Sophia enters the house with a blank look on her face and trembling with fear. She hesitantly hands her mother a note from her guidance counselor then steadies herself for the forceful assault. She shields her head with her tiny hands as she agonizingly awaits the beating.
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Her mother realizes how she is frightening her daughter so, she antagonizes her further by hurling insults at the child. Sophia sprints out of the house and runs into oncoming traffic. Her mother follows closely behind, pulls her out of harm’s way, and then slaps her down onto the pavement. Sophia strikes her head on the sidewalk and is knocked unconscious. A witness of the brutal occurrence calls the police, and an ambulance is dispatched to the residence. The poor child is taken to the hospital where she later dies from her injuries. The pain and trauma this child experienced represents a great percentage of child victims in American culture today. Unfortunately, this abuse occurs in the United States regularly thus causing dramatic economic, political, and social changes within our borders.
Child abuse has an extensive past and has possibly existed since the beginning of time. Children born in times past were property and therefore the laws did not protect them from being harmed. It was not until the 1870s that child maltreatment caught the nation’s attention when eight-year-old New York native Mary Ellen Wilson was suffering beatings at the hands of her foster parent. When Mary Ellen’s case went before a judge, her foster mom received a one-year jail sentence for assault and battery. This case produced enough concern over child abuse that the state of New York formed the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in 1874. Cruelty to children occurs when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child under the age of eighteen. (Understanding social problems) The mistreatment of a child is anything that places a youth at harm or at risk of being harmed.
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