Child abuse and neglect have been an issue that has occasionally gained attention and measures to address them. It involves not only physical harm but also psychological and sexual abuse. In general, it consists of failing to do something or do something that harms or puts a child at risk. Abused children suffer intense emotional damage that develops into severe social mischiefs such as drugs, academic struggles, or even death where physical harm is implicated. It is addressed as a social problem since its factors are strongly related to social issues. For these problems to be handled, we need to know the causes and address the case from the source. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) noted that the causes of child abuse included isolation, lack of support, poverty, and less education, among others. Child abuse needs to be addressed, with factors promoting it being identified as it may have severe consequences to the child, just as in the case of Aurore in the film Aurore by the contemporary Quebec cinema, released in 2005, whereby she died as a result of abuse.
Modern society tries to educate and inform of the dangers the abuse causes to children in several ways, like through movies. In contemporary Quebec Cinema, the social problem of child abuse is addressed effectively through the film Aurore released in 2005. Many factors are associated with child abuse, including poverty, religious beliefs, and lack of education. The four general categories of child abuse are now identified as sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, and emotional distress, instead of the traditional view of it being viewed only physical assault (Harper et al. 129). The war against child abuse needs the involvement of various social institutions like the media, schools, hospitals, communities, churches, or youth associations. Governments at the local, state, and federal levels need to develop programs and resources to address this ongoing social problem. Although it cannot be eliminated, the popularization of education has gradually made people think about and prevent such similar incidents from being heard.
Religious factors sometimes promote the practice of child abuse. Physical abuse here is the significant type of abuse the child has to undergo. Most religious individuals believe that a child must be punished for doing wrong to prevent them from repeating mistakes (Harper et al.132). If the child does wrong, punishment is recommended, but it has its limit. In the film, Aurore is seen under constant abuse from Marie-Anne, who indicates that she was conceived of sin, justifying her deeds. What criteria did she use to conclude that Aurore resulted from sin? If so, is it her mistake or the parents’ fault and why does she have to suffer the consequences? Other factors that occasionally contribute to child maltreatment and are related to faith or belief include scapegoating, lousy behaviour, gifts and peculiar characteristics, and trust in evil spirits.
A child, especially one living with a step-parent or other relatives, may be subjected to abuse due to being singled out and punished severely as the cause of misfortune within the family. The perpetrator here uses religious belief to conclude that the child is the cause of the problems hence taking out anger on them, causing physical and emotional abuse. Another religious factor based on faith is terrible behaviour. It is usual for a child to make mistakes as part of growing. Some perpetrators take advantage of a child making a small mistake to justify their cruel punishment against them (Harper et al. 136). Marie-Anne’s actions towards Aurore seem to be more than just religious factors as it can be seen that she even goes ahead to frame her that she stole gold from the church so that she can get punished. From this experience, it is clear that most of the children subjected to abuse suffer at the hands of those close to them, and the majority are step-parents or other immediate family members.
Child abuse extends beyond race, culture, and social context. Societal factors promote it because everyone should mind their own business. Some individuals might be aware of child abuse practice but fail to do anything to counter it. In the film Aurore, it is evident that several characters like Oreus and Exilda are aware of the misfortunes Aurore goes to but fail to do anything. Oreus claims that people fear doing something because they are scared of Telesphore. Stresses of poverty also contribute mainly to child maltreatment. Statistics collected by the Census Bureau indicate that over 70% of children subjected to abuse belong to low-income families, making poverty the leading cause of abuse in America (Zinzow et al. 3). Parents with limited financial capabilities find it hard to cope with the harsh reality and often take out their anger and frustration on innocent children through neglect and physical abuse. Community violence also results in child abuse, sometimes physical but mainly psychological abuse. Over one-third of boys and girls across the United States aged between 10 and 17 are victims of direct violence like sexual assault and kidnapping.
People who abuse children are not specific; they include men and women. The majority of the abusers are adults, with over 70% being those close to the child. Some characteristics may be the resultant causes of this abuse. Adults with financial problems, low self-esteem, stress, and those with a history of themselves being abused usually are the perpetrators (Holden 11). In the film by the Quebec Cinema, Aurore Gagnon, who is constantly used, suffers at the hands of an adult. Marie-Anne Houde detests her, claiming that her father confessed to her that she was conceived after her parents engaged in the act while drunk. Despite being encouraged against abusing her, the stepmother continues the actions until Aurore finally dies due to sustained injuries. At some point, Houde burns her with hot metal and hits her with a plank of wood with nails on it, inflicting severe injuries. Her deeds are so cruel, and in the end, she is accused of second-degree murder and sentenced to death by hanging.
