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Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Amy Salomone Wayne State University

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Current Social Problem Child abuse and neglect is a key issue that affects, not only the United States, but also every country in the world. The guidelines that are set forth that define child abuse and neglect vary from state to state. However, the federal government, through the Child

Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), defines child abuse and neglect as, any recent act, or failure to act, on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act, or failure to act, which presents an imminent risk of serious harm (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2008). In other words, child abuse and neglect is any act or behavior that has the potential to put a child in serious risk of harm or death. Often children are unable to keep themselves safe; whether they are too young, too scared of repercussions, or they lack resources. Child abuse is a devastating and it can have lasting effects on the child. Through funding by CAPTA, social workers are employed to alleviate some of the overwhelming emotional effects abuse may have on the child by intervening and helping the child get to a safe environment. There are many different types of abuse that encompass child maltreatment. The first type of child abuse is physical abuse. Physical abuse is non-accidental bodily injury inflicted on a child; this can be a result of hitting, choking, beating, punching, biting, or other harm of a child by a parent or caretaker (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2008). Many do not know that even if the parent or guardian did not intend to inflict harm on the child, it is still considered abuse. The next type of child abuse is sexual abuse; which includes fondling a childs genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, as well as exploitation through prostitution or production of

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act pornographic materials (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2008, para. 8). Another type of abuse is emotional abuse, or psychological abuse; this type of abuse affects a childs self-esteem and sense of self-worth. This may include continuous criticism, threats, rejection, as well as withholding of love, support, or guidance (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2008, para. 9). Emotional abuse is among the most common and damaging types of child abuse, because it can persist for long periods

of time without notice and it affects the child psychologically. This is because since there is not any physical evidence of emotional abuse; therefore, it is hard to prove that it is actually taking place. Another form of child maltreatment is neglect. Neglect occurs when a parent or guardian does not provide a child with primary and fundamental needs, such as food, shelter, or attention. There are various facets of child neglect, this may include physical neglect, in which appropriate supervision, nutrition, or shelter is not provided; medical neglect, in which the proper medical or mental health treatment is not provided; educational neglect, in which a child is not receiving proper education, or education that the child can comprehend; and lastly, emotional neglect, in which a childs psychological needs are ignored (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2008). Another type of neglect is abandonment in which the child has been left alone without any care or sustenance and the parent or guardian cannot be located for an extended amount of time. Neglect is not always intentional. It may be a result of an uneducated parent, cultural norms, or poverty, which causes the parent to be away from the child or to not be capable of properly caring for the child. However, that does not mean that child neglect is excusable.

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Child abuse and neglect also encompasses substance abuse which can lead to mistreatment of the child, such as, prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol; the

manufacture, selling, or distributing of illegal substance; or the used of any mind-altering substance that may impair the parent or guardian to appropriately care for a child (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2008). Many may not think substance abuse affects the child; however, substance abuse is a factor in at least 70 percent of all reported cases of child maltreatment (American Humane Association, 2011). Substance abuse can lead to child mistreatment that causes psychological damage, as well as having the potential to create a situation of physical abuse. Determining the incidence of child maltreatment is extremely difficult because of the quality of the act. Child abuse and neglect is a secretive and closeted action, and many times the victims are not able to verbalize the abuse because of age, not having the knowledge or capacity to know better, or lack of other supporting adult to go to for help. This being the case, there are many cases of child abuse and neglect that go unreported to Child Protective Services (CPS). It was estimated in 2005, about twelve out of onethousand kids, or 899,000 children worldwide under the age eighteen where victims of abuse, neglect, or both (American Humane Association, 2011). But again, the number of abuse and neglect cases is much higher than the amount of cases that are reported each year. The most common form of maltreatment by far is child neglect, which accounted for most cases of abuse cases in 2005; other prevalent forms of child maltreatment were physical abuse, and other abuse, which encompasses abandonment, threats, and substance abuse (American Humane Association, 2011). However, every child that is

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act mistreated by their caretaker can, and most likely does, suffer from multiple forms of maltreatment; therefore they fall into multiple categories of abuse.

