Sunday, 26 April 2015

Advice|| Social Issues - Child Abuse

Should it hurt to be a child? Do young adolescents deserve torture and pain inflicted upon them? Think about it very carefully. Read the statistics above. A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds. Almost 4 children die every day. EVERY 10 SECONDS. EVERY DAY. That's absolutely heart-breaking to know that so many children's lives are in danger. Would you let your own child become a victim of abuse? We all need to do something about this issue and urge people to speak up, so that they get the help they need and deserve. Lately, I've seen so many sick & twisted videos all over the internet of people abusing and harming their children to such an extent that it's incredibly worrying and it means that there's children out there who's lives are seriously at risk. So many young people are in fear of their lives and members of their family and it doesn't get sorted soon enough. Every child deserves to be protected and to feel safe at all times, but there are so many that don't have that privileged and I think it's incredibly unfair. I can't quite understand why someone would want to cause another human so much pain that it could affect them psychologically and physically for years to come. It's just not right. Imagine yourself, or someone you knew was a victim of child abuse. How would you feel? What would you do about it? Take that into consideration and have a long think about it. It's such a serious matter and I literally don't ever see or hear anybody talking about it, but I don't understand why. It's equally as important of an issue as mental illnesses, domestic violence, hatred, bullying and all the rest. We raise awareness for all of them a lot more than for child abuse. I want to raise awareness for all sorts of issues and I want you to do it too. Do your research, encourage people to get help, speak out if you're suffering or if you know someone who is. It will be difficult at the start, but you might be someone's only hope of survival or getting support. So, please do speak out & stand up about this extreme issue.
 
However, child abuse is more than just bruises & broken bones. It has an emotional effect too which can be just as tough to deal with, especially considering the young ages of some victims. Emotional abuse & neglect can also leave long-lasting scars that won't fade for a very long time, if ever. The earlier abused child get the help they so desperately need, the sooner we can begin to break the chain.
 
There are, thankfully, a number of ways that you can get help, or help someone else suffering.
 
 Child Abuse Hotlines:
Effects Of Child Abuse & Neglect:
Every single type of child abuse is going to leave scars in one way or another, whether it be physical or psychological. Emotional scarring has a life-long effect and can seriously damage the person's confidence, future & mental health too. Some of these effects can include:
  • Lack of trust & relationship difficulties. If a child has no trust in their parents, or in any adult, or family member, how will they be able to ask for help & get guidance throughout the times they may need it most? They won't feel safe, they won't be happy, they won't have any confidence and they will end up feeling burdened by their problems. It would make things incredibly difficult for them to trust people & make friends also. They may think that everyone is going to harm them and no matter where they go, they will always get hurt & feel unsafe. Is that really a way that anyone, especially a growing child should be made to feel, day in, day out? This can also lead to difficulty within loving relationships such as a boyfriend/girlfriend due to fear of being controlled, betrayed or abused. What if this child grows up after a tough childhood and their future is no brighter? What if their partner abuses them? What if they then go on to abuse their OWN children? It's a constant cycle and they wouldn't know how to break it.
  • Feelings of being "worthless" or "damaged". If you constantly get told your worthless, or too stupid for anything, or even not good enough when your a child, you will always be left with these destructive core feelings. How are you supposed to overcome that if your whole life (literally years) you have been put down & called names by those who are supposed to love you most? It may lead to unhealthy relationships, once again, mental health issues, or you may just give up altogether on any aspect within your life. Tell me, what person deserves this?
  • Trouble with regulating emotions. Abused children are often unable to express their emotions in a safe & correct way. As a result, their emotions will get pushed to the side and will often come out in the wrong ways. Adult survivors of child abuse may end up suffering with long-term mental health issues, which can result in them turning to drugs & alcohol as a way to numb these painful feelings, so they don't have to express them openly & properly.
Types Of Child Abuse:
There are several types of child abuse, but the core element that ties them all together is the emotional effect that it will have on the child. When growing up, children all need stability, safety, love & care and they need to know that their parents will be there for them to lean on and teach them well. Those children that are victims of abuse will face unpredictability and they will never know when they will get hurt/attacked or if their abuser will have an outburst on them that day. No child deserves to feel alone. They all should get safety, security & support. It just blows my mind that certain people fail to see that.

