Child abuse and Criminal Behavior

A Caregiver's Act or Inaction: Child Abuse and Criminal Behavior

A caregiver's act or inaction that exposes the child to a serious danger of serious physical, sexual, or emotional exploitation or harm is referred to as child abuse. The type of abuse a kid experiences influences the criminal behavior they will display in the future. (Watts 700). Studies have taken into account theories like the social control theory, the social learning theory, and the attachment theory to comprehend the connection between child abuse and criminal behavior displayed in later phases. Notably, the development of criminal behavior is based on the kind of association an environment an individual grows in, and therefore the theories attempt to provide an insight into the relationship between the experiences and their implications. Moreover, the forms of child abuse take place in isolation in some instances and therefore have varied impacts on the victims. However, under peculiar instances, the child may experience multiple forms of abuse simultaneously (Mersky and Arthur 246). As such, as the child grows up, he or she will exhibit different types of criminal behavior. The retrospect paper seeks to demonstrate the link between child abuse and the criminal behavior they exhibit as they grow up.

Physical Abuse: A Major Form of Child Abuse

One of the major forms of child abuse is physical abuse in which the caretaker inflicts physical injury non-accidentally upon a child (Lansford et al. 235). Under physical abuse, a caretaker may inflict the injury through punching burning, beating, or kicking the child. Though most parents consider physical pain as a form of punishment, the child's brain develops improperly and understands the physical pain as part of life. From the social learning perspective, the child learns to associate physical pain with respect. As the child develops, the criminal behavior is then exposed as the child attempts to project what happened to him or her when growing up (Watts and Thomas 3031). For instance, a child who was frequently burned at different parts of the body will be drawn towards starting fires as the only way to remind himself of what he went through and thus, the child develops into an arsonist. In other instances, the individuals who were exposed to frequent physical abuse eventually become aggressive and antisocial in adulthood. According to the study by the National Youth Survey, it is recorded that the children who go through harsh parenting tend to subject their peers to abuse and violence through aggressive behavior (Mersky and Arthur 252). When left unchecked, the individual become obsessed with victimization of other people in the society. In fact, the individuals have a higher tendency to be found in possession of firearms which they perceive as a way to defending themselves against the cruelty of others. The view is in a sense that in the course of their development, the frequency of physical abuse contributed to them devising proper defense mechanisms as they mistrust everyone else (Lansford et al. 239).

Neglect: Another Form of Child Abuse

Furthermore, child abuse can be understood in the form of neglect in which the caretaker providing inadequate care for the child. The failure to offer the child emotional, physical, and educational needs total to the neglect abuse (Howing et al. 246). When the parent fails to provide adequate emotional support to the child, the psychological disposition of the child is affected in a manner that they feel unloved, worthless, endangered, flawed, unwanted, or incapable of meeting the expectations of the caretaker. Chronic inattention result in the child developing a sense of independence and fails to develop attachment to the caretaker (Watts and Thomas 3029). From Bowlby's Attachment theory, neglect of the child implies that the child fails to develop reciprocal relationships in a manner that their needs are not met and are always feeling insecure. When the parent is always absent to inform the child about which activities and objects are off limits, the social interaction of the child fails to develop fully (Howing et al. 248). As the child grows up, they become reckless in their actions as they fail to realize the essence for social connectedness. Most of the individuals who experience neglect in their childhood end up isolated from the family and entertain suicidal thoughts and at times become suicide bombers. Moreover, pervasive forms of punishments the child is subjected to like food deprivation at long last fail to properly develop both emotionally and socially (Watts and Thomas 3023). When the child does not get the basic needs from the caregiver, the child will join peer groups in which he or she will acquire delinquent behavior like drug and substance abuse. As indicated in the study by Watts, it is established that drug and substance abusers admitted to have been neglected by their families since the care givers did not concentrate on understanding what the child went through and who the child engages with. Consequently, the child seeks for companionship among the peers who may have negative impact on the behavior development (Watts 703).

Sexual Abuse: A Devastating Form of Child Abuse

Sexual abuse is the form of child abuse in which the minor is exposed to sexual experience by the caretaker. The abuse takes such forms as sodomy, incest, fondling the child's genitals, sexual exploitation, rape, pornography exposure, or exhibitionism (Howing et al. 247). When the child is exposed to sexual abuse, he or she will undergo sexual trauma which will impact their brain development in a way that the child will feel threatened every time a person wants to indulge them in sexual behavior. In adulthood, the sexual abuse victim demonstrates violence in romantic relationships. At some instances, the individual will develop hatred for the specific gender that subjected him or her to the abuse (Watts and Thomas 3037). In the event, child will grow into a serial killer targeting the specific gender as a way to avenge the experiences they had. In a research by the Center for Disease Control indicates that the victims of sexual abuse have 1.5 times likelihood of engaging in illicit drugs use and prostitution (Watts and Thomas 3036). Since the experiences they have during the sexual abuse leaves them feeling worthless, they opt to run away from home to live on the streets where they can engage in the vices at their own free will (Howing et al. 244).

The Impact of Domestic Violence on Child Development

Recent studies have established that child abuse goes beyond what happens to the child directly to include what happens in the environment in which the child grows. As a matter of fact, families in which there are frequent exposure to domestic violence, especially in which the husband is aggressive to his wife, leaves the child traumatized (Howing et al. 245). The domestic violence experienced may include spying on a parent, forced to hear or witness violence, to be held hostage when the incident occurs, and forced to engage in the violence. In adulthood, such individuals will exhibit temperamental problems while dealing with their companions. In fact, those who grow up in families in which the father is dominating, will express authority through domestic violence, especially if they are boys. For girls, the experience increases their resentment and hatred for the men and can easily engage in murder at the slightest disappointment (Mersky and Arthur 248).

Conclusion: The Link Between Child Abuse and Criminal Behavior

Conclusively, research indicates that the criminal behavior demonstrated by individuals in adulthood are preconceived in childhood. Child abuse contributes to the emotional and social disconnectedness that allows people to engage in criminal behavior (Howing et al. 249). As discussed, various theories have been utilized in the studies to determine the link between child abuse and the criminal behavior they demonstrate. Of the theories studied, attachment theory, proposed by Bowlby reveals that child abuse prevents successful attachment of the child and the society (Lansford et al. 244). As a result, the child will not have a strong bond smith the values and virtues that the society demands and therefore will seek to create attention through criminal behavior (Watts and Thomas 3024). Furthermore, social learning theory holds that the environment in which the child grows up impacts on their perception of the family, and the society at large. When the child grows under neglect or experiences domestic violence, he or she learns to mistrust everyone. As such, in adulthood, the child will project the experiences he or she had through violence.

Works Cited

Howing, Phyllis T., et al. "Child abuse and delinquency: The empirical and theoretical links." Social Work 35.3 (1990): 244-249.

Lansford, Jennifer E., et al. "Early physical abuse and later violent delinquency: A prospective longitudinal study." Child maltreatment 12.3 (2007): 233-245.

Mersky, Joshua P., and Arthur J. Reynolds. "Child maltreatment and violent delinquency: Disentangling main effects and subgroup effects." Child maltreatment 12.3 (2007): 246- 258.

Watts, Stephen J. "The Link Between Child Abuse and Neglect and Delinquency: Examining the Mediating Role of Social Bonds." Victims & Offenders 12.5 (2017): 700-717.

Watts, Stephen J., and Thomas L. McNulty. "Childhood abuse and criminal behavior: Testing a general strain theory model." Journal of interpersonal violence 28.15 (2013): 3023-3040.

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