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The Impact of Child Abuse on Children’s Education

Child abuse is defined as a mistreatment of a child. Mistreatment is realized by means of neglect or actions that result into physical or psychological injury caused to a child. A child is someone who has not attained physical maturity (and is under eighteen years old). Therefore, most children are usually under the care, protection and guidance of an older person, an adult. The adult has the responsibility of ensuring that the child under his or her care obtains basic needs. Such needs include clothing, food, shelter and education. Failure to provide a child under one’s care with these basic needs amounts to neglect and, therefore, abuse. Child abuse is not only limited to the provision of basic needs of a child. It also entails the process of mistreating a child with severe physical punishment and emotional abuse. In addition, it entails subjecting a child to manual labor without his or her consent. When children undergo physical or psychological abuse, the consequences may be far-reaching. The consequences do not affect the only children involved, but also affect many other stakeholders. These include parents, teachers, guardians and the society in general.

The child may be affected in childhood up to adulthood (Sturt, 2006). For this reason, governments all over the world have been involved in ways and means of bringing child abuse to an end. Human rights organizations, specifically dealing with cases involving children, have also been set up. In addition, countries all over the world have united to form one organization that looks into children’s rights in all member countries. Such is the seriousness and immensity that meets the issue of child abuse. This essay takes the reader through the effects that child abuse has on the development of a child. It discusses the impact of mistreatment and neglect of children on their education. The essay further goes on to discuss the history of child abuse and its implications for the society. In general, the essay highlights the issue of child abuse and its impact on children’s education.

History of Child Abuse

The history of child abuse dates back to many centuries ago. It is even mentioned in the Bible. In the Bible, David is sold out to merchants by his brothers. He was loved by his father, and because of jealousy his brothers decided to sell him. However, this is not the only story that highlights the problem of child abuse. Another instance is when Abraham attempted to take the life of his only son Isaac. This as well is an example of child abuse. In ancient Rome, parents had total control over their children. They had the right to do whatever they wished with their children. Owing to this fact, parents could sell their children and even offered them for sacrificial purposes. Further, severe and brutal punishment was neither new nor strange. Children could be smacked and flogged all in the name of correcting their behavior and pumping sense in their heads. They were essentially considered as people who could not make decisions on their own and had no rights. In some places, children were looked at as a property (Cleaver & Unell, 2011).

In some societies, disabled children suffered while being handicapped. A disabled child often met a reality of cruel world and was constantly the subject of rebuke and criticism. Obviously not the apple of his or her parents’ eye, such a child would be subjected to all manner of mistreatment. The society did not help much either. Over the time emancipation took over and children were able to go to social and public places such as schools. However, physically disabled or handicapped children were constantly denied the right of interacting with their peers all in a bid to keep shame at bay. Parents saw children as a symbol of pride, and, therefore, any child with deformity was considered to be a curse. Consequently, such children were kept out of public domain by all means. They were bad for public image! This opinion also applied to the children who exhibited any form of variation and deviation from norm. Such included the weak children, the sick ones and those who were not physically endowed (Mash & Wolfe, 2010).

For a long time, children have constantly been the subjects of sexual abuse. Back in the days, the culprits were mostly members of the society other than the family members of children. However, there was an evolution, and this trend took a new turn. Today, children suffer molestation in the hands of both the general public and their close family members (Binggeli, Hart, & Brassard, 2001). It is no longer strange to hear of a father, sexually molesting his own daughter. More recently, a man was reported to have been keeping his daughter in the basement for seventeen years. According to the reports, the man frequently assaulted his daughter sexually, resulting in the girl’s pregnancy. By the time the discovery was made, the girl had already delivered a number of children with her father. In India, child marriage has been the order of the day for a long time. It was taking a toll on the nation’s economy: the government tried to abolish child marriage in India in 1929. This was met with a lot of resistance, particularly from conservatives who felt that early marriage was essential and an indelible constituent of their culture. Apart from child marriage, child prostitution has been in existence for a long time now. In China, just like in India, children were married off at a tender age. In addition, both girls and boys were used as sex slaves. Girls were married off to multiple brothers and child rape was a common thing. In China, it was rare to find virgin girls who were in the pubertal stage. Most of them had their virginity broken when they were young. In some cases, girls were introduced to the acts of sex before they even attained puberty. They were used as sex slaves. This trend has been taken up by the society today. Young girls are kidnapped and sold to brothel owners who use them for their own selfish purposes. The masterminds behind these schemes reaped and continue to reap huge gains from the trade that has maintained an upward trend (Clark, Clark, & Adamec, 2007).

