Child Abuse: A case for Imposing Harsher Punishments to Child Abusers


Children are very important since they represent the community’s hopes, ambitions and its future.

As such, they are cherished and most parents try to provide a quality life for them. Even so, some live lives full of hurt as a result of child abuse which is one of the most heinous crimes. This crime sometimes leads to children being traumatized for life or physically damaged. It is therefore of great importance to stop it from happening. In an attempt to stop this abuse, forms of punishment have been devised for retribution and deterrence purposes. This paper will argue that harsher punishment should be imposed for perpetrators of child abuse.

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The paper will reinforce this proposition by delving into the merits of harsher punishments.

A case for Harsher Punishments

The most desirable function of any form of punishment is deterrence. The ideal situation is one where punishments do not have to be executed since their presence causes people to abide by the rules. Harsh punishments provide deterrence since they invoke fear to anyone who intends to engage in this despicable act (Hoffmann-Engl, 2006). For example, giving child abusers harsh punishments such as a life sentence will act as deterrence to people who can easily afford to pay the fines imposed.

As such, future offenders would be forced to think twice about the results of their acts. Harsh punishments also have the advantage of protecting the society from child abusers. Cunningham (1999) reveals that child abusers display high levels of impulsivity and aggression. These are attributes that are undesirable and if such persons are given modest punishments such as community service or short prison terms, they will reenter society and continue harming children. By giving long prison sentences or even imposing capital punishments on such offenders, the society will be protected from these child abusers who would reenter society sooner if punishments were lenient.

Demerit of Harsh Punishment

While harsh punishments appear to offer a solution to the problem, this measure may be detrimental to the welfare of the child in the case where the abuser is its guardian. DfES (2003) reveals that many cases abuses are committed not by strangers but by the people who are closest to the children.

Imposing harsh punishments on these perpetrators will therefore leave the child without a guardian. Children may therefore end up suffering more as a result of the harsh punishments than they would if the punishment were more lenient. While this may be true, leaving the child at the mercy of the abuse just because they provide for its basic needs is the greater wrong. As such, harsh punishments should be imposed at the same time taking care to ensure that the child is provided for after the abuser has been imprisoned.


This paper has argued that imposition of harsher punishments for child abuse criminals has many advantages and therefore, it should be implemented by our justice system. It has been articulated that through harsh penalties, retribution is served for crimes committed and the offenders are put away from the society for a long time. In addition to this, harsh penalties acts as deterrence to would be offenders since an example is made of those who have already been convicted. By imposing harsh punishment, our society can mitigate or even completely get rid of child abusers therefore guarantying a good life for the children.


Cunningham, A.L. (1999).

Suggested Punishment For Child Molesters Based Upon Victim`s Relationship to the Experimenter. Retrieved from: DfES, 2003, Every Child Matters.

UK Government Green Paper, Cm 5860. London, HMSO. Hoffmann-Engl, L. (2006). A Probabilistic Model on Child Abuse.

Chameleon Group.


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