Child abuse is a national emergency in the United States. There were nearly 60,000 reported cases of child abuse in 1974; in 1980, the number rose to 1.1 million; by 1990, it has now more than doubled to 2.5 million.
Child abuse includes any kind of treatment that retards the child's physical or psychological development or that directly reduces his or her self-esteem. It can take the form of...
- Physical abuse and or Neglect
Deprivation of basic physical human needs is such as food, water or shelter. Neglected children often suffer from dehydration, malnutrition, pneumonia and general poor health.
- Actual body attacks and beatings, including drowning and choking attempts. Battered kids suffer from bruises, broken bones, internal bleeding, and often death.
One of the most common forms of child abuse is molestation. Four of every ten girls and one of every ten boys are victims of child sexual abuse. Most of sexual abuse happens between the ages of 9 and 12, although abuse of two and three-year-olds are not unusual. The abuser is almost always a man-often a relative or family friend, someone the child respects as in the authority figure: 29% of the women who are sexually abused before the age of 18, their father was their first abuser.
The trauma of sexual abuse lingers long after the event. Many youngsters develop post-traumatic stress disorder causing nightmares, flashback withdrawal, verbal outbursts, and physical symptoms such as sweating and racing heartbeats. Other symptoms that link to sexual abuse include:
- Feelings of self hatred, helplessness and distrust of others
- Anxiety and the somatic complaints such as chronic headaches
- Compulsive sexual activity
- Amnesia or losing one's train of thought during conversations.
Physical abuse contributes to chronic runaway behavior, delinquency and emotional problems. Because of their poor self-or image, abused children usually lack assertiveness and believe that they deserve to be punished.
- Verbal abuse may not leave physical bruises, but it can permanently scar a child psychologically. Parental indifference, emotional neglect and verbal abuse cause lasting psychological damage. Abusive behavior includes:
- Harsh criticism: " Can't you do anything right? Are you stupid?!"
- Emotional deprivation, i.e., failure to fill the child's natural needs for attention, praise and love.
- Ignoring a child when he's hurt or upset or minimizing his pain: "stop your whining-you are okay.?
Domination of the child's every action and thought by telling him or her terrible things will happen if he or she explorers or violates the parents orders.
Abused children often mask their pain by bullying their peers and typically grow up with a negative or cynical attitude, expecting little from life and trusting no one.
Violent physical and sexual abuses are committed more often by men, but emotional abuse is committed equally often by women and men.
The long-term effects of child sexual abuse show up in the form of repeated, self-destructive behavior patterns:
- Girls grow up having destructive or relationships with the opposite sex, taking a submissive role with men, afraid of them, and producing children whom are abused.
- Abused boys are likely to become offenders, themselves, molesting the next generation of children; often, they are also confused about their sexual identity.
- Nearly 2/3 of abused children are victims of rape or attempted rape as adults.
For more information on child abuse call the national child abuse hotline, or you may call me, Jeannette Murphy at (765)392-4426 for an appointment.
Preventing sexual abuse
There's no simple way to identify child molestor. Most often the assailant is someone the child knows-a babysitter, family member, teacher or somebody the family trusts. But you can safeguard you child by:
- Body awareness
Helping him established autonomy over his own body early on. Teach him to say "no!" If anyone touches him in a way he does'nt like.
- Choosing a preschool or day-care center that encourages parental involvement.
- Be aware
- Making unannounced visits to your child's day-care center. Know the daily schedule, who is with your child at the various times during the day, where the children nap and who is in charge.
- Prepare your child
- Coaching your child on how to handle certain situations by playing the "what if" game: "what if your teacher asks you to pull your pants down?
- Teach your child
Teaching your child that adults are not infallible and that there are some grown-ups who do bad things to children. If your child learns to question adult behavior that doesn't seem right to them, they'll be more likely to tell you if something happens.
Now is the time to Call 765-792-3108 for an appointment.