Child abuse took a new turn in the eighteenth century during the onslaught of industrialization. This period was marred with poverty, hunger for success and a better life, especially in the United States of America and in England. Parents sent their children to factories where they served as manual workers. The intention was to increase the family’s income. In some cases, parents sold their children. Other parents used their children as collateral when acquiring property and taking loans. Children who were sent to work in factories and workhouses suffered untold abuse and mistreatment. In addition, they were subjected to long hours of physical labor. To add salt to injury, they were paid peanuts and sometimes did not get any pay at all. A reporter named John Kosler became known for his activity in the field of children’s rights. He rebuked the manner in which children were mistreated in the farms and factories where they worked. He went on to form the Children’s Aid Society in 1891. The reason behind the foundation of this organization was to act upon the atrocities that children were being made to undergo. It was founded with the aim of championing children’s rights and liberating them (Lemoncelli, 2009). This was through a number of methods which included mass action, negotiation and emancipation. In America, the story of Mary-Ellen jolted the authorities into the action, and as a result, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was constituted in 1874. Ironically, before the foundation of this body, animal rights were recognized while children rights were conspicuously ignored. It was not until 1962 that physical assault against children was acknowledged and illegalized. This was after the report of Doctor Henry Kempe. The doctor noticed an unnatural trend in most of the patients who visited his pediatric clinic. He discovered that most of them had injuries, broken bones and other deformities. After a thorough and careful study, he noted that the cases he handled were not a result of accidents. He concluded that the injuries must have occurred due to physical assault. In a bid to bring this vice to an end, Doctor Kempe highlighted the story in a national medical journal. He did this with the help of his friends. It was only after this that physical assault was recognized as a form of child abuse. Sexual and emotional abuses were recognized much later (Mash & Wolfe, 2010).

Literature Review

Child abuse has been a constant reminder of the failure of humanity to bring certain atrocities to an end. According to a research, child abuse is not decreasing as most people are inclined to believe. Instead, it keeps evolving and changing so that every time it manifests differently. For instance, in the past certain activities and actions were considered to be forms of child abuse. Shackling children and making them work for long hours and for a little payment were the main factors considered being elements of child abuse. However, over time, the physical aspect associated with child abuse has subsided. Its part has been taken over by emotional abuse (Clark, Clark, & Adamec, 2007). This does not mean that no longer there are any cases of children being subjected to physical abuse. On the contrary, there number of them does not decline. The new evolution only tends to mask this archaic trend and shove it from the spotlight.

The government has invested considerably in finding out more about child abuse and nipping the trend in the bud. Research work today is focused on both the short term and the long term effects of child abuse. According to the conducted studies, some children suffer from long term consequences of child abuse more than others. This is attributed to a number of factors. One of these is the age and the developmental stage of the child. Research has demonstrated that children who are subjected to any form of physical abuse at a tender age suffer the consequences for long. This is in comparison to their counterparts who suffer abuse at a relatively mature age. At a tender age, the ability of the child to handle and deal with various forms of abuse directed at him or her remains poor. At this stage, the child is likely to break down (Binggeli, Hart, & Brassard, 2001).

Research has demonstrated that children who are subjected to emotional and sexual abuse tend to remember and hold the experiences for a longer period of time (Sturt, 2006). Consequently, they take a longer time to recover. At the same time, the effects of their experiences may come about with long term negative effects, such as mistrust. In comparison, children who suffer from physical abuse tend to recover sooner than their counterparts. They also tend to suffer from short term effects and not long term effects as opposed to those who suffer from emotional and sexual abuse (Sturt, 2006).

The frequency with which the child is abused also has a bearing on whether he or she suffers from the effects for long or not. A child continuously subjected to any form of abuse has the higher chance of suffering from long term effects as compared to one who was subjected to abuse for a shorter time (Cleaver & Unell, 2011). The logic behind this finding is that recurrent and repetitive subjection of one to a condition leads to the impact being engraved in the person’s mind. Likewise, continuous and frequent subjection of a child to abuse makes him or her remember the ordeal for longer. On the other hand, if a child is mistreated infrequently and occasionally, the impact of the ordeal may not be as profound as that of a child subjected to continuous mistreatment.

The impact of an ordeal and its consequences may be dictated by the source of the abuse. According to the research, children who are abused and mistreated by their parents and close family members tend to suffer more than those who are abused by distant relatives and guardians. The distance between the child and the abuser is what brings out this difference. Naturally, children have stronger ties with their close family members. Being subjected to abuse by these people may be very tormenting to the child. The events are also likely to remain etched in the child’s mind for a long period (Mash & Wolfe, 2010).

All the above factors contribute to long term negative effects of child abuse. The consequence of these factors on the educational development of a child may also be manifested. Research has demonstrated that such children more often than not develop antisocial behavior. They engage in socially abominable behavior such as sexual immorality and drug abuse. Such children are also likely to adopt violent behavior. The resultant effect may be ill health, unstable families and even death (Clark, Clark, & Adamec, 2007).

