This week many topics were discussed in our Violence class. I have chosen to focus on Dr. Abigail Hankin’s lecture and specifically on child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, and elder abuse.
Child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse is rampant. Approximately 2-3% of children suffer abuse or neglect every year which results 1000-2000 deaths. An estimated 80% of child abuse and neglect victims are under 4 years old and 40% of the victims are under 12 months old. Children who have behavior problems or special needs are more likely to be abused. Often the abuser is someone who is a caregiver to the child but not related by blood. Caregivers who have inappropriate expectations of the child, have a mental health history, and substance abuse are more likely to abuse a child. One way that these individuals become caregivers is dating the parent of the child. Child abuse includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological maltreatment. Physical abuse includes shaking, slapping, punching, beating, kicking, burning and biting. Neglect is when a caretaker does something or fails to do something that results in harm. Often neglect is a failure to meet basic needs of food, shelter, medical care and education.
Victims of child abuse are more likely to be involved in aggressive and violent behavior later in life. Child sexual abuse also has been linked to suicidal behavior. (Krug, 1084). Other consequences of child abuse and neglect include increased aggression with peers, difficulty forming friends, increased rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. (Krug, 1084).
Domestic Violence (aka Intimate Partner Abuse)
Domestic violence is very common. It is often cyclical with stages of tension building up, battering, and the honeymoon phase. The honeymoon phase typically involves the abuser apologizing and saying it will never happen again and how much he or she loves the victim. Then the tension builds again and the cycle repeats. For example, Kansas City Chief player Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend who was the mother of his three month old child before taking his own life. Other examples include the ongoing saga between Chris Brown and Rhiana, Madonna and Sean Penn, Tina Turner and Ike Turner, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, Mariah Carey and Tommy Mottola, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.
Individuals highest at risk of being a victim are women who are divorced, separated, or single, economically distressed, and pregnant women. Those highest at risk of being an abuser include people who have recently lost their jobs, abuse drugs, and are jealous or possessive. People often ask or don’t understand why the victim of domestic violence don’t pick up and leave the abuser. These victims might stay because they believe the abuser will change or didn’t mean to hurt them or out of love for the abuser. Fear also induces individuals to stay in an abusive relationship. Victims may not disclose the abuse out of fear, shame, or abuser threats.
Not all types of abuse are physical (or purely physical). While approximately 2-10% of elderly people are victims of abuse, 80% of elder abuse cases go unreported.
Examples of Elder Abuse
A Duluth woman lost her home and all her money when one of her sons stole close to $400,000. Investigators said her son gave himself power of attorney allowing him access to the funds.
A Dekalb woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison for exploiting elderly and disabled adults she was caring for. The elderly and disabled were housed in unsafe and unsanitary conditions. They did not get adequate food and medication.
Information from this post comes from a lecture given by Abigail Hankin on February 25, 2013 at Emory, articles linked within the post, class notes from my Child Welfare Law and Policy course, The World Report on Violence and Health by Etienne G. Krug, James A. Mercy, Linda L. Dahlberg, Anthony B. Zwi published in The Lancet Vol. 360, October 5, 2002. Evolution of the Dependency Component of the Juvenile Court by Marvin Ventrell (1998).
Abigail Hankin mentioned the documentary The Interrupters which portrays those trying to stop youth violence on the streets of Chicago. Many of the Violence Interrupters are former violent offenders and gang members or leaders themselves. Below is a link to the full documentary.
This American Life
For another taste of youth violence in Chicago check out the This American Life episodes below. The radio crew spent five months at Harper High School in Chicago. Last year 29 current and recent students of Harper were shot. The show chronicles the lives of students and administrators surviving the gun violence. The story is told in two parts.