Child abuse is doing something or failing to do something that results in harm to a child or puts a child at risk of harm. Child abuse can be physical, sexual or emotional. Neglect, or not providing for a child's needs, is also a form of abuse.
Most abused children suffer greater emotional than physical damage. An abused child may become depressed. He or she may withdraw, think of suicide or become violent. An older child may use drugs or alcohol, try to run away or abuse others.
Child abuse is a serious problem. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call the police or your local child welfare agency.
Myths and facts about child abuse and neglect
MYTH #1: It's only abuse if it's violent.
Fact: Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Neglect and emotional abuse can be just as damaging, and since they are more subtle, others are less likely to intervene. .
MYTH #2: Only bad people abuse their children.
Fact: While it's easy to say that only "bad people" abuse their children, it's not always so black and white. Not all abusers are intentionally harming their children. Many have been victims of abuse themselves, and don’t know any other way to parent. Others may be struggling with mental health issues or a substance abuse problem.
MYTH #3: Child abuse doesn't happen in “good” families.
Fact: Child abuse doesn't only happen in poor families or bad neighborhoods. It crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families who seem to have it all from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed doors.
MYTH #4: Most child abusers are strangers.
Fact: While abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are family members or others close to the family
MYTH #5: Abused children always grow up to be abusers.
Fact: It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. On the other hand, many adult survivors of child abuse have a strong motivation to protect their children against what they went through and become excellent parents.
What is Child Sexual Abuse?
Child sexual abuse includes sexual activity ranging from non-violent, non-forcible and non-touching offenses (such as indecent exposure) to violent, forcible and touching offenses (such as fondling and intercourse). Legal definitions of child sexual abuse vary according to the age of the child, what was actually done to the child, and the offender's relationship to the child.
• Each case is a little different, but remember:
• Sexual abuse is NEVER the child's fault.
• The impact on the child depends primarily on the way the family responds to the situation.
• Sexual abuse of a child is illegal, even if the child consented to the sexual act.
Some Facts on Child Sexual Abuse Most child sexual abuse is committed by someone who knows the child. The offender is usually a family member, babysitter, trusted friend, acquaintance or a person who regularly comes into contact with the child.
There is no such thing as a "typical" sexual abuser of children. They come from all social, racial, and economic backgrounds. Although the majority of abuser are males, there are also documented cases of female abusers.
Children are vulnerable to sexual abuse from infancy through early adulthood. Children make easy targets because:
• They are easily influenced by adults.
• They are naturally trusting and curious.
• They enjoy affection and attention from adults.
Sexual abuse often starts with a long process where harmless touching gradually crosses over the line to sexual touching. The child may not realize that the touching has become inappropriate.
Physical force is seldom used because the child usually trusts or depends upon the offender
Sexual abuse happens to both boys and girls.
There are seldom witnesses to child sexual abuse.
Secrecy ("don't tell") between the child and the abuser is often involved.
Physical evidence or injuries occur in only a small percentage of child sexual abuse cases. However, medical treatment or examination is often helpful, especially to reassure the child that no physical damage has been done.
What is Child Emotional Abuse:
Emotional child abuse is maltreatment which results in impaired psychological growth and development. It involves words, actions, and indifference. Abusers constantly reject, ignore, belittle, dominate, and criticize the victims.1,3 This form of abuse may occur with or without physical abuse, but there is often an overlap.
Examples of emotional child abuse are verbal abuse; excessive demands on a child's performance; penalizing a child for positive, normal behavior (smiling, mobility, exploration, vocalization, manipulation of objects); discouraging caregiver and infant attachment; penalizing a child for demonstrating signs of positive self-esteem; and penalizing a child for using interpersonal skills needed for adequate performance in school and peer groups. In addition, frequently exposing children to family violence and unwillingness or inability to provide affection or stimulation for the child in the course of daily care may also result in emotional abuse.
Safety Tips for Kids
1. If your are in a public place -- for instance, a store, shopping mall, carnival, or amusement park -- and you get separated from you parents, don't wander around looking for them. Quickly go to a checkout counter, the security office, or the lost and found and tell the person in charge that you have lost your mom and dad and need help in finding them.
2. You should not get into a car or go anywhere with any person unless your parents have told you it is okay.
3. If someone follows you on foot or in a car, stay away from him or her. You don't need to go near the car to talk to the people inside.
4. Grownups and other older people who need help should not be asking you for help; they should be asking older people.
5. No one should be asking you for directions or to look for a "lost puppy" or telling you that your mother or father is in trouble and that he will take you to them.
6. If someone tries to take you somewhere, quickly get away from them and yell or scream, "This man is trying to take me away" or "This person is not my father (or mother)".
7. You should try to use the buddy system and never go places alone.
8. Always ask your parents' permission to leave the yard or play area or to go into someone's home.
9. No one should ask you to keep a special secret. If he or she does, tell your parents or teacher.
10. If someone wants to take your picture, tell your parents or teacher.
11. No one should touch you in the parts of your body covered by a bathing suit, nor should you touch anyone else in those areas. Your body is special and private.
You have the right to say NO to someone who tries to take you somewhere, touches you, or makes you feel uncomfortable in any way.
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