Child abuse refers to the actions of parents, guardians and caretakers resulting into neglect, serious injuries, harm, abuse, and exploitation physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, and psychologically. Thus, child abuse and neglect constitutes acts posing imminent risks to a child. Federal and State laws have been formulated and implemented to enhance child protection. For example, the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) under 42 U.S.C.A & 510g assert that, parents, caregivers, and even siblings as well as strangers are capable of child abuse. Thus, witnesses of child abuse, maltreatment and domestic violence should report the cases in order to protect the victims from further abuse and neglect. There are four major types of child abuse namely sexual, physical, and emotional abuse as well as neglect. They are defined by different characteristics although there are common signs of symptoms defining child abuse (DHHS, 2010).
Physical child abuse refers to injuries inflicted on a child. It is often characterized by minor bruises, severe fractures, burns, wounds, and eventually death. Physical abuse can therefore involve a child being beaten, kicked, thrown, stabbed, choked, hit, or involved in a biting incidence. Burning a child also constitutes to physical abuse. Thus, physical abuse can be inflicted intentionally as well as unintentionally. It is however vital noting that, disciplining a child by spanking or paddling should not be regarded as physical abuse as long as the measures are undertaken reasonably without causing bodily harm and injuries to the child. Sexual abuse on the other hand refers to acts of engaging a child in sexual activities without their knowledge or by force. Sexual abuse involves rape, incest, fondling the child’s genitals, sodomy, indecent exposure through pornographic materials, and exploitation especially through prostitution. Thus, sexual abuse can be recognized if a child affirms he/she has been coerced, induced, persuaded, or enticed to engage in sexual activities (MCB, 2013).
Conversely, emotional abuse refers to patterns of behaviors impairing a child’s ability to develop emotionally in order to acquire a sense of self worth, esteem, confidence, and value. Emotional abuse can be inflicted through constant criticism, rejection, threats, and the act of withholding love, affection, support, and guidance. Unlike physical and sexual abuse, emotional abuse can be challenging to prove. As a result, child protection services may fail to intervene in attempts to protect the victim from further form of child abuse in form of mental and psychological injuries, damages and maltreatments. Lastly, neglect refers to failure of a parent, guardian and caregiver in providing the child with basic needs. For example, when a child is denied food, shelter and clothes or physical resources, it constitutes to neglect. Failure to provide medical services in order to achieve physical, emotional, and mental health also refers to neglect. Neglect is also denying a child the right to education while paying no attention to its psychological care and needs. Allowing or introducing a child to drugs, alcohol, and other illegal substances is also neglect. Thus, neglect refers to the act of denying a child the right to learn and acquire self value, cultural standards and religious beliefs that play a vital role in the growth and development process (MCB, 2013).
Signs of child abuse are different and diverse. They include the child showing sudden behavioral changes such as a lower school performance. Teachers assert children facing learning problems due to difficulty in concentration are likely to be victims of physical, mental, and psychological abuse. Children who are always alarmed and watchful as if they are waiting for something bad to happen are also victims of abuse. Lack of adult supervision especially during social and school activities indicates child abuse through neglect. When a child is reluctant to associate with the parents, guardians, caregivers, siblings, neighbors, or even adults, it should be a sign of abuse. They should therefore be protected until it is affirmed they are suffering from child abuse. The main sign of child abuse however involves the children actually disclosing they are being neglected and/or maltreated (MCB, 2013).
Parents and guardians can also provide signs of child abuse. For example, parents who deny a child is facing learning problems or blames the child are likely to be the perpetrators. Some parents are keen in abusing the child they may even ask the teachers and caregivers to use more harsh forms of discipline. This is because they are attempting to affirm to the child that they can still inflict pain and injures directly or indirectly especially if they are seeking to let the child feel worthless, bad, and a burden. Demanding the child to achieve extreme academic and physical performance levels beyond its abilities is also abuse as it overwhelms the child’s psychological, emotional and physical abilities. With regards to parents, the main sign of child abuse and neglect involves little or no concern for the child. It is therefore vital for primary and secondary reporters in relation to child abuse to pay close attention to a child’s physical behaviors, emotional, mental, and psychological needs. Thus, in case the child indicates any changes in the patterns investigations can be undertaken promptly before the abuse, neglect, and maltreatment is inflicted extremely (MCB, 2013).
