a. The Abused Child.
Age. The abused child is usually under 4 years of age.
(2) Handicapped, retarded, hyperactive, or birth defects. A child with any of
these problems will add stress to the family's daily life, stress the parents may not be
able to handle. Parents of such children may also be disappointed and feel guilty,
resentful, and angry that the child is not normal.
(3) Premature birth or neonatal separation. Premature babies, being
smaller at birth, needing to be fed more often and sleeping shorter periods of time, also
place stress on a family unit. Some parents cannot cope with that stress. Also, if a
newborn baby, premature or not, must stay in the hospital for a period of time after birth
to overcome physical problems, proper bonding between the baby and the parents may
not take place.
b. The Abusive Parent. As social scientists are not sure how many children
are abused, these researchers are not exactly sure why some parents are child
abusers. The following characteristics, however, have been identified in parents who
abuse their children.
(1) Low self-esteem. A parent who is insecure himself may build his self-
esteem by abusing his children. He may not be able to control his boss or others with
whom he comes in contact in everyday life, but he can control his own children through
(2) Unhappy, depressed, and/or frustrated. The parent with any or all of
these feelings often feels guilty about the past and self-hatred for the way his life is
going in the present. Believing himself to be useless, no good, and unlovable, this
parent sees his child as useless, no good, and unlovable. He takes out his own feelings
of worthlessness by abusing his children.
(3) Substance abuser. Parents who misuse alcohol or drugs have a limited
ability to deal with their children.
(4) Violent temper. A parent who does not control his violent temper often
directs that violence at his children. Also, parents who are violent with each other are
usually violent toward their children.
(5) Abused child, himself. Parents who were mistreated as children
frequently abuse their own children.