“In recent decades some extreme forms of violence against children, including sexual exploitation and trafficking, female genital mutilation (FGM), the worst forms of child labour and the impact of armed conflict, have provoked international outcry and achieved a consensus of condemnation, although no rapid remedy. But in addition to these extreme forms of violence, many children are routinely exposed to physical, sexual and psychological violence in their homes and schools, in care and justice systems, in places of work and in their communities. All of this has devastating consequences for their health and well-being now and in the future.”(1) Child Abuse
“Child abuse is not simply any harm that befalls children. Children throughout the world suffer from a multitude of harms- malnutrition, starvation, infectious disease, congenital defects, abandonment, economic exploitation, the violence of warfare, to name a few. Not all harm that befalls children is child abuse.” (2) Child abuse is harm resulting from intentional human action. The most fundamental attribute of child abuse is that it is harmful to the child and detrimental to his/her well-being. There is also an important difference between unintentional and intentional harm. “It has been observed that what is so destructive about child abuse and neglect (as opposed to other forms of injury) is that the betrayal of the child’s trust leads to defective socialization.”(3) Child abuse is correlated with unemployment and poverty. “Rates of abuse and neglect can be thought of as indicators of the quality of life for families, and maltreatment can be viewed as a symptom, rather than a cause, of difficulties in family and individual functioning.”(4) Thus, overall rates of child abuse are higher in regions characterized by a higher proportion of low-income families and in regions with unusually high rates of unemployment. There are four main categories of child abuse: physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse.(5) Physical Abuse
Studies from countries around the world suggest that up to 80 to 98 % of children suffer physical punishment in their homes,(6) and it is estimated that 57,000 children under the age of 15 die as a result of physical abuse per year.(7) Physical abuse can range from minor bruises to severe fractures or death as a result of punching, beating, hitting, shaking, or otherwise harming a child. One of the most common types of physical abuse in infants includes Shaken Baby Syndrome.(8) Emotional Abuse and Neglect
Emotional abuse is behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-esteem. It may include threats, constant criticism, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Neglect is a pattern of failing to provide for a child’s basic physical and emotional needs. Neglect is a very common type of child abuse, and according to Child Welfare Information Gateway, more children suffer from neglect than from physical and sexual abuse combined. (9) Sexual Abuse and Child Prostitution
Sexual abuse of a child is any sexual act between an adult and a child which may include sexual intercourse, incest, rape, oral sex, sodomy, inappropriate touching, or kissing. “An overview of studies in 21 countries (mostly developed) found that 7-36% of women and 3-29% of men reported sexual victimization during childhood, and the majority of studies found girls to be abused at 1.5-3 times the rate for males. Most of the abuse occurred within the family circle.” (10) Child prostitution “involves offering the sexual services of a child or inducing a child to perform sexual acts for a form of compensation, financial or otherwise.” (11) Worldwide, approximately 1 million children are forced into prostitution every year, and it is estimated that the total number of child prostitutes is as high as 10 million. “Generally children do not commit child prostitution but the adults who engage in...