Child abuse is harm done to a child by another person or neglect of a child, this person can be either a child or an adult. Unfortunately child abuse is met in all cultures, in all ethnic and income groups. The fact that only recently and only in some certain countries and cultures the child abuse started to be seen as one of the major social problems, is really surprising. Child abuse also turned out to be the main cause of people’s sufferings and personal problems.
Throughout the whole human history children were abused. But historical and cultural developments may be called the facts that people started to think about this problem, create some legal and non profit organizations and some government agencies to start different researches and studies on the effects and causes of abuse and now children can be removed from their homes in order to protect them from parents’ abuse and so on. But still there are several various points of view on these issues, as some people think that it is absolutely right that a good portion of attention is being paid to children abuse and to protecting a kid from it, others state that people have become too much obsessed with child abuse and absolutely deny that fact that some personal problems and deviations in behavior of adults are the consequences of the abuse done to them when they were children.
There are different types of child abuse, like for example physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual, through neglect. It is not difficult to trace the signs of the abuse. Those of physical abuse are: repeated injuries, bruises, and burns and so on, some of them show even the shape of some object, like belt, electric cord. Some physical injuries are done to very small children and then it is easy to trace the cause of broken bones (when a child is too small and can not even walk). The signs of neglect to a child are obvious: dirty clothes, inappropriate for the weather clothes, no medical (for example dental) care. When a child is emotionally abused, he is afraid to come back home, to talk to adults, shows aggressive or withdrawn behavior.
A really hard experience for children is sexual abuse. The signs of it can be also evident for surrounding adult people: child can tell himself that he is/was sexually abused, there are certain physical signs, like difficulty while walking or sitting, stained underwear, genital or rectal pain, bruises or other injuries in genital or rectal area. The emotional signs of sexual abuse are: difficulty in eating and sleeping, acting like a much younger kid, lots of crying and feeling sad, avoiding playing and other activities with others, sometimes even talking about some sexual acts. It happens often so, that children are afraid to report about being sexually abused as this seems to be with even worse consequences as than being sexually abused again. The victim may feel fear from the family, may feel guilty for consequences to the perpetrator. Sometimes those start to think that there’s something wrong with them and that this was their fault, that this kind of abuse took place. Children usually feel embarrassed if they have to answer questions about sexual activity. Statistics shows that children with disabilities are 4 to 10 times more vulnerable to sexual abuse. It is no wonder that children, being sexually abused, feel fear, depression, anger, hostility, poor self esteem. The small girls, who were forced to have sex, are three times more likely to develop some psychiatric disorders, become alcohol and drugs addict when becoming adults, than those who were not sexually abused. It may also cause the early sexual activity of these girls, seeking for older boy friends. Both girls and boys, who were sexually abused develop some eating disorders, they want to avoid gaining weight. Sexual and physical abuses in early childhood influences adult men and women negatively, they usually suffer from disturbances of psyche. They constantly see nightmares and flashbacks, some recent studies of this matter show that they may also have a smaller hippocampus relative to control subjects. Other surveys prove that girls are sexually abused three times more than boys and that boys have greater risk of emotional neglect and injuries than girls.
Much in solving the problem of child abuse depends on the family, where the child grows. Abuse may actually happen in any family, disregarding some special characteristics of the family. But there are certain families, where the abuse is more likely: in families, which are separated from society, have no friends or relatives, that have financial problems, which have to move often, where parents are too critical to children, where parents show little concern about their children, families, which are under a lot of stress. Of course the main risk is in families where parents are alcohol or drug addict, they come from any ethnic or income levels and backgrounds and their problems have devastating impact on children’s healthy development. Here we could talk even about some certain type of abuse – substance abuse, meaning that the children of alcoholics are at highest risks of becoming chemically dependant, their mental status, school, social life, physical development maybe also influenced.
Overall, the problem of child abuse is never to be excluded from the list of major social and family problems, all kinds of physical and emotional abuse are hard to overcome for the adults but for children this is even harder, besides as researches show they usually do not pass without leaving a trace in a person’s life. Adults should be attentive and caring enough towards all kids, not only to their own families, as this is their duty to reveal and stop the abuse of children. The best way is to prevent it, for this purpose there should be started certain types of child support services and local health departments, special programs for supporting families and children should be prepared by authorities and government. Children are the future of any society and their healthy development should be the basis of every society.
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