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CHILD ABUSE RESEARCH JOURNAL

CHILD ABUSE RESEARCH JOURNAL Adriane M. Kattner Ivy Tech Community College Psychology 101 9/27/2012

Abstract In this paper we were asked to identify the various facets of child abuse and the consequential individual, mezzo, and social responses. Within this journal we will review the practice of child abuse from a historical perspective, exploring the role of authority in historical gynocratic family structures as well as the cultural standards by which abuse was kept. We will further review the theoretical causation and subsequent effects of abuse on adolescence, discussing the evolution of the ecological perspective within the identification of child exploitation. In conclusion we will then discuss the current interpretation of child abuse, the clinical involvement concerning the abuse, and the present and anticipated treatment opportunities concerning both the victim and the abuser(s). Keywords: gynocracy, child abuse, development, infanticide, socioeconomic, family, disorder, dissociation, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

CHILD ABUSE RESEARCH JOURNAL

Historical Perspective The notion that child abuse has always yielded harsh legal and social sanctions is an optimistic, yet misguided interpretation of the historical family structure. In fact our mainstream mind set of nuclear gender roles in consideration to both abuse and authority, although present, was vastly under practiced in history. Gynocracy, for example, was speculatively one of the most popular family structures practiced throughout early non-literate, medieval, and colonial societies, a structure that excluded paternal influence in a childs day to day experiences, and increased exposure to abusive maternal authority throughout a childs adolescent years. Lloyd deMause, an acclaimed psycohistorian, theorizes that children were not viewed as valuable by their mothers historically, but moreover as burdensome and demonic. His claims go so far as to express that mothers inherently struggle with infanticidal impulses drawn from a conglomeration of post-partum depression, and a desire to appease religious or parental daemonic beliefsthat Evil Spirits had turned the newborn into a changling, a demon baby, a Striga, which had to be strangled to protect the mother from harm. (deMause, 2002) To fuel this abusive cycle, children whom were not killed at birth were often used as objects of parental comfort, often of sexual and monetary natures. Young adolescent males, for example, would be forced to submit to the sexual desires of their father and the subsequent men in the community ounce they had reached a pre-determined age. (deMause, 2002) In comparison young girls were often molested by their mothers and raped by their fathers as a rite of passage in

some early Greco-Roman traditions. These children would then in turn become heirs to adolescent abuse and infanticide to satisfy their own dismay concerning their childhood abuses. (deMause, 2002) Ironically, modern children often submit to the same nature of depressed and abused parents, [the children] often being viewed as an outlet of love whose sole purpose is to satisfy the parents unquenchable need for affection and acceptance, a practice that is historically consistent with pre-millennial cultures. In this manner abuse, both historically and in the modern age, has proved to submit to a learned behavior, a cause and affect disorder, which fueled the normalized and culturally accepted practice of historical child exploitation, as well as the sanctioned practice of modern child abuse and neglect. Theoretical Causation of Child Abuse As explained previously child abuse is often accepted as a learned and generational behavior, feeding on the parents need for acceptance and affection derived from their own abusive backgrounds. However, this is only one of many speculative theories concerning the modern interpretation of child abuse. These speculative theories are often poorly segregated as unitary concepts, that is to say that a theory only considers a specific causation without identifying various external, connecting triggers. Socioeconomic status, for instance, was and often remains a topic of discussion; this theory argues that the stress of poverty causes internal conflict within the parents psyche causing a generalized impulse to channel stress through their children. Generally however many professionals renounce socioeconomic environments as the sole agent of causation and exploit the inaccurate marginalization of impoverished individuals as the argument to pursue a more ecological view. An attempt by more recent professionals to comply with a broader perspective of causation has encompassed a series of multicausal and interactive theories. These theories widely rotate around the past experiences, psyche,

CHILD ABUSE RESEARCH JOURNAL

psychopathology, major stressors, and lack of coping skills of the parents. However, when submitted to a case study of a myriad of diverse abusive cases, psychologists were unable to draw any direct correlation between consistent stressors and the abusive causation. In response the interpretation of child abuse today is often understood as a complex ecosystem with many interacting variables rather than a direct set of triggers; this ecological mindset has responsively yielded an increased concern for treatment and prevention, rather than causation. (Newberger, Newberger, & Hampton, 1983) Repercussions of child abuse The aspects of child abuse that sets the practice apart from various other destructive crimes are widely developmental. Developmentally, a child is consistent with the way that its parents rear and allow them opportunities to develop their own self-concept. So in the case of abuse, the child is often responsively socially deviant, an example of a lacking knowledge of social dynamics and boundaries delegated from the generalized treatment from the abuser to the victim, but also lacking in the core foundation of their self-identity. Conflict of the latter is inherently destructive as a child may digress in behavior and health if that child maintains a chronic, incorrect concept of their self-value and purpose. Although, while a self-concept is often a product of self-exploration in adolescent development, in cases of abuse, the self-conceptual dysfunction is often a direct product, or an enhanced product, of a pre-existing, disordered psychopathology, yielded from previous trauma. Developmental disorders such as these may span from cases of depressive experiences to rare dissociative disorders, and are important concepts to grasp when attempting to identify possible abuse.(Lipovsky) The severities of these disorders are often correlated with the manner, frequency, and identity of the abuse, abuser, and victim and are often conceptualized on a trauma spectrum; a graph that describes the severity