Historical Perspective on Federal Laws Relating to Child Abuse
Parents raise, discipline, take care and protect their children as they fit. The government on the other hand is required to formulate and implement laws ensuring children are protected and safeguarded. This is because they are fragile and vulnerable to abuse and maltreatments inflicted by people who ought to be caregivers and protectors. As a result, the relationship between parents and the government is strained as each party believes their role is being scrutinized unnecessarily. The history of child abuse in United States is based on a long story during which children were affirmed as subjects of abuse by adults who ought to raise, guide, and protect them. The English Common Law considered children as properties belonging to their fathers. This is because women were also considered as properties belonging to their husbands. This law lasted until the late 1800s. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, American colonists attempted to adopt similar traditions to the English Common Law (John, 2009).
This however did not last as the country captured attention in relation to child abuse during the early 1870s. This was after it was confirmed that an eight year old orphan named Mary Wilson was suffering as she would be whipped and beaten on daily basis during her stay at a foster home. There existed no organizations seeking to ensure children like Mary are protected. Thus, her case had to be addressed by the attorneys of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals who argued that laws protecting animals should not be greater than laws protecting children. After the court hearing, the judge sentenced the foster mother to one year in jail for assault and battery. The case attracted national attention with outrages against child abuse being raised until the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was formed in 1874. The next case in relation to child abuse was witnessed in 1962 after a journal article by the American Medical Association described signs of child abuse. The article affirmed child abuse can be diagnosed medically. This prompted all States to statute mandatory reporting laws in order for professionals including doctors and teachers to report suspected cases of child abuse to State child protective service agencies among other proper authorities (John, 2009).
Consequently, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) were passed in attempts to eliminate child abuse through funded programs. The programs are now required to help people identify and report child abuse as well as provide shelter and protective services to victims. Although these measures against child abuse were adopted early, cases are still increasing and alarming. For example, United States reports at least six million children being victims of child abuse on an annual basis. This translates to either four or five children facing child abuse on a daily basis hence, vulnerable to neglect and premature death. Such children are often from families where the parents abuse alcohol, drugs and other substances hence, more likely to be neglected and maltreated (John, 2009).
National Organization for Human Services standards were adopted to guide social work providers as they undertake their duties and responsibilities. They direct human needs, resolve their problems, and appreciate the roles played human beings in attempts to embrace diversity. Communities and environments involve unique values and characteristics influencing roles played by human service providers. This ensures they achieve and uphold integrity within the profession while promoting wellness among clients and the community at large. More so, human service providers are able to achieve personal and professional growth (NOHS, 2015).
National Organization for Human Services therefore advocates that providers ought to possess the following professional qualifications. Foremost, they ought to respect and uphold human dignity among the clients. More so, they ought to uphold the welfare of all human beings without discrimination or prejudice. Promoting self-determination should also be a priority for human service providers in order to enhance self esteem, confidence, worthiness, and value among human beings. Human service providers should also recognize and honor cultural and religious diversity. They should therefore respect the fact that some clients share diverse backgrounds with conflicting religious and cultural values. This however should not hinder them from providing high quality services. Human service providers are also required to advocate for social justice. This involves investigating cases of either child abuse or neglect to ensure reports are not erroneous. Consequently, they should present their investigative reports to the right agency or department within the National Organization for Human Services. Ultimately, National Organization for Human Services standards were formulated and implemented to ensure human service providers are honest, genuine, and objectified with integrity. This guarantees they engage in their roles and responsibilities effectively and efficiently (NOHS, 2015).
National Organization for Human Services standards in relation to clients are therefore as follows. The first standard involves asserting human service providers ought to recognize and build strengths based on the relationship developed with clients and the community. Standard two asserts that, human service providers and professional ought to obtain informed consents in order to offer services to clients during the early stages of the relationship. Standard Three on the other hand requires human service providers protecting clients’ rights to privacy and confidentiality. This standard however exempts human service providers from upholding the privacy and confidentiality right if agency guidelines state otherwise. Standard four requires human service providers suspecting danger and harm likely to occur to the client or other members of the community due to act professionally and appropriately. This is in attempts to ensure clients’ behaviors neither pose danger nor harm to their personal or community safety measures (NOHS, 2015).
