Child Abuse Awareness Month

The month of April is Child Abuse Awareness Month.  This is an epidemic that is near and dear to my heart.  I am an advocate for the non-exploitation and safety of children as a counselor and former teacher.  I would like to educate the public on abuse and the lifelong impairment it can have on a child.

There are many different types of child abuse. Knowing the signs may help you save a child’s life.

Neglect

Neglect, the most common form of abuse, is the constant failure to meet a child’s basic needs. In addition, these children may be put in danger or not protected. Signs of neglect include a child who is left without:

  • Food
  • A clean environment
  • clothes
  • shelter
  • supervision
  • medical care
  • health care.

The effects of neglect include:

  • delayed development
  • poor health
  • behavioral problems
  • can lead to delinquent activity.

According to The National Institute of Justice, 80% of the current prison population was a product of childhood neglect.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is characterized by subjecting a person to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Moreover, this form of abuse is one of the most difficult kinds of to detect.

Signs of emotional abuse includes:

  • Insults
  • Name calling
  • Humiliation
  • Attacking self worth
  • Withholding affection as a form of punishment

A child who has been emotionally abused often presents as:

  • Non-stable
  • Low self-esteem
  • Either extremely hyper or exceptionally withdrawn
  • Having an overwhelming compulsion to people please in order to gain affection from others.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is one of the easier types of maltreatment to spot. Unfortunately, many adults physically hurt children in places that can be covered up by clothing.

Signs of physical abuse includes:

  • Hitting
  • Shoving
  • Choking
  • Punching
  • Slapping
  • Kicking
  • Biting
  • Withholding food
  • Forcing children to work against their will
  • Imposing the use of drugs or alcohol
  • Withholding attention as needed

The consequences of physical abuse can lead a child to become potential abusers. As a result, many children who are victims will not understand how to safely and productively express anger. This will leave them in a state of confusion and disrepair, which often leads to anxiety and depression.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is to demand, force, or coerce a child to perform sexual acts. It also includes:

  • Watching/participating in pornography
  • Exposing private parts
  • Fondling
  • Masturbating in front of
  • Speaking to a child in a sexually perverse fashion

Sex trafficking is also a form of child sexual abuse that we often hear about throughout our society on a daily basis. According to RAINN, 93% of children under the age of 18 who are sexually abused know their perpetrator.  

The aftermath of sexual abuse is almost always complete devastation for a child.  Many children who have experienced sexual abuse exhibit signs of:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts/ideation
  • Regressive behaviors
  • Phobias/nightmares
  • Post traumatic stress

For more information about abuse or any other mental health issue, we are here for you!  Please do not hesitate to reach out to Amy Wine Counseling Center at 832.421.8714, we are all in this together!

About the Author:

I am a Licensed Profession Counselor Intern who primarily works with children, adolescents, and women. I have specialized training in child-centered play therapy, sand-tray therapy, and parent-child interaction therapy.

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