Emotional Child Abuse:
This form of abuse can seriously affect a child's future, social development & their mental health.
Some examples can include:
  • Constant shaming & humiliation of a child
  • Calling them nasty names & comparing them to "better" children
  • Bringing them down by saying "you're worthless" "you deserve nothing" "you're a mistake"
  • Regular bullying, teasing, shouting, screaming or use of negative language
  • Ignoring or rejecting a child as a form of punishment, such as giving them the silent treatment or leaving them to scream/cry for a long period of time
  • Limited physical contact with the child - no hugs, kisses, or any form of loving affection
  • Exposing the child to severe violence or abuse of others, either humans or pets
Child Neglect:
A very common form of abuse is neglect. Examples of this may include: failing to provide proper care & assistance, inadequate portions of food, dirty, unwashed or torn clothes, not helping with hygiene or cleanliness, or even proper supervision, which could lead the child to risk, either putting or getting themselves into very dangerous situations where they could get hurt or something similar. However, this being said, child abuse is not often very easy to spot. Sometimes, parents may feel they neglect their children due to medical reasons, emotional reasons, or they may just not know how to be a proper, caring parent for whatever reason. If a parent is an alcoholic, a regular drug addict, or someone who has a criminal record, they may fail to take responsibility and care for another person as they can't yet face their own issues, yet alone take action for other people's needs. Some children may hide their feelings and they may feel the need to put on a mask to pretend that everything's okay. This shouldn't be the case. If a child's physical and emotional needs aren't met, something needs to change.

Physical Abuse:
This is quite self-explanatory and may be the main issue that comes to people's mind when they associate thoughts with child abuse. It may be intentional harm to the child, but that isn't always the case. Sometimes it can be a result of extreme discipline if the parent feels the child needs to learn a  lesson in order to behave, but it shouldn't be that way, at all under any circumstances. Many physically abusive parents or carers insist that abuse is just a way to teach the children and to get them to learn discipline and how to behave correctly. Obviously, it's a lot more severe than that. There is a considerably large difference between teaching a child right from wrong to physically causing them permanent pain and physical scars in a bid to make them a "perfect child". The point of discipline for a child is to help them be more independent and well behaved, not to cause worry.
Unpredictability is a huge issue when it comes to physical abuse. The child is forced to constantly live on eggshells, in fear as to when the parent is going to set off and lash out in anger. There are no clear rules or boundaries set and so half the time, the child probably won't know what they've done wrong, which may result in a repeat performance. The angrier the parent is, the more severe the beating will be, leading to more prominent, noticeable damage. Using fear to control behaviour is also wrong. Becoming physically harmful and violent won't help to "keep a child in life". It will only cause more damage and will make the relationship between parent and child even worse for longer.

Sexual Abuse:
Contact Details
1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368) – Stop It Now
1-800-656-HOPERape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
Or visit ChiWorld.org for a list of other international child helplines.

Child sexual abuse is an extremely complicated form of abuse due to it's layers of guilty & shame. It's important to recognise and understand that sexual abuse doesn't always mean making body contact. Exposing a young child to sexual material or sexual situations is just as extreme and abusive as making sexual contact and touching someone. Although news reports of sexual predators and paedophiles are scary, what is even more worrying is that on a number of occasions, the abuser is a little more close to home and can be someone such as a family friend or a relative that should be making the child feel safe rather than sexually abusing them. Boys and girls can both suffer from this, but boys don't get as much awareness due to the surrounding stigma and shame around the issue.
Aside from the physical damage that this problem can cause, the emotional impact is just as serious and hard to deal with. Sexually abused children are often over-whelmed with emotions such as shame, guilt, hurt and vulnerability. They may find themselves feeling like it's their fault, or as though they have somehow brought it upon themselves. This can lead to hating themselves and feelings of worthlessness. The shame makes it very difficult for sufferers to come forward and admit what has happened so they are usually unable to get help for a very long time, if they ever do. The earlier abuse is caught, the sooner something can be done to help with the damage and prevention.

