Every child is special. They were born as a wonderful gift from God, thus, as special as they are, they should be treated with love, care and full of affection. In this world, however, we cannot deny the fact that there really are evil people who do not think that children are special. There are those who think of children as noisy nuisance or simply something that should not exist. Truth be told, these people can be anyone, including the child’s parents, family members, teachers or random strangers.
Child abuse has been an increasing concern for all of us in the past years now, and it is still growing and growing even with all of the things that many organizations and private individuals do to help lessen such cases. One of the things to help lessen cases of child abuse is the use of child abuse clearance. This clearance is required from people when they want to work or volunteer with children. This is also used to distinguish if a person has a history of child abuse or none. Unfortunately, even with the presence of child abuse clearance and how they may affect an individual indicted as an abuser, there are still people who abuse children without any fear.
For people like us who has a heart for children and care for their well-being, it is important to distinguish the different signs of child abuse so that we will be able to identify cases as well as offer help to the needy child. Knowing the signs of child abuse will help the abused child in more ways than you can imagine, especially if he/she will be able to obtain his/her freedom from the abuser.
15 Facts About Child Abuse That May Shock You
- There are more than 3 million reported cases of child abuse in the United States annually.
- 3% adults reported to be physically abused in their childhood days.
- 7% adults reported to be sexually abused in their childhood days.
- 6% adults reported to be emotionally abused in their childhood days.
- There were 25,000 to 50,000 children in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, that had been abandoned because of witchcraft accusations.
- The Cross River State and Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria had 15,000 children accused as witches.
- In South Korea, the rate of child abuse has increased to 13% in 2015 compared to its 2014 record. 75% of these reported cases were abused by their own parents. However, due to South Korean culture, this forceful parenting is not seen as abuse and may only be deemed as a parents’ duty to discipline the child. This kind of parenting is also evident in other Asian cultures such as China, Japan, Vietnam and Singapore.
- There are approximately 215 million children worldwide who work, and many of them as full-time workers according to the International Labor Organization.
- Approximately 5 children die daily due to child abuse.
- 2% of the person responsible for child abuse is between the ages 18-44, while the remaining 39.6% is between 25-34 years old.
- 90% of children being abused know the abuser in some way, and 68% of these sexually abused children were abused by their own family members.
- 80% of people aged 21 years old who were abused as a child met the criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
- Children being abused are at high risk for sexually transmitted disease as they are less likely to practice safe sex.
- 25% of abused children will experience teen pregnancy.
- Around $7 trillion US dollars is lost because of violence against children every year, and this is equivalent to 8% of our global GDP.
What is child abuse?
Wikipedia defined child abuse as the “physical, sexual, or psychological maltreatment or neglect of a child or children, especially by a parent or other caregiver.” Given this definition, it is evident that the child is being treated unfairly and very poorly by those very people who should care for him/her. Child abuse may also mean any act or failure to act things that lead to actual or potential danger to the child in any settings.
Child abuse does not only mean the physical abuses the child may get. It can also encompass other abuses such as emotional, sexual, and other negligence done to the child. With all of these abuses going around, knowing the different specific signs of the various abuses will help us pinpoint what it is that the child really suffers from.
