Child Abuse: Impact On A Child & What To Do
Created by Dr Himani Khanna Updated on Apr 24, 2018
India is in a state of despair and shock with a rise in rape and murder incidences of minors. Back in 2014, POCSO had reported 8900 child abuse cases. Today, I am urging everyone to come together and do something about this situation. Your child needs a safe, happy and healthy environment to grow into a good human being.
While there is a lot of focus on child health, to reduce child immortality, and to improve immunization to prevent infant and child death so often - but it's time to also focus on preventing child abuse. We need to be aware what scars can these acts instill on a child for their lifetime. This blog covers the impact of physical child abuse on a minor and what could you do to help in such a situation, as a parent or a friend to the affected family.
When a child is physically abused it increases the chances of homicide as a consequence of abuse; it not only affects the victim but also impacts siblings and other family members. Physical abuse can invite a host of lifelong challenges for a child; it may affect the organ system, body parts and can even cause sensory organ injuries. Head trauma occurring during physical abuse may result in long-term neuro-developmental impairments. Some of the injuries can lead to handicap, chronic and severe disabilities.
The developmental and psychological consequences of sexual abuse are extensive in the form of anxiety and manifest in forms of depressive disorders, avoidance behaviour, aggressive behaviour and self-pity behaviour.
Child abuse may lead to severe developmental delays, academic difficulties, and social maladaptation. Some long-term consequences like borderline personality disorders, distorted self-esteem and self-concept, antisocial and delinquent behaviour, self-destructive behaviour and mental retardation may surface too.
What Can You Do To Help A Child And The Family To Cope?
- How Can You Identify symptoms of Abuse? Is the child displaying withdrawal symptoms? Like withdrawing from usual activities and peer, depression, anxiety or unusual fears or a sudden loss of self-confidence, or perhaps an apparent lack of supervision? Is s/he frequently missing school? Is the child attempting to run away or perhaps showing depression and suicidal signs? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, you need to be alert about the situation. Look for signs of physical abuse; also, like unexplained injuries, such as bruises, fractures or burns, and untreated medical or dental problem. You should be aware of the signs of sexual abuse like, blood in the child's underwear, if the child is displaying trouble while walking or sitting or is complaining of genital pain or anything which is close to a sexually transmitted infection.
Try to match the history of events with the nature of the injuries:It is important to match the history given by parents or the caregivers with the nature of injuries. The Doctor may ask for some diagnostic tests/radiography: to document any supporting evidence of abuse, like examination of the genitalia, X-Ray to detect fractures, and any other injury
Observing the interaction and interrelationship of the family members:Observing a caregiver’s behaviour towards the child, whether s/he shows little concern for the child or is indifferent - cannot recognize physical or emotional distress in the child. Denial of problem and blaming a child for the problem can make the child feel belittled. The child may start associating with feelings like being ‘worthless’ or ‘evil’. Look out for subtle behavioural changes in the caregiver like - is the caregiver harsh in physical discipline? Is s/he is severely limiting your child's contact with others? Be observant of these small signs
Reporting of the physical/sexual abuse to the concerned authorities must be done:CHILDLINE 1098 is a 24 hours’ free emergency contact helpline number where one can report about a child in need of protection and care. This is supported by ministry of Women and Child Welfare
Must rule out familial dysfunction:Conflicts and misbehaviour amongst family membersand lack of proper communication amongst family members can also lead to child abuse or neglect
- Here's a tip for my colleagues in Healthcare, Doctor-parents on parentune. As Healthcare providers, we must provide support to the families: Family counselling and teaching parents to support the child who has undergone trauma and teaching them techniques to prevent abuse is something that we as healthcare providers we can do
Did you know, neglect of a child by a caregiver is also considered as abuse, which may present with poor growth or weight gain, poor hygiene, and lack of clothing or supplies to meet physical needs?
- You nurture your child with love and attention; you must listen to your child to build a relationship of trust and communication. If you feel that you are unable to control anger and you impulsively end up abusing your child, then you must seek help and support from a counsellor and learn strategies to cope with your child. Your child must always be under supervision and should not be left alone, even in public
- Coach your child to be away from strangers. Whenever your child goes for a sleepover at a friend’s place, your child must already be coached on good touch and bad touch, and that s/he must report in case of bad touch
- If you are a working parent, and if you rely on a babysitter, then make sure to check on him/her with sudden, unannounced visits frequently. If you can, then install a CCTV camera in your house
- Coach your child to identify threatening conditions and encourage him/her to be confident in confiding in you
Was this blog helpful to you? Do share this with fellow parents to foster awareness. Also, I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Please do share in the comments section below.
| Apr 25, 2018
thnks for awaring. its hightime that government should take very hard and immediate action .
| Apr 25, 2018
Very nice nd important blog thanks