Shockingly, boys and girls are equally likely to become victims of child abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, not so surprising, the younger children, ages birth to three-years old, are more likely to become victims of abuse (Chalk, Gibbons, & Scarupa, 2002). This is particularly devastating because these are the children that are not capable of seeking or asking for help on their own. Caucasian children are most likely to mistreated, accounting for nearly half of the cases reported in the United States; this is followed by African American children at nearly a quarter of reported cases, and Hispanic children accounting for about seventeen percent (American Humane Association, 2011). Another devastating fact is incidence of abuse and neglect among disabled children is twice as high as it is among average children; this includes children with disabilities, such as, mental retardation, emotional disturbances, visual impairment, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, behavioral problems or other medical problems (American Humane Association, 2011, para. 9). This is particularly distressing because many abused children with disabilities are considered to not be as credible, or believable, when they do succeed in reporting the abuse. Policies in Place to Address this Concern The most significant policy put in place to prevent child abuse and neglect is the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). This policy gives federal funding to states in order aid prevention, investigation, assessment, prosecution, and treatment of victims of child maltreatment. Additionally, CAPTA provides grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations, as well as setting forth a minimum definition of child abuse

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and neglect (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau, 2011,

para. 2). CAPTA not only defines what pertains to child mistreatment, but it also outlines how a professional should act and handle the situation if they were to encounter a client that is a victim of abuse. CAPTA is divided into three sections. Title I of CAPTA includes basic state grants which allocates funds to states to help protect the wellbeing of children. This is accomplished through employment of more caseworkers that are be utilized to investigate claims of child abuse. Title I helps strengthen child protection agencies by providing funds to improve the workforce challenges of the child protection, including, high turnover rates, insufficient training, low salaries, insufficient supervision, unmanageable caseloads, poor communication, and unsafe working conditions (Toro & Smith, 2013, para. 12). The improvement of work conditions and benefits of these workers allows them to better attend to their job of keeping children safe from harm. Title II encompasses community-based prevention grants and deals with child safety and protection within the local community. Title II of CAPTA helps establish and maintain prevention-focused programs and activities, such as parenting education classes, home visiting services, mutual support groups for parents, respite care for families with disabled children, as well as family resource center (Toro & Smith, 2013, para. 13). Providing local prevention and educational classes for frustrated, or strained parents that are struggling with feeling of anger, frustration, and anxiety will help reduce the amount of child abuse that takes place on a day-to day basis. Also, respite care, support groups, and other resources will allow parents that are feeling overwhelmed to

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act learn how to cope and mange their feelings of frustration before it gets to the point of striking their child.

Lastly, Title III includes discretionary and research activity by apportioning funds to be used for the research and development of programs and interventions to prevent and reduce instances of child abuse and neglect. Title III of CAPTA supports program development, research, training, technical assistance, and the collection and dissemination of data to advance the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect (Toro & Smith, 2013, para. 14). These funds will help in the advancement of research for practice interventions; this will allow the best evidence-based practive to be developed and utilized by practitioners in an effort to reduce and prevent child abuse and neglect. Title III also supports child abuse prevention activities by funding discretionary grants to states and/or public or private agencies or organizations (Office of Child Abuse Prevention, 2011, para. 3). This gives funding to agencies in desperate need of resources in an effort to reduce child abuse and neglect. Title III grants also support many initiatives that aim to develop research to prevent child mistreatment, as well as the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System; this is the only federal data collection effort to that aims to determine the scope of child abuse and neglect (Toro & Smith, 2013, para. 14). The information that the National Child Abuse and Neglect System provides to researchers is invaluable in the fight against child abuse and neglect and has the potential to help many children from maltreatment. Child Protective Services (CPS) is a program that is also funded by CAPTA. Its purpose is to investigate and assess suspected cases of child abuse and neglect. Social workers are mandated reports and must report any suspected, witnessed, or confessions of

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

child maltreatment. Many children that are found to be victims of child abuse and neglect are removed from the home and put into foster care. Once a child is put in foster care they may be reunited with their birth parents once the abusive parent has undergone treatment and is deemed fit by the courts; two out of three children taken out of the home will be reunited with their birth parents within two years (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2005). Agencies try to make every effort to place children that cannot be placed back in their home with other relatives, so they will remain within the family. Children that cannot be placed with family or relatives remain in the foster care system much longer. Unfortunately abuse and neglect is not uncommon within the foster care system. Professionals that place the children within foster homes also need to take care to do a thorough assessment and investgation of potential foster parents for warning signs of abuse. There are also local child welfare agencies that receive funding from CAPTA, which serve as a safe place for children of abuse and neglect. These agencies act to prevent, advocate, and provide community outreach for ill-treated children. CAPTA: A Federal Policy The Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA) is a governmental policy that is dictated by federal law. CAPTA provides Federal funding to States in support of prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution, and treatment activities and also provides grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2011). Federal funding then appropriates funds to states through private and public agencies that provide services that will reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect. For example, funds may go to Child Protective Services (CPS), which would in turn use the funding to hire more caseworkers, reducing the number of

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act cases for the current caseworkers. As a result each caseworker is able to provide more thorough services to the community. Establishment of CAPTA & Political Affiliations

