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Mothers and fathers have always been delighted to welcome a child into their lives and have felt rewarded for caring for their new baby. Taking care of a child, on the other hand, is never easy, and some parents have been stressed by their children's constant crying and destruction. As a child grows older, some may not receive the proper care they require, and their families may seek assistance from friends, the community, and other families. Regardless of the neighborhood or family, a child can be harmed. This is a topic that few people like to discuss, but it affects the majority of children who participate in local sports teams or attend local schools. Adults have a responsibility of taking care of children and protecting them from harm. Unfortunately, this has not been the case as it is the same adults who subject children to child abuse. This paper provides an outlook on the issue of child abuse and its impact on a child. Additionally, it provides information on how to identify that a child has been or is being abused.
There are four forms of child abuse. These are neglect, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and physical abuse (Holt, Buckley & Whelan, 2008). Child abuse can be one incident or different incidents that occur in different time periods. According to the Child Protection Act of 1999, the extent of a child’s harm does not matter, but whether a child is does not have apparent that is able and willing to take care of him, that child is harmed (Holt, Buckley & Whelan, 2008). Harm is defined as any detrimental impact on the psychological, physical and emotional wellbeing of a child. In order for harm to be considered serious, the detrimental effect on the child must be serious and substantial.
Physical abuse occurs when a child is at risk or has suffered non-accidental injury or trauma. Examples of physical abuse include poisoning, shaking, hitting, burning, throwing and biting among others. Sexual abuse occurs when an adolescent or an adult uses their authority or power to forcefully engage in sexual activity with a child. Sexual abuse include kissing, exposing sexual parts, making obscene phone calls and messages and talking in a sexually explicit way with a child under the age of 16. Emotional balance on the other hand occurs when the cognitive, social, intellectual and emotional development of a child is threatened or impaired. It includes criticism, rejection, yelling, bullying and hostility among others. Neglect occurs when the basic needs of a child are not fulfilled. The basic needs are food, healthcare, clothing, housing, hygiene and supervision among others.
Reasons for Child Abuse
Children are often abused by the well-known to them. They are mostly parents or guardians that are charged with the responsibility of taking care of them. The reasons for child abuse are numerous and complex and no single explanation can be sufficient. Abuse mostly occurs when stress, fatigue have increased and where there are no skills and knowledge to take care of a child. Stress is usually the major reason for child abuse. It is caused by job worries, taking care of an ill family member and financial pressures (Strathearn, 2009. Unrealistic expectations where parents or guardians do not understand the behavior and development stages of a child can lead to a poor relationship between the child and the parent.
Lack of or inadequate parenting skills are another cause of child abuse. Some parents might not have the knowledge of how to help a child learn, behave and grow in a positive way. There are instances also where parents or caregivers might be suffering from mental illness, thus making them unable to adequately provide care to their children (Strathearn, 2009). Drugs, gambling and alcohol abuse have also been blamed for the increased rate of child abuse (Moreno-Manso, et al., 2016). Parents who are intoxicated in most cases neglect their children or are unable to meet their needs. Low self confidence and self-esteem have made parents to doubt their ability to meet the needs of their children. Such parents also find it difficult to seek for support from counselors or church elders to help them overcome their situation. Childhood experiences also shape how parents take care of their children Parents who might have had experiences of abuse often abuse their children as they feel it is okay.
Incidence and Impact of Child Abuse
Children around the age group of four to seven years are likely to fall victims of abuse. Boys, just like girls also experience child abuse. The most common type of abuse is emotional abuse and it occurs even without realizing.
The different forms of child abuse have both long term and short term effects and children reacts to harm in different ways. Children may experience psychological, emotional and physical impacts that range from low self-esteem to increased self-blame, guilt and fear (Holt, Buckley & Whelan, 2008). Most children suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and distrust of adults. Learning disorders, behavioral problems such as aggressive behaviors, criminal behaviors and delinquency as well as drug and alcohol abuse are often the consequences of child abuse (Moreno-Manso, et al., 2016). There are children go to the extent of harboring suicidal thoughts, having difficulty in building relationships and having development delay, physical ailments and eating disorders (Holt, Buckley & Whelan, 2008).
Indicators of Child Abuse
Some children do not show indicators of harm while others show. Some of the common indicators shown include being overly obedient and withdrawn, soiling, drug and alcohol abuse, sleep difficulties, aggressive behaviors, low self-esteem, and difficulty in relating to parents among others (Holt, Buckley & Whelan, 2008). These indicators may vary from one child to another. There are children that may exhibit some of these behaviors but they not necessarily be victims of abuse. In the case of sexual abuse, determining whether a child has been abused is often difficult. However, indicators such as excessive masturbation, sexually suggestive behavior, hints about sexual activity, inappropriate sexual behavior and play, refusal to remove clothes, and difficulty when walking or sitting are majorly associated with sexual abuse.
In conclusion, child abuse is a norm that is becoming common in the society today. Children are neglected, abused, physically, emotionally and sexually. Unfortunately, most of these issues are never reported because the perpetrators are often people close to the child. They are often talked about in secrecy and solved quietly by elders. The child continues being traumatized by the person who abused them and ends up having issues, especially mental when growing up. As adults, we have to look at indicators that a child has been or is being abused and report to the relevant authority to help the child and his future.
Holt, S., Buckley, H., & Whelan, S. (2008). The impact of exposure to domestic violence on children and young people: A review of the literature. Child Abuse & Neglect, 32(8), 797-810. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2008.02.004
Moreno-Manso, J., García-Baamonde, M., Blázquez-Alonso, M., Pozueco-Romero, J., & Godoy-Merino, M. (2016). Social Communication Disorders and Social Cognitive Strategies and Attitudes in Victims of Child Abuse. Journal Of Child & Family Studies, 25(1), 241-250. doi:10.1007/s10826-015-0192-9
Strathearn, L. (2009). Child behavior/mental health conditions and abuse: Which causes which?. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33(2), 75. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2008.08.001
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