In addition, research has demonstrated that children who are frequently and continuously abused have cognitive difficulties. The NSCAW documented results of a research study in which children that were placed in foster homes were pitted against the general population. The results of the study indicated that such children who had undergone neglect scored lower marks than children brought up in normal households. The areas of evaluation were language development, cognitive abilities and academic progress. In 1999, a LONGSCAN study showed that there is a relationship between child abuse and poor class performance (Cleaver & Unell, 2011). Moreover, the studies indicated that most school going children are affected by various forms of abuse. This is manifested in their academic performance and interactions with other students.

Research has demonstrated that children who are abused suffer from mental health immediately or later. In addition, they suffer from emotional stress. In a conducted study, the results revealed that more than eighty percent of adults who were abused as children suffered from a psychiatric disorder. By twenty one years of age, eight out of ten of them had suffered from at least one psychiatric disorder. Amid the revealed problems there were eating disorders, depression and suicidal thoughts. Others suffered from post traumatic stress disorders, attention deficit and panic disorder. All these repercussions of child abuse had an impact on their educational development either directly or indirectly (Sturt, 2006).

Furthermore, research has revealed that children who are abused face difficulties during adolescence. They are, therefore, more likely to experience problems such as teen pregnancy, drug abuse and low performance in academic work. They tend to engage in delinquency and criminal activities. These factors cause them to rub shoulders with the authorities and consequently affect their school work. Most of their time and energy is focused on non-deserving activities, and, therefore, their academic work is affected.

Discussion

Child abuse is grouped into different forms. These include physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and maltreatment. Physical abuse may be manifested after the incident and is usually marked by injuries to the child’s body. Emotional abuse may or may not occur immediately. Children who are subjected to emotional abuse become withdrawn (Mash & Wolfe, 2010). A child who lacks some or all of the basic needs may also become withdrawn. Such children who suffer from neglect may end up breaking the law as they try to make ends meet. Maltreatment of a child may be manifested by depression, suicidal thoughts and a tendency to get engaged in the risky behavior. All these forms of child abuse have one factor in common: they affect the child’s educational development and performance at school. According to information released by the Department of Health and Human Services, over nine hundred thousand cases of child abuse were reported in 2006 (Lemoncelli, 2009).

Child abuse comes with numerous negative effects. This is especially true for the affected child. It takes a toll on the child’s social and emotional development and the resultant impact may hold until the child becomes an adult. The negative effects of child abuse depend on a number of factors, including the personality of the child and the child’s environment among other factors. The effects also depend on whether or not the child is given professional help early enough. Child abuse affects the child’s level of confidence and diminishes his or her self esteem. The child finds it difficult to interact and associate with his or her peers. As a result, the child may miss a number of crucial developmental stages, especially those that call for constant communication and interaction. This may have a negative impact on the educational development of the child. Low self esteem may prevent the child from making enquiries in class and from seeking explanations. In addition, lack of confidence may interfere with the ability of a child to express his or her full potential. This is in both curricular and co-curricular activities. Research has demonstrated that children who grow up in stable homes and with all the basic needs are more active in class. They are more interactive and tend to gain more in class. For this reason, they perform better than those children who are subjected to various forms of abuse.

The effects of child abuse on brain development may be far reaching. Children who suffer from various types of abuse, including emotional and psychological abuses, become withdrawn. Such children withdraw into their own cocoons and find it difficult to share their experiences with others. This takes a toll on their mental development since they lack some developmental aspects that come only with interaction (Clark, Clark, & Adamec, 2007). In class, they find it hard to participate in lectures and class sessions. They are often the subjects of ridicule and mockery of their fellow students. This further affects their self esteem negatively. In addition, due to slow mental development, such students end up being a step behind in curricular and co-curricular activities.

Children who are abused at home are likely to be victims of bullying in school. This is especially true with reference to children who suffer from emotional abuse (Binggeli, Hart, & Brassard, 2001). They tend to have a low self esteem. Older students and bullies may take advantage of their timid look and mistreat them. These actions would further dent their hopes of restoring their self esteem and confidence. As a result, their academic work gets affected by the occurrences around them and they end up performing poorly in class.

Research has demonstrated that children who live in foster care homes have a lower tendency of passing exams and excelling in class. Studies were conducted to compare the performance of children who had been subjected to abuse and those who lived normal lives. According to the results of conducted studies, there was a marked difference in performance standards between children who had spent time under foster care and those who lived with their parents (Sturt, 2006).

Child abuse is a vice that has been in existence for a long time. Over the years, it has continued to evolve. Despite the efforts of the government and stakeholders to bring the vice to a stop, little has been achieved unto this effect. Therefore, stamping out the vice calls for the contribution of all and sundry. Children are the future of the world. If they are neglected and abused, that is the direction the world in general will take. The world will take the path of negligence and abuse. The buck lies on the contribution of all. It is the duty of the society to care for and fend for every child.

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