Child abuse is more common than you think. As a responsible adult, look for signals like overly submissive behavior in a child, absences from school, or even the wearing of unusual clothing as marks of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and neglect.
As a responsible adult, it is within your power to help a child out of this toxic environment and get them and their parents/caretakers the help or counseling they need.
What Is Child Abuse?
Abuse is harm to a child, whether intentional or not, by a parent or caretaker or anyone looking after the child. This can take many forms, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and even neglect. Remember, children may suffer from more than one kind of abuse or maltreatment – known as poly-victimization. For instance, a child who is neglected may also face emotional abuse or physical abuse.
Signs Of Child Sexual Abuse
If a child is sexually abused, the signs may not always be as obvious as you’d think. It is important to learn to recognize these symptoms:
· Reports being abused sexually.
· Trouble with walking/sitting.
· Nightmares or sudden bedwetting behaviour.
· Fear of going to bed/sleep at night.
· Sexual knowledge beyond their age, including strange/unusual detail.
· Acting out of sexual behavior/being preoccupied with their own body.
· Unusual signs of depression.
· Sudden lack of confidence and sense of self-worth.
· Pain/itchiness in the genital region.
· Bleeding/bruises in the genital region.
· Undergarments that are stained/torn/bloody.
· Constant recurrence of yeast infections/urinary infections.
· A disease that is usually sexually transmitted.
· Child is left unsupervised often.
· Parent/caretaker is jealous of child’s association with other people.
· Overly possessive parent/caretaker.
Signs Of Physical Abuse In Children
Physical abuse refers to physical injury to a child by the parent or caretaker. Physical abuse can take the form of punches, biting, hitting, burning, kicking, choking, or harming a child in any form. It could result in something as small as a scratch or as major as a broken bone or burns.
A light spanking as physical disciplining, if it does not cause bodily injury and is “reasonable,” doesn’t fall under the definition of abuse.
Here are some warning signs of physical abuse in children:
· Reports being injured by the parent/caretaker.
· Bites, bruises, burns, black eyes, or broken burns that the child cannot properly explain.
· Absences from school followed by physical signs of injury.
· Fear of parents/going home.
· Fear of adults in general.
· Sudden changes in regular dressing (possibly to cover up marks/injury).
· Parent/caretaker is not able to properly explain injuries of the child.
· Parent/caretaker speaks negatively of the child.
· Parent/caretaker uses very harsh physical discipline on the child.
· Parent/caretaker has been abused as a child themselves.
Spotting Signs In Younger Children
Younger children aren’t always as vocal and may not be able to express what they are going through.
Sadly, it is these younger children – like infants and toddlers – who have the highest rate of maltreatment.
Spotting signs of abuse in toddlers or infants takes a watchful eye and knowledge of symptoms of abuse – which you are now equipped with.
Should you see an instance of possible abuse, talk it through with the child or call an elder or doctor for counseling.