Social Services Journals Assignment -
Research and include a news article on any aspect of child abuse and neglect. It must have occurred within the last two years.
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Answer - CHILD SEX ABUSE
Child sexual abuse has a widespread prevalence and is a major social concern. It has been determined through the retrospective studies that one out of five women and one out of ten men report that they had been victims of child sexual abuse in their childhood (Elmi, Diagnault, & Hebert, 2018). Furthermore, there are consensus availed from several studies that have indicated that there are several complex short term and long term consequences that are associated with child sexual abuse. Furthermore, the victims of child sexual abuse are highly likely to develop and suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety in their later adulthood (Adams, Mrug, & Knight, 2018). In the following discussion, the news article associated with child sexual abuse has been assessed, along with the entire situation. In addition, the different steps that can be taken for effectively handling the situation as well as the measures that must be taken, have been discussed as well.
1. What caught your attention about this story/case?
Article Caught the Attention
The article that was published in The New York Times, by Rojas (2019) had caught the attention as it had elucidated the topic of child sexual abuse. The most important aspect was that the practice of child sexual abuse that was taking place in the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania since 1950's. Over 300 priests have been accused to be associated with such practices and had persuaded the victims to not report the abuse to anyone. Although only 1000 such incidences have been reported, however, it is estimated that there are more cases regarding child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and the same cannot be uncovered as the records are either lost or the victims have not come forward. Due to the secretive and hidden nature of child sexual abuse, most victims of child sexual abuse do not tend to present themselves acutely and some may disclose months or years later (Borg, Snowdon, & Hodes, 2018). In addition, the identification, substantiation, prosecution as well as treatment of child sexual abuse is highly reliant on the disclosure from the victim, especially in the absence of corroborating evidences (Azzopardi, Eirich, Rash, Macdonald, & Madigan, 2018). Therefore, such an issue in which unknown number of children have been subjected to sexual abuses, especially by Catholic Church members such as bishops and so on, caught the attention as it is of grave concern that such individuals are not being convicted yet.
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2. What, if any, aspect of this case do you struggle with, either emotionally, morally, procedurally, and/or ethically? Why?
Aspect of the Case That a Struggle
The aspect to the case that I struggle is associated ethically and morally. This is because the children are the future of the world and the Churches are the foundation of any person's religious belief. If the childhood is marred by incidences such as sexual abuse and the felon associated with it from the Church, then that affects the ultimate psychological and moral development of that individual at the later stage of their lives. There are several ethical, practical as well as moral issues that surround the secondary prevention of child sexual abuse from a practice based or professional perspective (Perkins & Kettleborough, 2018). Furthermore, although child sexual abuse prevalence is considered to be more common, but it has been determined that the reporting of sexual abuse victimization is highest amongst the adolescents, than any other group (Giroux, Chong, Coburn, & Connolly, 2018). Due to the prevalence of such aspects, any aspect of child sexual abuse and articles, stories or news article, such as the one by Rojas (2019), affect me deeply as I feel deeply for those helpless children and adolescent whom I could not protect.
3. How would you approach this case if you were in the position to investigate it or were a first responder?
Approach as First Responder for Investigating
It has been determined that the testimony of the children regarding their experience of sexual abuse remains the most central factor for the determination of the substantiation of the associated allegations (Melkman, Hershkowitz, & Zur, 2017). If the evaluators are unable to distinguish between the true and false reports associated with child sexual abuse, then several cases are deemed a "no judgement possible" (NJP) (Melkman, Hershkowitz, & Zur, 2017, p.76). If I were in the position of investigating the issue on child sexual abuse that was being practiced at the Catholic Church, I would have taken a comprehensive approach. I would approach the known victims first and discuss the matter very carefully as it is a highly sensitive matter. Then I would try to identify those victims who are unidentified so that I can take the investigation further. By talking to the existing identified victims, some of the other victims can be determined, if they have the knowledge for the same. The child's or victim's disclosure plays a significant role in proceeding further with the investigation, as well as determining the outcome (Joki-Erkkilä, Niemi, & Ellonen, 2018). Therefore, I would proceed to find more witnesses or victims who can come forward and testify or disclose regarding such incidences or experiences or child sexual abuse.
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4. What various social and psychological variables (parent's drug use.mental health, poverty, domestic violence, etc.) do you believe potentially influenced the outcome of this case?
Psychological Variable Influencing the Outcome
The various social variables that are surrounded with the stigma of sexual abuse and the fear for the higher authorities had led to the continuation of the practice of child sexual abuse amongst the Catholic Church. Dubowitz (2017) has mentioned that the view regarding what constitutes to be child abuse is dependent highly on the cultural context, availability, local thresholds, and laws. Therefore, such incidences that were taking place at the Catholic Church went by unreported primarily due to the cultural aspect as well as the societal stigma. Although is the responsibility of the citizen to aid in disclosing incidences or cases of child sexual abuse to the authorities. However, many child sexual abuse cases remain undisclosed due to the resistance to change and the fear for higher authorities associated with the case (Mathews, 2019). With respect to the case posted by Rojas (2019) the higher authorities associated with Catholic Church had ensured that the incident is not revealed to the outside world and had threatened the victims such that they too did not have the courage to come forward, which was mixed with shame and guilt related to the abuse.
5. If you could make any recommendations to the Department of Children and Families on what steps should be taken as preventative measures to these types of cases in the future, what would these include and why?
Recommendations to the Department of Children and Families
As recommendations to the Department of Children and Families, it can be stated that it is important to identify the different aspects that are associated with the cases of child sexual abuse so that they can be prosecuted appropriately. Prosecution of the child sexual abuse cases is a significant aspect of the response of the community towards holding the perpetrators accountable as well as protecting the children (Duron, 2018). It is important to understand the needs of the victims of the child sexual abuse crime as the same acts as significant contribution to the victimology research which can improve the criminal justice system, assess the quality of the justice system or implement alternative forms of justice (Sumalla & Hernandez-Hidalgo, 2018). Therefore, it is important that the Department of Children and Families should take appropriate measures that would aid in improving the justice system associated with the conviction of cases of child sexual abuse.
Based on the discussion, it is evident that there exists a high prevalence of child sexual abuse cases, however, the same remains undisclosed due to the various aspects that surround the situation. Authority and power play a significant in maintaining the secrecy of the situation, which is combine by fear and the stigma of the society. To overcome the issue of child sexual abuse, it is important to find a comprehensive plan that would safeguard the identity of the victim as well as ensure punishment of the abuser.
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