Standard five prevents clients from exploitation and any form of harm likely to be caused. Sexual and romantic relations with clients are prohibited through standard six. This standard prevents human service providers from developing relations with clients that are neither appropriate nor professional as they are likely to cause conflict of interests. Lastly, standard seven was formulated to ensure human service providers are neither biased nor imposed to a client’s cultural and religious values among other factors challenging the aspect of diversity. Ultimately, these standards among others were implemented to ensure human service providers are professional, unbiased, dedicated and hence effective and efficient in handling social issues including child abuse (NOHS, 2015).
National Organization for Human Services guidelines affirms that, human service professionals ought to protect clients’ rights and privileges to privacy and confidentiality. Human service providers should therefore maintain the client’s confidentiality rights until agency guidelines state otherwise. Confidentiality ought to be broken if NOHSE conditions are changed prompting the human service provider to discuss the client’s case with other parties hence, failing to preserve and protect privacy. It is however noting that, human service providers ought to maintain confidentiality after discussing with the clients limits of protecting their rights to privacy prior to developing a relationship. This ensures issues affected through the rights of privacy and confidentiality is neither ambiguous nor problematic to the client or service provider as well as the human service organization.
Unique Aspects of the Profession in the Human Services Field
Human services are provided by people directed by social workers and sometimes psychologists. They play diverse roles in the society including organizing and leading activities aimed at intervening social crises. With regards to child abuse, human services are undertaken by several people including child abuse workers, mental health technicians, community outreach workers, and child protection agency directors among others. In order to succeed in their duties and responsibilities, they ought to develop the following traits. Foremost, they ought to have a strong will and desire to assist and help children and families facing the crisis of child abuse. Consequently, they ought to work as and with a team addressing child abuse. This requires patience and understanding as teams consist of people with diverse personalities and expectations which can result to conflicts and misunderstandings. Good communication skills are therefore vital coupled with a great sense of responsibility. Lastly, providers of human services ought to manage time effectively and efficiently in order to address child abuse promptly without making or relying on erroneous reports (ACEI, 2005).
Child abuse pediatrics asserts that, doctors accessing child abuse reports ought to report them immediately. This requirement is established to ensure cases of child abuse are hurriedly addressed and resolved to prevent the child from undergoing further pain, suffering, and neglect. A child abuse pediatrician is therefore required to investigate doctor’s reports in order to reach a unilateral and positive diagnosis that the child is actually being abused and maltreated. During such cases, child protection agency, police, and criminal or civil courts ought to be contacted in order to safeguard the child and prosecute the perpetrators (Masao, 2011).
It is however possible for the medical reports produced by doctors and child abuse pediatricians to confirm child abuse erroneously. During such incidences, they are resolved within a period of weeks or even months in order for the case to be resolved in favor of the wrongly accused party. For example, the child protection agency ought to affirm wrongly accused parents are not perpetrators of child abuse though exoneration after a tremendous and emotional process that can painful to the family. Consequently, the safety or temporary custody arrangements that had been imposed are canceled and the child allowed to go back home. The main ethical responsibility involves identifying child abuse and undertaking severe measures to protect and safeguard the child who is the victim. The other ethical responsibility involves studying child abuse reports to avoid and prevent erroneous reports that harm a child’s growth and development process in a stable home and environment. Ultimately, ethical responsibilities ought to involve mitigating damages done to the child and family in attempts to address, reduce, and prevent child abuse (Masao, 2011).
Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI). (2005). Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Commitment. National Association for Family Child Care.
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). (2010). The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act: Including Adoption Opportunities and the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act. United States Department of Health and Human Services Report.
John, M. (2009). A Short History of Child Protection in America. Family Law Quarterly, 42(3), 449-463.
Maryland Children’s Bureau (MCB). (2013). What is Child Abuse and Neglect? Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms. Child Welfare Information Gateway.
Masao, D. (2011). Human Service Ethics: Critical Evaluation of the NOHSE Guidelines. Workbook for Human Service Professionals.
National Organization for Human Services (NOHS). (2015). Ethical Standards for Human Service Professionals. National Organization for Human Services Report