Domestic Violence as Neglect: Minnesota's Difficult Experience. Social Work, Volume 51, number 2. National Association of Social Workers.
Finkelhor, David, Cross,Theodore P. & Cantor, Elise N. (2005), How the Justice System Responds to Juvenile Victims: A Comprehensive Model, Juvenile Justice Bulletin. U.S. Department of Justice.
Flango, Victor E. & Kauder, Neal. (2009). Court Performance Measures In Child Abuse And Neglect Cases: Key Measures. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. U.S. Department of Justice. Washington.
Harris, Steven M. & Dersch, Charette A. (2001). ''I'm Just Not Like that'': Investigating the Intergenerational Cycle of Violence, The Family Journal. Sage.
Miller, Laura E., Grabell, Adam, Thomas, Alvin, Bermann, Eric & Graham-Bermann, Sandra A. (2012). The Associations Between Community Violence, Television Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Parent–Child Aggression, and Aggression in Sibling Relationships of a Sample of Preschoolers. Psychology of Violence.
Zweig, Janine M. (2011). Victims of Crime and of the Criminal Justice System. Peace and Conflict. Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).
Snyder, Howard N. & Sickmund, Melissa. Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report. National Center for Juvenile Justice. Washington, Retrieved from http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/nr2006/.
The American Campaign for Prevention of Child Abuse and Family Violence, (2013), Child Abuse Information. National Council on Child Abuse & Family Violence (NCCAFV), Retrieved from http://www.nccafv.org/child.htm.
The Children’s Coalition Of Indiana. (2011). Abuse, Neglect, and Family Violence. Public Policy Agenda. Retrieved from http://www.childrenscoalitionin.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Abuse-Neglect-and -Family-Violence.pdf.
The Administration on Children, Youth and Families. (2011). Child Maltreatment 2011. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/child-maltreatment-2011.
The Administration on Children, Youth and Families. (2010). Child Maltreatment 2010. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/child-maltreatment-2010.
The Administration on Children, Youth and Families. (2009). Child Maltreatment 2009. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/child-maltreatment-2009.