What is Child Abuse?

Sixty-five percent of those who abuse spouses abuse their kids[1]. Similar to intimate partner abuse, child abuse happens within all socio, economic, cultural, racial and ethnic groups. Tragically, numerous children suffer emotional scars, physical injuries, neglect, and even death.

Many who abuse their children have suffered abuse themselves. In many cases, abuse continues from one generation to the next. A parent’s childhood history plays into the situation. Those who have poor parental role models may not know how to meet the needs of their children. Approximately 1/3 of those who experience abuse as children abuse their future children.[2]. Those who witness violent behavior growing up may learn violent behavior and justify it as appropriate. Substance abuse often compounds the problem.

Professionals who intervene in cases of child abuse and neglect recognize that risk factors may play into the issue. Those who abuse children frequently are identified as having low self-esteem. They tend to believe that events are beyond personal control. They often have poor impulse control, depression, anxiety and antisocial behavior. A lack of knowledge about normal child development may result in unrealistic expectations culminating in inappropriate punishment such as hitting, devaluing, or viewing children as property.

Family factors such as marital conflict, domestic violence, single parenthood, unemployment, financial stress and social isolation may also contribute to the issue of child abuse and maltreatment.

Jesus had strong words about how children ought to be treated:

“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18: 5-6, NLT)

“But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck.” (Mark 9:42, NLT)

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting! It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin. (Luke 17:1-2, NLT)

God’s Word addresses child abuse on other occasions:

“Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. (Colossions 3:21, NLT)

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

{ By Amy Rasmussen Buckley }


[1] Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, https://www.statisticbrain.com/domestic-violence-abuse-stats/

[2]. Ibid.