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DEFINITION OF CHILD ABUSE An abused child is any child, up to the age of 18, who has suffered from, or is believed likely to be at risk of, physical injury, neglect, emotional abuse, sexual abuse or verbal abuse. (Source: www. yesican. org) It is recognised that that it is abuse when someone inflicts harm or fails to prevent it.
Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or by a stranger, for example, via the internet. Child abuse can have major long-term effects on all aspects of a child’s health, development and well being. The main forms of ill-treatments are: )Physical Abuse Physical abuse is deliberately causing physical harm to a child. This might involve punching; kicking, biting, burning, scalding, shaking, throwing or beating with objects such as belts, whips, or sticks.
It also includes poisoning, giving a child alcohol or illegal drugs, drowning or suffocation. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of illness in a child. •1. 1) Signs of Physical Abuse •There are certain signs that need to be acknowledged when suspicion arises that physical abuse is occurring: •Any injuries not consistent with the explanation given to school staff. Injuries which occur to the body in places which are not normally exposed to falls or rough games •Injuries which have not received medical attention •Reluctance to change for, or participate in PE or swimming •Bruises, bites, burns and fractures, for example, which do not have an accidental explanation •The child gives inconsistent accounts for the cause of injuries 1.
2) Possible effects of physical abuse Physical abuse can lead directly to neurological damage, physical injuries, disability and in extreme cases death.
Physical abuse has been linked to aggressive behaviour in children, emotional and behavioural problems and learning difficulties. (Source: /www. secasa. co). 2) Emotional Abuse Emotional abuse is where repeated verbal threats, criticism, shouting, lack of love and affection causes a severe adverse effect on a child’s emotional development. It consists of communicating to children that they are worthless, unloved, and inadequate or valued. Emotional abuse may include not giving a child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say.
It may feature inappropriate expectations being imposed on a child, over protection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child from taking part in normal social interaction. It may also involve seeing or hearing a person being ill-treated and you do not do anything to stop the abuse. With the development of the internet the so called cyber-bullying is another matter that has become prevalent over the past few years; which in turn causes children to frequently feel scared or in danger. 2. 2Signs of possible emotional abuse Depression, aggression, extreme anxiety, changes or regression in mood or behaviour, particularly where a child withdraws or becomes clingy •Obsessions or phobias •Sudden underachievement or lack of concentration •Seeking adult attention and not mixing well with other children •Sleep or speech disorders •Negative statements about self •Highly aggressive or cruel to others •Extreme shyness or passivity •Running away, stealing and lying 2. 3Possible effects of emotional abuse This type of abuse can lead to adverse long-term effects on the child’s development.
Emotional abuse has a significant impact on a developing child’s mental health, behaviour and self-esteem. This type of abuse is as important as the other three types, and can be detected as the signs are more visible and can be easily detected. Domestic violence, adult mental health problems and parental substance misuse may be features in families where children are exposed to such abuse. (Source: www. nspcc. org. uk) 3) Sexual Abuse Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening.
This may involve physical contact including penetrative sex, oral sex, masturbation, kissing, rubbing, or touching outside of clothing, or it may involve non-contact activities such as involving children in watching sexual activities, producing or looking at sexual images, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Abusers can be men, women or other children. Between 21% and 36% of sexually abused children will display few or no symptoms (Source: Oates, O’Toole, Lynch, Stern & Cooney, 1994). . 1) Signs of possible sexual abuse •Any allegations made by a child concerning sexual abuse •The child has an excessive preoccupation with sexual matters and inappropriate knowledge of adult sexual behaviour for their age, or regularly engages in sexual play inappropriate for their age •Sexual activity through words, play or drawing •Repeated urinary infections or unexplained stomach pains •The child is sexually provocative or seductive with adults •Inappropriate bed-sharing arrangements at home Severe sleep disturbances with fears, phobias, vivid dreams or nightmares which sometimes have overt or veiled sexual connotations •Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. 3. 2)Possible effects of sexual abuse Behaviour such as self-harm, inappropriate sexual behaviour, sadness, depression and loss of self esteem has all been linked to sexual abuse. The effects of sexual abuse can affect the individual into their adult life. The extent or the severity of each case is determined by the time span of abuse, the more serious the abuse, the younger the child is and the relationship of the child to the abuser.
Once sexual abuse has been identified the support of an adult who believes the child helps, starts to help the child understand the abuse and can therefore offer help and protection to the abused child. 4) Neglect Neglect has been described as the “most serious type of child maltreatment and the least understood” (Crittenden 1999: 67). It is the most common reason for inclusion on the child protection register in the UK. In the year ending 31st March 2006, 43 per cent of child protection registrations in England related to children considered to be at risk of neglect (Source: DfES, 2006) .
Neglect is the failure to meet a child’s basic physical and or psychological needs, which is likely to affect the child’s health or development. Neglect is when a parent or carer fails to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment), medical care, or protection from physical and emotional harm or danger. Additionally failure to ensure access to education or to look after a child because the carer is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, is considered as Neglect. 4. 1Signs of possible neglect Dirty skin, body smells, unwashed, uncombed hair and untreated lice •Clothing that is dirty, too big or small, or inappropriate for weather conditions •Frequently left unsupervised or alone •Frequent diarrhoea •Frequent tiredness •Untreated illnesses, infected cuts or physical complaints which the carer does not respond to •Frequently hungry •Overeating junk food 4. 2Possible effects of neglect Neglect can seriously impair a child’s health, physical and intellectual growth and development, and can cause long term difficulties with social functioning, relationships and educational progress.
Extreme cases of neglect can cause death. (Source:http://www. nspcc. org. uk/Inform/research/briefings/childneglectpdf_wdf51503. pdf) 5) Bullying Bullying is also recognised as a type of abuse. Bullying is always distressing for the victim and can have serious consequences. Bullying should always be taken seriously. Emotional bullying is the most commonly reported by children and young people and is often more difficult to spot. Bullying can take place both inside and outside of the school.
Bullying happens when an individual or a group show hostility towards an individual and this can be: •Emotional, such as name-calling, ‘sending to Coventry’ (not talking to someone), taking or hiding personal items, humiliating, spreading rumours or teasing •Physical, such as pushing, kicking, hitting, pinching or threatening to use physical force •Racist, such as racial taunts or gestures •Sexual, such as inappropriate physical contact, sexual comments and innuendo, or homophobic taunts. (Source: http://www. nspcc. org. uk) 6) Cyber-bullying In recent years, a new form of bullying known as ‘cyber-bullying’ has become increasingly common.
Studies show that one in five children were cyber-bullied in 2008. Cyber-bullying may be emotional, racist or sexual forms of abuse. It happens through emails, text messages or telephone calls. Information about someone may also be shared by putting it on to social networking sites. This can include the sharing of private photographs. (Source: www. avg. com) Children and young people who use this method of bullying often feel disassociated from their actions, but the consequences can be just as serious for the child. This type of bullying can be particularly distressing as children are unable to get away from it, it even invades their home.