WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE?
The Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA) defines a child as who is below 14 years of age and a young person as one who is aged from 14 to below 16 years old. Therefore, abuse occurring to any person under the age of 16 is deemed to be a victim of child abuse,and is protected under this Act.
Child abuse is any act committed by a parent or caregiver which would damage a child`s physical,emotional and psychological well-being. It is an act which is judged as inappropriate by community values and/or professionals. Child abuse may be in the form of physical abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.
An abused child may show one of, or a combination of, the symptoms listed below. The list here is not exhaustive. An abused child may also show none of the symptoms. It is important for an adult who suspects that a child is currently being abused to talk to the and find out more.
|PHYSICAL ABUSE |
Any act that causes physical injury to a child that is not accidental, such as bruises, welts, burns, cuts, and broken bones.
- Injuries in various stages of healing coexisting in the body at the same time
- Fractures / Cuts
- Any other non-accidental physical injuries
- Aggressive or withdrawn
- Frightened of parents or caregivers and attempts to avoid contact with them
- Afraid to go home
|EMOTIONAL & PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE |
Harming a child's ability to think, reason, or have feelings, by cruel acts or statements, threats, rejection and lack of concern.
- Aggressive, destructive or violent behaviour
- Stunted growth
- Low self-esteem and self-worth
|SEXUAL ABUSE |
Any act which uses a child or young person for sexual pleasure. This can be in the form of sexual contact, from fondling to rape, or non contact, such as including the use of children for pornography, exposing children to pornography and sexual acts. Sexual abuse can happen to girls and boys of all ages. In most cases, the abuser is a member of the child's immediate family. The abuser may be male or female.
- Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
- Pain or itching in genital area
- Bruises or bleeding in genital or anal areas
- Bruises on breasts, buttocks, lower abdomen or thighs
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Inappropriate interest in or knowledge of sexual matters; talking, dressing and expressing affection in ways that are unsuitable for the age of the child.
- Alcohol and drug abuse, self-mutilation, suicide attempts
Neglect occurs when a child or a young person is deliberately and /or wilfully harmed because a parent or caregiver fails to provide adequate supervision, food, shelter, health, and medical care or clothing appropriate to the child's age level of development, or is responsible for unhygienic living condition.
Constant hunger or malnutrition
Child left unattended for extended periods of time, inappropriate to their age and level of development
Medical needs that are not cared for
Begging, stealing food
Constant tiredness, lack of energy or falling asleep in class
|THE EFFECTS OF CHILD ABUSE ON CHILDREN |
Child abuse may have a lasting impact from physical injuries, impairment and even death, to psychological effects such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, guilt, fear and behavioural effects such as aggression, sexual promiscuity, self-cutting, eating disorders, drug or alcohol abuse, runaway attempts, and cognitive effects such as low attention span, slow development and poor educational outcomes.
The outcome of childhood abuse in general may depend on the age of the victim, how often and how severe the abuse was, the relationship of the victim to the abuser the use of physical force to cause severe injury, and the number of abusers.
The victim's family can play a big part on the outcome. Early identification of at-risk behaviours and seeking help early will prevent abuse from occuring or recurring. Support from friends and family can make recovery easier, while negative reactions have the opposite effect. For example, in cases where incest occurs and one parent tries to protect the other parents, this can make the situation even worse for the victim.
|THE EFFECTS OF CHILDHOOD ABUSE IN ADULTHOOD |
International research shows that survivors of childhood sexual abuse in general have more medical problems, and anxiety and depression can lead to alcohol and drug abuse. Also, survivors of childhood abuse often develop problems with intimate relationships in general.
Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, and lack of trust in others are reported more often by people who have experience child sexual abuse.
Physical health conditions such as Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV) or other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), unintended pregnancy, alcohol or other drug abuse, hypertension, and obesity are all reported with greater frequency among people who have experienced child sexual abuse.
|IF YOU SUSPECT CHILD ABUSE ... |