“Child abuse and neglect offend the basic values of our state. We have a responsibility to provide safe settings for at-risk children and facilitate permanent placement for children who cannot return home.” -Matt Blunt
1. What is Child Abuse?
Child abuse is the physical or emotional harassment on the child and also neglecting child. Child abuse means purposeful and serious injury done to child. Not only this, not caring for children needs, putting them in difficult or dangerous situations, making the child feel worthless or stupid also comes under child abuse. Child abuse can happen at any place i.e. at home, in the organizations, schools or communities. This will hurt their emotions and may result in to serious situations. There are many types of child abuses and as an effect of all those, emotions of a child will be hurt and they become socially isolated. Abused children will not predict how their parents will react and their world can be unpredictable and frightening. Abuse may be of any kind, but ultimately the child will feel lonely, unsafe and uncared. Child abuse in general is a psychological problem or perversion of the abuser. The abuser is referred to as the performer of abuse.
2. What are the types of Child Abuse?
Child Abuse is basically an abuse that is done to children under age 14 and often most of the girls have been the victims of this child abuse and the abuse may be from parents, society, neighbours and relatives. This abuse can be done at any place like at home, in society, school, public or private place etc. Here are the causes of domestic violence on children may take different forms, but basically this is of four types and they are:
• Physical abuse
• Emotional abuse
• Sexual abuse
• And neglecting child
All these types of abuse will ultimately lead to emotional and mental destruction of child. Child abuse is a very sensitive issue for children and this may lead to serious situations like death, going in to coma etc. Here is the brief explanation of the types of abuse and their symptoms
Physical abuse: Physical abuse is the harm or injury done physically to the child. This can be done with an intention to harm the child. It can happen once or can happen repeatedly. Physical abuse is done using hand or some instrument to harm the child. Most of the parents say that they use this physical abuse to teach discipline to their children. But most of the parents who use physical abuse don’t know that they are making their child to live with fear instead of teaching them what is wrong and what is right. Some kinds of physical abuse that are used for abusing children physically include: pinching, spitting, pushing, beating with hand or any instrument, twisting fingers, slapping, burning, kicking etc which is more on child labour.
Children who have gone through this physical abuse may show some signs like:
• Repeated wounds or mysterious bruises, welts or cuts.
• They always look watchful and alert as if they are waiting for something bad to happen.
• Gets scared of touch from others, flinches at unexpected actions or seems frightened to go home.
• They wear unsuitable clothes like long-sleeved shirts to cover up injuries even in hot weather.
Emotional Child Abuse: This emotional abuse is very dangerous than physical abuse, because the injuries of physical abuse will vanish as time passes. But emotional abuse is something that hurts the child emotions and behavior. This can severely damage child’s mental health and social development by leaving lifelong psychological scars. Some types used to abuse a child emotionally may include: constant criticism, yelling or swearing at the child, repeatedly teasing, verbal humiliation, telling the child that he/she looks ugly, discouraging or de-motivating them, comparing with others and scolding, threatening or bullying, no proper contact with the child etc.
Children who have gone through this Emotional Abuse may show some signs like:
• Feeling very anxious, extremely quiet and fearful about doing something wrong.
• Showing extremes in behavior like sometimes they may be quiet and sometimes they behave very aggressively and sometimes they may be demanding also.
• Hesitate to be attached with family (parent or caregiver) and friends.
• Sometimes they may behave like adults and sometimes they behave like an infantile by rocking, thumb-sucking, throwing tantrums etc.
Neglecting child: This is also a kind of child abuse where the parents or the caretakers show complete negligence towards their child and do not care for them. Parents fail to provide basic needs for their children like not providing sufficient food, clothing, hygiene and supervision etc. This is often seen in many homes as parents become very busy in their work. Not only from parents, a child can also be neglected by the society, friends, community and relatives. This child neglect may include: physical, medical, educational and emotional.
Children who have gone through this child neglect may show some signs like:
• They don’t maintain proper hygiene
• Untreated illnesses and physical injuries.
• They don’t feel free to hang out with friends and feel very shy to speak to others
• They are often unsupervised or left alone or allowed to play in unsafe situations and environments.
• They often try to skip going to school or going late to school.
All these types of abuses ultimately affect children mentally and physically. This will severely affect children and they may in to longtime depression, health problems by totally disturbing a child’s health. All of them will ultimately result in child getting addicted to bad habits like smoking, taking drugs, drinking alcohol etc.
3. What are the tips to avoid abuse?
Tips for children to be explained by their parents when they are facing emotional abuse:
• Make friends and be busy with them.
• Always be confident and positive.
• It’s better to pay no attention to the bully.
• Don’t try to take revenge.
• Seek for help if you are in trouble.
• Find ways to feel good about yourself
Tips for children to be explained by their parents when they are facing child neglect:
• Speak out
• Try to react or act according to situations
Tips for children to be explained by their parents when they face child neglect:
• Always use an ‘I’ message when someone does something that makes you feel bad or someone neglects you.
• Try to be busy always and read some books or play games which you like
• Don’t feel alone
4. What are measures to be taken when a Child is abused?
Abusing a child through any means is not encouraged as it will affect the child mentally, physically and emotionally. Each and every individual and parents have to take initiatives to stop this child abuse and showing concern to them. Child Abuse can be stopped or prevented by taking some measures. Here are the measures to be taken when a child is abused:
• If any of the children you find, is being abused or neglected, then immediately act to the situation and report to authorities
• Try to talk with the children in private and listen to them patiently, to find out the reasons for abuse
• Always believe the child and assure them that they are not to blame
• Contact the local police or the NGO’s for help
• Be aware of unexpected injuries and also with unconvincing explanation of a child’s injury.
• Observe changes in the behavior of the child because abuse may lead to changes in behavior, ranging from becoming lonely or becoming over aggressive.
• Children who are abused often show apprehension towards going to places with the abuser or to the place where the abuser stays.
• Abused children may show unexpected symptoms like they may lose weight or do not show interest in eating food.
• Observe if there is any uncertain drop in the child’s attendance and grades at school. Children may not attend school because of injuries they had during abuse or they may intentionally drop out of school so as to cover up signs of abuse that are visible.
• Look after the children and see that they are getting proper care and good hygiene. Abused children may appear dirty and untidy as they do not show interest in wearing good clothes and maintaining proper hygiene.
5. What are measures to prevent Child Abuse?
Child Abuse in India is a serious issue and has to be treated with immense care so as to prevent it. Government of India and other private organization have been taking many initiatives to prevent this child abuse at homes, in the society and in schools. Other than government, each and every individual has to feel responsible in preventing this child abuse.
Some of the measures to be taken to prevent this child abuse are mentioned below:
• Make your child feel special: Parents have to make their children feel special and loved. Spend some time with your children and make them feel like they can share each and every moment with you.
• Be in touch with community: Request the community leaders, schools to develop services to meet the needs of healthy children and families.
• Get involved and promote programs: Try to promote as many programs as possible on preventing child abuse. Promote the programs in schools, society, in communities and in villages as this will bring lot of awareness in the public.
• Be the first to take initiative when you find a child is being abused: Do not wait for help. When you find a child is being abused or has been abused, immediately report to the local police or the child health organizations.
• Training parents and children: Training of children and adolescents. Child and adolescent training programs are primarily aimed at protecting children from abuse and from the attacks of other children.
• Family strengthening: Each and every community should provide information on protective factors and also ways to support and partner with parents to avoid child abuse in their respective communities.
• Creating public awareness: Creating awareness in public on preventing this child abuse is very important as this can prevent child abuse to a maximum extent.