There are primarily two ways to deal with parents who abuse their children—punishment and treatment. The most frequently used intervention is treatment. The primary goal of Child Protectiive Services is to intervene into the family, providing support and services (parenting education and anger management) to prevent the removal of the child from the home. The second, less frequently used method is to prosecute the parents in criminal court. The assignment gives you an opportunity to explore a nagging question about what to do with parents that abuse their children and what to do about partners and others who abuse family members.
They typical response to beating and battering of children is to engage the family in treatment and services to prevent placing the child in foster care. For contrast, it is interesting to note that the typical response to partner abuse is arrest. Chalk (1997) offers this explanation for the differing responses to child abuse:
Those who are opposed to criminal action believe that it hurts the family, that the criminal justice system is insensitive to families' and children's needs, and that district attorneys and police officers focus more on prosecution than on referrals for treatment and services. Those who favor criminal prosecution believe that it is an effective way to enforce the laws, deter future abuse, discourage unacceptable behavior, and coerce individuals into treatment (p. 168).
Now that you have studied the nature and consequences of family violence, do you think treatment or punishment is the better means of dealing with offenders? Why? Does it matter what kind of abuse we are talking about? Does the seriousness of the abuse make a difference? Why? Is treatment or punishment appropriate for stalking and date rape?