Child Abuse in United States

Child abuse has been a problem in the United States for many years. “1,720 children died from abuse and neglect in 2017” (American SPCC quoting Child Maltreatment 2017). Sadly, “Almost five children die every day from child abuse” (American SPCC quoting Child Maltreatment 2017).

Abuse affects more children than many suspect and therefore it must be addressed. “[D]ata show that more than half of youth with reports of maltreatment are at risk of grade repetition, substance abuse, delinquency, truancy, or pregnancy” (The Child Welfare Information Gateway).

Every child, and every human for that matter, deserves basic needs and, furthermore, fair and loving treatment. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs demonstrates this perfectly. He argues that humans need cultivation and a sense of belongingness in order to grow and develop. Many argue how Americans should deal with child abuse and neglect. Should programs be issued during school hours? Should programs be implanted through doctors? Should children and adults have to address the problem through a private practice? There are many well thought out solutions to the problem such as: Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) and The Safe Environment for Every Kid (SEEK) method.

CBITS is a program issued by schools that targets children that have been affected by some type of trauma, such as abuse. The plan “teaches six cognitive-behavioral techniques: education about reactions to trauma, relaxation training, cognitive therapy, real life exposure, stress or trauma exposure, social problem-solving’ (NCTSN).

The SEEK method, on the other hand, calls doctors, or child health care professionals, to help prevent abuse from happening.

SEEK is a program where doctors go through a 4-hour training about every six months that teaches them to “address [child maltreatment] by addressing key psychosocial risk factors, including family stress, intimate partner violence (IPV), maternal depression, and substance abuse” when meeting with families (Pediatrics). This paper will thoroughly explain both programs so that the reader will be able to decide which program is the most effective in helping to solve the problem of child abuse and neglect in the United States. Safe Environment for Every Kid (SEEK) Method The SEEK method “utilizes pediatric primary care as an opportunity to help prevent child maltreatment in families who may have risk factors for child maltreatment” (CEBC). The method teaches pediatricians to look at possible risk factors in families such as: “parental depression, substance abuse, major stress, intimate partner violence, food insecurity, and harsh punishment” (CEBC).

SEEK was created in 2009 by Howard Dubowitz, Mb, M.S., a professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore that is on the Executive Council of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (_____). The goal of SEEK, a program created by Howard Dubowitz, Mb, M.S., is to strengthen family relationships and to identify factors that may lead to abuse or maltreatment. Dubowitz feels that, “the ‘neglect of neglect’ has long being a cliché, with far more attention paid to physical and sexual abuse. And yet, neglect is by far the most common form of child maltreatment” (Dubowitz). It’s hard to treat child neglect because each case of neglect is unique to the family and situation with no clear starting or ending point which makes tracking it difficult. “Historically, health professionals attend to abuse and neglect after the fact. The need for preventing these problems before they occur is clear, and pediatric primary care offers an excellent opportunity” (Dubowitz). Before Dubowitz’s SEEK method can be administered, pediatric care must be trained in the approach. A medical professional such as a pediatrician, a family medicine physician, a nurse practitioner, a physician assistant, or a behavioral health professional must go through a four to eight-hour training online in order to become a SEEK administrator. After the professional is trained, they will begin to work with families that have children under the age of five.

The recommend amount to meet with a SEEK administrator is until the child is five years old meeting at 2, 9, 15, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months. The program can be delivered in any “primary care settings serving children” (CEBC). SEEK also provides a parent screening questionnaire (PSQ) that lets the health care professional know of any risks for future abuse. But the questionnaire is only recommended and not required. Though this program is still relatively young and will most likely reform and improve with time to come, it has received Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has funded SEEK in three states and the program has been acknowledged by several national agencies (SEEK). There have been four different published and peer-reviewed research on the SEEK method that suggests that the program has been successful. “The SEEK model led to significant and sustained improvement in several areas, which is a crucial first step in helping HPs address major psychosocial problems that confront many families” (Pediatrics).

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