Overview Of Child Abuse
Child abuse and neglect are serious public health problems and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that can have a long-term impact on health and wellbeing. This issue includes all types of abuse and neglect against a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a custodial role (such as a religious leader, a coach, a teacher) that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child.
There are four common types of abuse and neglect:
● Physical abuse is the intentional use of physical force that can result in physical Examples include hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or other shows of force against a child.
● Sexual abuse involves pressuring or forcing a child to engage in sexual acts. It includes behaviors such as fondling, penetration, and exposing a child to other sexual activities.
● Emotional abuse refers to behaviors that harm a child’s self-worth or emotional well-being. Examples include name calling, shaming, rejection, withholding love, and threatening.
● Neglect is the failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs. These needs include housing, food, clothing, education, and access to medical care.
Child abuse and neglect are connected to other forms of violence through shared risk and protective factors. This means preventing child abuse and neglect can also prevent other forms of violence.
Cause Of Child Abuse
CHILD PHYSICAL ABUSE
Child physical abuse is when a person physically hurts a child. The abuse is not an accident.
Here are some examples of child physical abuse:
• Hitting and beating a child
• Hitting a child with an object, such as a belt or a stick
• Kicking a child
• Burning a child with hot water, a cigarette, or an iron
• Holding a child under water
• Tying up a child
• Severely shaking a baby
Symptoms Of Child Abuse
The following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect.
● Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
● Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parent’s attention
● Has learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes
● Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
● Lacks adult supervision
● Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn
● Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home
Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years). For example:
● experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect
● witnessing violence in the home or community
● having a family member attempt or die by suicide
Also included are aspects of the child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability, and bonding such as growing up in a household with:
● substance misuse
● mental health problems
● instability due to parental separation or household members being in jail or prison
Treatment Of Child Abuse
HELP AN ABUSED CHILD
Learn about the signs of child abuse. Recognize when a child might be abused. Get early help for abused children.
If you think a child is being abused, contact a health care provider, the police, or child protective services in your city, county or state.
• Call 911 for any child in immediate danger because of abuse or neglect.
GETTING HELP FOR THE CHILD AND FAMILY
The child may need medical treatment and counseling. Abused children can be seriously hurt. Children may also have emotional problems.
Counseling and support groups are available for children and for abusive parents who want to get help.
There are state and other government departments or agencies that are responsible for the protection of children younger than age 18. Child protection agencies usually decide whether the child should go into foster care or can return home. Child protection agencies generally make every effort to reunite families when possible. The system varies from state to state, but usually involves a family court or a court that handles child abuse cases.
ACEs are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood. ACEs can also negatively impact education and job opportunities. However, ACEs can be prevented.
ACEs can have lasting, negative effects on health, well-being, and opportunity. These experiences can increase the risks of injury, sexually transmitted infections, maternal and child health problems, teen pregnancy, involvement in sex trafficking, and a wide range of chronic diseases and leading causes of death such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and suicide.
ACEs and associated conditions, such as living in under-resourced or racially segregated neighborhoods, frequently moving, and experiencing food insecurity, can cause toxic stress (extended or prolonged stress). Toxic stress from ACEs can change brain development and affect such things as attention, decision-making, learning, and response to stress.
Children growing up with toxic stress may have difficulty forming healthy and stable relationships. They may also have unstable work histories as adults and struggle with finances, jobs, and depression throughout life. These effects can also be passed on to their own children. Some children may face further exposure to toxic stress from historical and ongoing traumas due to systemic racism or the impacts of poverty resulting from limited educational and economic opportunities.
ACEs are preventable. Creating and sustaining safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children and families can prevent ACEs and help all children reach their full potential