"The character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children."~ Nelson Mandela
Kids are the most precious beings, and without them, life would be gray and lonely. They're also so innocent that they're highly vulnerable to all forms of assault. This makes it difficult to defend themselves and easy for their abusers to walk scot-free. We must protect them from hurt and maltreatment at all costs, all the time.
In 2020, there were 618,399 child abuse victims in the United States of America. According to statistics, a child is abused every 47 seconds, and 700,00 children are abused every year in the USA. These are alarming figures that should scare everyone into action.
That's why we can't afford to be indifferent this April. It's Child Abuse Awareness Month, and there's no better time to raise the issue of child abuse and kids' welfare than now.
Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect
Child Abuse Can Take on Different Forms
Child abuse can be physical, social, emotional, neglect, and sexual. I'll explain:
● Physical Sexual Abuse
Child physical abuse involves intentionally inflicting bodily pain and injury on kids. From hitting or beating a child to tying them up, there are so many ways children suffer physical abuse. It's easy to detect because it presents physical symptoms—burns, fractures, bruises, wounds, sore muscles, etc.
Here's the shocker: children are among the primary perpetrators of physical child abuse — through bullying. A report has it that about 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied on school property.
If your child is a victim of bullying like mine was, you must take swift action to address it. You can learn from my child's bullying experience and how we overcame it together in my article: A Time To Fight Back.
● Emotional or Psychological Abuse
There's a thin line between correcting your kid and emotionally abusing them. Shouting at your child too often, hurling insults at them, withholding affection, etc., can cause mental anguish. Child emotional abuse can also lower their self-esteem and make them depressed.
Neglect happens when parents or caregivers fail to live up to their primary responsibility of providing basic necessities for their kids. Whenever you come across children looking unkempt and malnourished, that's neglect staring you in the face. It can also mean continually not being physically available for your kids.
● Sexual Child Abuse/Child Molestation
Engaging kids in sexual activities by touching their genitals, making them touch someone else's genitals, or exposing them to sexual content is child abuse. Sadly, it's typically close family members and acquaintances that perpetuate sexual child abuse against children.
But, Why Would Anyone Hurt a Child?
Kids come into your life and unlock a new level of love that you never knew existed. I remember when my son was born and how I couldn't take my eyes off him for a second. When he cried, my heart broke.
So, I look at my son and ask " why would anyone hurt a child?" The answer is simple — the world is twisted and people are sick.
Nowadays, there's no limit to who can hurt a child—parents, teachers, and even children. While there's no single reason why people hurt children, we can look at some factors that increase a person's risk for abusing a child:
- Abused children are likely to become adult abusers
- Mental and psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety, low self-esteem, etc.
- Lack of parenting skills
- Socioeconomic stress especially from caring for children with intellectual or physical disabilities
- Angry children from dysfunctional families take their frustration out on other children
Child abuse remains child abuse no matter who the abuser is. If you think you might hurt a child (or know someone who will), seek professional help immediately.
Preventing Child Abuse & Providing Solace for Abused Kids
You can prevent child abuse and help victims by:
● Being a Nurturing Parent
Be your kids' eyes, mouths, and ears. Teach them boundaries and how to stand up for themselves. Watch out for signs of abuse, and be a safe shoulder for them to lean on. Encourage them to always speak out.
● Offering Comfort
Offer comfort to abused children by letting them know it's never their fault. Let them know you believe them and would take action.
● Finding Professional Help
Get a doctor, family psychologist, faith leader, family and friends involved. Also, report abuse and neglect to the police and relevant authorities when you notice any.
To observe Child Abuse Awareness Month is to prevent child maltreatment and encourage kids to speak up; it's to volunteer to work with organizations that promote child abuse prevention. Lastly, it's to ensure that abused children get the necessary professional help to enable them to heal.
Every kid deserves a safe childhood that spurs them to grow into happy and civil adults. It starts with you and me. How will you observe child abuse awareness month this year? Let's know in the comments, on Instagram, and Facebook.