Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Child Abandonment

Baby Research Project

Child abandonment occurs when a parent, guardian, or person in charge of a child either deserts a child without any regard for the child’s physical health or safety or welfare and with the intention of wholly abandoning the child, or in some instances, fails to provide necessary care for a child living under their roof. While child abandonment typically involves physical abandonment such as leaving a child at a stranger's doorstep when no one is home it may also include extreme cases of emotional abandonment such as when a "work-a-holic" parent offers little or no physical contact or emotional support over long periods of time. Unfortunately, abandoned children who do not get their needs met often grow up with low self-esteem, emotional dependency, helplessness, and other issues. A person charged with child abandonment may face a felony or misdemeanor penalties and other consequences. There is also a syndrome called Abandoned Child Syndrome which is a behavioral or psychological condition that results primarily from the loss of one or both parents, or sexual abuse. Abandonment may be physical (the parent is not present in the child's life) or emotional. Parents who leave their children, whether with or without good reason, can cause psychological damage to the child. This damage is reversible, but only with appropriate assistance. Abandoned children may also often suffer physical damage from neglect, malnutrition, starvation, and abuse. Abandonment experiences and boundary violations are in no way indictments of a child's innate goodness and value. Instead, they reveal the flawed thinking, false beliefs, and impaired behaviors of those who hurt them. Still, the wounds are struck deep in their young hearts and minds, and the very real pain can still be felt today. The causes of emotional injury need to be understood and accepted so they can heal. Until that occurs, the pain will stay with them, becoming a driving force in their adult lives. The abandoned child syndrome is not recognized as a mental disorder in any medical manuals, neither is it part of the proposed revision of this manual, the DSM-5. Many countries, including Russia and China, have an extremely high rate of physically abandoned children. A 1998 Human Rights Watch committee report found that more than 100,000 children per year were abandoned in Russia. Parents are separated from their children for many reasons, including trouble with the law, financial insecurity, the child's mental or physical challenges, and sometimes population control policies. Involuntary loss of a parent, such as through divorce or death, can also create abandonment issues. Some of the causes are when children are raised with chronic loss, without the psychological or physical protection they need and certainly deserve; it is most natural for them to internalize incredible fear. Not receiving the necessary psychological or physical protection equals abandonment. And, living with repeated abandonment experiences creates toxic shame. Shame arises from the painful message implied in abandonment: "You are not important. You are not of value." This is the pain from which people need to heal. For some children abandonment is primarily physical. Physical abandonment occurs when the physical conditions necessary for thriving have been replaced by:

· Lack of appropriate supervision

· Inadequate provision of nutrition and meals

· Inadequate clothing, housing, heat, or shelter

· Physical and/or sexual abuse
Symptoms may be physical or mental, and may extend into adulthood and perhaps throughout a person's life. Today, abandonment of a child is considered to be a serious crime in many jurisdictions because it can be considered wrong (wrong in itself) due to the direct harm to the child, and because of welfare concerns (in that the child often becomes a ward of the state and in turn, a burden upon the public). For example, in the state of Georgia, it is a misdemeanor to willfully and voluntarily abandon a child, and a felony to abandon one's child andleave the state. In 1981, Georgia's treatment of abandonment as a felony when the defendant leaves the state was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Many jurisdictions have exceptions to abandonment laws in the form of safe haven laws, which apply to babies left in designated places such as hospitals. In the UK abandoning a child under the age of 2 years is a criminal offence. In 2004 49 babies were abandoned nationwide with slightly more boys than girls being abandoned. Abandonment is an epidemic in Malaysia, where between 2005 and 2011, 517 babies were dumped. Of those 517 children, 287 were found dead. In 2012, there have been 31 cases, including at least one instance of a child being tossed from a window of a high rise apartment. Persons in cultures with poor social welfare systems who are not financially capable of taking care of a child are more likely to abandon them.

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