University of Central Florida Undergraduate Research Journal - What Is Appealing?: Sex and Racial Differences in Perceptions of the Physical Attractiveness of Women
US tab

Introduction

The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1984 (CAPTA) defines child abuse as "any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm" (15). The Children's Bureau of Administration on Child, Youth, and Families (2010) reported that over 75 million children identified themselves as victims of maltreatment. The incidence of child abuse may be much higher and indicate severe underreporting of injuries and fatalities due to child abuse and neglect (Finkelhor 1993; Kenny 2001; Zellman & Fair 2002). Children and society may experience several outcomes as a result of said abuse.

Negative outcomes resulting from child abuse and neglect manifest themselves physically, psychologically, behaviorally, and/or socially (DePanfilis 2006). Physical consequences include impaired brain development, smaller brain size, chronic health problems, severe injuries, poor muscle tone, inability to vocalize, and unresponsiveness (Irish, Kobayashi, & Delahanty 2010; Malinosky-Rummell & Hansen 1993; Sachs-Ericsson, Medley, Kendall-Tackett, & Taylor 2011). Signs of psychological consequences include inability to trust, seclusion, and higher risk of developing a psychiatric disorder such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, dissociative disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and reactive attachment disorder (Barlow 2002; Heim, Shugart, Craighead, & Nemeroff 2010; Stevenson 1999). Heim and colleagues (2010) and Phasa (2008) found that maltreated children performed poorly on academic tests, demonstrated delays in developing language and math abilities, and showed difficulty in making friendships. Signs of behavioral consequences of child abuse include: engaging in risky behaviors such as (a) abusing alcohol or drugs, (b) having unsafe sex that can lead to a sexually transmitted disease or pregnancy, and (c) taking part in juvenile criminal activity (Koening & Clark 2004; Lown, Nayak, Korcha, & Greenfield 2011; Roe-Sepowitz 2009). DePanfilis (2006) notes that child victims of abuse present with greater risk for developing a conduct disorder, and over a third of those victims maltreat their own children later in life. Society also pays a price for the abuse of these children through direct and indirect costs. Depanfilis (2006) identifies the direct costs of child abuse as amounting to $24 billion annually, including expenses for child abuse and neglect centers, law enforcement involved with investigations, judicial workers involved with any prosecutions and mental health professionals involved with caring for abused children. The Children Welfare Information Gateway (2008) reports the indirect costs of child abuse include the associated costs from criminal activity, substance abuse, violence in the homes of families, and psychiatric disorders. These outcomes support the necessity for children to complete therapeutic treatment to address, and possibly prevent, the abuse.

Demographic factors of victims of child abuse and neglect and their caregivers have been investigated to identify the predictors of a child being abused in his or her lifetime as well as completion of his or her treatment plan. For example, McPherson, Scribano, and Stevens (2012) found no difference among children (N = 490) who did and did not complete treatment in regard to demographic factors or severity of abuse. However, McPherson and colleagues identified the level of active participation of the non-offending caregiver as a positive predictor of successful treatment outcomes. In addition, the attrition rates for victims of child abuse and neglect drop in relation to minority status, lower socioeconomic status, caregiver's perception of the relationship between the child and the therapist, history of mental illness in the family, and less severe or less chronic abuse (Jones & McCurdy 1992; Horowitz, Putnam, Noll, & Trickett 1997; Fundudis, Kaplan, & Dickinson 2003). Based on this information, treatment completion data should be researched to determine the factors that influence the likelihood of treatment completion and emphasize those factors throughout treatment.

The purpose of the present study is to examine treatment completion data from a community agency that provides services to child survivors of physical and sexual abuse. The two research questions guiding the investigation are: (a) What is the relationship between family demographic factors of child survivors of physical and sexual abuse and their treatment completion? and (b) What is the relationship between the demographic factors of child survivors of physical and sexual abuse and their treatment completion?

Methods >>