Section 1

 

“When people in the U.S. think of children’s rights, they usually think of children in third world countries who are victims of abusive child labor. They might not realize that children’s rights in the U.S. are violated as well.” (Wilson, 2006) In the U.S. children have rights that are sometimes overlooked and ignored. This is because some parents take their responsibility too seriously. This extreme overruling can lead to the separation of families, the loss of a life, and even a divorce between parent and child. One factor that perpetuates these situations is the lack of government acknowledging certain forms of abuse. They clearly cover physical and sexual abuse; however emotional abuse is left unspoken of.

“In 1989, the U.S. signed a Declaration of the Rights of the Child.” (Thomas A. Jacobs, 1999) On this declaration, there was only one right that had to do with emotional wellness: The right to a happy family life. This is usually the right of children and teens that gets violated most. It is also closely related to the most cherished and sought after right; happiness. The one thing teens want most from life is happiness/long enjoyable life. (Thomas A. Jacobs, 1999) How can the right most sought after be the right most violated?

            This battle of emotional rights is not just present with teens. Emotional abuse affects children of all ages. In fact, “In 1994, over 215,000 kids (12-17) in the U.S. were reported as victims of child abuse or neglect.” And “child abuse reports increase, on average, 4% every year {since 1989}. (Thomas A. Jacobs, 1999) If the average rate is 4%, what portion of children in our society, today, are emotionally abused? The answer can be estimated by that fact that “In 2008, national statistics show that 7% of all child abuse reports were considered emotional or psychological abuse.” (NEC Child Abuse Prevention Services, 2012)

“There is no question that some children do fall into the cracks, and others’ problems are unwisely minimized.” (Wilson, 2006) This is most common in family situations. This coincides with the other right most violated, earlier mentioned, ‘The right to happy family life’ because it is usually violated by family. One extreme case of neglect was seen in the psychological case study of a girl named Genie (the name she was given for legal reasons). Genie, 13 years of age when discovered, “was born into a family where abuse was already common. She was born a normal child, but due to severe isolation and neglect - being fed only baby food and cereal, harnessed to an infant’s potty seat, nightly wrapped in a strait jacket, and then placed in a bed with wire mesh sides and a wire mesh cover overhead – she became almost unrecognizable as human.” (Fitzpatrick, 2001) Even though this is a rare and extreme case, one can see where lack of rights for emotional abuse might pose a problem.

            “With approximately three million reports of child abuse and neglect made each year, and three children dying, everyday, at the hands of parents or carelessness” (Thomas A. Jacobs, 1999) there has to be further awareness made about emotional abuse. Otherwise, the numbers will keep rising. Moreover, this would be a lot easier if “abuse [was not] only described as physical or sexual abuse.” (Kowalski, 1955) With this in mind, parents get by on being “responsible for food, shelter, medical care, and adequate clothing.” (Kowalski, 1955) This is in no way to depict most parents as inadequate, or insufficient. This is just to inform that there are a few holes in Children’s rights. Emotional abuse is a big hole.

 

                           Section 2

 

            Lack of children’s emotional rights is a severe issue in our society because it is a cycle that causes psychological issues like personality disorders – bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, depression etc. – because of the severe emotional confusion or to and fro. When a victim is affected by emotional abuse they are also plagued by a string of mental setbacks. These setbacks, if untreated (and they usually are), can cause a victim to become abusive themselves. Not only does one psychosis lead to another, but the lack of help to those affected leads to other people being affected. Before you know it, our nation will be covered with a quilt, sewn and bonded by the stitches of emotional abuse.

             The reason the lack of children’s emotional rights is a problem is because it causes psychological issues in these children. Issues like anxiety, severe depression, and immense anger are just the minor issues that a child can take on. They may also develop personality disorders and other harmful tendencies. Singer Demi Lovato is a prime example. Bullied horribly in school, after being damaged emotionally by her biological father, Lovato developed a number of eating disorders and resorted to self-harm as a way to cope. Not only was she aggressive and manipulative, she explains in an article in Glamour magazine, her extreme and quick changes from stages of depression and joy (due to the format of the entertainment industry) caused her personality flaws to become more apparent. She eventually discovered she was bipolar. Children affected similarly grow up, are released into society, and are pressured to function as a healthy, normal human being.

            This type of situation causes their issues to multiply and become a greater problem. Those who are forced to live with their anxiety, depression, anger, and possible personality disorders, amongst the rest of the functioning world, might very well be better off (mentally) if they lived in a mental home or hospital (being surrounded by people who might share similar problems rather than by people who do not understand and will judge them). But if more attention, support, and rights were in order to protect these children they would not have to suffer so. Moreover, the progression of these issues will result in regression because more people will be affected. The snowball effect will begin. Children will pick up more and more problems causing more and more children to be affected, and the snowball will not stop rolling until something is done to stop the debasement of having no restrictions in children’s emotional maltreatment.

Despite the chaos of this spiraling tragedy, there is one way simple way to bring it to a steady halt. There simply needs to be rights for children dealing with this emotional horror. If there are physical rights, sexual rights and medical rights for children, why are there not any emotional rights for children? Is it that one, done harm physically is more hurt than one done harm emotionally? Either way, the child is still hurt. Whether it’s their arm that’s broken or their heart, in both situations, therapy would be needed; physical therapy in one hand and psychological therapy in the other. If rights cannot be attained for a child’s emotional needs, assigning a therapist to those children who even think they are emotionally abused would also help ease the crisis of this disgrace. If the system is simply too apathetic to make emotional rights for children, it can at least allow hotlines, and a certified child’s therapist to the many desperate victims that will call those hotlines.

