Crimes Against Children Research Paper
Children have in fact been victims of crime since time immemorial. Physical violence appears to be the oldest form of crime against children whereby for instance in the olden days; infants were murdered as a method of birth control. Children were also killed, for example, to avoid bringing dishonor to an individual after siring a child illegitimately and also as a means of disposing deformed or retarded children. During the industrial ages, another type of crime emerged, and this was child labor. Children as young as ten years worked for long hours in factories often working with dangerous machines and tools (Hess & Orthmann, 2009).
In addition, crimes against children coming from family members were seen as allowable acts. In fact, parents were given full permission to beat their children in the name of instilling discipline. Children were viewed as a property of the parents, and the parent could do anything that they wanted with a child (Finkelhor & Ormrod, 2001). Cultural and religious precedents that emphasized the importance of discipline legitimized parental violence as not only necessary but also an essential technique of effective child rearing.
This has however changed in recent years, and child mistreatment is labeled as a crime and anyone found of perpetrating this crime is liable to criminal prosecution and punishment.
Research reveals very interesting statistics and facts about crime against children. For example, of all the recorded crimes taking place in the nation, 12% of these involve crimes against children (Finkelhor and Ormrod, 2000). This figure or percentage increases for certain types of crimes. For instance, off all sex-related crimes in the nation, 71% are sex crimes committed against children. The same goes for the crime of kidnapping whereby the percentage of this crime involving children is a whopping 38% (Finkelhor and Ormrod, 2000).
However, it emerges that simple assault is actually the most commonly reported crime against children (Finkelhor and Ormrod, 2000). Simple assault makes up about 71% of all children crimes reported to the police. Sexual crimes comprise 12 percent of children crimes reported to the police while aggravated assault and kidnapping make up 11% and 1% respectively.
The other not so surprising finding is that there is a statistical difference in the crimes committed against children of difference genders. Girls dominate sex related and kidnapping crimes while boys dominate almost all other types of crimes against. In addition, children who are under the age of 12 years make up about 12% of child victims of crime. However, when it comes to specific crimes like sexual offenses and kidnapping, more than half of the children victims are below 12 years.
As it was shown earlier, most crimes against children are committed or perpetrated by people who are close to these children. Statistics show that more than 20% of offenders against children are family members. However, this figure is higher when it comes to children who are under the age of 4 years whereby it is found that family members are the main offenders.
Physical abuse has already been shown to be the most dominant type of crime that is committed against children. Physical abuse or violence refers to the acts of beating, burning, whipping or otherwise causing physical harm to children. A child who has been a victim of physical abuse may exhibit some tale tell signs that include visible bone fractures, failure to thrive, tissue swelling, bruising of the skin or in worst case scenario death (Hess & Orthmann, 2009). Sometimes, when the penetrators of these crimes are parents, they will try to go around this issue giving some feeble explanations such as suggesting that the child fell down. Physical harm can be inflicted on any part of the body, but many fatal cases, where a child dies, involve head injuries. This is the most dominant cause of fatal child abuse (Hess & Orthmann, 2009). Ultimately, anyone who observes the presence of these indicators of children physical abuse should report it to authorities immediately so that appropriate action can be taken.
Sexual abuse is the other dominant type of crime that is committed against children. Once again, this crime can be perpetrated by both family members as well as strangers and people in the community. This type of crime can particularly be very traumatic for a child and can haunt them for the rest of their lives. Legally, sex crimes against children involve acts such as sexual molestation of a child, or the performance of sexual acts with a child, statutory rape and seduction (Hess & Orthmann, 2009).
In addition, sex may involve lewdness (which is inappropriate touching or fondling of children), exposure of children to pornographic material, masturbation among others. However, the two most main types of sex crimes against children involve rape and incest. Rape is defined as sexual intercourse with a child achieved via forcible means. Rape is a term reserved for an act committed between two people of different genders while, a similar act committed between two male individuals is termed as sodomy (Hunter et al. 2000). Unfortunately, thousands of children are raped and sodomized every year, and this is one of the most prevalent types of crimes against children.
When forcible sex with a close family member such a parent occurs, this is termed as incest (Hunter et al. 2000). Once again, cases of incest are very prevalent in the society, particularly whereby fathers force their young daughters to have sex with them. In fact, there have been countless stories in the society where grown up daughters reveal their fathers forced them to sex with them as children.
In recent years, the internet has also become a tool for the perpetration of crime against children. Children have become unwanted victims of crimes committed via the internet (Finkelhor et al., 2005).
Most types of internet related crimes involve individuals preying on innocent children and later exploiting them. Most of these crime are sexual in nature. An individual will, for example, initiate a chat session with a child whereby they will befriend the child and progressively get the child to trust them. These individuals will later on reveal their true intent, for example, they may expose the children to indecent material including pornography or send indecent photos to these children. In extreme scenarios, an individual may convince a child to meet up with them after which they will perpetrate a crime such as sexual molestation or even kidnapping.
Efforts aimed at fighting crimes against children have been initiated throughout the years, but they have had little success. The Department of Child Services is one of the organizations that is aimed at promoting the welfare of children and fighting crimes against children but unfortunately, the fact that most crimes are committed by people who are immediately close to children has made the work of this department quite hard. Perpetrators of crimes against children usually take advantage of the fact that most children are non-fighting object and also have relatively weak capacity or ability to resist victimization (Finkelhor, D., & Ormrod, 2001).
A child may be violated for years from not only family members but also other society members and may never report the crime. Therefore, it is up to the authorities to come with their strategies for combating crimes against children that are not reliant of the aspect of reporting. Rather, they should rather be more oriented towards the identification or detection of scenarios where there is a high risk for the perpetration a child related crime. Enough funding needs to be directed towards preventing crimes against children rather than dealing with crimes that have already occurred.
Finkelhor, D., & Ormrod, R. (2000). Characteristics of crimes against juveniles. US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R., Turner, H., & Hamby, S. L. (2005). The victimization of children and youth: A comprehensive, national survey. Child maltreatment, 10(1), 5-25.
Hess, K., & Orthmann, C. H. (2009). Criminal investigation. Cengage Learning.
Finkelhor, D., & Ormrod, R. K. (2001). Factors in the underreporting of crimes against juveniles. Child Maltreatment, 6(3), 219-229.
Hunter, J. A., Hazelwood, R. R., & Slesinger, D. (2000). Juvenile-perpetrated sex crimes: Patterns of offending and predictors of violence. Journal of Family Violence, 15(1), 81-93.