Child abuse is any action by another person (adult or child) that causes significant harm to a child, it can be physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect. I can identify and describe the categories of abuse and can also identify the possible indicators of abuse within each category:-
Physical Abuse is any intentional act that inflicts injury to a child by any person caring for them. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fakes the symptoms of, or deliberately causes ill health to a child they are looking after known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. It is also when a person caring for the child knowingly fails to prevent an injury.
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning or suffocating. Physical abuse is to cause intentional harm to a child by beating, whipping, punching, slapping or hitting, shoving, shaking, kicking or throwing (including objects), pinching, biting, choking or hair pulling, burning with cigarettes, scalding water or other hot objects. Physical punishment prohibited or inappropriate to a child’s age.
Bodily signs of possible physical abuse may include the following: bruising, cuts, scratches and bite marks, mouth injuries, fractures, burns, scalds, welt and strap marks. The many injuries children sustain being full of energy and playing rough can be explained easily and reasonably however I am aware to be wary if a child has a bruise or other mark that has a particular pattern such as a finger print, strap mark or if they have injuries in places you would not expect such as on the mouth or the eye. Other strands of development can also be affect from being physically abused. Children may show emotional affects by being wary of adults, feelings of anger and frustration, be afraid or anxious, lack confidence, be depressed, unable to trust others a lot of the time, suffer from sleep disturbance, dress inappropriately to hide bruises and be inconsistent with explanations of how injuries occurred. Have poor self-esteem, be emotionally withdrawn, be scared of the dark or hide in cupboards, cry excessively, children may flinch when touched (appropriately) and may not want to leave school at the end of the day. The abuse may affect children’s cognitive development causing poor achievement at school, lack problem solving and unable to concentrate. Other delays in speech and language development possibly being mute although has the ability to talk. Sudden changes in behaviour may be a sign of physical abuse the child may become violent towards other children and animals, be extremely aggressive or withdrawn, be unresponsive to others and show self-harming behaviours.
Emotional abuse is persistent emotional neglect or ill treatment that has severe and persistent adverse effects on a child’s emotional development. It may involve expressing to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may involve the imposition of age – or developmentally – inappropriate expectations on a child. It may involve causing children to feel frightened or in danger, or exploiting or corrupting children. Emotional abuse can involve deliberately trying to scare or humiliate a child, isolating or ignoring them. Some level of emotional abuse is present in all types of ill treatment of a child and it can also occur independently of other forms of abuse.
Emotional abuse is when children are not given enough love, approval or acceptance. They may be constantly criticised, blamed, swore or shouted at. Indications of emotional abuse may be attention seeking behaviours, the inability to have fun, having low self-esteem, having tantrums past the normal development age, constantly trying to please, having poor attachment bonds with parents/carers, telling lies and having the inability to play. Poor physical development having not attained significant developmental milestones and showing signs of self-harm or physical abuse are indicators to be aware of. Prolonged vomiting or bed-wetting, child looking to be ill frequently. Cognitive development can be affected by delaying language, having difficulties in problem solving, having a poor concentration span and taking risks.
Sexual Abuse is any act that involves the child in any activity for the sexual gratification of another person, whether or not it is claimed that the child either consented or assented. Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of indecent images or in watching sexual activities, using sexual language towards a child or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
Sexual abuse is any sort of non-consensual sexual contact which can include derogatory name calling, refusal to use contraception, deliberately causing unwanted physical pain during sex and passing on sexual diseases. Some of the physical indicators of sexual abuse are The physical indicators that a child is being sexually abused are torn, stained or bloody underclothing, bruises, lacerations, redness, swelling or bleeding in genital, vaginal or anal area, blood in urine or faeces, urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted disease, unusual or excessive itching or pain in the genital or anal area, sexual active at an early age, loss of appetite, bed wetting and sleep disturbances. Fire lighting by boys. Emotional indicators are excessive crying, poor self-esteem and being anxious. Behaviour signs are having a noticeable fear of a person or certain places e.g. bedrooms, age-inappropriate sexual play with toys, self, and others. Sexually explicit language, drawings and unusual sexual knowledge.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, to protect a child from physical harm or danger, or to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or failure to respond to, a child’s basic emotional needs. Neglect may also result in the child being diagnosed as suffering from ‘non-organic failure to thrive’, where they have significantly failed to reach normal weight and growth or development milestones and where physical and genetic reasons have been medically eliminated. In its extreme form children can be at serious risk from the effects of malnutrition, lack of nurturing and stimulation. This can lead to serious long-term effects such as greater susceptibility to serious childhood illnesses and reduction in potential stature. With young children in particular, the consequences may be life-threatening within a relatively short period of time.
Neglect is a pattern of behaviour which occurs over a period of time and results in impaired functioning or development of a child possible indicators are poor hygiene (dirty and unbathed), inappropriate dress for the weather conditions, untreated medical problems, malnourished always being hungry, sever nappy rash or skin conditions, poor motor skills and co-ordination and being frequently late for school. Emotional and behavioural indicators are being listless and inactive, depression, feelings of inferiority to peers, may steal food, doesn’t show excitement and excessively seeks adult approval.