Child Abuse

An Overview

The highest risk of child abuse is to children who are five years and below. When both parents are out to work, the child is often entrusted to the care of a babysitter, a creche or a family member. In this case, it is natural for the parents to be concerned about the child’s safety. Child abuse is when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child. There are many forms of child maltreatment, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation and emotional abuse.

Types of child abuse and their Symptoms

1. Physical abuse:

Physical child abuse occurs when a child is purposely physically injured or put at risk of harm by another person. It doesn’t matter if the child gets seriously hurt or if it leaves a mark. Any harm is abuse. Watch out for sudden changes in behavior at home or daycare and a dip in performance at school. A child who’s being physically abused will be reluctant to go to daycare or spend time with a particular babysitter.

It includes when someone:

  • Unexplained injuries, such as bruises, fractures or burns.
  • Injuries that don’t match the given explanation.
  • Hits, kicks or bites.
  •  Holds the child under water.
  •  Shakes or throws the child.
  •  Throws objects at the child.
  •  Ties up the child.
  • Burns a child.

2. Sexual abuse:

Sexual child abuse is any sexual activity with a child, such as fondling, oral-genital contact, intercourse, exploitation or exposure to child pornography.

  • Sexual behavior or knowledge that’s inappropriate for the child’s age.
  • Forces a child to take part in pornographic pictures or videos.
  • Makes phone calls or sends emails, texts or other messages that are sexual in any way.
  • Pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection.
  • Has any sexual contact with the child, from kissing in a sexual way to having sex.
  • Blood in the child’s underwear.
  •  Shows pornography.
  •  Tells “dirty” jokes or stories.
  •  Statements that he or she was sexually abused.
  •  Makes phone calls or sends emails, texts or other messages that are sexual in any way.
  •  Inappropriate sexual contact with other children.

3. Emotional abuse:

Emotional child abuse means injuring a child’s self-esteem or emotional well-being. It includes verbal and emotional assault  such as continually belittling or berating a child  as well as isolating, ignoring or rejecting a child. A pattern of denying a child love, approval and security or mistreating a child in the way an adult speaks to them or acts towards them. Bullying, yelling, isolating, criticizing, terrorizing, ignoring and shaming are all types of emotional abuse.

  •  Abuses others when the child is around, such as a parent, brother, sister or pet.
  •  Delayed or inappropriate emotional development.
  •  Loss of self-confidence or self-esteem.
  •  Fails to show love and affection.
  •  Social withdrawal or a loss of interest or enthusiasm.
  • Depression.
  •  Ignores the child and doesn’t give emotional support and guidance.
  • Shames, belittles, criticizes or embarrasses.
  •  A decrease in school performance or loss of interest in school.
  •  Loss of previously acquired developmental skills.
  • Teases, threatens, bullies or yells.

4. Medical abuse:

Medical child abuse occurs when someone gives false information about illness in a child that requires medical attention, putting the child at risk of injury and unnecessary medical care.

5. Neglect:

Child neglect is failure to provide adequate food, shelter, affection, supervision, education or dental or medical care.

  • A decrease in school performance or loss of interest in school.
  • Loss of previously acquired developmental skills
  • Poor growth or weight gain or being overweight.
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Hiding food for later.
  • Poor record of school attendance.
  • Lack of appropriate attention for medical, dental or psychological.
  • Problems or lack of necessary follow-up care.
  •  Housing with clean living conditions.

Neglect is also when someone leaves the child alone for long stretches of time or under dangerous conditions.

6. Parental behavior:

Sometimes a parent’s demeanor or behavior sends red flags about child abuse. Warning signs include a parent who:

  • Shows little concern for the child.
  • Appears unable to recognize physical or emotional distress in the child.
  •  Blames the child for the problems.
  • Consistently belittles or berates the child, and describes the child with negative terms, such as “worthless” or “evil”.
  •  Expects the child to provide him or her with attention and care and seems jealous of other family members getting attention from the child.
  •  Uses harsh physical discipline.

Effects of child abuse

If you’ve been abused as a child, it can lead to:

  • Shame/self-blaming.
  • Anger towards the abuser.
  • Fear of getting close to and trusting people.
  • Sadness, confusion and low self-esteem.
  • Flashbacks, nightmares and reliving the abuse.
  • Denial that it happened.
  • Trouble at school with learning new things and socializing with others.

Treatment

You should report any suspicion regarding any kind of child abuse to Pediatrician or a local child protective agency. Examples of intervention in child maltreatment include the investigation of child abuse reports by state child protection agencies, clinical treatment of physical and psychological injuries, family counseling, self-help services, the provision of goods and services such as homemaker or respite care, legal action against the perpetrator and removal of the child or the offender from the home.

Moreover, treatment is usually delivered in a form of therapy to ensure that the child is fully recovered. However, it is not easy to recover from such abuse, but getting help when You suspect it is the first step towards recovery.

Psychotherapy:

Talking with a mental health professional can:

• Help a child who has been abused learn to trust again.
• Teach a child about normal behavior and relationships.
• Teach a child conflict management and boost self-esteem.

Child-parent psychotherapy:

This treatment focuses on improving the parent-child relationship and on building a stronger attachment between the two.

Psychotherapy also can help parents:

• Discover the roots of abuse.
• Learn effective ways to cope with life’s inevitable frustrations.

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