Child abuse and neglect has been one of the universal and on-going problems for children and eventually for their parents or guardians. Since, it has an impact globally; many initiatives and strategies have been implemented to prevent child abuse and neglect and control the consequences that may later rise. Yet, this matter keeps on escalating as compared to the ratio of being prevented. Therefore, immense actions are required to make the public aware, so that it becomes every citizen’s duty other than professionals to help tackle this savagery.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), the child abuse and neglect lies under a whole term called ‘child maltreatment’ and it commonly occurs below the age of 18. When people talk about it, the first thought that comes to mind is physical violence projected towards children, however other than physical abuse, emotional abuse, exploitation and simply neglect can be destructive to children’s quality of life, physical and mental wellbeing, social and occupational development. As WHO keeps on updating their record about such matters, according to the 2020 figures;
Such violence is transferred from one generation to another as the child experiencing maltreatment is more likely to act the same way while growing up. Hence, it requires massive efforts and contributions to break the cycle.
Approximately 300 million children within the age range of 2 to 4 years consistently experience and struggle through both physical and emotional abuse from their guardians, caregivers or parents.
1 woman out of 5 and 1 man out of 13 themselves report that they have been abused sexually at age 0 to 17 years.
Prevalence of Children Maltreated
Furthermore, the US keeps a database of child abuse and neglect (The US Department of Health and Human Services). For instance, in 2006, it was noted that more than 3.5 million referrals were received by child protection organizations which included 6 million children who were maltreated. Out of almost one quarter were those of abuse and neglect. Simply, it can be estimated that above 90,000 children are found to be victims of abuse and neglect. Many studies have been conducted which shows that child neglect is the common one within child maltreatment as 64% findings talks about it. Also, above 15% case, 9% cases and 7% cases are of physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse, respectively. Other than the abuse, fatalities occur on a large scale as almost 1500 children died in 2006 and out of this population 75% of children were below the age of 4 years. Thus, it’s important to find out how much the child abuse and neglect exists in numbers and according to that state authorities can implement strategies.
In the case of European regions, every year, child maltreatment causes a large number of premature deaths (850 children) who are below the age of 15 years. Since all deaths and cases of maltreatment are not recorded, there is a possibility that these figures are an underestimate. Additionally, the reported deaths are the ones that can be observed, but there are various forms of abuses that are hidden and won’t be addressed by the child protection agencies. According to the collected community surveys around the Europe and other parts of the world, the estimated prevalence rate was above 9.5%, approximately 23% and 29% for sexual abuse, physical abuse and mental abuse, respectively (excluding the gender differences). Although research on neglect is minimal, the analysis of research conducted globally suggests a prevalence rate of more than 16% and 18% for physical neglect and emotional neglect. If these figures are applied to the children of Europe it shows that over 16 million, over 43 million and around 55 million children experience sexual abuse, physical abuse and mental abuse.
Cases of Child Abuse and Neglect
- A mother living in Texas with her 9 year old was charged with child neglect as she failed to help her child manage diabetes and eventually the child died due to complications of the disease.
- Parents living in Texas with their 6 month old baby were charged because of physical abuse. The infant was severely abused and the child ended up in intensive care and had less chances of recovering.
- A father was charged who physically abused his 3 month old baby and it was found that his baby had liver lacerations along with many bone fractures, thus the child was unresponsive.
- A mother with her boyfriend living in Wisconsin was charged due to physically abusing her 3 year old daughter by hitting her severely that she needed brain surgery immediately.
- A mother from Massachusetts was charged as she burned her 4 year old (foster son) using a curling iron which caused third degree burns leading to skin surgery.
- A 16 month old daughter of a mother was killed by her boyfriend in Delaware. The mother’s boyfriend hit the child because she was continuously crying and wouldn’t stop.
- A mother’s 6 year old son was killed by her boyfriend and he was charged for it.
- A father living in California was charged for physically abusing his 6 year old daughter. The abuse was noticed by a school employee of the child and discovered burns that may be administered by a clothes iron. Also, the child was beaten by a stick and mother was also charged due to child endangerment.
Why Child Absue is Common?
Child maltreatment is not a one way emerging issue rather child abuse begins due to an ongoing previous problems. Parenting is not always fun and continuously putting efforts can create a destructive wall between their life and children. The pressure is high and many parents, caregivers or guardians fall to the point where they are unable to function properly. Since, parenting is not the only aspect of their life, they deal with extreme stress in other domains, such as financial issues and rising pressures, workload, high expenses, unemployment, their own medical problems, etc. Other than these, many parents or guardians fail to understand how a child’s developmental processes take place and how to manage it at the same time, moreover, failure to utilize an effective and positive parenting style and skills ruins the chances of a child to be nourished in a healthy environment.
Furthermore, when we talk about child neglect, one of the common reasons behind it is irresponsible parents, for example a parent engaged in gambling and excessive drugs or alcohol usage hinder their efforts to fulfill the basic needs of their child. It is common that parents who have a first child may have low self-confidence since they might be afraid and doubt their capabilities of nurturing their child in a healthy way. Also, such parents might find it difficult to ask for help from anyone. Mainly, lack of resources and the inability to predict the psychological issues of parents experiencing childhood maltreatment themselves forces them to adopt an insecure and harmful attachment style. Since this matter is widely spread, affected countries fail to provide the right resources and support to help manage the demands of parenting. Therefore, only working towards minimizing child maltreatment is not enough, instead the root cause needs to be questioned and massive work is required regarding it.
- The state authorities shall provide economic support to the families by establishing policies within different sectors that are family-friendly, also by increasing financial security of households.
- One of the fundamental measures is modifying the norms of the society to provide relevant parental support and promote positive parenting. This can be achieved through designing and organizing educational campaigns and public engagement to acquire the right knowledge and facilities.
- The future harms and risks can be reduced by strengthening primary care sectors, providing behavioral training to parents as early as possible, initiating programs in educational institutes to teach parents, children and teachers about the strategies that can help secure the child.
- Agencies for children shall improve parenting skills by visiting their homes during early childhood so that parents can engage in healthy and positive child development.
Now, it can be analyzed that how much worldwide is child abuse and neglect and to what degree this maltreatment affects children negatively leading to disrupted adulthood or coming years. Other than children going through the long-lasting consequences of it, people around them also get affected especially in emotional ways. Therefore, it’s a chain of ongoing and long-term matters that needs to be addressed at the same moment rather than waiting for the damage to proceed. Furthermore, it has been observed by many authorities and agencies that a large number of myths exist and people without evidence believe and agree to it. This is one of the reasons that globally citizens are unaware of the true image of child abuse and neglect and remain unaware of the issues arising in the societies. So, it is suggested and extremely important to not believe and follow the myths immediately, rather exploration needs to be conducted to gain relevant knowledge about the problems before putting forward one’s judgments and taking actions.
You Are Not Alone!
To experience, hear and read about child abuse is a heart-breaking encounter, but it’s important to learn about it. Meeting the same fate, you need to read this gripping memoir ‘Broken Wings’ by Sergine Trazile to learn what others go through and what kind of thoughts, feelings and behavior are accompanied by it. Acknowledge and challenge the pain of abuse and find your own road to healing before you fall in the pit of despair.
About the author: Sergine Trazile, born in Haiti and living in New York is herself a victim.
Click the links to avail and read the memoir by Sergine Trazile: