Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The term child abuse refers to the multiple ways in which children are victimized by the willful or negligent actions of adults. The abusive victimization of children includes three broad categories of harm: (1) caretaker neglect of children's health and well-being, (2) acts of physical violence by adults against children, and (3) sexual violations of young people's psychic and physical boundaries before “the age of consent” to sex, established by the cultural and legal norms of a given society. Child abuse is commonly viewed today as a troubling social problem. It is combated by legal punishments, therapeutic interventions, and social reforms. But, from a historical perspective, it is important to recognize that for centuries Western societies ignored, and even authorized and defended, routine assaults by adults upon children. This was particularly the case for harm done to children by their “God given” or legal guardians. Indeed, until recently, according to ...