Child abuse is a terrible state of affairs, leading to numerous traumas and problems. Usually, children who have been abused experience many emotional and personal issues during their adult lives. Children who are older than 5 are more prone to be abused than children who are younger than 5.
Recognizing signs of abuse in children is a crucial factor for helping these young individuals. Since there are many different types of child abuse, including physical, emotional, sexual and others, some situations may involve several different types of abuse in a single case. Parental neglect is also a form of child abuse, where parents are not providing the care and support necessary for a proper physical, social and mental development of a child.
Signs of Child Abuse
Teachers may notice a case of child abuse if they witness a sudden decrease in school success a student shows. Also, if the parents were informed about certain physical, mental or other problems and the problems remained persistent and prevalent, abuse may be the case.
In some cases, learning disorders which stem from causes other than typical ones may be signs of abuse the child is suffering from.
Children who are abused are always alert and on the lookout, being negative and expecting that something bad will happen. Also, during their everyday activities, they are likely to lack the presence of their parents.
Abused children may appear to be overachievers, excessively responsible or abnormally obedient, coming to school early and not wanting to leave once the classes are over.
As far as parents are concerned, when they abuse their child they usually show no interest in his/her success in school. They rarely show up when being called on a school meeting and seem reluctant to share information about their family, themselves or their child.
Denial of problems is a common trait of abusive parents. They may blame the child for his/her problems or promote harsh and violent discipline measures. Also, they might consider the child to be worthless and incapable of doing anything right, considering him/her to be nothing but trouble. In some cases, abusive parents may pose requests which the child cannot possibly achieve, such as very high levels of success at school.
Upon observing an abusive parent and an abused child together, one might notice that the two rarely get in any physical contact. Eye contact between the two may be absent too. Sometimes, the parent and the child may openly criticize or dislike one another.
Physically abused children often have bruises, cuts, burns or some other wounds on their body, not providing any explanation for these. Also, they might be absent from school for a couple of days, returning with signs of physical abuse.
Signs of Neglect and Other Forms of Child Abuse
Signs of child neglect, on the other hand, manifest through his/her absence from school for longer periods of time, among other things. For example, a neglected child may steal food or money from other children or adults. In some cases, he/she may even beg for these items. Neglected children commonly suffer from dental or other health problems, as well as poor hygiene or lack of proper clothing for specific seasons. Child without proper parental care of supervision may also be prone to drinking alcohol, smoking or abusing drugs.
Note that sexual abuse may manifest through the child's inability to walk or sit correctly, reluctance to change during PE classes, appearance of unexpected and unexplainable pregnancies or appearance of sexually transmitted diseases.
Finally, emotional abuse manifests through suicidal tendencies, inappropriate behavior, delays in mental development or any forms of extreme behavior.
According to different research, more than 1.25 million children in the US were abused in 2006. This means that a single child in every 58 children has undergone some type of abuse. These children were neglected in 61% of cases, and abused in 44% of cases. Note that in some situations both types of abuse may appear in a single child.
As far as sexual abuse is concerned, it is more often seen in female children. Additionally, in 2007, 46.1% of abused children were white, 21.7% were African American and 20.8% were of Hispanic origin. Finally, 32% of children from all child abuse cases were under 4 years old.
Safety and Prevention
In order for child abuse to be prevented, people need to notice signs of possible abuse. Usually, such cases are reported by teachers, lawyers, police officers and social workers. Nevertheless, parents, relatives, friends and neighbors also make up for 26% of all reports of child abuse.
The best way of protecting children from abuse is by preventing this form of mistreatment from ever happening. All parents need to keep their children safe and happy. Child abuse can lead to deterioration of the abused child's life. Moreover, in many cases, it can turn children into abusers themselves.
Learn how to notice signs of abuse and react if you see them. The abused children may not be aware of their condition or may be protecting their parents or abusers, not being able to seek and get help. Take a stand, pay close attention to both the parents' and the children's behavior and report any anomalies you happen to notice.