Children usually are the victims and are never to be blamed for maltreatment. However, some characteristics might increase the chances of them being abused. Being unwanted is one key element. In the film by Quebec Cinema, Aurore is one good example of a child suffering child maltreatment at the hands of her stepmother because she hates her. Marie-Anne does not even make it a secret as she confesses she hates her because she is a child born of sin. According to her, the young girl fails to fulfill her expectation of being a legit child and should be mistreated. Another characteristic is being either an adolescent or under four years. Youth violence is rampant inform of sexual abuse. It is estimated that over 80% of reported assaults involving the youth comprise sexual assault, with the majority of the victims being young females (Bouchard et al. 1). Globally, over 1 billion children aged 2-17 years have experienced either sexual, emotional, or physical assault over the last year.
Parents and caregivers closer to children are considered the primary source of neglect and abuse among maltreated children. Most child abuse and neglect cases occur in single-parent families and families with a step-parent. A study by the World Health Organization on Palestinian families concluded that poverty was the main reason for children’s psychological and physical abuse (Bouchard et al. 15). Physical abuse by parents against their children is rampant in Africa. Only 4.6% of children reported being hit or deprived of food in Romania. However, in Ethiopia, 64% of the rural and 28% of the urban children reported bruises resulting from being physically punished (Holden 23). In the film Aurore (2005), Aurore’s father hits her with an axe handle after being fed lies that she stole some gold coins from church. Without any verification, she goes ahead to punish her severely.
In his research, Holden argues that the universal norm of engaging children in corporal punishment is the primary source of physical abuse. There are determinants of parental use of corporal punishment, including socio-cultural determinants and family social environment determinants (Holden 8). The first category also encompasses socioeconomic status, whereby parents from low-class families tend to use corporal punishment instead of those from affluent families. Family social environment determinants consist of marital relationships and family structure (Holden 9). The neighbourhood also determines the use of corporal punishment. For children residing in slums, punishment is common and is always severe. Child sex is also vital since female children and youth face most sexual assaults. Emotions may also determine the resulting abuse. Holden states that parents in a negative emotional state are more likely to slap and punish their children severely for even small mistakes, abusing them physically.
Religion is a critical factor in promoting abuse, especially in religious organizations, including madrasas and Sunday schools. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) indicated that physical and sexual abuse occurs in religious settings, but the organizations fail to report or condemn the act. Evidence showed that religion was hypocritical since it could not protect the children while it purports to teach the right and condemn the wrong (Harper et al. 139). Children are also exposed to physical abuse as they are forced to recite and cram some religious teachings. Parents give permission making it hard for the organizations to be condemned. Perkins and Johnson narrow down their research on the psychological factors to better understand psychological barriers to discussing the role of religion in the reluctant reporting of child abuse cases in religious settings. Their research is justified as they engage in original data collection and analysis as they try to get accurate findings. The authors draw conclusive results indicating that religious leaders ignore or conceal child abuse practices to on moral beliefs and religious justifications.
The media has been at the forefront in addressing issues related to child abuse. Over recent years stories related to child abuse have been making headlines in newspapers. The problem has now been regarded as a social problem that requires immediate attention. We get to know what is happening around us through media, including what our children go through, thereby creating awareness. Statistics show that social media and television are the most effective media to pass messages (Nathalie Plante1). As a recent study shows, most of the most affected youth spend most of their time on social media applications. In India, over 451 million people are active internet users as of April 2021. Out of this, over 66 million are children aged five to eleven years. Televisions can be helpful because programs related to child abuse are shown (Nathalie Plante 1). A good example is a film by the Quebec Cinema, Aurore (2005), which offers a real-life story of a kid exposed to abuse till she dies. The film helps raise awareness regarding abuse among the Canadian population.
