Child Abuse is a tough subject. Today I will just lay out some of the forms of abuse and what they encompass. Later in this series I will try to make the connection to actual children a little more concrete.
There are four major types of child abuse: physical abuse; mental or psychological abuse; sexual abuse; and neglect.
Physical abuse is an injury resulting from aggression, even if the intent was not to abuse. These injuries can be the result of hitting, slapping, biting, pushing, pinching, kicking, shaking, hair pulling, burning, or other severe physical punishment. Physical abuse can also be the result of illness, such as Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome (where an adult induces an illness in a child so that he/she can get attention from others as the caregiver). Shaken Baby Syndrome is another example of physical child abuse, as is exposing an unborn child to drugs by consuming them during pregnancy.
Hundreds of thousands of children are abused every year by someone who is close to them and is supposed to love them. Thousands of these children die each year as a result of this abuse. Those that survive are emotionally scarred.
Emotional or mental or psychological abuse is the result of any attitude, behavior, or failure to act that interferes with the mental or social development of a child. It can be as simple as verbal abuse or as extreme as as severe punishment. Mental or emotion abuse is almost always present when other types of abuse are present.
Emotional or mental abuse can come from a parent, a teacher, clergy, coach, other children and bullies.
Sexual abuse of a child can be fondling or violating a child’s physical/bodily privacy. Exposing a child to sexual situations, including sex acts, pornographic material, and commercial sexual exploitation (prostitution). The abusers can be one or both parents, a teacher, a coach, any person in authority, older siblings, neighbors, strangers, foster parents, and many adults in other authoritative situations.
Neglect is a tricky one and effects more children than those who are sexually abused and physically abused combined. Physical neglect is when a child’s physical needs, such as food, shelter, medicine, or supervision is denied. Educational neglect is when a parent/caregiver fails to enroll a school aged child in school, or when they fail to provide/find needed special education. It also includes allowing a child to stay home excessively when not sick. Some parents fail to provide the emotional support and caring that a child needs. They fail to address a child’s emotional needs, including seeking psychological treatment.
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