Where's the Manual for this Kid?

Archive for the ‘child abuse’ Category

 By now we’ve all heard the story of the Asian father who forced his 4 year old son to run unclothed down a snowy street, shivering and crying. The video went viral soon after it was shared. The reactions were rapid and varied. Lots of discussion was offered as to whether this constitutes abusive behavior. A few commenters were conflicted: “His father is cruel, but what he did is for the boy’s good. He won’t be like today’s children who are only able to play with cell phones and computers,” writes a viewer. Others only admonished the parents if they forced this kind of exposure on their child regularly. Excuse me, where is the connection between forcing your kid to run through bitter cold snow and playing with cell phones and computers? And what is “regularly”? It’s ok to expose your kid to hyperthermia for what, maybe 2 times? 5 times? If this person was told to do the same, how many times would they say is an ok level of exposure?

Obviously, we don’t understand what constitutes abusive behavior! That is amazing to me when so many well-known resources define it. I’m also amazed at the discussion of whether we should judge a family from another culture. Seriously?? It’s ok to abuse your child, based on our definitions, if you’re from another country and your laws are different? Does no one remember the case of the American teenager who was publicly caned in Singapore?

First, let’seducate everyone as to what constitutes child abuse in the U.S.

According to public law, child abuse has been defined as an act, or failure to act, on the part of a 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 (42 U.S.C.A. § 5106g). Or which places the child in an imminent risk of serious harm.

 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Children And Families (DCF) define child maltreatment as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child. Child abuse can occur in a child’s home, or in the organizations, schools or communities the child interacts with. Acts of commission are deliberate and intentional; however, harm to a child may or may not be the intended consequence. An act that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm. Harm may or may not be the intended consequence.

 The International Child Abuse Network (Yes ICAN) takes their definition of child abuse and neglect from both the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), Public Law 104-235), as it has been amended and reauthorized in March 2003, and as amended by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 and the Report of the Consultation on Child Abuse Prevention, World Health Organization, Social Change and Mental Health, Violence and Injury Prevention. March 1999. Simply stated, Child abuse is the bad treatment of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caretaker, someone living in their home or someone who works with or around children. Abuse of a child is anything that causes injury or puts the child in danger of physical injury. Child abuse can be physical (such as burns or broken bones), sexual (such as touching of private parts or incest), or emotional (such as belittling or calling the child names). Child abuse is any action (or lack of) which endangers or impairs a child’s physical, mental or emotional health and development. Abuse of a child is anything that causes injury or puts the child in danger of physical injury.

Do you see the common thread among these definitions? Any act that causes or potentially causes the harm of a child constitutes abuse. The act does not have to be intentional. The parent does not have to consciously intend to be malicious in  order to abuse a child. How many children have been abused by parents who were mentally ill and were, in their minds, trying to protect their children…as they drowned them in a bathtub? How many parents, when questioned about abusive actions, have stated, “It was for his own good.” In fact, this father made that statement when asked why he would subject his young son to the bitter cold. Apparently, it was to help build his immunities. Really? I used to contend that too much disinfectant was not good, that a little dirt never hurt a kid, builds immunities. But did I tell my kids to EAT dirt? NO! That would have been ABUSIVE!

So, now, if you take this information and apply it to the video of the 4 year old running nearly naked through bitter cold and snow, do you still have to discuss whether it was abuse? And I don’t care where the family is from. You follow the laws of the country you’re in, as we’ve seen when our young people have gotten themselves thrown into jails in foreign countries or, as in the previous example, publically caned.

 We should never be reluctant to call attention to abuse and stop it. I once grabbed a mother’s arm as she swung back to strike her 8 year old child in the face. Yes, she was angry with me. But she did not strike her child. And yes, she was from a different culture. I didn’t care.


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