Family is a significant obstacle in reporting abuse among children. In cases where one parent or guardian abuses a child, the other families are reluctant to report the issue to the authorities. In the film Aurore (2005), Neere fails to report Marie-Anne and Telesphore to the authorities. His reluctance causes Aurore to sustain more injuries which leads to her death. Zinzow et al. explore barriers to reporting abuse and maltreatment cases among teenagers and young women. The authors review environmental factors that hinder disclosure of sexual abuse and violent acts among survivors of sexual abuse and maltreatment. According to the authors, a very minimal number of sexual abuse victims seek help, while those who attempt to find help are usually late, leading to irreversible consequences due to particular ecological barriers that prevent disclosure. Zinzow et al. examine ecological barriers to disclosure in three categories. The first level addresses ecological barriers at an individual level, which entail belonging to minority groups, ignorance of forms of abuse, and stigma associated with reporting the abuse (Zinzow et al. 20). Secondly, the researchers approach the ecological barriers at a microsystem level involving negative responses to disclosing the event and fear of retaliation from the perpetrator.
Child abuse can be fought in several ways by all individuals. The fight should not only be left to the authorities. One can start a playgroup, volunteering their time to help vulnerable children and families within the community reducing the chances of abuse (Nathalie Plante 1). Discipline needs to be appropriately instilled. Parents need to avoid punishing their children when angry as they may inflict more damage. Punishment is meant to teach and not injure. Parents need to examine their behaviours and be nurturing parents. Words and actions can also cause psychological abuse; hence parents need to refrain from uttering harsh words that may inflict lasting wounds (Bouchard et al. 56). Children also need to be taught their rights. Education will encourage them to report cases of abuse since they have the right to be safe because they are unique. Finally, it is encouraged that if you witness a child being abused or have evidence, report the issue to the nearest law officials.
Despite child abuse being against the law in major countries, it is acceptable in some. In religious settings like madrassas, caning is part of the culture and is permitted by the whole Islamic family. Changing this culture is unacceptable as it will interfere with the Islamic culture. In third world countries, especially those from the African continent, corporal punishment is a way of life and is meant to rebuke evil behaviours and instill good character (Harper et al. 138). Corporal punishment ensures the right thing is done in schools, and the wrong is condemned. The student won’t repeat the wrong deed because of fear of being punished again with punishment. All the evils are eliminated through this, and only the good teachings are retained. However, this seems wrong since corporal punishment is illegal in all developed countries and is replaced with other forms of soft punishment that do not require caning. Correct teachings can be instilled in a student without necessarily using corporal punishment.
Child abuse has been given more attention in this contemporary world, and measures have been put in place to prevent factors such as religion and community from contributing to it. Many factors contribute to the achievement of child abuse, including adult, community, and adult factors. The film Aurore (2005) by the Quebec Cinema gives an account of an actual occurrence of physical abuse to a child till she dies. Through the film, the public gets educated on the effects of abuse if not mitigated. The most worrying thing about child abuse incidents is that most of the crimes of the abuser are revealed after the child has been abused to death. Even if severe punishment awaits them, the child’s life is irreversible. Abused children often do not die all at once but die slowly in pain. In fighting the abuse, the media is at the forefront as it gives updates on the issue and advises on where to get help if one is a victim. Child abuse can be fought in several ways, which can only be possible if all departments act in one accord.
Bouchard, Gerard et al. Social Myths and Collective Imaginaries. University Of Toronto Press, 2018.
Harper, Craig A. et al. “Psychological Factors Influencing Religious Congregation Members’ Reporting Of Alleged Sexual Abuse.” Journal of Sexual Aggression, vol 26, no. 1, 2019, pp. 129-144. Informa UK Limited.
Holden, George W. “Why Do Parents Hit Their Children? From Cultural To Unconscious Determinants”. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, vol 73, no. 1, 2020, pp. 10-29. Informa UK Limited.
Nathalie Plante. “Representations Of Child Abuse In Quebec Print Media And The Integration Of Child Psychological Ill-Treatment Into The Youth Protection Act: When Distancing Abusive Families Matters More.” Sociology Study, vol 11, no. 5, 2021. David Publishing Company.
Zinzow, Heidi M. et al. “Barriers to Formal Help-Seeking Following Sexual Violence: Review From Within an Ecological Systems Framework.” Victims & Offenders, 2021, pp. 1-26. Informa UK Limited.