Parenting styles of children
Undoubtedly, parents raise their children differently, but what is important to understand is how those differences affect outcomes for children. There are three parenting styles according to a classical classification: authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive (Hamon and Schrodt 151). To compare them, it is necessary to review the effective and ineffective techniques in each style.
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First of all, the effectiveness of the authoritative style has been repeatedly confirmed in the relevant literature; in fact, it is now considered to be the most effective of the three styles (Williams et al. 1055). The reason is that the style combines high warmth toward children with high control. The authoritarian style features high levels of limit-setting and intrusiveness of children’s independence, which can be effective in terms of protecting children from bad influences. An effective technique of the permissive style is developing stronger family bonds, which increases children’s responsiveness.
However, there are also ineffective techniques. Authoritative parents may try to ineffectively demonstrate “responsiveness and demandingness” (Lin and Billingham 254) in the same situation, which may cause children’s resistance. Authoritarian parents’ ineffective technique is to discipline their children to the extent of minimal autonomy, which negatively affects children’s development. Finally, an ineffective technique in permissive parenting is an indulgence. Failing to practice appropriate control, such parents may overlook or fail to prevent negative outcomes for children.
The three parenting styles have both effective and ineffective techniques. The authoritative style is generally considered the most effective, and the authoritarian one is generally considered the least effective; the permissive style is in between. However, it is acknowledged that certain effectiveness in terms of achieving positive outcomes for children can be found in each style.
Stressors for families and communities
Major stressors for families and communities that may cause abuse and neglect include unemployment, “over employment” (in this context: spending too much time at work as opposed to spending it with one’s family), financial problems, substance abuse, and the lack of community support. Unemployment can affect families from various cultures and lifestyles by increasing internal tension, provoking frequent conflicts, and raising child neglect (“Unemployment Triggers Increase in Child Neglect”). Similarly, spending too much time at work makes parents pay less attention to their partners and children, which can cause neglect, and conflicts based on one’s being too busy with work can lead to abuse.
Similarly, if a family experiences financial problems, its members may feel resentment and display aggression. Also, Bulman states that children may blame their parents for financial stress, and such negative events contributing to abuse and neglect can occur in families with different cultural backgrounds. Substance abuse is an especially strong stressor because families that face this problem have to go through a remarkably difficult experience of overcoming addiction. Finally, if a family is not properly supported by its community, it is fertile soil for abuse and neglect (“If You Suspect Child Abuse”). Having to cope with family problems in a closed, unresponsive environment can lead to aggression and violence.
Causes of the neglect
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, neglect can be caused by a lack of social skills, inadequately developed emotional relationships, poor time management, and poverty. Parents’ failure to provide for their children’s basic needs may be displayed in children’s changed behavior and worsening performance. Children in low-income families and vulnerable populations are at most risk of being neglected, and financially challenged parents are at most risk to neglect.
Physical abuse can be caused by a high level of unresolved stress and anger and by the lack of positive models. The signs of such abuse may include wounds, injuries, and depressive moods. Children in families living “under pressure” (“Physical Abuse”), including poverty and social vulnerability, are at most risk of being abused, and parents in such families are at most risk of abusing, too.
Sexual abuse can be caused by sadism, psychological problems, inadequate ethical standards, and abusive power and control. The signs in victims include difficulties walking and sitting, venereal diseases, and avoidance behaviors (Child Welfare Information Gateway). Children who are at most risk of sexual abuse are those who are poorly supervised, have disabilities, lack knowledge on sexuality, and are exposed to potential abusers; the latter are usually found to be mentally ill or ethically challenged.
Psychological maltreatment can be caused by unresolved psychological issues. The signs of it primarily include “extremes in behavior, such as overly compliant or demanding behavior, extreme passivity, or aggression” (Child Welfare Information Gateway), and depressive symptoms. Parents with psychological issues and traumas for which they do not seek treatment are at most risk of emotionally maltreating their children, and children in such families are at most risk of being maltreated.
Effects of the neglect
Neglect during pregnancy can cause a child’s poor health, developmental problems, and premature birth. During the age of birth to one year, neglect can undermine healthy development, especially in terms of the child’s feeling of safety. Neglected infants and toddlers can demonstrate delays in motor development and coordination (Child Welfare Pre-Service Training). Neglected four- to eight-year-olds may fail to develop necessary social skills, and neglected eight- to twelve-year-olds may experience conflicts and inability to build adequate relationships with other people. In adolescents, neglect may cause psychological problems, depressive moods, and suicidal thoughts.
Physical abuse during pregnancy can lead to injuries and traumas causing serious medical conditions, inborn diseases, or miscarriage. Abuse during the age of birth to eight years can undermine a child’s growth and physical development; also, psychological development can be compromised, as the child may fail to develop the feeling of security. In later ages, physical abuse (if a child has not experienced it before) may cause acute responses, such as major depressive symptoms or aggression and violent behaviors.
Similar to physical abuse, sexual abuse can lead to dramatic outcomes for an unborn child. In toddlers and infants, such abuse can cause injuries and subsequent diseases. In four- to twelve-year-olds, sexual abuse leads to psychological trauma that later results in anxiety, depression, and inability to build healthy relationships. In adolescence, sexual abuse may cause acute responses similar to the responses to physical abuse.
