There are different ways a child can be abused by his or her parent, guardian, caregiver, acquaintance or even a stranger. All children need to be loved and have a right to live a life free from fear, pain and abuse. Abuse can have several affects on children, such as:
- Feelings of isolation
- Low self-esteem
- Self destructive behaviour
Many of these feelings can continue into adulthood and may cause long term emotional problems and difficulty in forming trusting relationships.
There are several forms of child abuse:
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Verbal Abuse
Physical abuse is the intentional physical injury or pattern of injuries caused by a parent, guardian or caregiver.
Signs of physical abuse are but is not limited to: unexplained bruises or welts, burns, unexplained lumps and bumps, cigarette burns, dental or oral injuries, fractures to limbs, head injuries and cuts
A child who is being physically abused may:
- Be afraid and timid
- Scared to go home
- Resist physical contact
- Be violent towards others
- Be too eager to please
- Be depressed
- Have low self-esteem
- Be absent from school regularly
If you are a parent or caregiver and you are looking for ways to discipline your child, taking away privileges or giving time out is more effective than beating or flogging. It is also safer for the child’s emotional and physical health.
Emotional Abuse and Neglect
Emotional abuse is the repeated rejection and humiliation of a child, constant negative communication, withholding love and affection and the ultimate destruction of the child’s self-esteem.
Signs of emotional abuse are but is not limited to: physical problems resulting from stress, poor performance at school and low self-esteem.
A child who is being emotionally abused may:
- appear depressed
- appear excessively passive or aggressive
- experience sleep problems
- appear to have slow development
Neglect is the failure, intentional or unintentional, of a parent or guardian to provide food, shelter, clothing, health care and education for a child.
Signs of neglect are but is not limited to: unkempt appearance, lack of medical or dental care and developmental lags.
A child who is neglected may:
- beg for food
- show lack of interest in anything
- appear flat
- tired and listless
- have constant fatigue
If you know of any child who is exhibiting any of the above and you feel that child might be abused please call the Crisis Centre on328-0922
Sexual abuse is the involvement of a child in any sexual practices with an adult or older child. It includes fondling of private parts, making suggestions of a sexual nature or penetration (anal, oral or vaginal). It also includes exposure to indecent pictures, film, literature or behaviour.
When someone is sexually abused by a family member, it is called “incest”. This form of sexual abuse is particularly traumatic because it breaks the trust a child has placed in someone who is normally caring and nurturing.
Signs of sexual abuse are but is not limited to:
- Precocious sexual behaviour
- Unexplained bleeding or discharge from genital or anal areas
- Stress related disorders
- Infections in the mouth or throat
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained vomiting or gagging
- Low self esteem
- Problems at school
A child who is being sexually abused may become:
- sometimes suicidal
- obsessed with private parts
A child who reports that he/she is being abused should be:
- Believed; children rarely make up stories of abuse
- Reassured that he/she is not at fault
- Given a promise that he/she will be protected from further abuse
- Taken to the doctor
Sometimes parents, and especially mothers, do not want to believe that their child has been molested, particularly when it is someone, sometimes the breadwinner, who lives in the same house or nearby. It is important to NEVER blame your child. Sexual abuse is never the child’s fault. Believe your child. Not only is it against the law to keep such information to yourself, but you may be sacrificing your child’s physical and emotional health if you do not seek help. If you suspect or know of a child who is being abused, it is imperative that you make a report to your local Crisis Centre, Social Services Department or the Police. You can always reach us at 328-0922 or the Child Abuse Hotline on 322-2763.