When we talk about child abuse a picture of a severely hurt crying child comes to our mind. But this is not always the case. Sometimes the abuse is well hidden and carried out for years never to be discovered. We need to watch out for this worst kind of social evil which exists among us and try to intervene and help whenever possible. Awareness about child abuse is very important.
Child abuse takes place very often because children are vulnerable. Children are vulnerable due to two reasons.
1) They are small and physically incapable of defending themselves
2) Psychologically they are ingrained that they should be good to elders and obey them and also that elders are always right.
In normal course an adult tries to protect the child. But sometimes due to some psychological or emotional abnormality an adult may resort to abuse the child. Abuse of children can be classified into 3 categories.
1) Verbal abuse
2) Physical abuse
3) Sexual abuse
Verbal abuse: – The child is ridiculed and emotionally hurt by using words which are not to be said. Usually this abuse is carried on in the name of disciplining children. Some times we find a perfect target in a child to vent out our prejudices; frustration, anger etc. It is sometimes carried on with actual bad intentions where a person may actually hate the child for some reason. Verbal abuse can be done by anybody like mother, father, aunt, neighbour, teacher etc.
The emotional impact of verbal abuse is quite strong and at times it leaves emotional trauma to the level of sexual abuse.
Physical abuse : – This is usually carried on by the people who believe in capital punishment (again in the name of discipline). Physical abuse only gets momentary unwilling compliance from children. Constant physical abuse can push the child to become more stubborn and obstinate.
Sexual Abuse : This is very dreaded word because verbal and physical abuse do not cause as much emotional trauma as sexual abuse.
According to survey 40-70%girls are victims of sexual abuse in India.
A large number of molesters are respected elders like uncles cousins etc.
Molesters can be in relationship like.
1) Male abuser to male child
2) Male abuser to female child
3) Female abuser to female child
4) Female abuser to male child
Of all these, the male abuser to female child incidents are highest and it leaves maximum emotional trauma. It leaves long term effect on the individuality of the child. She may grow up fearing men, hating touch, avoiding happiness, etc. sometimes they may feel they are sinners and indulge in self punishment too.
In female abuser to male child the child is always involved in some play and so doesn’t realize he has been abused because there is no pain and no force involved. He doesn’t even know he is doing something wrong at times. But when the realization comes he may enter into the guilt feeling that he was too sex oriented because he enjoyed sex very early in life. That will make him conscious of his feeling of sex. And even normal tendencies may cause guilt that he is different from others.
How to protect a child.
1) Communication:- Talk to the child about where she/he has been. Who they played with. How they played. But make effort not to make the communication interrogative.
2) Teach vocabulary:- teach them how to say what they have to. Increase vocabulary as they grow up.
3) Discuss potential abusers
4) Be aware of movements. Keep track of as to where the child is spending his/her time. Who they were with, what they did etc.
5) Build self esteem:- a child with low self esteem becomes a potential victim.
6) Remove loneliness. The lonely child is also more vulnerable.
7) Tell how to protect. Encourage to shout and scream when someone tried to harm her/him. Assure them that they will be protected and not blamed for doing so.
Possible behavior pattern of abused child.
Showing too much maturity for age
Withdrawal from peer group, becoming a loner
Lack of usual activities
Using very adult like words
Showing undue fear of places, situations, people etc
Many a time the abuser will be clever enough to instill the feeling of guilt and fear in the child. He/she may convince the child that they are too equally responsible for what happened. They were willing and happy because they never protested etc.
Please protect the innocent children from the trauma whenever you can.. it our duty to protect the children and their right to be safe and protected…