Name: Jeffrey Ly
Student ID: n8613898
Tutor Name: Abbey Hamilton


This image shows a child with hands covering his eyes, mouth and forehead along with the words “Shatter the Silence”.

Public Health Issue

Criminal behaviour commonly portrayed such as antisocial behaviour or elevated levels of aggression and hostility is a common indication of the individual being exposed to an environment of family tension during childhood years. Everyday countless individuals are exposed to these environments such as abusive households, over-protection, dominance or rivalry which can cause the individual to develop criminal behaviour and other health problems or lead to death.

Literature Review

Child maltreatment is any form of maltreatment that occurs towards children under 18 years of age that includes all types of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, exposure to intimate partner violence or other exploitation which results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power. There are many behavioural, physical and psychological health problems that are at risk due to child maltreatment including depression, smoking, obesity, high-risk sexual behaviours, unintended pregnancy or alcohol and drug misuse. These health problems may contribute to heart disease, cancer, suicide and sexually transmitted infections. (WHO, 2010)

Over the past several decades studies have consistently linked the ill-treatment and experiences individuals are subject to during their childhood as attributable to the development of deviant behaviour which may lead to juvenile delinquency and criminal conduct during adulthood. Although many children are subjected to different forms of maltreatment, this alone is not accountable for criminal conduct as the severity of maltreatment must also be taken into account as well as other factors such as education, income, peer affiliations or cultural differences that could also contribute to juvenile delinquency and criminal conduct. (Kinteberg, 2011)

Supporting this, a longstanding yet qualitative study has found that in a sample of 100 offenders and their families, whenever psychosomatic disorders were found in the offender, distorted emotional patterns were also met at home of the offender. However in the control group, 100 non-offenders and their family that were abnormal and in need of treatment but had committed no crimes, there was much less child maltreatment found. (Abrahamsen, 1944) A possible reason for the control group having committed no crimes even in cases where child maltreatment was present, for example, may be due to less severe child maltreatment which could result in positive school performances and having a higher income during adulthood.

A much less studied matter is the effect of child maltreatment across gender differences as statistical data from the AIC depict a significantly lower amount of female assault offenders in comparison to male assault offenders. (AIC, 2011)

Figure 1. Male and female assault offending, 1996-97 and 2009-10, (rate per 100,000 relevant persons)
A particular study suggests that positive school performance may protect maltreated females against juvenile delinquency and further adulthood criminal involvement more readily than maltreated males of which is a possible contribution to the outcome of the gender disparity found in figure 1. (Topitzes & Mersky, 2011) Recent statistics provided by the AIHW show that from 2010-2011 in Australia alone there were 25,400 children aged 0-12 that was the subject of one or more notifications of abuse and neglect and in 2011, 28,200 children aged 0-12 were on care and protection orders. The rates of children on care and protection orders have almost doubled from 2000 to 2011. However the accuracy of this data may actually be significantly lower than the actual number of non-fatal child abuse occurrences due to the secrecy of the act causing many happenings to go unreported. (AIHW, 2011)

The AIC estimates that the cost of crime in Australia reaches almost $36 billion a year. (AIC, 2008) By reducing child maltreatment not only is crime and crime costs being reduced but also health risks victims of child maltreatment face.

Figure 2. Different crimes as a proportion of total costs

Cultural and Social Analysis

Data suggests that there have been an increase of parents and individuals during the period between 2000 and 2011 that are inadequate of providing healthy and safe care to their children. (AIHW, 2011) However this data could also reflect increased awareness and improvement of child protection services. This could lead to show that there are many more victims of child maltreatment that go unreported and therefore not included in the estimated number of children on care and protection orders. Nevertheless, the act of child maltreatment is a serious issue not only in Australia as it affects countless children worldwide. Statistics from the year 2000 estimated 57,000 homicides of children under 15 years of age worldwide, with the most common cause of deaths as head injury, followed by abdominal injuries and intentional suffocation. (WHO, 2002)

In communities there are contributing factors to increasing the risk of child maltreatment that should be taken into account of in order to reduce it. Some of these include social and gender inequality, poverty, easy availability of alcohol and drugs, inadequate child protection policies and programmes and social, economic, health and education policies that lead to poor living standards or to socio-economic inequality or instability. (WHO, 2010)

The effects of this issue have caused the deaths of many and contribute greatly to the development of any victim which can ultimately ruin the child’s adulthood. The public awareness of this issue is extremely important to anyone and everyone so unaware families and individuals know the consequences their child can face if maltreated and so witnesses of child maltreatment can report known perpetrators.

Analysis of Artefact and Reflections

What the chosen artefact portrays is child maltreatment which is a serious issue that can lead to severe consequences ultimately resulting in the death of the victim or the death of others due to criminal conduct. The importance of the words "shatter the silence" reflects the need and severity for a higher public awareness due to the secrecy of child maltreatment resulting in many unreported cases.

I feel that my research into this topic has given myself a much better understanding about child maltreatment regarding the effects and types of maltreatment. I think this will definitely affect my future self when I have to take responsibility for a child and will make me think twice about how mine and other peoples actions can affect the child’s future and well-being.


Abrahamsen, D. (1944). Family Tension, Basic Cause of Criminal Behavior. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 40(3), 330-343.

Australian Institute of Criminology. (2008) Costs of Crime. Retrieved from

Australian Institute of Criminology. (2011). Male and Female Assault Offending in Australia. Retrieved from

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2011). Safety and Security. Retrieved from

Kinteberg, B., Almquist, Y., Beijer, U., & Rydelius, P. (2011). Family psychosocial characteristics influencing criminal behaviour and mortality – possible mediating factors: a longitudinal study of male and female subjects in the Stockholm Birth Cohort. BMC Public Health. 11(756). DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-11-756

Topitzes, J. & Mersky, J.P. (2011). Child Maltreatment and Offending Behavior Gender-Specific Effects and Pathways. Criminal Justice and Behaviour. 38(5) 492-510. DOI: 10.1177/0093854811398578

World Health Organization. (2010). Child Maltreatment. Retrieved from

World Health Organization. (2002) World report on violence and health. Retrieved from