Surprisingly, though one would think any well-functioning human being would want the best for a child, whether the child is theirs or not, some are against having these emotional rights for children. That is why they do not exist today. This stems from phrases like “A child is to be seen not heard.” or “A child must obey, without talking back.” Long ago, children had no say in anything. It wasn’t until word spread about child cruelty and maltreatment that physical and sexual abuse became something a child must be protected from. In other situations, the adult always knew best; always. The “Mother knows best” line may have been true some to most of the time, but saying this statement was true all of the time is making another false statement. This phrase suggests that a mother is not human and incapable of making a mistake and being wrong sometimes. This very reasoning and mindset is one that led to children being emotionally abused in the first place. Because there was no room for a child to have opinion or a say in where parenting becomes dictating or where conversation becomes inappropriate, these violations slowly became more common and accepted. This trend continues today. Over the years people progress less and less, getting farther and farther away from being their best selves; All because of the damage done in the past that is passed on from generation to generation. This horrible damage on the psyche of our nation’s children can and must be stopped. The bettering and future of our country depends on it.

 

Section 3

 

Getting involved “can lead to the establishment of a trusting, judgment-free environment” and “allow [children] to be more willing and open to discussing issues that they may not have known how to communicate prior to an adult's inappropriate, probing questions.” (Hernande, 2012) How much progress and improvement can be made to this debasement if the simple action of getting involved was executed? If the problem of lack of emotional rights for children was just addressed, the problem would slowly decrease spreading.

Awareness is the first point. Once the public is made aware of the issue, and how much of an issue it is, more people will want and start to get involved. “Emotional abuse may be difficult to detect. However, personal awareness and understanding of the issue is the key to recognizing it.” (ABUSE, 2012) If children were given this ‘trusting, judgment-free environment, it would be much easier to make aware the seriousness of emotionally abused children and to detect those who are emotionally abused.

Getting involved with the progression of this issue would mean saving the world from generations of lost, hurt children and allowing them to be well-functioning human beings that will better our society and world. With the involvement of caring adults, children would grow up to be better individuals instead regressing and causing more problems in our world than solving. With this, these well cared for, independent, emotionally stable children will grow up and make wonderful contributions to the world. If not, these children will continue to suffer silently, bringing more and more regression and negativity into the world around them.

This is not an ideal way to live. There is no happiness in such a situation. Today, we see these situations played out from beginning to end. When a young boy, continually told he is just like his father and will never amount to anything decent, goes out to join a gang and shoot someone, so he can receive the acceptance and love he doesn’t receive at home, people  blame the young boy for his faults and mistakes. Imagine if instead of the young boy being blamed for his faults and ignorance, the parent(s) of that young boy get(s) blamed or confronted. More involvement will result in more lives being saved. For instance, after singer Demi Lovato had gotten help with her issues, brought upon her by emotional abuse, she was able to speak out about her experience and partner with a number of organizations who speak out against bullying, provide websites with helpful guidance, and encourage young people to get help. This helped a lot of young girls, dealing with similar issues as Lovato, stop hurting themselves and get help.

It is not extremely hard for adults or teenagers to get involved with the improvement of this issue. There are websites. There are essays. There are articles. There are children and teens who speak up about the way they were treated. There may not be many, but if people open up, establish a trusting, judgment-free environment, and allow these young people to speak and talk about what they are dealing with, awareness will begin to spread. Not only will confused young people be made aware of the effects and tactics emotional abuse comes with and in, the people who aren’t emotionally abused will be made aware of what they can do and how they can help. If things were done in this way, as opposed to the way they are done now, children across the nation will be more stable and well off.

 

Section 4

 

Life’s pretty great, huh?

You’re always amused

But what about the child that is

Emotionally abused

 

You claim you don’t know the symptoms, effects

Though they’re all in front of your face

That poor performing, depressed, destructive, anti-social teen

That is screaming for your help but they hear you say disgrace

 

You think another lost kid

They have no reason not to cheer

But do you also think about the 3 million reports of child abuse and neglect

Made each year

 

Parents think they are doing right

After all they do provide food, shelter, clothing, and medical care

Why consider yourself abusive if you’re not giving

Harsh physical beatings or permitting incongruous sexual affairs?

 

And it’s not just in the homes

That these young people are being harassed

Bullying is not a crime unless race, sex, or disability is criticized

I suppose they forgot about looks, intelligence, level of inheritance, personality and etc. when       this legislation was passed

 

If none of this moves you to move something around for these children

I am not quite sure what will

Just providing a safe place for them to release will help the unfortunate situation

Just allow these children to express how they feel

 

Once this done, awareness will begin to be made

As it spreads, the seriousness of this issue will be respected

Thus forcing something to be done about it, like

People demanding children’s emotional rights be protected

 

Wouldn’t you like to see it?

All the pain gone away

A child growing up well and understood

With every tear they would’ve cried forever pushed back a day

 

How I would LOVE to see it

One well-functioning, mentally stable mind will affect the rest

Care, attention, awareness, protection

Will help our country, its future, and its people be their best