It is the deliberate physical force or action done by a parent or caregiver which resulted in or may result in an injury or harm to the child. Injury may include bruises, cuts, biting, punching, slapping, beating, burning, shaking or throwing off the child. Punishing the child with belts, sticks and other such physical objects that may inflict serious harm is also treated as abuse. The different signs of physical abuse to a child are the following:
- Injury to a baby that does not even know how to crawl yet
- Presence of severe and visible injuries
- Distinctive shape
- Injuries with different stages of healing
- Injuries on different areas of the body
- Can’t explain where the injuries came from, or may explain senselessly
- Child becomes aggressive towards peers and animals
- Afraid of parents or other adults
- Wears long sleeves even if it is hot
- Exhibits fear, depression and anxiety
- May be withdrawn
- Violent themes being expressed in art
- Insomnia and nightmares
- Reports of injury or being severely disciplined by the adult
- Self-destructive behavior
- Acts immaturely and have emotional and behavior extremes
Signs of physical abuse in parent or caregiver
- History of violence or abuse
- Keeps child away from school, clubs, church or other organizations
- Takes child to various doctors and hospitals
- Prevents or delays medical care intended for the child
- Unexplainable or senseless explanations of the child’s injuries
- Anxious of child’s behavior
- Shows aggression to the child
- Says that child is liar, evil, troublemaker or not to be trusted
Abuse may also occur sexually when the abused child is used for sexual pleasures of the adult or other older children. This abuse include actual sexual intercourse, fondling for sexual purposes, indecent phone calls to the child, exposing a child’s private part, child pornography, child prostitution and watching a child undress for sexual gratification. A child being abused sexually may have the following signs:
- Experiencing bowel problems
- Difficulty in sitting and walking
- Torn, bloody and stained undergarments
- Genital area may bleed, swell, and itch
- Bruises and pain in the genital area
- Presence of sexually transmitted disease or related symptoms
- Frequent yeast infections or urinary tract infection
- Child may not want to change his/her clothes
- Feels depressed and anxious
- May be withdrawn
- Verbally reports being abused sexually
- Sexual behavior or knowledge that is advanced for the child’s age
- Unusual soothing behaviors
- Poor relationships with his/her peers
- Eating disorders and preoccupied with his/her body
- Being absent all of a sudden from school and other activities
- Sleep disturbance problems, nightmares and bed wetting for older children
- Sexual acting out
- Masturbates excessively
- Substance abuse and suicide attempts
Signs of sexual abuse in parent or caregiver
- Unstable adult presence
- Parent relies on child for emotional support
- Dysfunctional or troubled sexual relationships
- Parent who is overly jealous or possessive
- Fails to supervise child
It may be hard to know whether you have hurt a child’s feelings or not to be considered it as an emotional abuse. Though a single act may be considered as an abuse already, emotional abuse is more apparent when there is a pattern of behavior that targets the child’s emotional development as well as self-worth. It usually includes act of excessive, unreasonable and aggressive demands that pressures the child to do more than he/she is capable of doing. It can also include teasing, insulting, criticizing, rejecting or belittling the child. Ignoring or isolating a child from other people may also be considered as an emotional abuse as well as exposing him/her to domestic violence in the home which will have a toll on the child’s mental health and emotions. A child that may be emotionally abused exhibits the following symptoms:
- Delayed development
- Obesity and fluctuations of weight
- Speech disorders
- Bed wetting or wetting pants
- Health problems like ulcers
- Presence of unusual habits like rocking, sucking or biting
- Overly defensive or compliant
- Learning disabilities
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- Inappropriate behavior for age
- Destructive or anti social behaviors like cheating, lying, stealing and other forms of violence
- Sleep disorders
- Presence of anxieties and phobias
- Extreme emotions and aggression
Signs of emotional abuse in parent or caregiver
- Mental illness or alcohol and substance abuse that has not been treated
- History of abuse or violence
- Disrespectful of authority
- Unhealthy and bad relationships with other adults
- Poor emotional self-regulation
- Inability to manage anger
- Has favoritism among siblings
- Yells, blames, ignores and criticizes the child most of the time
Negligence is also a form of abuse where the parent or caregiver wasn’t able to provide the child’s basic needs such as proper food, safety, sleep, education, clothing and even medical treatment. It is usually the insufficient attention from people around the child as well as not giving the child the much needed necessities for his/her survival like nurturing, love and attention. Child neglect is further divided into the following subcategories:
- Supervisory neglect. The absence of parent/s or guardian/s that results in physical harm, criminal behavior or sexual abuse.
- Physical neglect. Not providing the basic physical needs of the child like a clean home and a safe environment.
- Medical neglect. Lack of medical care provided.
- Emotional neglect. Lack of support, encouragement and nurturing the child.
- Educational neglect. Parents or caregivers insufficiently provide education or additional resources for the child to participate actively in school.
- This is characterized when a parent/s or guardian/s leave the child alone for a long time without anyone watching him/her like a babysitter.
General signs of neglect in a child include the following:
- Bad clothing that may be in wrong size, dirty or inappropriate for the weather
- Bad school practices such as frequent incomplete homework as well as frequent changing of schools
- May be malnourished and shows signs of malnourishment such as protruding bones or distended belly
- Child is often hungry, seeks for food and stock them
- Low body weight and height for age
- Presence of body odor
- Poor hygiene practices
- Always tired and sleepy
- Incomplete immunizations
- Medical and dental problems left untreated
- Talks of not having caregiver at home and the desire to care for younger siblings
Signs of neglect in caregiver
- Shows lack of care towards the child
- Negatively views child
- Relies on the child for personal care and well-being
- May deny problems with the child or blame it on the child
- Caregiver may have mental health issue, drug or alcohol abuse
- Experiences apathy or depression