There is a broad spectrum of activities that count as an abuse of a child, a lot of which are not usually considered an abuse at all.
These abuses range from verbal, to physical, psychological, financial, emotional and social deprivation or compulsion.
The following defines child abuse;
- Verbally abusing or insulting a child
- Teasing a child unnecessarily
- Exposing a child to pornographic acts or literature
- Touching a child where he/she doesn’t want to be touched
- Manipulating a child
- Making your own child a ‘servant’, depriving of time for education or leisure
- Leaving a child without supervision
- Neglecting a child’s educational needs
- Neglecting a child’s medical needs
- Hitting and ridiculing a child at school
- Not feeding, clothing or keeping a child neat/clean
- Using a child as a servant (Child Hawking)
- Not listening to a child
- Neglecting emotional needs of a child
- Hitting or hurting a child, often to relieve your own frustration
- Breaking down the self-confidence of a child
- Forcing a child to touch you
INTERNATIONAL BODIES DEFINITIONS
The World Health Organisation (W.H.O) (1999) says; child abuse constitutes all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of relationship of responsibility, trust and power.
The Child Welfare Act defines it as the physical or mental injury, sexual abuse or exploitation, negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child under the age of 18 years by a person who is responsible for the child’s welfare under circumstances which indicates that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or threatened.
According to statistics of child abuse by Naasca:
- 30% of the abused will abuse their children
- More than 5 children die daily from abuse and 70% of these are <4 years old.
WHAT CAN LEAD TO ABUSE OF A CHILD?
The situation of things around a parent and their inability to provide for their families can be nailed as a culprit.
But not as much as their personal histories, which includes their upbringing, exposures, addictions, frustrations and circumstances.
Many of these abusers have been abused as child or gave birth to the child as a teenager.
Some are suffering from emotional immaturity, low self-esteem or having too many children to take care of.
For others, history of mental instability or incapability of raising another being. Social denial or domestic violence.
Although most of these causes seem to register or blame past experiences or exposure of the abuser, it also helps to understand the concept of action-reaction complex.
Therefore, what they got reflected in what they give, how they give and how much they could give.
It is massively wrong to take out frustration on a child and this article frowns at it.
Discipline or punishment should help train a child, not destroy them.
HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF CHILD ABUSE
The effects of child abuse are multidimensional, it damages every aspect of the child’s existence and living.
From physical effects to emotional, and social effects with futuristic consequences.
Some of the consequences include;
- Poor growth and development
- Burns and scald
- Poor social interaction
- Poor school performance
- Sexual dysfunction
- Lacerations and abrasions
- Suicidal tendencies
- Brain damages
- Becoming an Abuser or bully
HOW TO HELP AN ABUSED CHILD
Depending on the type of abuse as mentioned above, the approach of aid is dynamic.
As a result, the precise cause of abuse needs to be ascertained so that proper care can be given. Physical effects can be managed in a hospital as the emotional and social effects are being worked on.
Sexual abuses are emergencies and should be reported to appropriate parties as soon as noticed or reported.
There is also need for psychological evaluations of both the abuser and the abused.
This menace haunts our world and if not well taken care of, might be the end of a free future for our children.
We dread leaving our children in the care of extended family members and wish it wasn’t so.
Child trafficking, sex trading, prostitution, hooliganism may just be on their ways to extinction if we take care of our children.
The traffickers and thug masters were someone’s child and were denied of the emotional and profound and good parental influence they deserved.
So were the rapists, extortionists, illiterates, or prostitutes.
As a result, Let us stand up for the child and speak up for the child! Every child matters because the future matters!
Article Includes excerpts from lecture notes on Child Abuse; Given by Dr Halima Abdu, Community Paediatrics Unit, Department of Paediatrics, College of Medicine, JUTH, University of Jos.
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