Line Between Tough Love and Child Abuse
Poets and authors have tried to define love for centuries, whereas scientists have only recently started. Many of us know intuitively that love is a major purpose for living; (Blueprint, 2013) that connection is inherent in all that we do, and without love, we cannot survive as a species. But what is love, and how do we know when we’re in it? First , let’s start off with what love isn’t. If someone asks you to do or say something that isn’t in your nature, that isn’t true love. Smith, 2002) Although love does involve compromises between partners, someone who is in love with you will never ask you to change who you are in order to be loved. True Love is caring. The ancient Greeks had many different names for different forms of love: passion, virtuous, affection for the family, desire, and general affection. But no matter how love is defined, they all hold a common trait: caring. (Blueprint, 2013) True Love is attractive. Attraction and chemistry form the bond that allows people to mate.
Without this romantic desire for another individual, a relationship is nothing more than lust or infatuation. True Love is attached. Like the mother-child bond, attachment comes after the initial attraction. Attachment is the long term love that appears anywhere from one to three years into a romantic relationship (sometimes sooner and very rarely after), and you’ll know you’ve found it when you can honestly say, (Smith, 2002) “I’ve seen the worst and the best you have to offer, and I still love you,” while your partner feels the same way. True Love is committed.
When it comes to true love, commitment is more than just monogamy. It’s the knowledge that your partner cares for you and has your back, no matter what the circumstances. People who are strongly committed to one another will, when faced with seemingly negative information about their partner, see only the positive. For example, a friend comments that your partner doesn’t say a lot. “Ah yes, he’s the strong, silent type,” you reply. People with less commitment to their partner would instead say something like, “Yeah, I can never have conversation with him.
It’s annoying. ” True Love is Intimate. Intimacy is a crucial component of all relationships, regardless of their nature. In order to know another, you need to share parts of yourself. This self-revealing behavior, when reciprocated, (Teicher, 2000) forms an emotional bond. Over time this bond strengthens and even evolves, so that two people merge closer and closer together. Intimacy by itself if is a great friendship, but compiled with the other things in this list, it forms an equation for true love.
Within the minimum standards set by CAPTA, each State is responsible for providing its own definitions of child abuse and neglect. Most States recognize four major types of maltreatment: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. Although any of the forms of child maltreatment may be found separately, (Blueprint, 2013) they often occur in combination. In many States, abandonment and parental substance abuse are also defined as forms of child abuse or neglect. The examples provided below are for general informational purposes only.
Not all States’ definitions will include all of the examples listed below, and individual States’ definitions may cover additional situations not mentioned here. Physical abuse is no accidental physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other object), burning, or otherwise harming a child, that is inflicted by a parent, caregiver, or other person who has responsibility for the child. Perry, 2002) Such injury is considered abuse regardless of whether the caregiver intended to hurt the child. Physical discipline, such as spanking or paddling, is not considered abuse as long as it is reasonable and causes no bodily injury to the child.
Neglect is the failure of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver to provide for a child’s basic needs. (Perry, 2002) Neglect may be physical (failure to provide necessary food or shelter, or lack of appropriate supervision), medical (e. g. failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment), educational (e. g. , failure to educate a child or attend to special education needs), or emotional (e. g. , inattention to a child’s emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or permitting the child to use alcohol or other drugs). These situations do not always mean a child is neglected. Sometimes cultural values, the standards of care in the community, and poverty may be contributing factors, indicating the family is in need of information or assistance. Teicher, 2000) When a family fails to use information and resources, and the child’s health or safety is at risk, then child welfare intervention may be required. In addition, many States provide an exception to the definition of neglect for parents who choose not to seek medical care for their children due to religious beliefs that may prohibit medical intervention. Sexual abuse includes activities by a parent or caregiver such as fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.
Sexual abuse is defined by CAPTA as “the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct; or the rape, and in cases of caretaker or inter-familial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children. Emotional abuse (or psychological abuse) is a pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse is often difficult to prove and, therefore, (Teicher, 2000) child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm or mental injury to the child. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other forms are identified.
Abandonment is now defined in many States as a form of neglect. (Perry, 2002) In general, a child is considered to be abandoned when the parent’s identity or whereabouts are unknown, the child has been left alone in circumstances where the child suffers serious harm, or the parent has failed to maintain contact with the child or provide reasonable support for a specified period of time. Tough love simply means that if your child decides to do anything that can harm him/her or others that you have to love your child enough to take a stand against that behavior.
