Child abuse is an action wherein an individual causes harm to a child. It could be sexual, emotional, or physical, but lack of attention, care, and love are also included. On the other hand, child neglect is a type of child abuse; it is the failure to provide a child’s basic needs such as clothing, adequate health care, housing, nutrition, supervision, education, and safety. Their needs also include the emotional, social, and physical aspect.
There are several different forms of child abuse, one of which is sexual abuse. This abuse happens when a child is forced or persuaded to participate in sexual activities (with or without physical contact). It can take place anywhere, even online. Emotional abuse is another type of child abuse, and this is when an abused child emotionally suffers from emotional neglect or maltreatment. It’s also called psychological abuse. One of the more common types is physical abuse, and this happens when someone hurts a child deliberately, causing injuries like burns, cuts, bruises and broken bones. Online abuse is another form of child abuse that is becoming more common. This abuse takes place on the internet, usually on social networks or online games.
Bullying can be classified as child abuse even though many people don’t think of it this way. Bullying can happen anywhere; online (cyberbullying), at school, or home. It hurts a child emotionally and physically. A less common form of abuse is female genital mutilation; this is the total or partial removal of the external female genitalia for cultural or non-medical reasons.
You may have heard of child trafficking since this has been in the news lately. It is a form of abuse where a child is recruited, transported, or moved, and then forced to work or subjected to exploitation. It is very similar to child sexual exploitation; the difference is the child is abused sexually for power, money, or status.
The last type of child abuse is domestic abuse. Many people think that domestic abuse only involves adults who are in a relationship. However, witnessing domestic violence is traumatic and stressful for a child; thus it is still a form of abuse.
Below are the signs that could help you identify if a child is experiencing abuse:
1. Sudden change in school performance and behavior
2. Being wary and cautious, as if waiting for a bad thing to happen
3. Lack of focus and concentration
4. Reports to school early or stays out late, doesn’t want to go home
5. Unwillingness to be around a specific individual
What the Law says about Child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse has to be intentional to be considered abuse. The penalty depends on the nature of the act, the child’s age, and other factors. Long-term jail sentences are very common for sexual exploitation or abuse. Serious infringement of child-abuse laws can lead to life imprisonment.
Child protective agencies in all states look into child neglect and abuse reports. The agency can take the child from the custody of the parents if necessary (if staying at home is unsafe for the child) and foster care will be considered.
It is a requirement in all states that people in specific professions should report suspected or known child abusers. There’s a toll-free line for this particular purpose. This mandatory reporting law applies to doctors, teachers, daycare workers, etc.
A child abuser can be subject to civil and criminal penalties such as fines, imprisonment, injunctions, loss of custody or parental rights, limitations on probation and parole, and unintentional dedication to a mental institution. The abuser will be registered as a sex offender if the abuse is sexual.
Other consequences or penalties include continual involvement with child protective services agencies, supervised access to a child, and a damaged reputation.
We are all aware that child neglect of any form can be as harmful as physical abuse, and both have lifelong implications on the victims. A child who has been abused or neglected has a higher risk of experiencing emotional problems, cognitive delays, and health problems when they grow up. Anyone can lend a hand to help an abused and neglected child to recover from traumatic experiences.