Child Abuse

Child Abuse definition, prevention , neglect,  types, treatment, articles

What Is Child Abuse?
“Child abuse” can be defined as causing or permitting any harmful or offensive contact on a child’s body; and, any communication or transaction of any kind which humiliates, shames, or frightens the child. Some child development experts go a bit further, and define child abuse as any act or omission, which fails to nurture or in the upbringing of the children.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act defines child abuse and neglect as: “at a minimum, any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

A child of any age, sex, race, religion, and socioeconomic background can fall victim to child abuse and neglect.

There are many factors that may contribute to the occurrence of child abuse and neglect. Parents may be more likely to maltreat their children if they abuse drugs or alcohol. Some parents may not be able to cope with the stress resulting from the changes and may experience difficulty in caring for their children.

Major types of child abuse are : Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse, & Sexual child Abuse, Neglect.( Physical neglect, educational neglect, emotional neglect)

Emotional Abuse: (also known as: verbal abuse, mental abuse, and psychological maltreatment) Includes acts or the failures to act by parents or caretakers that have caused or could cause, serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders.

This can include parents/caretakers using extreme and/or bizarre forms of punishment, such as confinement in a closet or dark room or being tied to a chair for long periods of time or threatening or terrorizing a child.

Less severe acts, but no less damaging are belittling or rejecting treatment, using derogatory terms to describe the child, habitual scapegoating or blaming.

Neglect: The failure to provide for the child’s basic needs. Neglect can be physical, educational, or emotional. Physical neglect can include not providing adequate food or clothing, appropriate medical care, supervision, or proper weather protection (heat or coats). It may include abandonment. Educational neglect includes failure to provide appropriate schooling or special educational needs, allowing excessive truancies. Psychological neglect includes the lack of any emotional support and love, never attending to the child, spousal abuse, drug and alcohol abuse including allowing the child to participate in drug and alcohol use.

Physical Abuse: The inflicting of physical injury upon a child. This may include, burning, hitting, punching, shaking, kicking, beating, or otherwise harming a child. The parent or caretaker may not have intended to hurt the child, the injury is not an accident. It may, however, been the result of over-discipline or physical punishment that is inappropriate to the child’s age.

Sexual Abuse: The inappropriate sexual behavior with a child. It includes fondling a child’s genitals, making the child fondle the adult’s genitals, intercourse, incest, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism and sexual exploitation. To be considered child abuse these acts have to be committed by a person responsible for the care of a child (for example a baby-sitter, a parent, or a daycare provider) or related to the child. If a stranger commits these acts, it would be considered sexual assault and handled solely be the police and criminal courts.

Commercial or other exploitation of a child refers to use of the child in work or other activities for the benefit of others.  This includes, but is not limited to, child labour and child prostitution.  These activities are to the detriment of the child’s physical or mental health, education, or spiritual, moral or social-emotional development.
Child abuse can have the following consequences :

  1. It will encourage your child to lie, resent, fear, and retaliate, instead of loving, trusting,  and listening
  2. It will alienate your child from you and the rest of your family & make him a recluse.
  3. It will lower your child’s self esteem, and affect your child’s psychological development and ability to behave normally outside his home.
  4. When your child grows up, your child could probably carry on the family tradition, and abuse your grandchildren.
  5. Your child may exclude you from his adult life. For example, you might not be invited to your child’s wedding, or not be allowed any contact or relationship with your grandchildren.

More information could be obtained from :

Violence & Injury Prevention Team
Cluster on Social Change and Mental Health
World Health Organization
20 Avenue Appia
1211 Geneva 27
Fax: 0041.22.791.4332