Every ten seconds a report of child abuse is made in the United States (Child Help). Our community is working diligently to prevent and stop child abuse. Recognizing the signs and addressing the lasting effects of abuse are essential to this battle.
Definition of child abuse
Child abuse is often a misunderstood and hidden problem effecting close to 6 million children in the United States every year (Child Help). Child abuse can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional maltreatment. Each type of abuse has its own unique signs.
Recognizing child abuse
There are several general signs of child abuse and neglect that children tend to exhibit.
- Learning difficulties
- Avoiding home
- Sudden behavioral changes
- Limited medical attention
Each distinct type of child abuse (physical, neglect, sexual, and emotional) exhibit unique signs as well. A child suffering from physical abuse tends to be frightened, miss school often, and often have unexplained injuries.
Children experiencing neglect miss school frequently, are often dirty, steal food or money, and lack necessary medical care. Signs of sexual abuse may manifest itself in refusal to change during gym class, difficulty walking or sitting, and having unusual knowledge of sexual behaviors.
The last type of abuse is emotional maltreatment. Children often exhibit inappropriate behavioral outbursts, are often times delayed physically or emotionally, and experience depression.
Reporting child abuse
There are a variety of resources available to those that are suspect child abuse. The following websites and hotlines can help an adult report an instance of child abuse.
- Child Welfare
- Child Help
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Child Help Hotline: 1-800-422-4453
Child abuse myths debunked
Be aware of myths involving child abuse and neglect. Often people believe that child abuse is always violent. This is not true. There are several types of abuse including neglect and emotional maltreatment.
Some people tend to believe that all people who abuse are bad people. Although abuse is never excused, some abusers were at one time victims of abuse as well. Stopping the cycle of abuse is extremely important.
It is also important to understand that abuse can happen in any family whether wealthy or poor. In fact, most child abusers are family members or family friends.
Lasting effects of child abuse
Child abuse can lead to an array of emotional problems in adult life. As victims of abuse get older they may experience relationship difficulties, feelings of worthlessness, and emotional disturbances.
Fact sheets about child abuse
Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect: Signs and Symptoms
Child Abuse Help Guide
(2012) Child Abuse in America. Child Help. Retrieved from: http://www.childhelp.org/
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