More enforcement of penalties is needed to protect children from being abused in the United States. Child abuse is usually divided into four major types: Physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional maltreatment. Millions of children each year become victims of abuse. In “1986, there were 2.2 million reports of physical or sexual, or neglect, which was more than triple that of a decade earlier (Steitfeld E5).” The Health and Human Services Department found that in “1996, 3 million children were maltreated or abused (Seattle 1).” These numbers will continue to rise until the laws are made more strict.
Abuse in all forms has many short and long term effects on the young victims. Children who are physically abused are “wary of physical contact with adults (Sloan 4)”, “are afraid to go home (4)”, and “demonstrate extremes in behavior (4).” When a child is neglected, they tend to have “rare attendance at school and addictions to alcohol and other drugs (5).”
Sexually abused children suffer from “bruises or bleeding in the genital area and have poor peer relationships (6-7)” throughout their lives. Emotional maltreatment can appear by itself, although it is usually accompanied by other forms of abuse. These children often display “anti-social behavior, behavior extremes whether it be extreme withdrawl, or extreme aggression, and they may even attempt suicide (8).”
In my opinion, if he punishment for child abuse was more harsh, then less children would be abused. For children who are neglected and emotionally abused, I feel they should be taken away from their families immediately. I believe the same for children who are physically abused, however I also think that the abuser should get a taste of what he/she did to the child.
Send them to a jail and let the inmates give him a good beating. The people who sexually abuse children I feel should be put to death, only after being sent to jail where all the inmates know what you have done. A person who sexually abuses a innocent child does not deserve to live. The penalty needs to fit the crime. A child who has been abused is going to have to live with the suffering for the rest of their life. The pain never goes away for the child, it is always there in the back of the mind. Because of this the offender should not be able to just walk away unscathed from his/her actions. !
At this point in time, there are several bills that are in the process of becoming laws now. For example, the House Bill 4348 changes the penalty for endangering the life or health of a child from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony for a first offense. Other provisions of House Bill 4348 are as follows:
“Establishes multidisciplinary committees, created by DCFS, that authorize a guardian ad litem to request a committee review of a Department’s determination that a reported incident of child abuse is unfounded. Requires the Department to summarize these findings in an annual report. Changes the penalty for endangering the life or health of a child from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony. Increases the distance from which a child sex offender may loiter near a public way by a school from 500 to 1500 feet.
Prohibits a child sex offender from coming within 1500 feet of a child care facility. Child sex offenders registered under the Sex Offender Registry who reside at a transitional or temporary location or within 1 ½ miles of a public or private school must ! report to a parole officer once a week to comply with parole rules. Creates a pilot program for high-risk youth and offers youth offenders placed on probation the opportunity to enter such a program. Children placed in the pilot prevention program may be visited unannounced at homes, school or the workplace by a team of probation and police officers (Jackfranks).”
House Bill 4348 was created in order to strengthen the current child abuse laws, and make them more effective. Former President Clinton became alarmed that far to many children were becoming victims of child abuse. He “announced the availability of $10 million in “Safe Start” grants to help up to 12 cities reduce the impact of violence on young children. (Seattle 1).” There were 4 parts to Clintons’ initiative:
“The Justice Department will propose legislation that would make it easier for federal prosecutors to prove a felony murder charge involving the death of a child without having to prove it was premeditated. It also will propose making it a felony to endanger a child’s life through abuse and establish criminal penalties for committing acts of violence against others in the presence of a child.
Giving additional training to police, prosecutors, investigators and court personnel in ways to avoid unnecessary traumatization and emotional stress on child victims and witnesses in abuse cases. Helping states and communities develop projects that involve mental-health professionals and other members of the community in responding to children involved in violent situations and educating parents about abuse and neglect.
To get t! his started, Clinton is making available $10 million in “Safe Start” grants from the Justice Department to help as many as 15 cities reduce the impact of violence on children. Increase public awareness of the problem. The Justice Department will sponsor a national conference on children and violence in May 1999 to bring together experts in law enforcement, mental health, child development and related fields to discuss the issue of child victimization. (Seattle 1).”
There is a controversy over whether the best way to deal with the offenders is to punish them or rehabilitate them. In sexual abuse cases, many believe that the offender has an uncontrollable sexual drive and need for dominating which makes them turn to children. Some argue that these people are not mentally insane since they know what they are doing is wrong and tell the child not to tell anybody about the abuse. Other’s say that the offenders “are not monsters…He may be just from a guy from an alcoholic, abusive family—kind of a lost child. Nothing ever worked out for him…so he turns to his 10—year—old daughter just wanting to be loved and touched (Churchman D5).”
Child abuse is a major problem here in the United States that needs to be addresses. The sooner that this happens, the sooner children will be able to act like children and have fun, not living in fear of their abusers.
Bill to Increase Child Abuse Penalties Reaches Governor. 2000. Jackfranks. Online.
Churchman, D. (1988, October 4). Is Child Abuse A Disease?. Washington Post, ppD5+.
Clinton Proposing Harsher Penalties For Child Abuse, Neglect. 1999. Seattle Times. Online.
Sloan, Irving J. Child Abuse: Governing Law & Legislation. New York: Oceana Publishings Inc, 1983.
Streitfeld, D. (1988, January 26). Child Abuse: Hidden Cases, Hidden Causes. Washington Post, ppE5+.