According to various statistics, scores of children across the globe are subjected to abuse. Children have to be loved, nurtured, and cherished. But in the bad world outside, children are being scarred emotionally and physically. Such abuse can do irreparable damage to a young mind and body.
It's our duty to identify such children, and save their lives. Irrespective of whether you're a cop, social activist, etc., it's every individual's duty to look out for the kids around. In case you know a child who is being abused, it's important to notify the authorities. However, how do you know for sure if a child is being abused. Let's take a look.
Types of Child Abuse
Child abuse is not always about broken bones and unexplained bruises. There are different types of child abuse like emotional abuse, educational abuse, medical abuse, and sexual abuse. While the signs of physical abuse can be pretty evident from the bruises and scars, the other kinds of abuse may not have visible implications. Then how do we identify them. Let's take a look!
Emotional abuse is one in which the parent or the caregiver constantly humiliates and belittles the child. The child is also subjected to verbal abuse, and is constantly reminded how worthless he or she is. No affection is shown to the child, and the child is often given the silent treatment as form of punishment. Such behavior is nothing but emotional abuse. In certain parts of the world, the girl child is treated with inferiority, and while the son gets all the love and affection, the daughter is subjected to abuse, all because of her gender.
Medical abuse is one in which the parent or caregiver fails to provide the necessary medical treatment. This includes failure to take the child for immunizations, consult the pediatrician when he or she is ill, fail to give the necessary medication, etc.
Neglect is a type of child abuse, wherein the basic requirements of the child are not fulfilled. This includes failure to provide proper clothes, food, and basic hygiene to the child. It also involves ignoring any other kinds of basic needs the child has. For example, if the child is crying for attention, and the caregiver chooses to ignore heartlessly, it's also a type of abuse because it spearheads mental and emotional trauma in the child.
Educational abuse is one in which the parent or caregiver does not send the child to school for basic education. Moreover, even if the caregiver hinders the child's further education, it's called educational abuse.
Physical abuse is visible, and may be noticeable in the form of bruises, swelling, wounds, bite marks, blood clots, etc. The child may have fractured bones as well. Physical trauma is dangerous because it can lead to permanent disfigurement or disability, and must be stopped as soon as possible. Extreme physical abuse can even result in death.
This is the most gruesome things one can do to a child. Only ghastly people can do something as horrendous and evil as this. Most often this form of abuse is hidden, and won't be noticeable initially. Remember, sexual abuse is not always about having sexual intercourse. It can be inappropriate touching, petting, or even indecent body language. It can also be exposing the child to sex through videos, photographs, etc.
Signs that You May Notice
Each type of child abuse will leave behind some signs and if noticed carefully, they can be identified.
- The child suffers from unexplained bruises, burns, or black eyes
- Frequently suffers from bone fractures
- The child remains absent from school for long periods
- Fading bruises or marks of trauma on the child's body
- The child avoids the parents or caregivers
- Does not like going home after school
- Is frightened when approached by adults
- Parents give conflicting explanations for the injuries
- Parents or caregivers themselves have a history of child abuse
- Begins to have problems in school with grades and other children
- Anti-social behavior
- The child begins to develop an extremely complaining or demanding behavior
- The child becomes passive or aggressive all of a sudden
- The child shows infantile behavior like head banging, sucking thumb, eating hair, rocking, etc.
- Attempts suicide
- Begins to use self-depreciating words like 'I'm worthless', 'I'm stupid', etc.
- Begins to say 'I deserve this' when hurt
- Suddenly starts stammering or shuttering
- Shows physical, mental, and emotional downfall
Signs of Neglect
- The child is always hungry
- Shows poor personal hygiene
- The clothes are too old or dirty or ragged
- The child is forever feeling tired
- Suffers from untreated medical problems
- Compulsive scavenging
- Has no social contact
- Turns destructive
- The child begins to have difficulty walking and sitting
- Starts bed wetting or having nightmares
- The child suffers from change in appetite, either begins to eat a lot or stops eating altogether
- Begins to show interest or has knowledge about sexual acts
- Avoids taking part in a physical activity or becomes overly paranoid about changing clothes around others
- Develops an STD or becomes pregnant, especially in the case of girls under 14 years
- Runs away from home
- Is scared or uncomfortable when a particular person is around
Spotting Child Abuse in Toddlers
Toddler abuse may seem unfathomable to most of us. However, it is possible and one should watch out for the signs. The toddler may lack the communication skills to explain what he/she has gone through or may not understand the gravity of the situation. However, they will show behavioral changes that will indicate abuse. You should check if the child unusually avoids going to his day care center or near his/her nanny. A toddler may even avoid the caregiver or parent if he/she is being abused at home. The child may show signs of physical abuse repeatedly.
An emotionally-abused toddler may become very passive. He may even become very demanding and show delayed physical and emotional development. This means the child will walk or talk much later than other children of his/her age. Sexual abuse is also possible with toddlers. The toddler may have pain or itching around his/her genitals. You may find the child is sitting oddly or shows signs of pain while passing urine.
How to Know if an Adult is a Child Abuser
The adult may either be the parent, caregiver, relative, teacher, or a family friend. The adult may show no concern for the child, especially in case of abusive parents and caregivers. The parent blames the child for all the problems they face. They subject the child to harsh physical punishments. The adult thinks of the child as a worthless being and a mistake. Lack of concern is shown regarding the child's emotional, physical, or basic needs. The child also tries to avoid the adult as much as possible.
These were some of the warning signs that you should watch out for. If you are concerned about the welfare of a particular child, call your local Department of Children and Families. You can even contact the cops for help and discuss your doubts. Do not ignore child abuse happening around you. Child abuse has adverse psychological effects that can ruin a child's life. So extend your hand and help save a child, if you know he or she is being abused. We owe it to the children around us!