While we now live in times where physical abuse has declined by 56%, the fact is that violence is not completely gone. Spouses continue to go through domestic violence, and at least 1 out of 7 children have experienced some types of child abuse in the last year.
The problem is that this number may not be necessarily accurate. Many of these incidents go unreported, out of fear, shame, or neglect. For this reason, around 1750 children died in 2020 from child abuse, their deaths being fully preventable if the abuse would have been caught in time.
Types of Child Abuse
Identifying the instances of abuse can end up saving the children’s lives. Here are the most common types of abuse among children and how you can prevent them:
1. Physical Abuse
The name of this type of abuse is self-explanatory. Physical abuse is the deliberate act of inflicting pain and injuries. When someone hears the term “child abuse,” they likely think about physical abuse.
The best way to prevent this kind of abuse before it starts is to educate the parents; teach them that violence is not the way to educate a child. An average of 79% of parents and caregivers still use violence to educate their kids, simply because that was the way they grew up. Teaching them about positive parenting and non-violent methods can prevent this before it buds.
If the abuse has already started, the best way to prevent further incidents is to look for the signs. Take note if the child constantly seems to have unexplained behaviors. Fear of a certain person or jumpiness when someone raises a hand (even to grab a cup placed on a shelf above) can signal that child abuse is happening.
2. Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse has the same effect on the child, only without the beating. This can include frequent shouting, extended silence periods, constant criticism, withholding affection or kindness, threatening, name-calling, or making harsh jokes at their expense.
A child constantly subjected to emotional abuse will have self-esteem issues, their self-worth causing them to desperately look for attention. These children may also suffer from depression, go through social withdrawal, or have delayed emotional development. If the child is subjected to emotional abuse, they will grow up afraid to speak their mind, thinking their opinion is not worthy enough.
Neglect is a type of child abuse where a parent or caregiver may not even realize they are doing it. In this case, the parents or guardians will fail to meet the child’s basic needs for emotional connection and physical needs. This can include clothing, food, medical care access, education, or simply having their feelings appropriately answered and validated.
A child that is neglected will show a series of physical and psychological signs. They will have poor hygiene and experience, numerous health problems (e.g., anemia), appear malnourished. Also, they will be constantly left to tend for themselves. Neglect can be very dangerous for a child, which is why these cases of improper child management need to be reported immediately.
4. Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is the act of touching a child in an inappropriate sexual manner. This can include simple fondling or indecent physical exposure, but it may also go as far as sexual assault on the child. No matter if it is an isolated incident or has repeatedly occurred over the years, this is considered sexual abuse against children.
Certain signs may suggest a child is being sexually abused. For instance, they may have more knowledge of sex than they normally should at their age. They may have sudden difficulties going to the toilet, feel pain or itching, or have bleeding or bruises coming from the genital area.
To prevent any further incidents, sexual abuse must be reported from the first signs. Otherwise, it may lead to severe psychological trauma in children.
What Can I Do If I Suspect Child Abuse?
No matter if you are part of the household or not, you have to file a report if you suspect a child is subjected to abuse. It doesn’t matter the type, or whether you know the abuser or not. Look for the signs of abuse and allow the officials to do their job.
The requirements of a report can vary from state to state. For instance, in Las Vegas, Nevada, you can make the report anonymously. That being said, if you are part of the household, you may want to hire a Las Vegas family law attorney. They will help you gather the proof and paperwork so that you can stop the abuse and even gain custody of the child.
The Bottom Line
Child abuse can have a significant negative impact on children as they grow up. The injuries may go away, but the psychological marks will remain. This is why every instance of child abuse has to be reported as soon as possible.