Chapter 14.docx

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University of Guelph
Family Relations and Human Development
FRHD 1020
Sarah Murray

Chapter 14: Home Dangerous Home – Abuse and Violence in the Family What is Family Violence? - Violence refers to many actions, ranging from throwing things, to shoving and punching, to using a knife or a gun - Although not usually recognized as violence, verbal abuse (eg. Yelling, screaming, swearing) is also intimidating - The issue of family violence and abuse suffers from confusing definitions - Violence refers to an act intended to physically hurt another person - Abuse refers to a situation where a person takes advantage of a less powerful one - Violence and abuse encompasses neglect, sexual and emotional abuse, and financial exploitation, as well as physical violence Child Abuse History of Child Abuse - Historically, children were considered property of their parents, especially of their fathers. Fathers decided who they would marry, whether they would live or die - Infanticide – the killing of babies – was considered a form of birth control - Parents and teachers used to punish children physically; children seen as basically bad and punishment could transform them into God-fearing individuals - Sexual exploitation was common – arranged marriages, consummated before girls reached puberty - Ancient Greece – men to use boys for sexual pleasure; nobility – most boys would take adult lovers who would train them to be soldiers - Most abuse was overlooked, privacy of own home - Children‟s Aid Society formed in Toronto in 1891; At for the Prevention of Cruelty to and Better Protection of Children passed in Ontario in 1893 – initial concerns centred on child employment and substitute caregivers - C. Henry Kempe coined term “battered child syndrome” in the 1960s, mandatory laws passed - By the late 1970s, 9 of 12 provincial/territorial jurisdictions passed laws and rest set up monitoring programs - In December 1991, Canada signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child What is Child Abuse? - Battering (produces serious physical injuries), severe neglect, sexual exploitation; child witnessing parents‟ violence is now considered abuse (2003) - 46% of sexual abuse cases involved indecent exposure - All definitions assume that appropriate standards of behaviour for parents exist - Problem – standards vary over time, what is appropriate discipline; cultural variations, social groups variation – some may consider abusive/neglectful and others may consider it responsible parenting - Hard to detect – emotional abuse, psychological aggression, and neglect - Most laws allow parents to use “reasonable force” against children - The Criminal Code of Canada allows physical discipline – but when is it ever reasonable to be abusive? How Many Parents Abuse or Neglect Their Children? - The true extent is unknown and depends on someone to report it; reporting has increased since the 1970s - Most commonly investigated, by child welfare is neglect - In 2007, 153 police services reported 53,400 cases of assault against those under age 18; 13,200 of these at the hands of family members - Family violence against children and youth were up 24% from a decade earlier – attributed to publicity about abuse, changes in definitions, compulsory reporting laws (emotional harm, neglect and sexual exploitation not included) - Usually, only most extreme cases of abuse are reported to police or child protection agencies - There are various explanations for low reporting and recognition rates:  First, since child abuse is frowned on by society, it may be hidden  Second, children may be too afraid or too young to disclose abuse  Third, professionals who see signs of abuse may not report the incident  Fourth, a parent‟s or caregiver‟s explanation for injuries may seem plausible, so that no one becomes suspicious  Fifth, people may feel it isn‟t their business and therefore fail to report the abuse they know about - 1 in 2 girls are 1 in 3 boys are sexually abused – but reanalysis suggests that 1 in 5 girls are 1 in 10 boys are sexually abused; more recently, for every 1000 children, sexual abuse is confirmed or strongly suspected for 1.2 children; more than 4 times as many girls as boys are victims - In Canada and the USA, reports of sexual abuse have declined in recent years Which Children Are at Risk of Abuse or Neglect? - Children at risk of being abused include unwanted children, children living with a lone parent, those born either prematurely or suffering from perinatal complications, those with physical or mental challenges, or those in poor health - Nearly 1/3 of physical abuse occurred in children under one year old, next highest was ages 1-3; thus they are often particularly helpless - Girls are at more risk of sexual abuse – often emotionally deprived and socially isolated - Sometimes, the perpetrator (the abuser) is the only person who shows the child affection and is often someone who is expected to be protective - Girls are most often sexually abused by family members Is Spanking Child Abuse? - In 2010, a father in New Brunswick was sentenced to 45 days in jail for spanking his 6-year old son - The judge didn‟t believe that corporal punishment should always result in incarceration, but it was appropriate for this case - Most parents spank on occasionally - Younger, less well-educated mothers spank more often; older mothers have other ways of managing a child‟s behaviour - Those who argue that spanking is not abuse may state that their parents spanked them and it did them no harm - Child development experts point out that parents who spank often tend to spank a lot and that the severity usually increases - Children that have been spanked in their childhood are more at risk for repeating this form of discipline on their own children, therefore becoming abusers - Taking on a moderate view, occasional mild spanking does no harm, but there are more effective forms of discipline out there - It‟s difficult to determine whether any negative effects resulting from physical punishment are attributable to the punishment or other factors What Kinds of People Abuse or