Child abuse occurs in so many ways. Child abuse includes physical abuse, neglect, mental and emotional abuse. Children are abused by their parents, caregivers, or other adults who are living with them. Physical abuse on children includes all forms of physical harm to the childlike beating and sexual abuse. Emotional and psychological abuse includes when the adult berates a child regularly; hence the child’s self-esteem is negatively affected (Tilbury et al., 2015). Behaving in a hostile manner also results in psychological and emotional abuse since it scares away the child. Besides, ignoring that the child needs parental love and attention, security and warmth also result in psychological torture (Tarantola, 2018). Physical neglect is also a form of abuse since a child does not get the proper care and protection they require from the parents. Child abuse is illegal in Australia, and the government is doing everything it can to ensure that the many cases of child abuse by the parents are reduced. Following this, different welfare laws have been set up to ensure that parents who go against the law are apprehended and sentenced according to set rules and regulations. This aims at protecting all children since every child deserves to grow in a conducive and loving home.
Reasons why Legal Protection is Needed
All communities understand that it is essential to protect children from all sorts of abuse. Some parents are involved in child abuse since they think they have the right to do whatever they want with their children. However, the Australian Institute of Family Studies (2018), any parent or guardian involved with child abuse should face the law. Children should live in a conducive and comfortable home; hence they should not be subjected to abuse. One of the reasons why it is crucial to protect children from abuse is to enhance their self-esteem. Most children who face any form of abuse are affected and feel that they are not good enough. It becomes worse when the perpetrator is a parent since it is hard for the child to report them. However, it is essential to report any child abuse cases, especially after realizing that a child is withdrawn and scared all the time. Children should be left to make mistakes and be corrected with love and care. As a result, this makes them feel good, and they develop high esteem.
Abuse against children leads to poor health conditions. Some of the children are abused both physically and psychologically, and this affects their health adversely. Some children are exposed to hunger as a way of punishing them. Such children later develop stomach complications like cancer. Besides, other children are faced with sexual abuse from their parents, either biological, adoptive or step-parents (Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2018). In this case, the girl’s reproductive organs are affected to the extent of damaging their reproductive organs. A child that undergoes such an ordeal is left suffering psychologically, and such people develop fear against the males. This highly affects their relationships with others since they find it hard to relate with other people well. Some boys are sodomized, and it becomes hard for them to control their waste products. As a result, this affects their self-esteem since they feel like they are smelly and not clean enough. It becomes challenging for such children to relate well with their peers, and they are often withdrawn.
All children should be protected from any harm from their parents. Depending on the type of abuse, the child is denied the chance to grow up like a normal child who is happy and determined to face life. Child protection is paramount since it aims at ensuring children grow in a loving and secure environment. Besides, abusive parents are taken away from their children. As a result, it becomes easy for the child to adapt to new environments provided security and protection. All children deserve happiness, and this can only be achieved if there are child protection policies that protect them from all kinds of harm.
Overview of the overall principles of the welfare law
In Australia, child protection policies are the responsibilities of the state and the territory governments. Each department ensures that it has supported all the vulnerable children at risk of being abused or facing abuse. There are different legislative acts in each state that give child protective services are offered to children. One of the significant laws that ensure that children and young people are protected from abuse is the Children and Young People Act of 2008 (Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2018). This legislation is in the jurisdiction of the Australian Capital Territory. The Act outlines the proper procedures involving adoption. Therefore, before adopting a child, one must follow the correct procedures outlined to ensure that the child is in safe hands.
Employment standards are also listed in this legislation whereby underage children should not be exposed to any form of labor (Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2018). Some parents tell their children to early labor, denying them the chance to be in school, play with peers. The act, therefore, protects children from early employment while at the same time arresting parents who go against this legislation. Family Violence Act is also included in this legislation since children should never be allowed to grow in an abusive family. Family violence involves domestic violence, and no child is safe if domestic violence is involved (Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2018). As a result, children are protected from abusive parents, and the parents are guided on how to raise their children without harming them physically or emotionally.
