Child Abuse Essay

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
A research paper about child absue

Submitted: October 31, 2014

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Submitted: October 31, 2014



Break the Circle

In 2012 the website “” and the advertising company Y&R Mexico released a set of three ads that were meant to highlight one of the major disadvantages of being abused as a child. Save the Children is a company that gives people the chance to help children in need around the world. In their “About Us” section the website states, “Save the Children invests in childhood – every day, in times of crisis and for our future. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. By transforming children's lives now, we change the course of their future and ours”(Save The Children, "About Us").

In each of the pictures there is a scene of a young child being abused by a parent in a typical home environment. In one a mother is yelling at her daughter, in another a father about to hit his son, and in the last, a father sexually abusing his son. In the top corner—either left or right—is the statistic that states, “70% of abused children turn into abusive adults.” It then has an Internet link to go to so that you could donate to the Save the Children company. All of this is roughly circled, and at the bottom of the circle is the phrase, ‘break the circle,’ written in cursive, which happens to be the break in the circle.

For a lot of abused youth, breaking the circle isn’t as easy as it may seem, and more often than not, they can’t do it alone. In a research study done by The Heritage Foundation it states that “stable marriages are being replaced by unstable ‘families’ characterized by frequent changes in partners”(Fagan, “The Child Abuse Crisis: The Disintegration of Marriage”). The whole of this study states that living in an unstable home is one of the main causes of child abuse. The parents in these homes generally being very stressed, of lower income, and not married. Other factors that lead to child abuse are, “immaturity, unrealistic expectations, emotional problems, economic crisis, lack of parenting knowledge, difficulty in relationships, depression and other mental health problems”(Hermes, “Cause & Effect of Child Abuse”). All of these are contributing factors in the unfortunate cycle of child abuse.

In each of the pictures one could see by the young child’s facial expression and the way that they all seem to recluse away from the abusing parent that they are very upset and hurt either emotionally, physically, or both. Next to the young child, there is an adolescence version of what appears to be the same person, also looking upset and even a little sad.  The signs of fear and confusion in young children are two of the main effects that we can see and that can carry over into the teenage years. “Girls are less likely to show the effects in external behavior…Boys suffer both internalizing problems and externalizing problems”(Fagan, “The Child Abuse Crisis: The Disintegration of Marriage”). Examples of internalizing the issue include depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety, while externalizing the issue would be things like skipping school, lying, being cruel to others, and lower levels of social skills—which is also an internalizing problem (Fagan). Next in the circle we see a teenage depiction with the facial expression looking more on the lines of anger than sadness followed by a young-adult with nothing but anger in their facial expression. Lastly, the parent is seen taking out all of their bottled up anger on his or her own child; the child now turning into the abusive parent they feared. Thus, starting the circle over again.

Although in two of the pictures the father is doing the abusing, studies show that mothers are more likely to abuse their children, (Fagan) with simple neglect being the most common as well as the least reported form of child abuse with up t0 15% of children in high-income nations being neglected each year (Sharples, “Study: Most Child Abuse Goes Unreported). Sharples also states that “as few as 1 in 10 of those instances of abuse are actually confirmed by social-service agencies.”

A big similarity that the ads share is that throughout the circle the color of the clothing stays the same. The creators most likely implanted this—sort of picking at the logos element—as a way for people to more easily pick up that it is the same person, just at different points in their life. Having the same color shirt, pants, hair etc. is an easy way of saying, “this is the same person,” without saying it word for word. At first glance, someone might not notice the similarity in clothing color, but most people wouldn’t know what the color of the clothing is trying to say. In an article about color psychology, Angela Wright explains that the color white—which is the main color of clothing in two of the pictures—has a negative side. The negative examples she gives are, “Sterility, coldness, barriers, unfriendliness, elitism”(Wright). After knowing this and looking again at the photos, the color seems to tie the scenes together quite well. The idea that white creates a ‘barrier’ in this case could mean an emotional barrier that the abused child carries with them throughout their life.

 Another thing that was similar between the three photos was that the overall look of each of these ads is very dark, with lots of shadows in each of the seemingly ‘typical’ household rooms. The way the creator chose the lighting greatly impacted the mod of the photos. The shadows in this context were most likely used to guide the eye through the photos and to put focus on each of the faces. I was able to find an article that talked about shadows in photography, and one of the points was that “shadows help focus the viewer's attention by removing detail from the less important parts of the image”(Bigelow, “The Importance of Shadows”). The use of shadows in this way seems to give the idea that even in the most normal looking houses there can be a dark side, being that abuse or another reason. The lighting in the room focuses on the center scene, while the walls and background objects are more in the shadows, deeming them to be an unimportant part of the photo.

At first glance these photos illustrate a concept of child abuse that seems very simple and easy to understand. After diving deeper into the real meanings behind some of the elements, I realize that there is a lot more behind them than meets the eye, and that the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is very true in this case. And because of the times we are in now as a world, the use of visuals instead of text or speech is much more useful to get a point across. For something as serious as child abuse and breaking the cycle, bringing it to the public eye in this sort of light is a great starting point, and I imagine that if this were to circulate to enough people, the number of children that get abused and grow up to be abusive parents will drop drastically. Until then, however, I believe that the best we can do is to report whenever we suspect child abuse and hope that we are making a difference in the lives of the children.

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