What is Child Abuse?

I’m trapped, I’m stuck, I’m hungry, I’m hurting, are things a child says that is stuck with parents or guardians that are physically, emotionally, sexually, mentally abuse, or neglect them.  How does a child(ren) deal with this? How far does the harm go before authority steps in to assist? Neglect, physical, sexual, exploitation, mental, and emotional abuse can cause injury, death, and/or emotional damage. All also known as maltreatment. Abuse can be caused by parent(s) or guardian(s). Child abuse can take many forms but how much is too far?

A first noticeable sign is physical abuse. This type of abuse is visible to the eye. This type of abuse can be bruises, burns, and/or broken or sprained joints. For example, in the trial of Gabriel Fernandez, Gabriel received cigarette burns, gunshot wounds, broken bones, and bruises caused by his parents. Physical abuse is more harmful to the body. Harmful in ways that can lead to death. Gabriel’s death was caused by physical abuse over time triggered by being beaten, and strangulation.

Second form of abuse is neglect. Neglect can also come with emotional and mental abuse. Neglect can take form by leaving child(ren) alone all the time with no care. A parent is supposed to nurture their children but when a parent doesn’t bother to properly cloth them, show them proper hygiene or provide their child(ren) a clean place to live. Neglect can also be shown by not providing a child with a place to live when they misbehave. This is a great example for Gabriel’s situation. His mom and mom’s boyfriend left him in a cabinet, tying the doorknobs shut. He was not given food or a proper place to sleep.

Third, emotional abuse can lead to self-harm or suicide rather than the parent(s) giving the gift of death granted to their child(ren). Emotional abuse occurs when the parent(s) puts down the child(ren) using negative connotation. For example, the more obvious statements, “Your ugly”, “Your dumb”, “You can’t do anything worthy in life”, and “Just like your dad, you’re a nobody”. Emotional abuse isn’t just mean statements. When a parent breaks you down brings you back up and vise versa, is also considered emotional abuse. As an example, a parent says “I am so proud of how far you have come. Please don’t disappoint me when you fail, I don’t think you’ll fail but please don’t. I am still so proud of you and I love you so much!” Notice how in the beginning, the parent says, “I’m so proud of you”, this is building the child up giving him or her confidence. But after that the parents breaks down the child even though their tone of voice is soft and confident. Then topping off the talk with rebuilding them back up, bringing them back in trusting their parent again.

Similarly, mental abuse can also be known as gas lighting. Gas lighting is a term known as making someone feel insulted, demeaned, or wearing down of the self-esteem. Traumatization can occur by making the child(ren) feel inadequate, insecure, and unsafe. Mental abuse often results in also making the child(ren) feel trapped and may never want to leave, leaving the child stuck in an unsafe environment. The child as a result can become an abuser themselves if the abuse goes on long enough, taking on the traits of the parent(s). Some children become codependent upon there parents and never leave. If a child(ren) leaves the unhealthy relationship between the child and parent, not only is there a possible future abuser but Poster Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) toward other abusive behavior in the future.

Another form of abuse can be sexual also known as sexual assault and is different from physical abuse. Sexual abuse is far worse than physical in some eyes. Sexual abuse can consist of unprecedented or unwilling sex between a parent(s) or guardian(s) and the child(ren). An abuser can be related to the victim, a stranger, or partner. The abuser doesn’t have to be using him or herself to commit sexual abuse, they can use other things such as curling irons, broom sticks, or anything of that sort. Sexual abuse causes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) toward sexual behavior in the future.

In comparison, exploitation is a sign of getting what you what even when it hurts someone else. When a parent or guardian wants something for him or herself, they will do whatever it takes to get that something even when it hurts their child(ren) in the process. Parents not paying bills despite the fact they have money but are spending the money the money on trinkets, drugs, or alcohol they don’t need. Children can also be involved as money themselves such as, child pornography, live streaming of sexual abuse, sex trafficking, sextortion. Most child exploitation are involved in economic gain for the parents.

Any sort of abuse requires there to be taken up with the authorities. Authorities can include Child Protective Services (CPS) or known in other places as Department of Human Services (DHS). The induvial that will take notes and visit the home to do a check-in is known is a case worker. The case worker evaluates whether the home is safe for the child to continue to live in after abuse is reported. Abuse in a home can be reported through hot lines, teachers, 911 calls, or neighbors. As an example, Gabriel’s 1st grade teacher reported that she saw bruises, marks, and unhappy looks upon him.

In result of a case worker coming out to evaluate the unhealthy situation. Depending on how bad the situation is, depends on how long a case worker will be investigating the home. Usually, when a case worker comes to a home the issue is easily resolved with counseling, rehabilitation, or frequent visits by the case worker. In cases like Gabriel’s, the abuse gets worse due to case workers coming into the home. When a case worker came to Gabriel’s home, the abuse got worse later leading to his death. There were several case workers that went through the home with no evidential reason to why there was so many case workers and little to nothing was done about the abuse toward Gabriel. There was suspicion that the social workers were doing just enough work to get by or that they didn’t care enough to do anything about the situation.

In the counter argument, punishing your child(ren) has evolved over the years. In the early days bare hand spanking, belts, whips, or even shovels were used as corporal punishment toward a child(ren). One thing that comes to mind is spanking. Is spanking considered a good form of punishment or is it a form of abuse? Great question! Spanking is a good form of punishment to teach your kids a lesson. So, no spanking is not considered physical abuse. Time-outs are also not considered any form of abuse but rather a good way to teach a child.

All forms of abuse can either lead to; a future abuser, suicide, self-harm, or murder. In Gabriel’s case emotional, physical, neglect, and mental abuse lead to a murder. In 2003, according to US national library of Medicine National Institute of Health, each year from abuse and neglect children under the age of 15 were to have 3,500 deaths reported in the US. Child abuse has its consequences, legal or not. The consequences Gabriel’s mother and boyfriend received consisted of jail time and death row.

There is help, with DHS and CPS. The authorities can assist with child abuse and help stop it. With the example and reasons behind it can help stop the spread of child abuse and elevate the stress on the system. As stated in this paper, child abuse is very dangerous, whether it’s from emotional abuse, sexual abuse, or gas lighting. Child abuse is unprecedented and is extremely wrong. Not only is it morally wrong to some but legally wrong as well. All in all, with the story of Gabriel Fernandez, physical, emotional, mental, and sexual abuse is illegal and wrongful. What parent(s) or guardian(s) wants to hurt their Child(ren), and even worse kill them? This paper hopefully paints an unpleasant picture in there mind to prevent child abuse.

Work Cited

  1. Fairlie, Steven. “Can I spank my Children, Legally?” Fairlie & Flippy P.C.,
  2. https://fairlielaw.com/can-i-spank-my-children-legally/. April 24, 2020
  3. Murray, Krystina. “The Relationship Between Mental Abuse and Addiction.” Addiction Center,
  4. https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/mental-abuse/. April 29, 2020
  5. “Types of Abuse.” Washington State Department of Social and Health Services,
  6. https://www.dshs.wa.gov/altsa/home-and-community-services/types-and-signs-abuse?banner_hide=1. April 29, 2020
  7. Jenny, C, and Isaac, R, “ The Relation Between Child Death and Child Maltreatment.” US
  8. National Department Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2065955/. April 29, 2020
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What is child abuse?. (2021, May 18). Retrieved August 9, 2022 , from

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