Child abuse refers to any kind of emotional, sexual, or physical mistreatment or neglect by an adult who is entitled to the role of responsibility towards someone who is under 18 years of age.

It refers to any kind of action or failure to act to those things that results in causing harm to a child. The adult may be a parent or any family member or a caregiver, including sports coaches, teachers, and so on. Child abuse isn’t just about black eye instead it is a serious emotional harm that causes severe impact on the brain and health of the victim child.

While physical abuse is shocking due to the marks it leaves, not all signs of child abuse are as obvious. Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations, exposing them to sexual situations, or making them feel worthless or stupid are also forms of child abuse and neglect—and they can leave deep, lasting scars on kids. So, depending upon this, child abuse is categorized into four types i.e.

Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Emotional Abuse and Neglect. Physical Abuse is subject to any use of physical force against child which is not the result of any accident such as hitting, beating, choking, punching, burning etc. Sexual Abuse means making a child involve in some sexual acts by manipulation, undue influence or force. It can also involve spying or watching on a child.

A pattern of denying a child love, approval and security, or mistreating a child such as bullying, yelling, isolating, criticizing, terrorizing, ignoring and shaming are all types of emotional abuse and failing to provide a child with the things they need to grow, such as shelter, food, hygiene, supervision, medical attention, education or safety is neglect.

Signs of child abuse may include unexplained black eyes, broken bones, bruises, bites, or burns or appearing to be frightened of a specific individual, being watchful as if expecting something unpleasant to happen or flinching when touched or wearing inappropriate clothing, for example, long sleeves in summer or to cover up injuries, appearing withdrawn, anxious, or afraid or showing extremes in behavior.

For example, compliance, passivity, or aggressiveness or lack of attachment to parent or caregiver or age-inappropriate behavior, for example, sucking a thumb or having nightmares or wetting the bed or changes in mood or appetite or pregnancy or having a sexually transmitted disease (STD), especially before the age of 14 years or have medical or dental care needs that are not being met or have unwashed clothes, skin, or hair or be using drugs or alcohol or be missing food or money at unusual times, for example, for lunch or bus fare or wear the same clothes all the time or be consistently unsuitably dressed for the time of year.

Factors that one should keep in mind while dealing with abused child are: – 

Avoid denial and remain calm – A common reaction to news as unpleasant and shocking as child abuse is denial. However, if you display denial to a child, or show shock or disgust at what they are saying, the child may be afraid to continue and will shut down.

As hard as it may be, remain as calm and reassuring as you can. Don’t interrogate – Let the child explain to you in their own words what happened, but don’t interrogate the child or ask leading questions. This may confuse and fluster the child and make it harder for them to continue their story.

Reassure the child that they did nothing wrong – It takes a lot for a child to come forward about abuse. Reassure them that you take what they said seriously, and that it is not their fault. Safety comes first – If you feel that your safety or the safety of the child would be threatened if you tried to intervene, leave it to the professionals. You may be able to provide more support later.

Counseling – It is necessary to understand that an abused child needs a counseling to overcome the trauma or shock. If it is not done at the right time then the seed of fear or that abuse may grow huge and may result even in committing a suicide or some criminal activity.

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