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Child Maltreatment Has A Serious Public Health Problem Essay

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Child maltreatment has been a serious public health problem not just in the United States but globally. Maltreatment is defined as neglect which means failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, educational, or psychological needs. Physical abuse such as causing physical harm, sexual abuse, abuse that includes fondling a child’s genitals or breasts, and psychological abuse, such as verbal put-downs and other behavior that terrorizes, threatens, rejects or isolates the child. “According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), in 2007 approximately 794,000 children (10.6 per 1,000 children of all ages) were identified as victims of child abuse or neglect. Approximately one-half (46.1%) of all victims were non-Hispanic white, 21.7% were African American, and 20.8% were Hispanic. One-third (31.9%) were under the age of 4 years.” (Gross, 2010)

Child maltreatment has a negative effect on health and it can cause stress that disrupts early brain development. Extreme stress can harm the development of the nervous and immune systems. As a result, children who are abused or neglected are at higher risk for health problems as adults. These problems include alcoholism, depression, drug abuse, eating disorders, obesity, high-risk sexual behaviors, smoking, suicide, and certain chronic diseases such a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). MRI scans indicate that maltreated children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder have significantly smaller brains
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