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Child abuse is a global epidemic that affects millions of kids each year. In the United States of America, nearly a million children suffer from some form of abuse annually. The Child Protective Services (CPS) receives one case of child abuse every 10 seconds. These statistics are horrifying and hard to comprehend. What’s worse is that the victims know the abuser in most cases. It’s usually a family member or a close acquaintance that the child trusts.
In the United States, child abuse is categorized into four segments- physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect. Victims of these abuses suffer from severe trauma, both physical and emotional. Physical abuse exceeds more than mere beatings. It can include acts such as tying, drowning, starving, scalding, scarring and throwing objects at the victim.
Abusive parents frequently use the excuse of discipline to justify their physical abuse. But the severity of the child’s injuries indicates that it’s more than simple punishment. Most abused victims have unexplained fractures and bruises left untreated for most parts. Many children spend years in abusive households before they are discovered and rescued by Social Services.
Physical abuse is often associated with psychological and sexual abuse. Victims leave under constant fear due to the cruel treatment by their abusers. There are cases where children have been sexually assaulted and raped by adults. Sexual abuse constitutes any sexual contact with a legal minor.
Child sexual abuse includes:
Young victims of sexual abuse often grow up with a guilty conscience. They find it difficult to talk about their experience, and some may even face victim shaming when they come forward.
Another form of abuse is emotional or psychological abuse. It’s by far the most common type of child abuse and the most difficult to identify. Unlike physical or sexual abuse, emotional abuse doesn’t have any physical signs. A prime example of such maltreatment is constant verbal belittling, shaming, bullying, ignoring, and cursing.
Kids who deal with emotional abuse are always withdrawn and frightened. The effect of continuous verbal abuse can manifest into severe anxiety and depression. While it may not leave a physical scar, psychological abuse can leave its victims emotionally handicapped.
It is not always easy to verify whether or not a child has been abused. Children who have been abused are sometimes scared to inform anyone because they fear being blamed or that no one would believe them.
Sometimes they keep quiet because the person who abused them is someone they care deeply about, or because they are afraid, or both. Parents also tend to ignore signs and symptoms of abuse because it is difficult to think it could happen, or they are afraid of social consequences.
There are many causes of child abuse. The first and foremost is poverty, closely followed by drugs and alcohol addiction. Unfortunately, child abuse problems are never linear. They are always multidimensional.
However, as a society and nation, it’s everyone’s obligation to protect children from all forms of violence. Healthcare professionals, family members, and the general public should always look for signs of maltreatment. When a victim is identified, proper authorities must be informed immediately.
Discussion around child abuse can make people uncomfortable, but talking about it is essential to generate awareness. When it comes to the victims, one should always ensure that they create a safe environment that enables them to open out. In such cases, empathy goes a long way.
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