The welfare law has made it mandatory for people to report child abuse or neglect to the proper authority. The Australian Institute of Family Studies (2020) provides the guidelines that can be followed by the members of the community when they want to report any form of child abuse and neglect. The government has made mandatory reporting laws that aim to identify different cases of child abuse. Besides, the laws assist children who are involved in the cases. One of the reasons the Australian government made it mandatory to report child abuse and neglect is its hidden nature. Many people did not know how to report or where to report these cases. As a result, child abuse cases continued to increase since the perpetrators were not being punished.
The mandatory reporting legislation contains the list of people who should report child abuse cases and the procedure to be followed. Some of the people mandated to report child abuse cases include teachers, doctors, early childhood education and care practitioners, police, and the children caregivers (Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2020). These people interact more with the children; hence it is easy for them to note any form of harm on them. The reporters of child abuse are protected through the hiding of their identities. Before the legislation, many people feared reporting these cases since their lives would be in danger. However, the mandatory reporting legislation ensures their safety is guaranteed since their identities are not revealed to third parties (Mathews, 2014). These reforms have made it easy for the children facing dangers and neglect at home to be rescued and provided with a safe environment. Besides, the abusers are sentenced by the law, which acts as a warning to others who might want to abuse their children to fear doing so (Mathews, 2014).
Critique of the current application of the law in practice
Efforts that aim to strengthen child protection policies have taken the top-down approach. According to Wessells (2014), there is low use of the formal services and the misalignment of some formal and non-formal aspects of child protection policies. The formal sector is significant when it comes to ensuring child protection policies are effective. However, the policies are not as effective, primarily if they are implemented on their own. It is crucial to ensure that non-formal actors are embraced, so that child protection is enhanced. Currently, the government is trying to involve non-formal actors, including families, communities, and children. Children are the social and the political actors who help in child protection practices (Gillingham, 2015). Therefore, it is vital to involve them in this fight against child abuse.
The community includes various people who aim at protecting children from any form of abuse. Therefore, the government is now working with different community members to ensure they collaborate with the formal practices to enhance child protection. Community resources include religious leaders, nurses, teachers, elders, and natural helpers (Gillingham, 2015). Besides, different activists have come up with child protection movements. The movements are distributed on social media sites and other platforms so that people can know about child protection acts and policies. The government should also ensure that they collaborate with the education department. The education department can monitor the students, and if they notice any changes, they can report to the relevant authorities (Gillingham, 2015). Therefore, it is easy for the government to track down children being abused by being denied the opportunity to learn through the school administrations and the community.
Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2018, March 27). Australian Child Protection Legislation. Child Family Community Australia. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/australian-child-protection-legislation
Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2020, June 16). Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect. Child Family Community Australia. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/mandatory-reporting-child-abuse-and-neglect
Gillingham, P. (2015). Social Work and Child Protection in Australia: Whose Job is it Anyway? Practice, 28(2), 83-96. https://doi.org/10.1080/09503153.2015.1074670
Mathews, B. (2014). Mandatory Reporting Laws and Identification of Child Abuse and Neglect: Consideration of Differential Maltreatment types, and a Cross-Aurisdictional analysis of Child Sexual Abuse Reports. Social Sciences, 3(3), 460-482. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci3030460
Tarantola, D. (2018). Child Maltreatment: Daunting and Universally Prevalent. American Journal of Public Health, 108(9), 1119-1120. https://doi.org/10.2105/ajph.2018.304637
Tilbury, C., Hughes, M., Bigby, C., & Osmond, J. (2015). Social Work Research in the Child Protection Field in Australia. British Journal of Social Work, bcv123. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcv123
Wessells, M. (2014). Bottom-up Approaches to Strengthening National Child Protection Systems: Placing Children, Families, and Communities at the Center. PsycEXTRA Dataset. https://doi.org/10.1037/e500792015-225