Warning Signs Of Emotional Abuse In Children:
  • Withdrawal from situations, in fear most of the time or anxious about doing something wrong
  • Extremes in behaviour - extremely aggressive, extremely demanding, extremely compliant)
  • Doesn't seem to be attached to the parent or carer - distances themselves and trails away
  • Acts either inappropriately adult, or inappropriately infantile (either like an adult or baby)
Warning Signs Of Physical Abuse In Children:
  • Constant injuries or unexplained bruises, burns, cuts or wounds
  • Always alert, as if waiting for something bad/dangerous to happen
  • Injuries have an apparent pattern from either a hand, a belt, cutlery or whatever else
  • Shies away from touch, flinches or seems very tense/scared, doesn't want to go home
  • Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries e.g. jumpers on very hot days
Warning Signs Of Neglect In Children:
  • Clothes are extremely dirty, torn, inappropriate for the weather or very tatty-looking
  • Hygiene is consistently bad over a period of time, so it shows no level of cleanliness/care
  • Untreated illnesses or physical injuries
  • Frequently unsupervised with no adult in unsafe situations or environments
  • Frequently late or missing numerous days off school
Warning Signs Of Sexual Abuse In Children:
  • Trouble with walking properly or sitting still
  • Knowledge or interest in sexual or seductive behaviours
  • Strong efforts to avoid contact with a specific person, without an obvious reason
  • Doesn't want to change clothes in front of people, or engage in physical activities
  • An STD or pregnancy, especially under the age of 14
  • Runs away from home, even if there seems to be no reason
Risk Factors For Child Abuse & Neglect:
  • Domestic violence. Witnessing domestic violence is an absolutely terrifying ordeal for any child of any age. Even if the parent is trying to protect the child from harm, or get them to hide or go to another home for the day/night, it can still be damaging. Getting out of the abusive relationship is the best way to protect yourself and your child's life
  • Alcohol and drug abuse. Living with an alcoholic or addict is difficult for anyone, particularly children as they are unaware of what's happening and how to handle it, or react. It can also lead to serious abuse & neglect. Parents who are drunk or high are unable to properly care for their children and they won't be able to focus or understand what's going on around them. Substance abuse can commonly lead to physical abuse.
  • Untreated mental illnesses. Parents who are suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia or anything else have trouble taking care of themselves and the straining responsibility of having to care for a young, demanding child will only add to the stress and it won't make matters any easier. A mentally ill parent may be distant or withdrawn from their children and they may have no interest in what's going on either. Treatment for the parent will mean better care for the children.
  • Lack of parenting skills. Some parents or carers were never taught the skills to being a good parent. Teen parents may have unrealistic parenting expectations or views, or parents who were victims of abuse themselves may only know how to raise their child the way they were raised. Parenting classes, therapy & caregiver support groups are vital for helping this issue.
  • Stress & lack of support. Parenting can be a very time-consuming, intense, difficult job, especially if you're a single parent, or if you have little money and not much support available. Caring for a child with a disability, special needs, or difficult behaviour is also a challenge. It's important for parents to get the support they need so they can care for their child properly.
Helping & Supporting An Abused Child:
  • Avoid denial & remain calm. A common reaction to news that may be disturbing, worrying, shocking or upsetting is usually denial. However, if you display denial to the child experiencing abuse, or you show shock or disgust, the child may feel even more damaged and they may start to shut down & loose trust in you, maybe even more people. As hard as it may be, remain calm. Don't act in denial. Listen to what their saying, comfort & reassure them.
  • Don't interrogate. Let the child explain things fully first. Don't start asking loads of questions, as they may make it harder for them to continue and feel comfortable opening up.
  • Reassure the child that it wasn't their fault. It takes a lot for a child to openly admit what happened with abuse. Reassure them calmly and nicely that they did nothing wrong, it wasn't their fault and you are going to support them and help them to get through it.
  • Safety comes first. If you feel like your own safety, or the child's safety is going to be at risk, get in contact with the professionals and leave the job to them. Don't intervene if it causes harm.
Encourage other people to speak up about these issues, like I'm doing. Try to help minimise the amount of people suffering in silence. Always ask people how they are and make sure that if you're around other young children, make sure they are happy and safe as much as possible. It's obviously not your responsibility, but if you can help even a little bit, surely it would be worth it? If you SEE something, DO something. Don't just leave it. If you're suspicious, it may be for a genuine reason, so follow your instinct. If you see or even suspect a child being abused, REPORT IT! If you are wrong, then nothing will happen, but if you're right, you could save a vulnerable, scared child's life!

It's time that we stopped child abuse. Do something. Don't just hide it. Speak up, before it's too late.
 
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