Unfortunately, it is occurring more and more in today’s society that these defenseless children are being robbed of their childhood innocence and happiness and are being forced to face the cruel reality of our world at far too young an age. These Children are victims of neglect and abuse, primarily caused by family members or people they are close to. Child neglect is the most common form of abuse, and is therefore the main subject that will be covered in this essay.This disturbing and extremely common, yet rarely talked about topic effects at least one out of every 10 children under the age of 14 in Canada alone. Child abuse and neglect are one of the largest problems occurring in society, and in order for the situation to improve, we need to stop ignoring the fact that it is a daily reality, and become better educated on the topic and how to prevent it. After all, the children of today are the future of tomorrow, and they deserve to start their lives surrounded by love, and free from fear and pain.
Many children these days take the love, support, and presence of their parents for granted, often starting arguments over unimportant things and getting upset when things do not go their way. Sadly, what they do not realize is that a large number of children do not get to know what a parent’s presence feels like, let alone having their constant love and support. Millions of children around the world suffer from abuse and neglect, and wake up every morning fearful of what the day will hold.
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There is no exact definition that holds enough value to be able to describe the fear and pain that these young children go through each day, but by law, child abuse has been defined as “an act, or failure to act, on the part of the parent or caretaker that results in the death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation of a child, or which places the child in an imminent risk of serious harm. ” There are four kinds of child abuse; physical, sexual, emotional and neglect. All kinds of abuse are illegal in Canada and the United States.
Although each type f child abuse is of great importance, neglect is the most common form of child mistreatment in Canada (accounting for 62% of all reported abuse cases), and can cause damage even more severe than that of any other form of abuse. Neglect is when the caregiver does not provide necessary attention to the child’s safety, physical, emotional or psychological needs. In severe cases, neglect can lead to abandonment, which is when a parent relinquishes permanent rights and claims to a child outside legal adoption.
Child abandonment is a severe problem, accounting for almost half (43.3%) of all fatal child abuse cases. In Canada, there are over 15, 980 neglected children, and that number is only a rough estimate, because the majority of neglect cases are left unreported. The children that are more at risk of becoming victims are disabled children, who are twice as likely, and aboriginal children, who make up the majority of child abuse and neglect victims in Canada. Many parents or caregivers who neglect and abandon their children do so because they suffer from depression, lack of initiative, futility, a low level of education, a poor socioeconomic status, unemployment, substance abuse or social isolation.
Other factors that could lead to neglect and abandonment can include that the child was the outcome of sexual assault or incest, or is perceived by the caregiver as an obstacle to personal achievements. If a child suffers from neglect, signs of the abuse may include severe need of medical or dental care, frequent school absences, stealing food, begging for money, dressing inappropriately for the weather, not answering questions directly about his parents or caregivers, and drastic changes in personality and appearance. If a child is reported as being neglected or abused, Children’s Aid Society (CAS) goes to inspect the home.
If the accusations prove true, the child is then taken from the parent or caregiver (either temporarily or permanently, depending on the severity of the abuse), and is places either in the custody of another relative, or in foster care. The sentence of the caregiver depends on how severe the abuse or neglect is, and can vary from having to pay a fine, to losing custody of the child, to being imprisoned. As Canadian citizens and members of our community, it is our duty to protect the children by reporting any signs of abuse or neglect to the authorities.
Unfortunately, not many people do so, and by consequence, the young children have no voice, and are forced to continue suffering in silence. One may not think that child abuse and neglect has much of an impact for the population, but in reality, it largely affects many aspects of today’s –and tomorrow’s- society. Economically, child abuse is very costly. Once a child had been taken out of the custody of his or her parents, they are often taken to hospitals where their medical needs are taken care of, and then placed into foster homes.
The treatment and trips to the hospital quickly become very costly, and the foster care alone costs the country over $6 billion a year. Also, each abandoned child could cost the government over $3,000 a day. Although the money is going towards the great cause of providing abused and abandoned children with a better life, it is a completely avoidable matter that is costing extreme amounts of money. Also, there has been a dramatic increase in child abuse and neglect since 1991, and the numbers are still growing. If this trend continues, there will be more children who are abused than those who are not.
