Jan 20 2011

Scope of the Child Abuse Problem in America

The numbers of children abused in America each year are staggering.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services estimates 879,000 children were victims of child maltreatment in 2000. Of this total, 63% of the children were neglected, 19% were physically abused, 10% were sexually abused and 8% were psychologically abused.

I think we all have to agree it’s easier to ignore or deny the estimate that 87,900 children may be sexually abused in our country each year.

How do we wrap our minds around these very high numbers of children abused and neglected?

Certainly, this seems to suggest the incest taboo discussed my Freud and some anthropologists may not be the reality for all families.

Like deMouse reports in his research, the farther one goes back in history, the more extensive and brutal the abuse of children, including infanticide and child sacrifice.

Child sacrifice, the ritualistic killing of children to appease a deity, has been extensively documented throughout history. While the actual purpose of child sacrifice is debated, the fact it commonly occurred is widely accepted.

For example, archeologists have found the remains of 42 children sacrificed to an Aztec deity in the offerings in the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan.

So, while we have trouble admitting children are sexually abused, how many of us have thought about the many children who were killed as part of some religious ritual throughout history.

Like deMouse might say, there may have been more to the child sacrifice than simply the appeasement of some deity.

Perhaps, it suggests the notion that children hold special, negative symbolic energy for humans, still present in today’s world.

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