List of Lessons
4-3. Myths About Child Abuse
There are a number of commonly held beliefs about child abuse which researchers are finding to be untrue. Here are a few such beliefs:
- MYTH: Parents who abuse their children do not love their children. These parents want to hurt or get rid of their children.
FACT: Most parents who abuse their children really do love the children and feel very guilty after abusing the children. The problem is that these parents do not know how to raise and discipline children in a non-abusive manner.
- MYTH: Abused children hate their parents and want to get away from the parents.
FACT: Most abused children still love their parents. Additionally, even a bad home is more secure than no home. Children will often lie about family violence to protect the parents and keep their home secure and intact.
- MYTH: Remove a child from the parents who abuse him, and you have solved the problem for the parent and the child.
FACT: It may be necessary to remove a child from his parents in time of crisis, but permanent separation harms both the child and the parents. Both then believe that they have been separated because they are no good.
- MYTH: Harsh jail sentences for parents who abuse their children would keep parents from abusing their children.
FACT: Most prosecutors, counselors, and child abuse experts believe that jailing an abusive parent does not solve the problem. Society is satisfied that the abusive parent has been punished, but that parent has not learned in jail how to deal with stress or work through his personal problems that triggered the child abuse.
- MYTH: Parents who abuse their children are crazy people who have serious mental illnesses.
FACT: Studies indicate that less than one in ten abusing parents is mentally ill.
- MYTH: Abusing parents do not change. Once an abusing parent, always an abusing parent.
FACT: Studies indicate four out of five abusing parents can learn new ways of dealing with their children and can stop abusing the children.
- MYTH: The abusive parent is more likely to be the father.
FACT: According to research, mothers are more likely to abuse their children, and sons are more likely to be abused.
- MYTH: Only poor people abuse their children. Poor people especially beat their children.
FACT: Child abuse takes place in all segments of American society regardless of the parents' wealth, education, race, ethnic heritage, or religious faith.
- MYTH: Since abused children know what it is like to be hurt by a parent, these children rarely abuse their own children when they become parents.
FACT: Unfortunately, just the opposite is true. It is estimated that from one out of two to nine out of ten abused children become abusing parents. The abused child learns from his parents and brings his family's habits with him when he has children of his own.