Child Abuse Case Studies
The 70-year-old Asian-American woman
The 70-year-old Asian-American woman has been having severe arguments with her daughter, and she reports that her daughter slapped her giving her a black eye. She does not want this information disclosed because she depends on her daughter for care and support and she fears it may make the situation worse. According to Henion and Cho (2012), the Asian community associates violence with a sense of fear and shame. Cultural barriers for the victims often include language barriers, unavailability of culturally sensitive services and feelings of isolation. It is imperative to take this into consideration when analyzing the situation in order to protect her from further harm. The 70-year-old lady is also unable to take care of herself, having to depend on the daughter for basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing. Therefore, just like a child, she also needs to be protected from neglect and abuse. The California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA), explains that abusers lack the required internal control and they need numerous external controls until they can prove that they can restrain themselves (California Department of Social Services, 2003).
CANRA also states that a report needs to be made when there is suspicion that children might be at risk (California Department of Social Services, 2003). In this scenario, the daughter abuses her 70-year-old mother, which indicates that she is capable of abusing her children, if she has any. Moreover, the fact that the mother wants to keep the information a secret could encourage further assault by the daughter. Thus the best course of action is to submit an abuse report to the police or the concerned welfare services on behalf of the Asian-American woman. The seriousness of the allegations and the daughter’s statement will be used to determine the appropriate level of intervention.
Case 2: The 15-year-old Hispanic-American girl
The 18-year-old senior boy is having sexual relations with the 15-year-old Hispanic-American girl. CANRA states that child abuse and neglect includes sexual abuse, physical abuse, unjustified punishment, cruelty, and injury (California Department of Social Services, 2003). The law of California defines sexual abuse as sexual exploitation or sexual assault. CANRA further explains that child sexual abuse refers to sexual assault and exploitation of any individual under the age of 18. According to the California law, therefore, the 18-year-old is abusing the 15-year-old sexually.
The definition of child abuse for Hispanics and Americans differ considerably. While Americans protect all children under the age of 18, Hispanics may view the 15-year-old as mature adults and, hence, it may not be termed as sexual abuse. However, CANRA states that some actions that may be acceptable in native culture are unacceptable within the American culture, and they constitute child abuse and must be reported. Moreover, the abuse has had an adverse effect on the girl because she has recently become moody, which has prompted the parents to seek the assistance of a professional. CANRA expressly states that anyone who observes a child within the scope of employment or professional capacity, and confirms or has reasonable suspicion that they are victims of neglect of abuse, must report the abuse (California Department of Social Services, 2003).
Although the girl asserts that she is in love, the training and experience of a therapist indicates that the girl may be exploited further by the boy if he is not reported; and that she may be exposed to further sexual and psychological abuse. Furthermore, the 15-year-old girl is a minor and is not fit to make decisions of that magnitude by herself. The best course of action would be to first inform the parent of the girl and explain the California laws in detail, so that they can refrain from making decisions based on cultural beliefs, and accord her the necessary protection. CANRA then states that a written report must then be submitted to the child welfare department or the police department within 36 hrs. The girl should also receive further counseling to enable her cope with the situation and to teach her how she can protect herself from other sex predators.
Case 3: The 25-year-old African-American woman
The 25-year-old African-American woman has cerebral palsy and she lives in a group home. One of the caretakers withholds her meals as a form punishment and she has become underweight, which is a source of concern. Disabled individuals have greater needs for care and are more vulnerable than able bodied individuals. Thus, they are more likely to be mistreated. For instance, CANRA states that “children with disabilities are 3.44 times more likely to be maltreated when compared to children without disabilities.”
Devlieger, Albrecht and Hertz (2007) explain that in the African-American culture, disability is seen as a form of punishment or a result of witchcraft. Their society tends to isolate disabled persons in order to avert bad luck; and such beliefs may influence the caretaker’s attitude towards the African-American Woman. CANRA states that disability is one of the factors that shape culture, and that stereotypes and cultural beliefs should not influence decision making. CANRA also encourages mandated reporters to educate themselves about the culture they are working with; to resist from labeling persons based on cultural preconceptions and to educate other cultures regarding American cultural practices, traditions and expectations (California Department of Social Services, 2003).
From a legal standpoint, withholding food amounts to neglect and abuse of a disabled person. Therefore, the caretaker should be reported to the county welfare department or to law enforcement. An abuse report should also be presented the police and the Department of Social Services. This will facilitate the necessary investigations, and once the allegations have been confirmed, the care taker should be incarcerated to protect the patients in the home from further neglect and abuse.
California Department of Social Services (2003). The California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Law: Issues and Answers for Mandated Reporters. Retrieved 21 June 2015 from http://www.dominican.edu/academics/resources/facultyresources/file/childabuselaw.pdf
Devlieger, P.J., Albrecht, G.L. & Hertz, M. (2007). The production of disability culture among young African-American men. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved 22 June 2015 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17363124
Henion, A. & Cho, H. (2012). Asians Reluctant to Seek Help for Domestic Violence. Michigan State University Library. Retrieved 23 June 2015 from http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2012/asians-reluctant-to-seek-help-for-domestic-violence/