Child abuse has been a long-standing issue in our society. As the form of our society has changed over the years, the potential and form of child abuse have also changed. The rapid urbanisation, breaking up of joint families and internet revolution have thrown up new challenges when it comes to protecting a child from potential abuse.
When a child goes through abuse, it is often the case that the victim does not confide his or her trauma with anyone. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Whatever the case may be, this is a challenging situation for a parent. As a parent, there are some signs which should not be ignored and if caught on time can help parents recognise if their child is distressed.
Shipra Lamba, a psychologist from Delhi, says, "There are few signs by which we can detect whether the child is distressed by past trauma. Firstly, they will stop talking and start hiding things, which will make them anxious. They will find excuses for not going to the place where they are being abused, and suddenly they will become quiet. The child may feel responsible for the trauma and even get suicidal thoughts. One more symptom of child abuse could be abnormal handwashing, and having nightmares. These children may have a greater chance of developing issues such as anxiety disorders, depression, phobias, and OCD. Other changes are changes in their sleeping pattern, eating pattern, behaviour at school and at home, avoidance to play with other children, scared to be alone, tantrums, anger outbursts, crying outbursts, shyness, avoidance, feelings of guilt, feeling responsible for the incidence, confusion, repeated health issues such as (stomach problems, fever, body pain), anxious thoughts which could lay the foundation of certain psychological disorders such as anxiety disorders, phobias, and depression."
Talking about the parent's role, she says, "Parents must not hurry and pressurize the child for talking, but they should make the child feel more safe, secure and comfortable and make them trust you. It is very important to listen carefully and have an empathetic outlook to win their trust. Spend as much time as you can with the child and make them feel like it's comfortable to talk. Mistreating or criticising them will leave a negative impression on them and it can lead to more deep trauma for them."
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By any means, if we are causing maltreatment to someone who is under 18 years of age, that is child abuse. A child can face abuse from a parent, other family members, relatives and other caregivers, including sports coaches, teachers, and so on. Many instances of child abuse often go unnoticed and unreported. The World Health Organisation categorises child abuse into 4 types.
When a child has been hurt or injured willingly, and not by any accident, then we can call it physical abuse. Physical abuse does not necessarily leave marks on the child's body.
Physical abuse can include:
Involving a child in any kind of sexual act is sexual abuse. Be it an inappropriate touch or making a child see any kind of pornographic image, all of this falls under sexual abuse.
Type of sexual abuse
When a the emotions of a child are either suppressed or manipulated, it is emotional abuse.
Type of emotional abuse
Neglect happens when a child's basic needs such as food, housing, and health care are not met, affecting their health and development. It hurts the child from within and can hamper their mental health and overall development.