Child abuse is basically defined as “an act or failure to act by a parent or caregiver that resulted to a child’s endangerment in the form of injury, emotional harm or death”. Child abuse can take many forms and it is important that everyone knows the signs when a child is being abused to be able to report such incidents. It has been reported that every year, an estimated 3 million children are reported to have been abused in one way or another. The numbers may be higher but any cases are not reported due to citizens’ inability to recognize the signs and symptoms of when a child abused. This has to change and child abuse has to stop.
There are many forms of child abuse and it is important to know them and know the signs when a child is experiencing abuse. If you recognize these signs it is best to contact the proper authorities. Below are the types of child abuse and their signs.
- Physical abuse. It is one of the most common forms of child abuse. It is when a parent or caregiver uses brute force to cause a physical injury to a child. For example, kicking, slapping, punching, pushing, hair pulling among other acts are used to “punish” a child for wrongdoing. Signs like unexplainable and constant bruises and injury is always present in a child. He can hide bruises by using long-sleeved clothing even during hot season. The child can also show an aggressive behavior towards classmates and playmates, fearfulness towards the parents or caregiver, violent acts towards unsuspecting subjects like pets, withdrawal, anxiety and depression.
- Sexual abuse. It is when an adult is using a child to satisfy a sexual act or for any sexual purposes at all. It can be non-contact like showing of a sex organ or sex act to child and inappropriate sex talk towards a child. Sex abuse can also be as grave as making a child perform a sex act on an adult. Child pornography and prostituting a child are also forms of sexual abuse. A child may show physical signs like difficulty in walking and bruises in unlikely places, kiss marks and bowel problems. She may also show some depression, rebellious attitude, lack of confidence, and show poor performance in school.
- Emotional abuse. It is when the parent or caregiver is harming a child’s emotional and mental development by doing acts that impedes the child’s social development. This can be done by shaming and humiliating a child, isolation, rejection and corrupting a child’s values. Signs would include low self-esteem, anti-social and destructive attitude, delayed mental and social development and extreme emotions.
- Child Neglect. This is when the parents or caregivers is not doing their part in supervising the child’s growth and development, does not provide sufficient care, support and love to nurture the child’s health, safety and over all well-being. This can come in a form of physical, medical and educational neglect. Signs can include frequent absences in school and/or truancy, using of dirty clothes to school or unkempt appearance, frequently hungry, appearance of injury with no sign of medical treatment.
Reporting child abuse when you see one is very important as it can lead to saving a child from danger. Various NGOs and local police are one of the many agencies you can contact to report child abuse. Getting the attention of a school’s guidance office can also be a way to alert the authorities of possible child abuse. Everyone and anyone can report child abuse cases. Let’s do our part to end this problem.