“Allison was washing the dishes and had just begun to dry them. All of a sudden, she heard the door slam. ‘Girl, Where’s my food?’ the voice yelled. It was her father just getting home from work. Allison began to panic. Rushing to try and find a dish, her little five year old fingers dropped the plate and it smashed to the floor. Her father stomped into the kitchen and began to threaten to beat her.” Think this story is horrifying and unrealistic? Think again. Scenarios like this happen to thousands of children every day. A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds, with more than 5 of those children losing their lives due to the child abuse (National Child Abuse Statistics 2013). Child abuse occurs in many different ways, but all ending in the same result- severe emotional and physical harm. The most obvious types of abuse are physical and sexual due to the fact that they leave actual physical evidence behind. Emotional abuse and neglect are also serious types of abuse, but are not as easily detected. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. This old saying could not be further from the truth (Rennie 2013).
Emotional abuse may seem as if it is invisible, but it involves behavior that interferes with the child’s mental health and social development, thus leaving lifelong psychological scars deeper than physical abuse. Emotional abuse is when a child is isolated, rejected, criticized and terrorized by their “loved ones”, creating their self-esteem to break down. This also includes not creating a developmentally appropriate environment for the child as well as the child not having a primary “go to” figure to learn social and emotional skills. Neglect, being the most common type of abuse is failing to provide for the child’s basic needs. Not supplying clothing, food, shelter, supervision and appropriate hygiene needs are just a few examples. Neglect is not always easily seen from the outside. Some children learn to adapt to such neglect and when they are outside of their home they show no signs of harm. Other children may even take on the parent role and try and provide for the family (Smith 2013). Not all neglect is intentional; the parent may become physically or mentally incapable due to depression or anxiety, while other parents may fail to tend to their children due to drug or alcohol abuse (Smith 2013). Whatever the case may be, there is no excuse for a child to be left without care for their basic needs.
With children being neglected they grow to have a lack of trust with others, and also relationship troubles. If these children cannot trust their parents who can they trust? Another type of abuse is physical. This type of abuse is defined as physical injury caused by beating, kicking, biting, burning, punching and any other type of harm that is non-accidental. Physical abuse is the most visible type of maltreatment to a child, most times resulting from excessive or inappropriate disciplines (Smith 2013). Some warning signs that a child has been physically abused would be bruises; lacerations; swollen areas; and any marks on the child’s face, head, back, chest, genital areas, buttock or thighs (Stubis 2007). Other types of signs the child is being abused are human bite marks, burns, missing hair and broken bones. These are just a few warning signs to look out for and anyone is encouraged to report anything they suspect may be any type of abuse. It is impossible to tell abusers from non-abusers just by looking at their appearance or background as these types of cases of child abuse happen in every social class. Sexual abuse, this is when an adult exposes a child to sexual activity usually for his/ her own satisfaction. From newborn to age eighteen is usually when a child is sexually abused the most.
These children are not mature enough to agree to sexual activities on their own. Therefor even if the said child agrees, the law is still applied and the adult is sent to jail (eschooltoday 2010). This type of abuse is very secretive, and unless the child is strong enough to talk to someone about it, then the abuse could go on for a lifetime. A few signs of sexual abuse are trouble walking; the child always hides from a specific person; running away from home; bowel disorders; eating disorders and also poor school performance/ class participation. There are many different symptoms the child may express as well; they are not limited to what was stated above. Most of the people that perform sexual abuse have been abused in their past, and also know the child very well. About one-third of every abuser is related to the victim they choose to abuse (eschooltoday 2010). If you think that a child may have been sexually abused, it is important to report it as soon as you possibly can. This will not only help the victim, but will also stop others from being harmed as well.
Children who get abused will in turn do the same to their own children. It is a vicious, never ending cycle that has to be stopped. Abuse becomes a second nature for the child, leading them to believe that it is okay since adults or even their own parents; did it to them. They think that it is the “right thing to do” when it comes to their own children and therefor don’t realize the harm that it actually does. No child deserves to be treated in this way. In 2005 12 out of every 1,000 children in America were abused by a parent or loved one (National Child Abuse Statistics 2013). Every day four children die due to neglect and the types of abuse stated in this essay. So now that you know a little bit more about the types of abuse and the warning signs are you willing to raise awareness? Being a child is supposed to be fun and exciting. No child should grow up being hurt or scared. So do the children a huge favor and report anything you may suspect as abuse. Save the children from harm!
“National Child Abuse Statistics.” Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2013. http://www.childhelp-usa.com/pages/statistics Rennie, Janine. “Definitions of abuse.” In Care Survivors Service Scotland. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2013. http://www.incaresurvivors.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=96&Itemid=138 Smith, M.. “Child Abuse and Neglect.” . N.p.. Web. 23 Jul 2013. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/child_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htm Stubis, Mark. “Child Physical Abuse.” Child Physical Abuse. N.p., 2007. Web. 23 July 2013. http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/child-physical-abuse.html
Eschooltoday. “What Is Sexual Child Abuse?” What Is Sexual Child Abuse? N.p., 2010. Web. 23 July 2013. http://www.eschooltoday.com/child-abuse/sexual-child-abuse/what-is-child-sexual-abuse.html