Neglect Their Children? - Perpetrators can be male or female and can differ in ages and their relationships with children; they can be mothers, fathers, siblings, etc - Originally, it was thought that abusers were mainly from the lower socio-economic level of society – this view however, was based on the fact that people who are on welfare, who come in contact with social agencies and who live in apartments rather than houses are more open to observation and are thus more likely to be reported Physical Abuse - In an attempt to explain physical abuse, psychiatric models focused on the psychological characteristics of the abuser - Perpetrators are thought to have poor self esteem, are young and unmarried, most likely to have experienced abuse - Social interaction models recognize that abuse always take place in a certain context - Abusive parents that experience high levels of stress, has poor coping techniques, are isolated and have little social interaction, lack of financial resources, perceive parenting as stressful and feeling they have little control; have difficulty in seeing relationships from a child‟s perspective Neglect - It‟s important to distinguish between short-term and chronic neglect; the latter has far more serious effects - Neglected children tend to live in families under stress – often they have single parents and/or parents who depend on welfare. Children in larger families are also more likely to be neglected, they are endangered by their parents‟ failure to provide for them or protect them - Neglectful mothers are often isolated, they may view their neighbours or relatives as unsupportive and are less involved in social activities Sexual Abuse - Most studies have looked at father-daughter incest, rather than father-son abuse - Abusers can be male or female, macho or saintly, introverted or extroverted - In a 2006 Quebec survey, 22.1% of women, 9.7% men reported childhood sexual abuse; 1 in 5 never disclosed the abuse, and men are the most unlikely to tell anyone - Sexually abusive parents have two features in common: They are sexually aroused by children and are likely to act on that arousal - Other factors increase the likelihood of abuse: Isolated family, little relief from poor marriage and few opportunities to extramarital sexual activity (prostitute or affair), the marriage is emotionally and sexually unsatisfying, wife is not interested in sex, is ill, absent or disabled - The oldest daughter is often at risk, especially if she is a parentified child – her father may regard her as a partner in a sexual as well as a parental sense - Contrary to popular notions, women also sexually abuse both boys and girls – 4% of sexual assaults on children by family members were committed by females, half of them are mothers - Child sexual abuse by women has many long-term effects similar to abuse by men Child Witnesses of Domestic Violence - 8% of children aged 4-7 in 1998-1999 had witnessed at least one episode of violence at home, while 5% had seen it often - Affected by what they hear and see, terrified withdrawn, anxious, aggressive, delinquent; may come to understand it as part of a close sexual relationship between adults Children and Adolescents as Abusers - Sibling Abuse: Used to be considered a normal experience of growing up - Incidence – percentage of the population affected or its after-effects - In 2007, 28% of police reported cases involved siblings accused of sexual assault; 18% in physical assault - Boys are more accused than girls; some suggest brother-sister sexual abuse is more common than father-daughter incest but there are fewer cases reported - Often physical, emotional, and sexual abuse occur together - Parents encourage their children to settle their own conflicts, unaware of the damage done or the sexual activity among their children and the signs to watch for - Parent Abuse: Only reported in extreme cases - There‟s an estimate of 7-13% of children that attack their parents - In 2005 police reported cases, 53% were aged 18+, and the remainder were under 18 - 6/10 of these children were living at home; mothers were victims in 7/10 episodes - Males were mostly accused of physical or verbal abuse - Older children are more likely to be violent than younger children, peaking in adolescence, though not strongest or largest - Parent abusers have little interest in school, already involved with police or child welfare agencies, have friends who are also delinquents and may assault parents as well Effects of Abuse on Children - The actual form of the effects may vary by the type of abuse - Physical difficulties often occur in physical, sexual abuse and neglect - The abused may have learning problems and problem behaviours; they may have difficulty getting along with others Official Responses to Child Abuse - Child protection laws at national and provincial levels require cases of child abuse to be reported - If abuse is severe, the abuser is prosecuted; less severe abuse cases are dealt with by social service agencies - Contradictory pressure on protection agencies are expected to prevent abuse from reoccurring and if the child is harmed when returned, the public is outraged - Programs for abusive families emphasize re-educating abusive parents to raise children safely at home, while focusing on social aspects, parents‟ isolation, development of social competence and self esteem, counselling, education and support Abuse between Partners - Abuse comprises physical assault, psychological abuse, restriction of movement, economic deprivation, sexual abuse and homicide - In England, women and children were considered as property of the husband and father who had the obligation to control and discipline them; they could use a stick as long as it was no thicker than his thumb („rule of thumb‟) – this law repealed in 1820 - Under Canadian law, before 1983 a man could not be charged with raping his wife How Many Partners Are Assaulted? - In 2007, females were nearly twice as likely as males to be victims of an intimate partner - Partner violence declined steadily from 1998 to 2007; fewer reports were made by women and men‟s
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