See R. C. McCrea, The Humane Movement (1910, repr. 1969); L. G. Housden, The Prevention of Cruelty to Children (1955); P. P. Hallie, The Paradox of Cruelty (1969); D. Bakan, Slaughter of the Innocents (1971).
Crime of inflicting physical or emotional injury on a child. The term can denote the use of inordinate physical violence or verbal abuse; the failure to furnish proper shelter, nourishment, medical treatment, or emotional support; incest, rape, or other instances of sexual molestation; and the making of child pornography. Child abuse can cause serious harm to its victims. Estimates of the numbers of children who suffer physical abuse or neglect by parents or guardians range from about 1 percent of all children to about 15 percent, and figures are far higher if emotional abuse and neglect are included. In many cases, the abuser himself suffered abuse as a child. When abuse results in death, evidence of child abuse or battered-child syndrome (e.g., broken bones and lesions, either healed or active) is often used to establish that death was not accidental.
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Cruel ways of inflicting suffering may involve violence, but violence is not necessary for an act to be cruel. For example, if another person is drowning and begging for help, and another person is able to help, but merely watches with disinterest or perhaps mischievous amusement, that person is being cruel — rather than violent.
Cruelty usually carries connotations of supremacy over a submissive or weaker force.
According to Richey Edwards, "The centre of humanity is cruelty / There is never redemption / Any fool can regret yesterday".
According to Ian McEwan, the Booker Prize winner in 1998, "novels are not about 'teaching people how to live, but about showing the possibility of what it's like to be someone else. It's the basis of all sympathy, empathy and compassion. Other people are as alive as you are. Cruelty is a failure of imagination'.
Harvard University Professor Judith N. Shklar's thinking is based on two main beliefs: that cruelty is the greatest evil, and her idea of "liberalism of fear".
Victor Nell, of the Institute for Social and Health Sciences at the University of South Africa, wrote a target article in 2005 entitled "Cruelty's Rewards: The Gratifications of Perpetrators and Spectators".