An overview of one of the most
cruel crimes happening at the moment and affecting the most defenceless ones of
- Child Abuse
1.1. Sexual Abuse
1.2. Physical Abuse
- Who Are The Abusers?
- The Prevalence Of Sexual
- How To Recognise A
4.1. ...who is sexually
- ...who is physically
- ...who is emotionally
5. What Can I Do if I Know That a Child is
6. How To Safe Children
1. Child Abuse Generally
Child Abuse is a widespread though underreported
phenomena and still a present issue. Every 4th girl is sexually or
physically abused and so is one in six boys. So nobody of us can deny the
presence of abuse and it’s important for everyone of us, to be confronted
with this theme at least once to act the right way if someone of us suspects a
child being abused.
But before presenting you the hard facts I’d
like to tell you something about the different forms abuse can
1.1. The best known form is sexual
Child sexual abuse is any misuse of an infant or abuse
of power and trust over it for sexual pleasure and gratification.
It starts with touching and exposing them to
pornographic material and progresses to acts like forced masturbation and rape.
Sexual abuse is a crime which is usually committed in
secret and may continue for many years. In addition to the pain those children
go through they also feel guilty and ashamed, and often suffer in isolation.
It is also the type I want to focus
1.2. Another kind of child maltreatment is physical
22% of all cases of child violation is physical
It is the most visible form of abuse and may be
defined as any act which results in a non-accidental injury. It includes all
forms of hitting, smacking, pushing, kicking, hair pulling or any other forms
that harm and hurt a child.
This usually happens when a parent is angry or
frustrated, even though this is definitely no excuse for those incidents. The
longer physical abuse continues, the more serious are the injuries and the more
difficult is it to stop it.
1.3. The third type is emotional
Defining emotional abuse is much more difficult,
because there are neither real signs, nor any visible injuries. That’s
also one of the reasons why it is so hard to put a stop to it. But commonly you
can say it is the systematic tearing down of another human
It includes shutting children away and isolating them,
constant criticism or ignorance, manipulation and the creation of guilt. It
constantly attacks the child’s psyche and self-concept, until it sees him
or herself unworthy of love and affection. Even though it doesn’t occur so
often (only 4% of all abuses are emotional), it is the most destructive of all
types of abuse, because it ruins a child’s soul and is almost absolutely
invisible. Those infants suffer at least as much as if they had been abused
physically, they even may die as a matter of it.
2. Who Are The
Child sexual abuse is a crime most commonly committed
by men (95% of the abusers are male) against both girls and boys.
Children are most likely to be sexually abused by
someone they know and trust or by someone in authority than by a stranger. 85%
of those incidents are caused by family members, neighbours or friends, persons
who are often not suspicious at all, because they just seem to
”like” the child. They do not necessarily look dirty, weird or
creepy or act suspiciously.
The sad thing is, that often the own father is
responsible for the abuse, a person who should take care of his child.
A lot of abusers, who are no family-members are not
easy to identify. They often have a position of status –they go to church,
have a regular job and are active in community. They may seem perfectly
respectable and nice and extremely clever at worming their way into your
confidence so that you trust them alone with your children.
The maltreatment of children occurs within every
neighbourhood, class and racial background, although it is now known that it
doesn’t occur equally over all groups.
3. The Prevalence Of Child
The most recent and comprehensive study of child
sexual abuse in Britain undertaken by the University of North London showed
that, including any unwanted sexual event that occurred before age 18, over 1
in 2 females and 1 in 4 males had experienced at least one such event.
The most common from of sexual abuse was
”flashing” – which accounted for 27% of the experiences
– the second most common was ”touching” which 23% of the
people had suffered. If certain ”less serious” forms of abuse are
excluded the prevalence figures are 1 in 4 for girls and 1 in 6 for boys. The
forms of abuse which more commonly result in prosecution, and which the general
public associate with sexual abuse (all forms of rape and forced masturbation)
were experienced by 1 in 20 women and 1 in 50 men.
Definitions of what counts as sexual abuse have
dramatic impacts on estimates of the prevalence of
4. How To Recognise A
4.1 ...who is sexually abused:
Behavioural changes are often one of the most common
signs. These changes may include any or all of the following
Sudden fear or refusal to spend time with someone the
child has loved before or with a relative. On the same note a seemingly
unreasonable fear or refusal to go to certain places. Some children run away
from home, while others turn to drugs or alcohol. But also eating disorders and
problems in school can be traced back to sexual abuse.
Nearly all abused children have nightmares, specially
with murderers, who don’t die, no matter what they do to them.
Sexually transmitted diseases, repetitive yeast or
urinary infections may also be a clue and are unmistakable signs for an abuse if
the child is under 14.
Most four or five year old don’t care who sees
them naked but victims of sexual abuse may hide from even their mother. But also
artwork can often show signs of abuse. Excessive use of black and red as well as
pictures showing violence and death are standing for pain and fear.
4.2 ...who is physically
Signs of physical abuse are more obvious than all
others. As soon as a child has unexplained repetitive bruises or injuries,
it’s important to watch it and suspect physical abuse.
Also bite marks, burns and fractures in unusual places
The behaviour of those children is quite similar to
those having been sexually abused. But they are also aggressive and hurt others,
which is often a way to express their feelings.
4.3 ...who is emotionally
As I mentioned at the beginning, it is quite difficult
to recognise an emotionally abused child. Behavioural indicators are for example
negative statements about itself, because it has lost all its self-confidence.
The child may also be shy, passive and may be highly aggressive and cruel to
others. There are also often lags in physical, mental and emotional development.
If non-family members see a parent, who verbally
terrorises his or her child, it’s important to keep an eye on them,
because it could mean that the child is emotionally abused.
5. What Can I Do if I Know
That A Child Is
Children often do not tell about their abuse, but if
they do it’s important to react the right way. The most important thing is
to stay calm and to ensure that the child is safe and feels safe. You should
show real concern, but not alarm or anger, when questioning the child about
possible sexual abuse. It has to be able to trust you and believe that
you’re taking it’s feelings and experiences seriously.
After the conversation you should take some notes to
remember all details and contact proper authorities (the police, a doctor for
medical care,..). Anyone who knows of the abuse of a child and does not report
it is able to be arrested for neglect and is as guilty as the abuser
6. How To Safe
No one is able to protect his or her child all the
time and in every situation and to lock out any dangerous moments in its life,
but we may reduce the danger by following these 2 advises:
- Check all persons, who are left alone with the child
or take care of it.
- Talk with the kids about maltreatment and abusers
and how it may recognise them and react, if it gets in contact with them (yell,
run, tell). Also explain the difference between ”safe” and
It has to feel confident about using safety
These are important facts, which make a child’s
life more safe and which may prevent any kind of abuse.