If this means that you have to report your child to the authorities, whether the law or teachers, then you need to do it. It also means that if you find that you need help with your child for whatever reason that you should ask for it. There is nothing shameful about having a child who is out of control. It happens to the best of parents. What would be shameful is not to do anything. The fastest and best way to implement tough love techniques with your child is to simply start making them fully responsible for their own actions. (Blueprint, 2013) Don’t pay or legal representation, don’t bail them out with teachers, and don’t interfere in the natural consequences that may happen. Sometimes, you may even need to go further in the case of a child putting others in danger via drinking or drugging and driving. Take the car, take the money, take the phone, remove all privileges, and if that doesn’t work, you may have to call the police on your child who is practicing illegal behaviors. Don’t give multiple warnings and threats. (Teicher, 2000) Teenagers just stop believing you, if you don’t back up your words with actions.
Giving natural consequences a push in the right direction can go far in helping your child, while you’re still there for emotional support as long as they’re doing the right thing, can help a child straighten their life out before they are on their own. Child abuse is more than bruises and broken bones. While physical abuse might be the most visible, other types of abuse, such as emotional abuse and neglect, also leave deep, lasting scars. The earlier abused children get help, the greater chance they have to heal and break the cycle—rather than perpetuate it.
By learning about common signs of abuse and what you can do to intervene, you can make a huge difference in a child’s life. While physical abuse is shocking due to the scars it leaves, not all child abuse is as obvious. Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations, or making a child feel worthless or stupid are also child abuse. Regardless of the type of child abuse, the result is serious emotional harm. An estimated 905,000 children were victims of child abuse or neglect in 2006 (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008).
While physical injuries may or may not be immediately visible, abuse and neglect can have consequences for children, families, and society that last lifetimes, if not generations. The impact of child abuse and neglect is often discussed in terms of physical, psychological, behavioral, and societal consequences. In reality, however, it is impossible to separate them completely. Physical consequences, such as damage to a child’s growing brain, can have psychological implications such as cognitive delays or emotional difficulties.
Psychological problems often manifest as high-risk behaviors. Depression and anxiety, for example, may make a person more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol or illicit drugs, or overeat. High-risk behaviors, in turn, can lead to long-term physical health problems such as sexually transmitted diseases, cancer, and obesity. This factsheet provides an overview of some of the most common physical, psychological, behavioral, and societal consequences of child abuse and neglect, while acknowledging that much crossover among categories exists.
The immediate emotional effects of abuse and neglect—isolation, fear, and an inability to trust—can translate into lifelong consequences including low self-esteem, depression, and relationship difficulties. (Teicher, 2000) Researchers have identified links between child abuse and neglect and the following: In one long-term study, as many as 80 percent of young adults who had been abused met the diagnostic criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder at age 21. These young adults exhibited many problems, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide attempts (Silverman, Reinherz, & Giaconia, 1996).
Other psychological and emotional conditions associated with abuse and neglect include panic disorder, dissociative disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and reactive attachment disorder (Teicher, 2000). The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being recently found children placed in out-of-home care due to abuse or neglect tended to score lower than the general population on measures of cognitive capacity, language development, and academic achievement (2003). Children who are abused and neglected by caretakers often do not form secure attachments to them.
These early attachment difficulties can lead to later difficulties in relationships with other adults as well as with peers (Morrison, Frank, Holland, & Kates, 1999). Not all victims of child abuse and neglect will experience behavioral consequences; however, child abuse and neglect appear to make the following more likely: Studies have found abused and neglected children to be at least 25 percent more likely to experience problems such as delinquency, teen pregnancy, low academic achievement, drug use, and mental health problems (Kelley et al. , 1997).
A National Institute of Justice study indicated being abused or neglected as a child increased the likelihood of arrest as a juvenile by 59 percent. Abuse and neglect increased the likelihood of adult criminal behavior by 28 percent and violent crime by 30 percent (Widom & Maxfield, 2001). Research consistently reflects an increased likelihood that abused and neglected children will smoke cigarettes, abuse alcohol, or take illicit drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as many as two-thirds of people in drug treatment programs reported being abused as children (2000).