and compounding nature of trauma and its subsequent psychological consequences. Physical abuse, for example, can yield extreme post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive or borderline personalities dysfunctions. These long term effects of abuse, while comparable, on the trauma spectrum are noticeably segregated from those individuals whom have experienced severe physical and sexual abuse at a young developmental phase, yielding increasingly severe dissociative disorders. (Pastorino & Doyle-Portillo, 2013) The constant however between these two long term groups are the short term implications. Abused children often experience intense fear and anxiety, often act out in aggressive manners, and often report habitual nightmares. When placed in a practical clinical setting, a practitioner ought to be aware of how the child is reactive socially with other individuals, as abuse may often yield social somatoform disorders. The importance, in summary, is to gather habitual disordered behavior and place it within a contextual framework, at which point a speculation of abuse may be made. (Lipovsky) Current Perspective and Clinical Involvement Today child abuse is still a topic of discussion amongst many professionals, some of which claiming the practice is on the decline. However, reports of roughly 1,000 compounding cases of child abuse each year are reported in South Carolina, muting the argument that society is overcoming a long plaguing social issue. (Lipovsky) Furthermore South Carolina alone reports roughly 8,000 cases of child abuse annually, only a small fraction of the reported case when considering the domestic Midwest. Furthermore, child sexual exploitation has seen an historic increase in America reported child pornography and sex trafficking rings encompassing not only foreign, but domestic trades. The practice of child exploitation today is often not inclusive to the parental authority

CHILD ABUSE RESEARCH JOURNAL

but instead often stems from extended family structures. To combat these figures many religious and government organizations have begun to raise funding in support of abuse awareness. Many internet recourses such as childwelfare.gov, a government run support program, yields education on the various facets of abuse from professional clinicians. Many of these clinicians have hosted conferences on their own merit, interpreting current data and theorizing prospective treatment techniques. These techniques have become increasingly more superficial in nature, but deep in content. Clinicians now encourage a treatment approach that directly assesses the clients traumatic past and further structures family unity; as treatment is often extended to the abuser as well. (Lipovsky) Cyclical abusive patterns are also often identified as a focal point of treatment in modern literature; this literature often yearns toward the breaking of negative behavior patterns and the recognition of the consequential nature of the abuse. (deMause, 2002) More modern therapeutic recourses even consider a non-traditional approach at treatment; basing treatment out the clients homes when involving individuals with chronic dissociative disorders and dysfunctional family units. Furthermore, various forms of pediatric counseling have grown in popularity as clinicians attempt to treat disordered behavior early, consequently offering an outlet to create interceptive sessions between prospective, abusive parents and their dysfunctional children. Closing Remarks Child abuse, as a conglomerated whole, is an all too familiar deviance within both modern and historic societies. These abuses are not only dangerous clinically, but are also endangering to the family dynamic of today, and the social structure of tomorrow. It would be unwise to proclaim a void increase in exploitation, and even more so to diffuse preventative responsibility. Abuse of this nature is not a simple treatment, nor is it an enjoyable one; however

it is a necessary step to the mental and physical health of the children of the future. A period of self-reflection is truly the logical conclusion to the discussion, as the problem itself was not devised by random fits of anger, but as a direct response to our actions and relationships we practice in our day to day lives. It is often the habit of society to burry its unflattering gestures, a habit which often manifests into abusive ignorance. The motive for addressing the issue is thus a personal one, which is often made without the conscious directive of the abuser.

CHILD ABUSE RESEARCH JOURNAL

References
Bendall, S., Jackson, H. J., Hulbert, C. A., & McGorry, P. D. (2008). Childhood Trauma and Psychotic Disorders: a Systematic, Critical Review of the. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 568579. deMause, L. (2002). The Emotional Life of Nations . New York: Karnac. Lipovsky, J. A. (n.d.). Treatment of Child Victims of Abuse and Neglect. Childre's Law Center. Newberger, E. H., Newberger, C. M., & Hampton, R. L. (1983). Child Abuse: The current Theory Base and Future Research Needs. American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 22. Pastorino, E., & Doyle-Portillo, S. (2013). What is Psychology? Essentials. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.