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Child Abuse in the United States

Advocacy can be defined in a lot of different ways (as we discussed in our class), but there is a general agreement that it means to publicly support or help a cause. A cause that is very important to me is child abuse, and how to prevent and raise awareness of it.

I work with a lot of different kinds of children in a lot of different ways. Among these is a camp called Camp Harmony, which is a sleep away camp for homeless or “at risk” kids living in Los Angeles. A lot of these kids have been the victims of some sort of abuse in their lives, whether it be physical or emotional. I remember thinking that we, as counselors, should know more about how to deal with abuse or the reporting of it. It occurred to me that most people who work with kids have no concept of the statistics of child abuse.

These are a few photos of some of my campers throughout the years that I’ve worked at Camp Harmony. I chose these specific photos because they are group photos, and far away enough to protect my campers’ privacy. I did want to include them, though, because these girls are the reason that I became so invested in this issue.

I created a survey to test my theory that people (adults or teens) who work with children often don’t know enough about child abuse. It’s important to know about abuse so that you can spot it if you need to. I put out a survey to my friends and family (most of whom were juniors in high school, but I did get some age range), to see what they knew about child abuse.

Before reading the answers or results, please take the survey.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3LL8LDD

Although you could probably make an educated guess, it’s likely that you didn’t know the answers to most of the survey questions. Don’t feel bad, because most of the people who took the survey told me that they had guessed. This was the exact response that I was looking for; people don’t know these simple facts and statistics.

Here are the results (not including the ones of those who took the survey while viewing this page):

What does this mean?

More people who took this survey worked with children in some capacity. However, there was almost no difference in the accuracy of the answers from people who work with kids, and people who don’t.

 

What does this mean?

Correct Answer: 9x

Although most surveyors got this question correct, I think that most of them guessed between 7 and 9, because of how small the margin is. Although this may not be the most important statistic to know, I think it lends itself to an important idea; victims of child abuse are much more likely to go into crime. And as we know, about 3.6 million children are abused annually. This abuse leads to more criminal activity in America, and criminal activity that is easily avoidable.

What does this mean?

Correct Answer: 3.6 million

Most people got this answer correct. It is good that people know, or at least can estimate, the number of children who report cases to agencies. Although I was told that a lot of people guessed, this shows that people at least have an idea of what is going on with children in the US.

What does this mean?

Correct Answer: 1,705

Most survey takers assumed that more children died from child abuse than those who actually do. I think that people often assume the worst. However, I think that this number, however small, is so significant for people to know. Even one child dying from child abuse is too many children, and its important to face the reality of child abuse in our country.

What does this mean?

Correct Answer: 80%

Most survey takers got this question correct. I was not surprised at this answer being correct, just because 80% feels like a reasonable number. However, it brought to light how many people experience disorders as a result of abuse. If 3.6 million kids every year are abused (and those are only the ones who report it), 10 years of children would be 36 million. 80% of that decade worth of abused children would be 28 million young American adults who are experiencing psychological affects of childhood abuse. That is far too many.

What does this mean?

Correct Answer: 0-6

This question shocked me the most, because arguably the most important statistic to know was one: if you don’t know what age of children to look out for, how can you help and report abuse? There was also little correlation between people who work with children, and people who got this answer correct. It is important to understand the average child who faces abuse, so that you can help them. It is difficult to imagine a child so young being the object of abuse, but it is important to face reality.

 

So I just threw a lot of facts, statistics, and analyzation at you at once. But what can we really do about it? The thing is, it’s nearly impossible to completely eliminate the issue of child abuse from the world. As much as we may want to, it is very unlikely that this problem will ever completely go away. But the more people know, the easier it will be to spot, to prevent, and to help children in need. Organizations like The New York Foundling and Sojourn House help victims of child abuse (and domestic violence victims, in the case of Sojourn House) to find new homes and restart their lives. Organizations like this help to raise awareness of child abuse, which is the first step towards prevention. And people like you and I can help to raise awareness as well. Through donations, raising awareness for people who work with children (such as educators or coaches), and even just creating a dialogue around the issue can help the 3.6 million kids who are abused every year in the US.

 

 

 

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COMMENTS: 4
  1. April 29, 2017 by Elizabeth T

    This page is really interesting. Thank you for bringing more awareness to child abuse. I worked as a camp counselor for elementary aged students from lower-income families this past summer and some of the students mentioned their abuse to me. At first, I was shocked but then learned how to take the proper steps so that these kids could get the help they needed. The head of the camp called child protective services a few times. I think it would be interesting to do a study into how effective government programs such as child protective services are in these situations. Obviously, it is a very complex issue but with my experience with CPS, I feel as though the program can be improved. Great job!

    • May 01, 2017 by Rachel

      Thank you so much!! I’m so glad that you found this to be eye opening. At my camp we also have had to call Child Services a few times, and it’s always really difficult to deal with. That is what inspired me to make this as my project! 🙂

  2. May 01, 2017 by Dane W

    Wow……………this is quite impressive work. I can really connect with this on a deeper level you know. I really love this project and I have told all of my friends about it. What exactly do you yourself plan to do in order to reform though?

    • May 01, 2017 by Rachel Chasalow

      Thanks! I’m glad that you enjoyed it! I am planning to first and foremost send a follow up to everyone who took the survey with the correct answers, so that I can educate them on child abuse. I also plan to bring this issue to the directors of both the camp that I work with and the religious school that I work at, so that people who work with the kids in my own community can be more educated about child abuse, and hopefully prevent issues for our kids in the future.

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