“There are several types of child abuse, but the core element that ties them together is the emotional effect on the child. Children need predictability, structure, clear boundaries, and the knowledge that their parents are looking out for their safety. Abused children cannot predict how their parents will act. Their world is an unpredictable, frightening place with no rules. Whether the abuse is a slap, a harsh comment, stony silence, or not knowing if there will be dinner on the table tonight, the end result is a child that feel unsafe, uncared for, and alone.” – Melinda Smith
It is not always easy to recognise if you, or someone you know is being abused, but it is important to remember that no-one has the right to hurt you or make you do anything that feels wrong. Child abuse can mean a lot of different things but the NSPCC define child abuse as “any form of physical, emotional or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that leads to injury or harm”
In this booklet, I will be discussing-
physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, bullying and neglect
Any form of physical contact can be potentially as a form of physical abuse. However, it depends on the degree of force, or the nature of the contact and the intention behind the action. If an adult deliberately hurts a child, causing them physical harm such as cuts, bruises, broken bones or other injuries, it is physical abuse. Physical abuse can include hitting, drowning, shaking, biting, throwing, poisoning, burning and slapping. For example, if a parent had slapped their child as a punishment and caused the child physical harm, then this would be considered as physical abuse. However, the more difficult-to-identify forms of physical abuse may occur within the context of ‘caring’. An example of this could be, if a boy in a children’s home was being abusive and started to attack other children in the care home. If a staff member, who has not been trained in ‘restraint’, holds him down inappropriately which causes the boy to end up with a fractured arm. It is quite difficult to distinguish whether it is physical abuse or not, as the boy needed to be restrained in order for other children not to be harmed. In the examples I have used, physical abuse has taken place, however not all the care providers or parents intended to harm the individual. This is why it is difficult to distinguish whether physical abuse was intended or not. As well as this, it can be very difficult to control reflex behaviour, such as lashing out, as this is an automatic reaction carried out instinctively. Care providers and parents need to guard against such responses at all time to prevent harm to service users and their children. It is also important to note that poisoning a child is also physical abuse. If a parent had purposely given their child an overdose of ibuprofen or other medication, which caused them to be very sick, then this would be physical abuse.
All children have accidents, such as bumps and falls, which cause injury. However, many people question what are the signs and symptoms of a child suffering from physical abuse?
What could be abuse?
* Bruising on the cheeks, ears, back, buttocks, palms, arms, tummy, hips, backs of legs, and feet. * Bruising on babies who are not yet crawling or walking. * A history of bruising.
* Multiple bruises in clusters, usually on the upper arms or outer thighs. * Bruises, which look like they have been caused by fingers, a hand, or an object. * Burns of the backs of the hands, feet, legs, genitals, or buttocks. * Burns, which have a clear shape, like a circular cigarette burn. * Large oval shaped bite marks
Symptoms of a child being physically abused may include-
* Black eyes
* Broken bones that are unusual and unexplained
* Bruise marks shaped like hands, fingers, or objects (such as a...