If there is one thing parents and families should be educated about it’s child abuse. Not every family will have to deal with this horrible blight that is hidden even from the closest family members, but some families need to wake up and smell the coffee. Child abuse can be happening anytime, anyplace, and with any person–even close family members or friends.
In the United States alone, thousands of children are victims of child maltreatment cases annually, an an estimated 3,000 children die due to child abuse and neglect each year. Those numbers are sobering. Parents, family members, and friends of families need to wake up and be more involved in preventing child abuse.
The Problem of Child Abuse is a Everybody’s Problem
In spite of all the efforts to publicize, educate, and make folks aware of the child abuse problem, statistics show that child abuse and maltreatment is on the rise. With the exception of 2005, the incidence of fatalities due to child abuse have increased every year for the past five years.
Many researchers, doctors, teachers, and professionals associated with children believe that the number of deaths each year from child abuse are underreported. Some studies report that as many as 50 to 60 percent of child deaths resulting from child abuse or neglect are never reported.
How to Know When a Child May be Experiencing Physical Abuse
There are basically four types of child abuse and these can be identified through simple observation. Physical abuse is a non-accidental injury to a child from a caretaker or parent. Frequent, unexplained bruises, cuts, or burns. Sometimes the child might be inordinately fearful of a parent or caretaker’s reaction to bad behavior.
Physical neglect is an obvious failure of a parent or caretaker to provide adequate food, medical care, clothing, or hygiene. These may be very young children left at home alone and unsupervised. A child may show up dressed inadequately for a particular type of weather or their parent has told them to stay away. Be cautious, these may also be simply signs of poverty or poor judgment.
How to Know When a Child May be Experiencing Sexual Abuse
Sexual child abuse can include fondling, inappropriate touching, promoting prostitution, using a child for pornographic materials, or even intercourse. The signs may manifest as sexual behavior beyond what is typically age appropriate, difficulty going to the bathroom, pain, itching, bruising, or bleeding in the genital area.
Sometimes kids will just come right out and tell an adult what is happening. Typically, kids who are sexually abused are either too ashamed or embarrassed to tell anyone else what is going on. Some sexual abusers will threaten kids with harm if they tell anyone what is going on. Watch for unusual swings in kids behavior, such as a normally happy child being continually depressed or angry.
The actual numbers of all child deaths may never be known due to the difficulty in acquiring such data. People should make be aware of the symptoms of child abuse and not afraid to report possible child abuse. Many times, child abuse goes unreported because the abusers may be parents or relatives afraid of the legal consequences or embarrassment resulting from such actions.