Child abuse is definitely a serious issue, and more so when the parents are responsible for it. Though most people won't believe that someone can abuse their own child, it is a problem that is faced by many young children, irrespective of class, race, gender, and country. It is often thought that parental abuse is only physical. Unfortunately, this is rather untrue.
Parental abuse can be emotional, physical, and sometimes even sexual. However, its most common and severe form is, when the children are neglected physically as well as emotionally. As abusive and neglectful parents can cause severe physical, mental, and emotional damage to the children and hamper their normal development, it is important to recognize and take care of such kids. Hence, let us take a look at some facts and the effects of abuse on children.
What Causes Abusiveness in Parents?
- One of the common reasons for parents to become violent with their kids is that they themselves have experienced it during their childhood. They do not even realize that it is abuse, because they consider such kind of behavior as normal.
- Some take aggression and violence as a way of controlling their children.
- Apart from this, elders suffering from certain kind of mental illness or personality disorder also tend to be abusive or scary.
- Moreover, children with caregivers who have a drinking problem or substance abuse, may also become victims of parental neglect and abuse.
Identifying A Child Undergoing Abuse
As the abusers, in this case, are parents themselves, recognizing the signs of abuse can be a little difficult for an outsider. Moreover, children who are falling prey to such ill-treatment, may not come up with the issue due to the fear of getting hurt again. Nevertheless, there are some signs that one can look for, if they suspect that a child is undergoing parental abuse.
Signs of Physical Abuse
Physical abuse can be recognized easily. Hitting, pinching, beating, shaking, burning, etc., are often used by parents as punishments for wrongdoing. They think that it is the best way of disciplining their children. However, this causes the development of fear in kids. Those, who are being physically abused at home, can be seen with frequent, unexplained injuries like cuts, bruises, and welts. They may shy away from touch, or may seem to be afraid of going home.
Signs of Emotional Abuse
Little children need love and attention during their growing years, to feel secured. Buying them gifts is not enough; hugging and kissing them conveys to them that they are loved. They also like to be appreciated for their achievements, no matter how small or big. However, when this does not happen, and when the parent humiliates him/her frequently, the child can be called a victim of emotional abuse.
Moreover, if a minor is exposed to domestic violence, i.e., if one of the parents is abusing the other, the child is falling prey to unnecessary emotional violence. This, along with yelling, threatening, constant humiliation, negative comparison with other children, or complete ignorance, may leave a child emotionally scarred for life. Such kids are usually fearful, anxious, and withdrawn. They may not show any kind of attachment towards their parents or caregiver. They may exhibit extreme behavior. That is, some may behave like adults, while others may show infantile behavior, like throwing temper tantrums, rocking, thumb-sucking, etc.
Signs of Child Neglect
Parental neglect is said to be one of the most difficult type of abuse to detect, as well as define. It can be defined as a situation where the parents completely ignore the children, both physically, as well as emotionally. They may not bother to fulfill their children's basic needs like proper food, clothing, etc. They may leave them unsupervised at home, or at places where the kids are not safe. Some of the warning signs that people can observe in a neglected child are filthy, ill-fitting clothes, untreated physical injuries, and health problems.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse of children is not uncommon, though hardly spoken of. In most cases, the culprit is a close friend or relative, and in certain cases, parents themselves. Though people think that only girls become victims of sexual abuse, even little boys may fall prey to it. Sexually abused kids are usually filled with shame and guilt, and are likely to blame themselves for the happenings. Some of the notable signs include difficulty in sitting or walking, making unexplained efforts to avoid a particular person, showing knowledge about sexual acts, etc.
Effects of Abuse on Children
Growing up in an environment where their physical, emotional, and mental needs are not fulfilled, has a strong negative impact on children's minds. Though the scars left by physical violence will vanish, the emotional scars are permanent and can damage their life as adults.
- Children who have suffered abuse from their parents, usually find it difficult to form and maintain long-lasting relationships as adults. As their emotional needs like trust, security, reliability, etc. are not fulfilled, they do not understand that these are the basic things required to maintain a loving relationship. They may fall prey to severe attachment disorder.
- When parents constantly claim that their kids are worthless, the children may start taking it to be true. As adults, due to lack of self-confidence, they may consider themselves as incapable of any achievements.
- The emotional damage caused by sexual abuse, especially by parents, will be most severe. The child may live with the feeling of shame and stigma throughout adult life. Sometimes, this may lead to the occurrence of severe mental, psychological problems.
- Children of abusive parents may have difficulty in expressing, or controlling their emotions. They are also likely to resort to substance abuse, just to relieve the painful memories.
Hence, if you suspect a kid in your neighborhood or may be in your family undergoing parental abuse, it is important to make certain efforts to save him/her from further damage. Such kids can be helped with proper treatment and therapy. Though most people ignore such things due to the fear of interfering in other people's lives, you must remember that a step taken by you can make a huge difference in an innocent child's life.