Child abuse - a global phenomenon

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Profesor îndrumător / Prezentat Profesorului: Conf. univ. dr. Cristina Pielmuș

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Child abuse is, without any doubt, one of the major issues that our society is confronted with nowadays. Unfortunately, not many of us are aware of the disastrous impact such a significant matter has not only on the human body, but most importantly, on the human mind. As such, I decided to thoroughly look into the causes that generate this tragic phenomenon, together with their disastrous effects, both physical and psychological, in order to understand why, despite the never-ending human evolution, we are still faced with these acts of cruelty. Apart from this, I focused my research on defining all types of child abuse with relevant examples, presenting the stories of Gabriel Fernandez, Lydia Ward and Lizzy Glazer, along with scientific expertise. The end of my paper concentrates on the methods of combating child abuse worldwide, either by means of legislation or Child Advocacy Centers, concluding with final outcomes and personal opinions.

Abuzul asupra copilului este, fără niciun dubiu, una dintre problemele majore cu care societatea noastră se confruntă astăzi. Din nefericire, nu mulți dintre noi suntem conștienți de impactul dezastruos pe care o astfel de situație o are nu doar asupra corpului uman, dar, cel mai important, asupra minții umane. Astfel, am încercat să pătrund cât mai în detaliu asupra cauzelor care generează acest fenomen tragic, alături de efectele lor, atat la nivel fizic, cât și psihic, pentru a înțelege de ce, în ciuda interminabilei evoluții a umanității, încă ne confruntăm cu astfel de acte de cruzime. Pe lângă acest aspect, mi-am concentrat cercetarea asupra definirii tuturor categoriilor de abuz asupra copilului, cu exemple relevante, prezentând poveștile lui Gabriel Fernandez, Lydia Ward si Lizzy Glazer, alături de studii științifice. Sfârșitul lucrării mele se concentrează asupra metodelor de combatere a abuzului copilului în întreaga lume, atât prin intermediul legislației, cât și al organizațiilor în domeniul drepturilor copilului, concluzionând cu rezultate finale și opinii personale.

Keywords: Child abuse, causes, physical effects, psychological effects, acts of cruelty, types of child abuse, methods of combatting, scientific expertise.


We are all aware of the fact that child maltreatment embodies a comprehensive social issue, with a detrimental impact on the level of civilization of each nation, finding its causes in different branches of the problems that humanity is confronted with nowadays.

The reasoning behind my motivation for choosing the above-mentioned topic is related to the fact that despite all the effort invested throughout centuries for reducing the rate of abuse and torture against children, we are still encountering an increasing number of such cases. At the same time, we cannot deny and we should not ignore all the visible and considerable evolution registered in the field of Children's Rights by means of the involvement and dedication of a large number of nations. This is why I opted for analyzing all the aspects that are strongly connected with committing any form of physical or emotional abuse to a child.

In the process of building my research I made use of several bibliographical resources, focusing my attention on articles, studies and scientific results provided by experts in this domain, as well as documentaries and conferences about child maltreatment. In order to illustrate some of the presented and detailed aspects, I decided to display three real cases of child abuse, managing in this way to outline a considerable part of the technical definitions and terminology presented in my paper.


In this chapter I will mainly focus on defining various types of child abuse, but, in order to fully understand these notions, I consider more than relevant to begin with analyzing the concept of child abuse.

Cruelty to children began to be widespread two centuries ago, reaching its peak in the first half of the 19th century, when pathologists concentrated their research on studying filicide, the parental killing of children. In 1860, Auguste Ambroise Tardieu, published the article entitled „Étude médico-légale sur les sévices et mauvais traitements exercés sur des enfants”, in which he depicted 32 cases of child maltreatment, 18 of them being fatal. The most appalling case, was the one concerning the abuse of a seventeen years old girl, named Adeline Defert. She was returned by her grandparents at the age of 8, and for 9 years was tortured by her parents - whipped every day, hung up by her thumbs and beaten with a nailed plank, burnt with hot coals, her wounds bathed in nitric acid, and deflorated with a baton.1

Across time, continual reported cases of child abuse brought about a great deal of definitions, owing to the diversity and differences between nations, either political, social, economical or religious. Child maltreatment is considered by many experts an umbrella term that covers all forms of child abuse and child neglect , due to the fact that the term abuse is usually related to act of comission, while neglect refers to acts of omission. This distinction may seem irrelevant, but, in fact, it covers two concepts with many differences.

From the multitude of definitions referring to child abuse, the definition provided by The World Health Organization I considered to be the most comprehensive in terms of brief and precise arguments.

As such, the WHO defines child abuse and child maltreatment as "all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child's health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power." More than this, "Violence against children includes all forms of violence against people under 18 years old, whether perpetrated by parents or other caregivers, peers, romantic partners, or strangers." From my point of view, thsese definitions manage to cover in detail every possible case of abuse against children, without any shred of doubt or interpretation.


1. McCoy, M.L.; Keen, S.M. (2013). "Introduction". Child Abuse and Neglect (2 ed.). New York: Psychology

2. "Child abuse and neglect by parents and other caregivers" (PDF). World Health Organization.


4. © World Health Organization 2006, Preventing child maltreatment: a guide to taking action and generating evidence..

5. Theoklitou D, Kabitsis N, Kabitsi A (2012). "Physical and emotional abuse of primary school children by teachers",(PDF)


7. "Childhood Psychological Abuse as Harmful as Sexual or Physical Abuse". The American Psychological Association.

8. Zimrin, Hantta (May 1996). "Licensing parents: Can we prevent child abuse and neglect?".

9. Dowden, Richard (12 February 2006). "Thousands of child 'witches' turned on to the streets to starve"

10. "Impact of child abuse". Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA).

11. Kemp AM, Dunstan F, Harrison S, Morris S, Mann M, Rolfe K, Datta S, Thomas DP, Sibert JR, Maguire S (2008). "Patterns of skeletal fractures in child abuse: systematic review"

12. Fuller-Thomson E, Brennenstuhl S (July 2009). "Making a link between childhood physical abuse and cancer:

13. Cicchetti, D.; et al. (1990). "An organizational perspective on attachment beyond infancy". In Greenberg, M.;




17. "The Story Behind Netflix's Documentary Series 'The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez'". Time





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