When a child is mistreated or neglected to a point that the maltreatment or neglect causes harm to the child, then we say that the he or she is abused. This is only so when a person is 18 years old or younger.
It is the responsibility of a parent or guardian to take care of a child until they are 18 years. During that period, parents should lead as good examples and give their children the best they can afford. But in some cases, the parents might abuse their children. This may come in different forms including:
Words hurt. Not only children but even adults will feel hurt when certain words are used against them. The use of certain words towards a child or in their presence will wreck their mental and social development.
Emotional abuse occurs when parents or guardians constantly belittle a child, shame, or humiliate them alone or in front of their peers. Comparing them negatively to their peers, yelling at them, threatening, and bullying are also forms of emotional abuse.
When you give your child the silent treatment, they will feel as though you neglect them. Instead, you need to show affection by hugging them or kissing them. Failure to show these signs, and the child feels that you are emotionally absent.
How do you identify an emotionally abused child:
- The child is always withdrawn, fearful and anxious whenever they are doing something
- Exhibits extreme behavior – they are either extremely demanding or compliant
- Lacks attachment to the parent or caregiver
- Can act infantile and exhibit signs such as throwing a tantrum or inappropriately adult
If you fail to provide for your child’s basic needs, you are neglecting them. You need to provide adequate food, clothing, attend to their health needs, hygiene, and supervision. In most cases, child neglect is not easily identified.
In some instances, the parents do not deliberately neglect their children but are forced by poverty, mental illnesses, or the use of drugs that clog their judgment. This is one of the most common forms of the problem.
A neglected child and one going through maltreatment will show the following signs:
- Wears clothes that are ill-fitting, very dirty, or not appropriate for the weather
- Exhibits body odor, unkempt hair, and other signs of poor hygiene
- Shows untreated illnesses
- Is frequently alone at home and unsupervised
- Misses school or comes late most of the days
Physical abuse occurs when the child is harmed or injured physically. It results from a deliberate attempt to physically hurt a child or from excessive physical punishment. Many parents and caregivers do not realize that they are abusing children. Instead, most of them see physical abuse as a form of instilling discipline. There is a clear line between physical punishment to discipline and physical punishment.
With physical abuse, there is:
- The fear from the child of not knowing what sets their parent or caregiver off. There are no clear boundaries as to what the child can do that will trigger a physical assault. The caregiver has not set clear boundaries and rules.
- The parent or caregiver lashes out in anger. Instead of the desire to discipline a child, most cases of physical abuse are a result of anger and the desire to assert control. Most child abuse essay examples and samples that can be found online show parents who lash out in anger. Essays about child abuse further show that the angrier a child gets, the more intense the abuse. Anger, therefore, sets the boundary between using physical punishment to discipline and lashing out in anger.
- Instilling fear to shape behavior. Many parents think that when their children fear them, they will behave. So this problem often occurs when parents want make children fear them.
You can identify signs of physical abuse through the following signs:
- Injuries, bruises, welts, and cuts that a child cannot explain
- A child always looking watchful and alert like they are waiting for something to go down
- Injuries show a pattern, it can be marked from a belt or hand
- Seems afraid to go home
- Wears clothes that cover their injuries even when the clothes are inappropriate
Sexual abuse is another form of maltreatment that is not always easily identified. It is a type of abuse that results in guilt and shame. Usually, body contact is not the only way sexual abuse occurs. Exposing a child to sexual content, even when there is no touching, is considered sexual abuse.
After an episode of sexual abuse, a child always feels guilty and shameful. In most cases, they feel as if it is their fault that they were sexually abused, and this leads to self loathe. In the future, their sexual relationships might suffer.
Due to the shame that comes with it, the children are unable to come forward and report cases of sexual abuse. They also hold back with the fear that no one will believe them, people will be angry with them, or that it will split their family apart.
Some warning signs that a child has been sexually abused include:
- Trouble sitting or walking
- They know more about sex than they should for their age
- They always avoid a specific person without any reason
- Runs away from parents
- Does not participate in physical activities
- Gets pregnant or contracts an STD, especially before their fourteenth birthday
Abuse and neglect are common in many families. In most cases, however, the cases are not so severe and are not identified. Where they are severe, the child may fail to come out and report. Children in families with domestic violence, alcohol and substance abuse, mental illnesses, or where parents lack parenting skills are more at risk of abuse.