By Fidel Elizchrist Ujunwa

The rate of child abuse cases is widely increasing on a daily basis. Child abuse is when a parent or caregiver, whether through actions or neglect exposes the child to the risk and serious harm which causes injury, death, emotional harm e.t.c.

There are many forms of child maltreatment, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, and emotional abuse.

We have different form of abuses in a child:

1) Physical abuse: Physical abuse of a child is when a parent or caregiver causes any non-accidental physical injury to a child. There are many signs of physical abuse.
28.3% of adults report being physically abused as a child.

Physical abuse can result in;

-Bruises, blisters, burns, cuts, and scratches.
-Broken bones, sprains, dislocated joints.
-Emotional and psychological harm.
-Lifelong injury, death.

Signs of physical injuries;

-Any injury to a child who is not crawling yet.
-Visible and severe injuries.
-Distinctive shape.
-Frequency, timing, and history of injury.

Behavioural sign;

-Aggression toward peers.
-Seems afraid of parents or other adults.
-Fear, withdrawal, depression, anxiety.
-Wears long sleeve out of season.
-Violent themes in fantasy, nightmares, insomnia.
-Reports injury and severe discipline.
-Immaturity acting out emotional and behavior extremes.
-Self-destructive behavior or attitude.

2) Sexual Abuse: It occurs when an adult uses a child for sexual purposes or involves a child in sexual acts. It also includes when a child who is older or more powerful uses another child for sexual gratification or excitement. 20.7% of adults report being sexually abused as a child.

Signs of sexual abuse in a child;

-Difficulty in sitting, bloody undergarments.
-Bleeding, bruises, pain, swelling, itching of the genital area.
-Frequent urinary tract infections or yeast infections.
-Any sexually transmitted disease or related symptoms.

Behavioral symptoms;

-Withdrawn, depressed, anxious.
-Eating disorder, preoccupation with body.
-Aggression, delinquency, poor peer relationships.
-Poor self-image, poor self-care, lack of confidence.
-Sudden absenteeism, the decline in school performance.
-Excessive masturbation.

3) Emotional Abuse: When a parent or caregiver harms a child’s mental and social development or causes severe emotional harm, it is called emotional abuse.
Most often emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior that causes damage over time. 10.6% of an adult report being emotionally abused as a child.

Emotional abuse includes;

-Rejecting or ignoring: Telling a child that he or she is unwanted or unloved. Showing little or no interest in the child’s affair. Not initiating or returning the affection and not listening to the child. Hurting the child’s feelings.

-Shaming/Humiliating: Calling a child names, criticizing, belittling, demeaning, berating, using language, or taking actions that affect the child’s feelings of self-worth.

-Isolating: Keeping children from peers and positive activities, confining a child to a small area, forbidding play, or other stimulating experiences.

-Corrupting: Engaging child in criminal acts, telling lies to justify actions or ideas, encouraging misbehavior.

Signs of emotional abuse in a child;

-Delays in development.
-Wetting bed, pants.
-Speech disorders.
-Health problems like ulcers, skin disorder.
-Obesity and weight fluctuation.

-Habits like sucking, biting.
-Learning disabilities and developmental delays.
-Overly compliant or defensive.
-Extreme emotions, aggression, withdrawal.
-Anxieties, phobias, sleep disorders.
-Suicidal thoughts and behaviours.

4) Child Neglect: It is when a parent or caregiver does not give the care, supervision, affection, and support needed for a child’s health, safety, and well being.

Child’s neglect include;
-Physical Neglect
-Emotional Neglect
-Medical Neglect
-Educational Neglect

1) Physical Neglect: Children need enough care to be healthy and enough supervision to be safe. Adults that care for children must provide clothing, food, and all necessities to aid the child’s growth and development.

Example of physical neglect;
-Deserting a child or refusing to take custody of a child who is under your care.
-Failing to provide enough healthy food and drink.
-Failing to provide clothes that are appropriate for the weather.
-Not supervising a child appropriately.

2) Emotional Neglect: Children require enough affection and attention to feel loved and supported. If a child shows signs of psychological illness, it must be treated.

Examples of emotional neglect;
-Keeping a child isolated from friends and loved ones.
-Permitting a child to use drugs, use alcohol, or engage in crime.

3) Medical Neglect: Some states do not prosecute parents who withhold certain types of medical care for religious reasons. Parents and caregivers must provide children with appropriate treatment for injuries and illnesses. They must also provide basic preventive care to make sure their children stay safe and healthy.

Examples of keeping a child from getting needed treatment are;

-Keeping a child from getting needed treatment.
-Not providing preventive medical and dental care.

Educational Neglect: Parents and schools show responsibilities for making sure children have access to opportunities for academic success.

Examples of educational neglect are;
-Allowing a child to miss school.
-Not enrolling a child in school (Or not providing comparable home-based education).
-Keeping a child from taking the requisite education.

If you think a child has been abused, it’s very important to talk and to listen to him or her and believe what you have heard. The child has to be protected from further abuse and the child should know that it will not happen again. They need to feel protected.
-Explain to the child that you feel sorry about the whole thing.
-Contact your local protective child agency.

Some caregivers compel their wards or the child they are living with to engage in labour or work below their capacity which is very wrong. There was a case of a little girl of 10 years who was compelled to carry a baby by 12 am while her mate was asleep. The little baby fell from her hand and the caregiver she was staying with beat the hell out of her and in the process put a nail on her head, and also designed her body with an iron.

All these and many other cases have been alarming in our country today. Most guardians maltreat their ward but treat their own child well. Some don’t send them to school while their own children go to school. Instead, they send them to hawk in the street with an empty stomach.

The rate of child abuse especially child physical abuse is more among women than men. Most times children are been involved in child’s labour. Child labour is work performed by children that either endangers their health or prevents then from going to school and taking part in other activities important to their education.

To parents – You should have the number of children you can train or carter for. You should also go for family planning in order to reduce the natality rate and be able to give birth to a certain number of children that you can provide for their needs. When the natality rate is high, you might not be able to train the children you give birth to which oftentimes results in sending them to live with other people.

Parents should endeavour to have the number of children they can afford to train so that they can train them by themselves to avoid child abuse.

To Government – The government should provide free education for students so that parents/ guardians won’t have an excuse for not sending their wards to school.

To the Guardians – You should treat the kids who are not yours, but under your care the way you treat your own children because they might turn out to be your helper tomorrow. You must know that Karma is real.

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