There is no doubt that child abuse is a very serious problem that should be addressed by the government and local organizations. A lot of centers for children’s protection have been created worldwide, parents who abuse their children are being punished and deprived of parental rights, but child abuse continues to exist.
The main purpose of the current study is to analyze different forms of child abuse, consequences of it and measures that are being taken or should be taken to prevent child abuse.
Child abuse: analysis, examples and prevention
First of all it is necessary to discuss the meaning of the term “child abuse”. Child abuse is a mistreatment of a child, which includes emotional, physical or sexual abuse of children by parents or other people, who work with children. Statistic evidence on child abuse is shocking. “More than 2.5 million cases of child abuse and neglect are reported each year. Of these, 35 percent involve physical abuse, 15 percent involve sexual abuse and 50 percent involve neglect” . Every kind of abuse is dangerous to a child, and it wasn’t proved that physical or sexual abuse is more dangerous than emotional one. Emotional abuse includes disparaging, mockery, disrespectful and critical treatment towards a child. It is hard to find out whether a child is emotionally abused due to the absence of any external signs of abuse, but consequences of emotional abuse can be long-lasting and very detrimental. Emotional abuse in childhood can cause mental disorder when a person is already an adult; it can also cause the development of various complexes (inferiority complex, for example), lack of self-confidence, fear, aggression and loneliness. Emotionally abused children have low self-esteem, thus, it is very hard for them to make friends and communicate with other people. They will avoid being in public in future, and might end up left absolutely lonely. Children may be exposed to emotional abuse when their parents have certain difficulties in life, such as alcoholism or drug abuse, financial difficulties or divorce, for example. Emotionally abused children will rarely speak about their problems, thus, making it very difficult to help. “Emotional abuse actually had a stronger effect on symptoms of dissociation than did physical or sexual abuse, while people exposed to both verbal abuse and witnessing domestic violence showed more dissociation than those exposed to familial sexual abuse” .
Speaking about physical abuse it is important to note that this kind of abuse can be easily detected. Bruises, fractures, burns or other types of body injuries are evidences proving that a child was physically abused, unless they can be determined as accidental ones. Physical abuse includes beatings, burnings and other forms of violence against children. Very often parents would try to hide it in order to avoid penalty, however, physically abused children are easier to be detected, and they are more willing to speak about it. However, sometimes a child will lie that he/she fell or injured himself in order not to reveal the truth. In this case it is necessary to address a paediatrician for the assistance.
Another type of child abuse is sexual abuse. “Sexual abuse includes inappropriate touching of a child’s breasts or genitalia, as well as someone’s exposing their genitalia to a child”. Sexual abuse can cause unexplained fears, pain and bedwetting as well as other more serious consequences, such as sexually transmitted diseases and mental diseases.
The last type of child abuse is neglect. Looking not so serious from the first sight, child neglect is also very dangerous for children. Child neglect is a type of child abuse when a child is not provided with appropriate food, clothing and other things of the first necessity, when a child feels lack of love and care or when parents don’t provide a child with medical care when it’s needed. Children who are exposed to child neglect don’t gain weight; they perform their affection very desperately and are usually depressed and lonely.
As it has been mentioned above all types of child abuse are dangerous, causing serious consequences. Unless a child is provided with help and necessary medical care, he or she will become a mentally unstable person, depressed or aggressive adult, and this aggression will pass on to his/her children.
To prove everything stated above I would like to cite one story as an example. There is a story about little girl named Andrea at the official website of Tennyson Center for Children. The authors tell a typical for such an organization story of a girl, who was abused by her stepfather, while having no support and help from her mother. Andrea, who was sexually abused by her stepfather since the age of seven, became very aggressive, desperate and even suicidal. “She took her pain and anger out on others with frequent verbal threats and actual physical assaults, especially on her younger siblings”. The specialists who work at the centre took care of Andrea, trying to bring her back to normal life. Such a treatment required a tremendous amount of time, because child abuse is even more serious than abuse of adults. Andrea used to be very fearful, having no trust in her mother, who was also treated and helped. The girl stayed in the centre for more than a year, and the story ended rather successfully. Her stepfather was put to jail, and Andrea reunited with her mother. However, not all such stories have happy ends. It happens that children are killed or commit suicide because of child abuse and lack of protection. Thus, it is necessary to take certain measures in order to prevent child abuse. First of all, scientists should conduct further research concerning this matter and find out what causes child abuse more carefully. Secondly, government should issue laws prohibiting child abuse in families. Of course, it is up to every parent to decide how to bring up a child, and maybe for some children a little of beating is necessary, however, it shouldn’t harm a child’s health in physical, emotional or sexual way. Thirdly, it is necessary to pay more attention to education of young families on the matter how to build closer relationship with children and avoid conflicts. Such educational programs should be offered to both children and parents. Children should be also educated about various types of child abuse in order to know that it’s harmful and to avoid it. At last, parents should pay more attention to mental and physical health of their children, and take necessary measures if any dysfunctions are found.
In conclusion, though a lot of measures to prevent child abuse have been taken and a lot of researches have been conducted, child abuse still remains a burning problem of the day. And unless parents realize what harm they do to their children, it will never stop. There are no difficulties that adults may face that can justify child abuse.
“Child Abuse and Neglect”. 1999 http://www.medem.com/medlb/article_detaillb.cfm?article_ID=ZZZ3S3DRUDC&sub_cat=355
“Verbal abuse by parents can cause lasting harm”. Reuters Health. Tuesday, June 20, 2006 www.tennesseehealth.com/article.asp
“Andrea’s Story.” http://www.childabuse.org/childstory1.html
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