UNDERSTANDING THE CONCEPT OF CHILD ABUSE
The subject of child abuse in recent times has been discussed at different levels. To so many people it is a non-existent issue; they don’t believe it and it does not occur to them that such things do happen. To some, they don’t have time to think about it and to others they consider it a trivial issue.
But the truth of the matter is that a closer study has revealed that abuse is happening to our children and most parents seem unaware.
Who is a child? UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO) define the child as a person within the ages of 0-18 years. In addition, WHO defines adolescence (which is a characteristic of a growing child) as the period of development of adult identity and mental process?
Child abuse is currently defined within four categories; physical abuse, emotional, sexual and neglect abuses.
The Physical Abuse
This is the most commonly understood type of abuse and it involves hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating and any physical harm done to a child.
Physical abuse can be recognized by simply becoming aware of a pattern of unexplained injuries or of injuries where there are conflicting explanations or scalds and burns with clear outlines, bites, and marks etc., evident on the child.
The Emotional Abuse
This is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effect on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only when they meet the needs of another person.
Recognition, of emotional abuse involves observing and monitoring the child’s behaviour such as chronic lack of self-esteem and low self-confidence, demanding behaviour, attention seeking, inappropriate behaviour towards non-parental adults e.t.c.
The Neglect Abuse
This is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and or physiological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. It may involve a parent or a carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger.
Neglects occur where the child’s needs have low priority within the family and therefore there are little or no attempts to meet them to any acceptable extent.
Neglect can be recognized by a child’s poor growth and development, poor self-esteem, lateness to school, e. t. c
The Sexual Abuse
This involves forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities. It may involve physical contact or making them look at pornographic material or watch sexual activities.
Recognizing child’s sexual abuse sometimes can be difficult unless the child discloses the abuse by telling an adult about it. But it can be recognized by a child’s inappropriate sexual behaviour towards adults and or other children or by sexual knowledge that is appropriate for the child’s age e. t. c.