Your child could be undergoing abuse without you even knowing it. Be aware of your child's surroundings, and pay attention to signs. Read on.
Although child abuse has been taking place through the ages, there are no definite statistics to ascertain whether it is on the rise or is just being reported more often nowadays. One thing is certain: we are more open and willing to discuss abuse than our predecessors were. As a result, we are more aware of the dangers our children face than our parents were and are faced with the difficult challenge of protecting them while also maintaining their independence.
To be able to take up this challenge, parents have to first understand what child abuse is and who could the perpetrators be.
Types of child abuse
Physical abuse is the excessive use of force on children such as hitting, biting, kicking or trying to drown or suffocate a child. It also includes giving them alcohol or drugs. This form of abuse could result in bruises, burns, fractures, brain injuries or even death.
Children need loads of love and praise. If they do not get their fair share of love and affection and are instead subjected to threats, criticism or sarcastic remarks, they are being emotionally abused. As a result, the child loses self-esteem and becomes fearful and withdrawn. Such abuse also reflects in his relationships in adult life. He could be verbally abusive towards his partner and children.
This type of abuse arises when basic human needs of food, shelter and clothing are not met. Children are left on their own and there are no adults in their lives to guide or protect them. Such neglected children grow up either very withdrawn or very aggressive and with little or no moral values.
This is the most of child abuse. An adult or sometimes an older child uses a child for sexual gratification. It could mean anything from showing a child pornographic videos or magazines to forcing a child to carry out sexual acts. This has a disastrous effect on their lives, and affects adult personal relationships. Quite often, such children themselves become abusers when they grow up.
Children of any age, even babies, can be victims of abuse.
Who are these abusers?
There is no clear reason as to why some adults abuse children and therefore it is difficult to tell who could be a child abuser.
An abuser could be from any race or religion, rich or poor, highly educated or illiterate.
Parents undergoing tremendous stress of some kind turn to hitting and verbally abusing their children. Also sometimes, parents who themselves have been raised with abuse, consider it as an acceptable means of keeping children in line.
Although most parents teach children to fear strangers, they should realize that abusers are often known to the child and to the parents and could be an uncle, aunt or a neighbour. It is thus important to establish strong channels of communication with your children, so they can come to you and inform you if anyone has made them uncomfortable. Never dismiss their worries.