On November 19, 2019, the “New York Post” posted a story titled ‘Wisconsin woman convicted of force-feeding, beating adopted children.’ The woman named Sharon Windley, aged 55 years old, was charged with eight counts of felony charges, including causing mental harm to children, child abuse, and strangulation and suffocation. Four teenagers testified before the court that their adoptive parents punched, choked, and force-fed vomit them. Windley was convicted following a six-day trial while her 53-year old husband is currently facing child abuse charges too. According to the prosecutor, the abuse lasted for twelve years and only ended after Windley was charged in March 2018.
A criminal complaint narrated that different parties, including school officials and social workers, contacted the police several times, reporting that the children were being abused by the couple and Steven, the couple’s twenty-seven-year-old biological son. The police finally interviewed the children in February 2018. The children narrated that, on one occasion, one of them felt sick and vomited, but Donald forced the child to eat food from the vomit. Donald was accused of sexually abusing the girls by making them strip down to their underwear and sit on his lap and have kissing sessions. According to the children, Windley punished them by feeding them on excessive oatmeal and would lock the cabinet to keep other food away from them. The accusations levied against Stephen included an incident that occurred in February 2018, where he put his arm around one of the children’s neck. The court also heard that the trio forced the children to have a bizarre prayer ritual while standing on one foot in their underwear and were beaten if they lost their balance. Another lady who left the house when she turned eighteen also testified that she also underwent similar experiences when staying with the family.
Windley was released on bond as she awaits sentencing in January 2013. One of her bail conditions included wearing a GPS monitoring bracelet. In her testimony, she termed the children as liars, and only an insignificant portion of the children’s story was true. She also said the children were disrespectful and disobedient and needed discipline. She admitted to using physical punishments like making them give some of their belongings to charity after fights and doing stair runs.
Donald, who was charged with several offenses including three counts of repeated sexual assault of a child, and will appear in Court on December 17. Stephen Windley will appear in Court on February 7 to face child abuse charges too.
Short-term and Long-term Repercussions of Child Abuse
The short term consequences of child abuse include death when the abuse is too severe or when the child commits suicide (Medic, Wille & Hemels, 2017). For those who survive, the WHO reports that they have increased negative psychiatric, social, behavioral, academic, and interpersonal functioning. Experts associate child abuse with depression, anxiety, and anger. Different children, however, undergo different types of abuse, which impact them differently and make them react differently to life.
Conversely, the long term effects of child abuse include both physical and mental health issues. Physical child abuse increases the risks of anxiety disorders, behavioral disorders, depressive disorders, eating disorders, drug abuse, suicidal attempts, and risky sexual behaviors. The long term consequences may also entail the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. More diseases associated with child abuse and which occur in the long run are ulcers, headaches, alcohol and smoking problems, migraines, and arthritis.
How Child Abuse may be Culturally Impacted
Child abuse occurs in various ways and is viewed differently by different people. For example, some minority groups in developing countries still consider child beating as a way of punishment (Nadan, Spilsbury & Korbin, 2015). However, it is illegal in most developed countries. Besides, research indicates that children are easily intimidated by the religious and physical authority of their elders. Moreover, some societies view children as properties of the parents and guardians who have complete authority over the children and thus take advantage of the respect, innocence, and ignorance of the children to torture them. Some communities see children as a source of wealth, especially girls, and thus parents marry-off young girls in exchange for wealth. Sex trade is another way in which child abuse is culturally impacted where young girls are viewed as sexual elements.
Addressing Child Abuse at the Micro Level
Governments offer citizens various ways of handling cases of child abuse in society. One of the most common methods of addressing the issue at the micro-level is through social service interventions (Katz & Connolly, 2017). The services include counseling victims of abuse, caregiver support programs, alternative living arrangements, and offering educational programs for potential victims of child abuse.
In my opinion, I believe that even though the world has made significant steps in eliminating forms of child abuse and neglect, such as child beating as a method of punishment, there still exists more work to be done to end child abuse. Cultural and community factors seem to be perpetuating child abuse, while education remains one of the significant ways of reducing forms of abuse. As a result, governments and world programs need to invest in more education programs to both the victims to help them seek help when assaulted and to the community members on the consequences of child abuse and how to avoid it.
Katz, I., & Connolly, M. (2017). Disproportionality and risk decision making in child protection. Beyond the Risk Paradigm in Child Protection: Current Debates and New Directions. London: Palgrave, 63-76.
Medic, G., Wille, M., & Hemels, M. E. (2017). Short-and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nature and science of sleep, 9, 151.Nadan, Y., Spilsbury, J. C., & Korbin, J. E. (2015). Culture and context in understanding child maltreatment: Contributions of intersectionality and neighborhood-based research. Child abuse & neglect, 41, 40-48.
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