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Youngest Victims: Violence Toward Children (From Issues in Intimate Violence, P 5-24, 1998, Raquel Kennedy Bergen, ed. -- See NCJ-176608)

NCJ Number
R J Gelles
Date Published
20 pages
This paper discusses the extent of violence and maltreatment against children, the characteristics of the abusers and the abused, and the consequences of child abuse and neglect.
This chapter begins by reviewing various sources of information on the extent and nature of violence, abuse, and the maltreatment of children. Before considering who abuses children, the chapter considers the process by which child abuse is recognized and reported in the United States. Official reports of child abuse tend to overrepresent some populations (poor and minority families) and underrepresent other families (middle class and professionals) in part because minority and poor families are more likely to be identified and reported for maltreatment. As a result, relying on these reports for estimating the extent and patterns of child maltreatment leads to the perpetuation of some of the myths of child abuse. A discussion of factors associated with violence toward children and child maltreatment advises that there is no single factor that leads a parent to abuse a child. Characteristics of the child, parent, family, social situation, and community all influence which children are abused and under what conditions; moreover, some factors are related to sexual abuse, but not physical abuse; some are related to neglect and not other forms of maltreatment; and some factors, such as history of being abused, may be related to all forms of maltreatment. In addition, some factors may be related to the less dangerous manifestations of maltreatment; whereas, other factors or combination of factors may be related to the more dangerous and life-threatening forms of abuse. A review of the consequences of child abuse and neglect shows that long-term psychological and behavioral effects occur; it may lead to deviant and criminal behavior. 2 tables, 3 figures, 4 notes, and 117 references


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