The black and blues may fade away, but the pain inflicted will stay, explains Latika Narang, on child abuse and more
Damaging consequences of abuse can reshape not only a child’s brain but also last a lifetime. 90% of child sexual abuse victims identify the perpetrator in some way. A family member abuses 68 %. Is that fair? Child Abuse. Go back and think about a time when you were a child, a loving family member nicely tucking you in, and you drifting off into a deep slumber. It seems normal, doesn’t it? This “normal” is not so common in everyone’s life. For many children, the reality of the night time is when predators come for them under cover of darkness.
There are horrific stories of child abuse. A father, a grandfather, an uncle, a neighbour, abusing children with the disgusting intention of satisfying themselves. Even reading such a story seems horrific to us, imagine the impact it leaves on the minds of the young, innocent children! As a parent, a guardian or just a well-wisher, there are signs you need to notice. You should question every bruise, sympathize with every tear, give them your presence, not presents. Understand that abuse can be of various kinds - sexual, emotional, physical, medical, neglection, etc.
Abuse Can Be In Any Form
It’s abuse even if you see no physical signs. Physical abuse is just one type of abuse. The rest of the kinds are equally horrific and dangerous and can affect the mental condition of a child. There exists a myth that children are never abused in rich households. The abuse is limited to needy families. But are we sure? Child abuse crosses all barriers, and the predators know how to reach it’ prey. It is shocking to notice that most of the child abusers are family members and not strangers. Look at your child carefully, understand the concerns, and NEVER ignore the signs. Here is a look at some of the symptoms you should notice.
Warning Signs in Emotional Abuse:
- No attachment with the parent, guardian or caregiver
- The child is scared of doing something wrong, gets constant anxiety attacks
- Changes in behaviour
- The child may act either inappropriately adult (taking care of other children) or inappropriately child-like(thumb-sucking, throwing tantrums)
Warning Signs in Physical Abuse:
- The child may be injured more often, with signs of bruises or cuts that can’t be explained.
- The child is aware all the time, which seems like he/she knows that something terrible can happen anytime.
- The child’s injuries after a course of time can appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt
- The child can freak out when being touched, or may seem afraid all the time.
- The child may try to cover the injuries or marks by wearing inappropriate clothes.
Warning Signs of Child Neglect:
- The child’s clothes may seem dirty, too loose or too tight or inappropriate for the weather.
- The child may have no sense of hygiene.
- The child’s injuries or wounds are left unattended.
- The child may be found in unsafe conditions and often left isolated.
- The child’s attendance at school is not good.
Warning signs of sexual abuse in children:
- The child will not be able to sit or walk properly.
- The child will have sexual knowledge inappropriate for their age.
- The child makes extra efforts to avoid a specific person, without a particular reason
- The child is extra shy while changing clothes in front of others or participates in physical activities
- The signs of an STD or pregnancy, especially if the child is under the age of 14
- The child shows tendencies to run away from home
Child Abuse is real. The known statistics are scary enough, and I firmly believe that they are even worse than shown. We need to accept that not only girls but boys are equally abused. I feel for boys. It’s even more traumatic because they tend not to speak about it. There is an off chance that you experienced abuse in your childhood, so maybe the reason is simple anger. You either justify what happened to you was okay, and therefore you are doing the same, or there is so much anger saying what happened was wrong and you suppressing that anger might result in a mental or any other health problem. Either way, address it. No matter what your age is, you need to deal with it, and deal appropriately.
What To Do?
Remember to control your anger, feel emotionally connected with your child, and remember abuse is never the solution. How would you approach your child if you see any of these signs? The primary thing is to notice everything about your child. Children are at a tender age; negligence can affect them in a way that can scar them for a lifetime. Be your child’s friend first, parent later. If you have a feeling that something is wrong, or you spot a sign, shatter the silence. You never know how you can help someone in need.
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