A psychologically maltreated mother may fail to manage her pregnancy correctly, and the negative outcomes include premature birth, malnutrition, or miscarriage. Among toddlers and infants, such maltreatment may lead to developmental delays manifested in poor social and intimacy-related skills. Emotionally maltreated four- to twelve-year-olds may experience insecurity or display violence. In adolescence, maltreatment of this kind results in aggression, withdrawal, and indifference.
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Pablo case study
A six-year-old boy named Pablo came to school one morning with disturbing injuries: he had a black eye, a cut lip, and several scratches on his forehead and his neck (“Making a Call”). If I were Pablo’s teacher, I would be deeply concerned about his injuries, and I would have to develop a plan on what to do to ensure that the boy receives all the necessary help and support. My plan should be based on the reporting guidelines provided by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and my ethical standards of an educator. This plan will primarily include reporting and supporting positive outcomes.
First of all, I need to report the incident. For this, I need to talk to Pablo first and to ask him to share, in an open and comforting environment, everything he feels he should share about what happened. It can be challenging for a child to tell about being abused, which is why I should be very delicate during the conversation. Further, I need to call the hotline and tell everything I know about the incident and Pablo’s family situation to the DFPS (“Making a Call”). Also, I need to convince all the other professionals who saw the boy’s injuries (including other educators and nurses) to report as well.
Second, I need to maintain confidentiality and support positive outcomes for Pablo and his family. For this, I will refuse to reveal the fact that I was the reporter even if I am confronted by the school administrators or Pablo’s parents. Second, I need to call the hotline again with the call reference I was given to check on the progress of the investigation and measures taken by Child Protective Services. Finally, I need to approach Pablo again during the same day to see how he is doing and to ensure that he does not have to stay at home alone with his presumably abusive father.
I know I would be horrified to meet a child with such injuries who would claim that his father inflicted them. Perhaps I would get very emotional, but I think it would be important for me to try to keep calm and properly report the incident according to the law. If Pablo’s situation was improved due to my intervention, I know I would feel accomplished because I did the right thing.
The highest number of children neglected, physically abused, and sexually abused in the United States from 1990 to 2012 was observed in 1995. I am not sure why the increase happened that year specifically, as I cannot identify any major political or economic turbulence at the time, but based on the causes of abuse described above, it can be assumed that the incidence of abuse is linked to socioeconomic factors. The neglect and abuse statistics show that 1995 was a challenging year in terms of the social environment in the country.
According to the statistics, female children are victims of abuse more often than male children. This can be explained by the fact that girls may be less capable of protecting themselves compared to boys who are more likely to demonstrate aggression and resistance to abuse. Also, it can be argued that girls are more frequently targeted by abusers because the former is perceived by the latter as more vulnerable and less likely to resist or confront their abusers.
The age group in which children were abused and neglected the most was two to five years.
Monica case study
Monica, 7, displays difficulties sitting. Based on the research on abuse presented above, I as an educator should plan how to address Monica’s case. My actions will include talking to the child and reporting my suspicions.
First of all, it is necessary to talk to Monica to find out if she is in pain. In a very delicate manner, I should ask her if anyone hurt her recently. During the conversation, Monica should feel safe and protected, which I can attain by being open and showing genuine care and support.
Whether Monica tells me she was abused or keeps silent, I should report my suspicions of child abuse to the DFPS. According to the law, I will tell everything I know and explicitly explain the extent of my certainty that Monica has been subjected to sexual abuse. Further, I will call the hotline again to find out what measures Child Protective Services took.
I genuinely believe that this is my obligation to report the case. If Monica is sexually abused, I need to ensure that proper measures are taken. If she is not, I will still think that my precautions were justified.
Bulman, May. “Child Emotional Abuse Reports Surge 200% amid Cuts to Child Protection Services.” Independent, 2017, Web.
Child Welfare Information Gateway. What Is Child Abuse and Neglect? Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms. 2013, Web.
Child Welfare Pre-Service Training. The Effects of Abuse and Neglect on Child Development: Participant Guide. 2011, Web.
Hamon, Jordan D., and Paul Schrodt. “Do Parenting Styles Moderate the Association Between Family Conformity Orientation and Young Adults’ Mental Well-Being?” Journal of Family Communication, vol. 12, no. 2, 2012, pp. 151-166.
“If You Suspect Child Abuse, Will You Act?” Editorial. Chicago Tribune. 2017, Web.
Lin, Yi-Ching, and Robert E. Billingham. “Relationship between Parenting Styles and Gender Role Identity in College Students.” Psychological Reports, vol. 114, no. 1, 2014, pp. 250-271.
“Making the Call: Reporting Abuse/Neglect by Phone.” YouTube, uploaded by Texas DFPS. 2016, Web.
“Physical Abuse: Who Is Affected.” NSPCC, Web.
“Unemployment Triggers Increase in Child Neglect, According to New Research.” Medical Xpress. 2017, Web.
Williams, Kathryn E., et al. “Inflexible Parents, Inflexible Kids: A 6-year Longitudinal Study of Parenting Style and the Development of Psychological Flexibility in Adolescents.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol. 41, no. 8, 2012, pp. 1053-1066.