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was put in place in 1974. The act was established following the medical identification of battered child syndrome and the subsequent public demand for the investigation of familial child abuse (OvercampMartini & Nutton, 2009, p. 57). Since CAPTAs passage into law it has been revised many times, most recently in 2010. The CAPTA reauthorization bill of 2010 includes many important facets that have been enacted to improve the lives of abused and neglected children. An important addition to CAPTA authorizes grants to public or private agencies and organizations to develop or expand effective collaborations between child protective service (CPS) entities and domestic violence service entities (U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services, 2011). This will provide a better delivery of services and help in the fight against child abuse and neglect. As a result of these grants, CPS and Domestic abuse agencies can work together and provide services to the abused child, as well as the non-abusive parent (if existing). Members of both the Democratic and Republican parties support the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. In fact, Senator Chris Dodd (Democrat- Conn.) along with Chairman Tom Harkin (Democrat-Iowa), and Ranking Member Mike Enzi (Republican-Wyo.) of the Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee introduced the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 2010 Reauthorization Bill (Overcamp-Martini & Nutton, 2009, p. 59). Members of each party support the efforts of CAPTA to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect.

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Critique of CAPTA The positive impact of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act is evident. What


has been accomplished through the act and its funding and grants for further research has helped an innumerable amount of victims of child abuse, as well as prevented many from becoming victims. However, an overwhelming number of children continue to suffer due to a lack of resources. Funding is needed to continue existing programs and generate new programs to help the children that are victims of child abuse and neglect. Funding is also essential in order to keep preventative community-based programs for the parents of abused, or potentially abused, children running. These programs are essential in helping stop child abuse and neglect before it happens. Unfortunately, because of lack of funding and resources not every reported case receives a thorough investigation and the abuse continues, or is unreported (Erickson, 2000). With more funding for CAPTA, the program would then be capable of giving more grants to services, such as, Child Protective Services, so they were not strained with overwhelming caseloads and could provide thorough attention to each individual case. Another issue with CAPTA is federal law creates the standard of what qualifies as child abuse. This is an issue because abuse is a subjective to every individual. What is considered a form of punishment to one individual may be seen as going too far and crossing into the realm of abuse to another person. As a result of the subjectivity of the matter some abuse allegations may not be taken seriously, or they may not be reported at all. This only adds to the amount of unreported cases of child abuse and neglect. Devastatingly, the United States has worst record in the industrialized world for child abuse; losing about five children per day to child abuse and neglect (Erickson, 2000).

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act This statistic is shocking and distressing. A developed and technologically advanced country should not have such a mark on its record. Despite the efforts of CAPTA, it is clear that many children are still being mistreated at an alarming rate. As a country, we need to provide better services in order to prevent and treat abuse. Perhaps CAPTA should provide counseling services for victims, so they can cope and recover from the


emotional effects of the abuse and neglect. There is no simple solution to this issue, and there is no cure-all that will put a stop to all child abuse and neglect; however, with more grants to underfunded programs even more children can be helped. Conclusion In conclusion, CAPTA provides a federal guideline to what constitutes child abuse and neglect. Child abuse and neglect is a particularly devastating social issue because many times children cannot seek out help for themselves because they lack the skills, they feel ashamed, or they fear being put under the care of the state. Although, child abuse and neglect is one of the most despicable crimes one can commit, CAPTA is making strides toward trying to reduce the number of abuse cases.

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act References American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. (2005, May). Foster Care. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from Facts for Families: American Humane Association. (2011). Child Abuse and Neglect Statistics. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from American Humane Association:


Chalk, R., Gibbons, A., & Scarupa, H. J. (2002, May). The Multiple Dimensions of Child Abuse and Neglect: New Insights into an Old Problem. Retrieved October 18, 2013, from Child Trends Research Brief: Erickson, P. E. (2000). Federal Child Abuse and Neglect Policy in the United State since 1974: A Review and Critque. Criminal Justic Review , 25 (1), 77-92. Office of Child Abuse Prevention. (2011, Novemeber 15). Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA). Retrieved October 17, 2013, from California Department of Social Services: Overcamp-Martini, M. A., & Nutton, J. S. (2009). CAPTA and the Residential Placement: A Survey of State Policy and Practice. Child Youth Care Forum , 38, 55-69.

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act


Toro, A., & Smith, J. (n.d.). APA Public Interest Government Relations Office. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from Child Abuse and Neglect: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2011, July). About CAPTA: A legislative History. Retrieved October 18, 2013, from Child Welfare Information Gateway: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2008). What Is Child Abuse and Neglect? Retrieved October 19, 2013, from Child Welfare Information Gateway: U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services. (2011, February 15). CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010 P.L. 111-320. Retrieved October 19, 2013, from Child Welfare Information Gateway: =federalLegislation.viewLegis&id=142