Child abuse is the endangerment of a child in the form of physical, sexual, emotional negative impact or neglect inflicted on the child by another person typically, a caregiver. It is a global issue which threatens the future of our race and by extension the planet. Children are the future and each person bears a responsibility to care for them to ensure the continuity of humanity. These statistics cast a shadow on the optimism of our race and a threat to any child anywhere on the planet should be a concern to everyone. Prompt interventions must be instituted to protect the most vulnerable members of the society. Child abuse is primarily anchored on sexual, emotional, physical and neglect perspectives and this article explores these parameters in depth.
Physical child abuse is any non-accidental physical injury of a child. The perpetrator intentionally hurts the child to inflict pain. Physical abuse in some cases causes the death of the child or permanent physical and mental disabilities. In some cases, physical child abuse is legal and perpetrators are encouraged and protected by the law. Typically, this is the shocking picture in some countries where corporal punishment in schools is lawful and in extreme cases female genital mutilation (FGM) in the name of culture. These heinous acts leave permanent scars on the victims who are more likely to become defiant or drug abusers in their later lives. Children who experience child abuse are nine times more likely to engage in criminal activities whilst at least two-thirds of people under treatment for drug abuse reported being abused or neglected as children. In some cases, the perpetrators are parents or close relatives who take advantage of the children’s innocence. The society and environment also stack the odds against the children because physical abuse can be perpetrated by governments, criminals, friends etc. Retrogressive cultural values have further engrained the problem into the societal fabric. To stamp out physical child abuse, proper structural framework especially policing should be instituted and implemented to safeguard the future of children in these societies.
Children emotional abuse is subjecting the children to behave or elements that are meant to result in psychological trauma including anxiety, chronic depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Children are adversely affected by these elements, especially their mental and physical development. Children often exposed to psychological trauma affect their self-worth and esteem leading to antisocial and often violent behavior. Emotional abuse is often done by the caregivers. For example, shouting to children affects their cognitive development and other minor injurious statements hurled to children substantiate to emotional abuse. Children can often do mistakes and there are better ways of helping them rather than subjecting them to emotional abuses. It is important they learn that there are consequences for their actions and not necessarily violence or emotional trauma. Children brains and cognitive ability is not strong enough to digest emotional abuse they encounter and most of them eventually become depressed or suffer a mental breakdown. Children must be protected against emotional abuse and caregivers ought to look out for any signs of emotional abuse in their children.
Children are unable to survive on their own. Children lacking proper and sufficient access to health care, supervision, clothing, nutrition, housing, and safety stand a higher chance of impaired physical and emotional development. These factors constitute neglect and it is a serious form of child abuse as it exposes them to any other form of child abuse. Their physical, emotional, social, educational and safety needs are paramount and deprivation of any of them amounts to neglect whether intentional or unintentional. Not only are children the most vulnerable members of the society, but also the most vulnerable to abrasive edges of the society. Thus, criminal gangs prey on them to make money. All over the world, there are children who have been abandoned and they struggle to live by doing the unthinkable i.e. scrapping for food in waste bins. Children should be protected against this as neglect comes with the uncertainty of their futures. Often, neglected children are forced to fend for themselves where they are easily exploited by immoral people seeking to take advantage of them. They are recruited into prostitution and forced to do manual work in a bid to earn a living. Some are even trafficked and exploited in other parts of the world. Child neglect also exposes children to physical and emotional abuse because they are often out of reach of protection by caregivers or governments.
Globally, there are some children who have been shackled in the chains of sexual abuse. This form of abuse can even come from closest members of the family. Trafficked children are often recruited in prostitution rings and sexually exploited for the benefit of the perpetrators. Such children cannot access proper basic needs for their physical and cognitive development like playtime and education. The environment under which they operate they risk contracting diseases and suffering physical and emotional abuses. The plight has been highlighted by various children protection agencies but the steps taken have not stamped out this problem. Children who have suffered sexual abuse carry this trauma in their later lives where they still suffer the effects of the terrible ordeals they encountered. Children often cling to their caregivers when they are sexually abused, but in some cases, the perpetrators are often the closest family members.
In conclusion, child abuse is a collective societal problem that requires a multifaceted approach to address. The aforementioned forms of child abuse highlight some of the ways children are exploited and the adverse effects they suffer in the short and long terms. Child abuse is also a subjective term in many cultures which perceive some of the abuses as corrective or necessary means of parenting. Child abuse robs children their right of being children. It also causes more societal problems like crime, drug abuse, and poor human capital development. Thus, the society must come together to address this issue in the interest of the children and its welfare since some of its problems are hinged on the issue.