The classic definition of child abuse is when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child. There are many forms of child maltreatment, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, and emotional abuse.
We commonly believe that there are rare cases of child abuse in India. But, the actual picture is quite different. Children in India have been, for a long time, facing abuse irrespective of gender. According to a study, there are 8 cases of child abuse reported everyday in our country, but the conviction rate is very low.
Another startling revelation is that children in India are being abused by friends, relatives and other known people. The majority of the cases of child abuse go unreported due to the social stigma attached to it, and also due to the fact that children might be too young to understand that they are being abused. By the time they grow up and realise what has happened to them, it becomes too late. Child abuse has a long and permanent mark on the emotional health of a child. All forms of abuse are likely to result in emotional, physical and psychological trauma in children. Abused children experience a loss of self-esteem, and particularly a mistrust in others and specifically adults. Abused children are more likely to be self-destructive and aggressive, and may take up drugs or alcohol.
Some studies sho that as abused children grow up to be adults, there are more chances of them abusing their own children and that they often fail to establish healthy relationships with other adults.
Counselling of such children works in reducing the trauma and helping children lead relatively normal lives.
We list down the common signs to look for in a child if you doubt he/she is a victim of abuse:
- Behaviour changes such as fear, anxiety, and depression.
- Fear towards certain individuals.
- Changes in sleep pattern and frequent nightmares
- Changes in school performance and attendance.
- Unexplained injuries, burns, cuts, abrasions.
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Changes in eating habits and appetite
- Use of drugs or alcohol
- Trouble walking or sitting
If you suspect a child is being abused or if a child confides in you about being abused, it is important to keep the child calm and tell him/her you believe him/her, and then immediately inform the authorities. Let us all be responsible citizens of our country. The best way to deal with this serious issue is that we talk to our children and make them aware of what is bad for them.
Let us talk about it. Let us report such a serious crime. Don’t stay silent. Raise your voice. Let the children feel safe, play safe and grow safe.
May we grow into a sensitive and caring society towards children! We wish you all good! 🙂
Suggested Read: The 4 Fives About Child Abuse