What this will mean for society is higher taxes, and adults who have more issues and lower skill levels. The effects of abuse and neglect on children are that they have poor social skills and lower education levels, a higher rate of mental and physical disabilities, delinquency, violence, drug abuse and depression. In addition, abused or neglected children have a higher tendency to abuse and neglect their own children later in life. This means that a large portion of our world will be governed by physically and emotionally damaged adults, who may do the same to their own children.
This will result in many socioeconomic problems for our future. As was said before, the children today are the future of tomorrow, and if we want a good future for our world, we need to treat the children properly and give them the knowledge and love they deserve to become well-rounded adults. Countless organizations around the world work to improve the issue of child abuse, neglect and abandonment, as it is an increasingly important problem in our society. However, I have only selected one organization to write about- The Door of Hope.
The Door of Hope is an organization located in Johannesburg, South Africa that has a mission to rescue and receive any abandoned, abused or orphaned babies and children in and around their city. They work to provide a temporary Christian home for all the children while seeking a forever family, suitable long term care or other permanent care for each one. The Door of Hope organization began in 1999, when the pastor of a small church in Johannesburg, named Cheryl Allen, learned that a high number of newly born infants were being abandoned.
Cheryl realized that many of the young women abandoning their babies may have acted differently had there been an alternative. The church then made a “baby bin” in the side of the wall, where mothers could place their infants who would then be brought into the church and taken care of by the volunteers. When news spread, babies began being brought in by police, community members, hospitals and clinics. By having complete faith and reliance in God, the ministry has grown, and saves over 100 children’s lives each year.
Because this organization is still relatively small, they only have a few fundraisers, but are working hard to get more activities and more people to raise awareness and support their cause. Their annual fundraisers are; the Barnyard Fundraiser, a production that lets you experience the music and famous icons of the 80’s. It is a fun-filled all night event of music, comedy and dancing that includes dinner. They also sell Door of Hope memorabilia at the entrance.
Another one of their fundraisers is the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge, which is a bicycle race held in South Africa for any level of cyclist. They ask that participants do their best to raise as much money as possible for the cause, and that they purchase a door of hope shirt to wear on the day of the race. The Door of Hope is a strictly Christian organization that fully believes and trusts in God’s plan. Therefore, there are many possible parables and Beatitudes that could be connected to Door of Hope, but it is the fifth Beatitude that I think represents them the best; “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
Mercy is having love towards those that are miserable and those that need some type of help or assistance. The merciful are those who are compassionate towards those who need mercy, and go out of their way to make the effort to help. Cheryl Allen and the volunteers at Door of Hope truly show that they are merciful by taking abandoned, abused and orphaned infants and children, many of whom are extremely ill or problematic. They spend their days tending to these young children to make sure they get the love and attention they need for no pay whatsoever, and are extremely humble about it.
I believe that this is what makes them so merciful. They give all they have to help these infants, yet ask for nothing in return. The only reward they need is to see a child’s smile, knowing that their life has been saved, and that they will now be able to live to their fullest potential. If someone wanted to support the Door of Hope Organization, they could either send a donation in the form of a cheque through the mail or by credit card over the internet. They could also “adopt a cot”, which is sending a monthly donation to provide a child with a bed and necessary supplies.
A third option, which would be for the most dedicated of supporters, is to go volunteer at the organization. They accept international volunteers and will help pay for your travel and stay, but you must fundraise as well. The international volunteers have to be 18-60 years of age, will stay from 1-12 months and will help with the babies daily, along with other responsibilities. I think that the Door of Hope is a truly spectacular organization, and I hope that when I graduate from Highschool, I will be able to help as an international volunteer.
In conclusion, child abuse and neglect is an extreme problem plaguing our society, and we need to help bring a stop to it. If not, the effects of this abuse will impact many aspects of our future, as well as damaging the lives of countless children and denying them of their full potential. Become an active member of your community, and when you suspect a child is being abused, do not hesitate to report it. You could be saving their life.
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