Factors Leading to Child Abuse
Explain the factors that would lead to the suspicion of child maltreatment or abuse Unit 10 “There are several types of child abuse, but the core element that ties them together is the emotional effect on the child. Children need predictability, structure, clear boundaries, and the knowledge that their parents are looking out for their safety. Abused children cannot predict how their parents will act. Their world is an unpredictable, frightening place with no rules.
Whether the abuse is a slap, a harsh comment, stony silence, or not knowing if there will be dinner on the table tonight, the end result is a child that feel unsafe, uncared for, and alone. ” – Melinda Smith It is not always easy to recognise if you, or someone you know is being abused, but it is important to remember that no-one has the right to hurt you or make you do anything that feels wrong. Child abuse can mean a lot of different things but the NSPCC define child abuse as “any form of physical, emotional or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that leads to injury or harm”
In this booklet, I will be discussing- physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, bullying and neglect Any form of physical contact can be potentially as a form of physical abuse. However, it depends on the degree of force, or the nature of the contact and the intention behind the action. If an adult deliberately hurts a child, causing them physical harm such as cuts, bruises, broken bones or other injuries, it is physical abuse. Physical abuse can include hitting, drowning, shaking, biting, throwing, poisoning, burning and slapping.
For example, if a parent had slapped their child as a punishment and caused the child physical harm, then this would be considered as physical abuse. However, the more difficult-to-identify forms of physical abuse may occur within the context of ‘caring’. An example of this could be, if a boy in a children’s home was being abusive and started to attack other children in the care home. If a staff member, who has not been trained in ‘restraint’, holds him down inappropriately which causes the boy to end up with a fractured arm.
It is quite difficult to distinguish whether it is physical abuse or not, as the boy needed to be restrained in order for other children not to be harmed. In the examples I have used, physical abuse has taken place, however not all the care providers or parents intended to harm the individual. This is why it is difficult to distinguish whether physical abuse was intended or not. As well as this, it can be very difficult to control reflex behaviour, such as lashing out, as this is an automatic reaction carried out instinctively.
Care providers and parents need to guard against such responses at all time to prevent harm to service users and their children. It is also important to note that poisoning a child is also physical abuse. If a parent had purposely given their child an overdose of ibuprofen or other medication, which caused them to be very sick, then this would be physical abuse. All children have accidents, such as bumps and falls, which cause injury. However, many people question what are the signs and symptoms of a child suffering from physical abuse? What could be abuse? Bruising on the cheeks, ears, back, buttocks, palms, arms, tummy, hips, backs of legs, and feet. * Bruising on babies who are not yet crawling or walking. * A history of bruising. * Multiple bruises in clusters, usually on the upper arms or outer thighs. * Bruises, which look like they have been caused by fingers, a hand, or an object. * Burns of the backs of the hands, feet, legs, genitals, or buttocks. * Burns, which have a clear shape, like a circular cigarette burn. * Large oval shaped bite marks Symptoms of a child being physically abused may include- Black eyes * Broken bones that are unusual and unexplained * Bruise marks shaped like hands, fingers, or objects (such as a belt) * Bruises in areas where normal childhood activities would not usually result in bruising * Burn (scalding) marks, usually seen on the child’s hands, arms, or buttocks * Choke marks around the neck * Cigarette burns on exposed areas or on the genitals * Circular marks around the wrists or ankles (signs of twisting or tying up) * Human bite marks * Lash marks * Unexplained unconsciousness in an infant
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing or persuading a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, including prostitution, whether the child is aware or not of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, penetrative sex such as rape, buggery or oral sex, or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual online images, watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways. Sexual abuse can be very difficult to identify.
However, there are steps you can take to help keep a child safe from sexual abuse and to protect a child if you suspect, or discover, that they have been abused. Very young children and disabled children are particularly vulnerable because they may not have the words or the ability to communicate what is happening to them to someone they trust. Men, women, teenagers and other children can commit acts of sexual abuse towards children. Children who have been sexually abused, or are being sexually abused may show a variety of signs and symptoms, which may include-
There are warning signs that sexual abuse may be happening to a child, such as- * Suddenly starting to behave differently * Thinks badly or does not look after him or herself * Displays sexually inappropriate behaviour, including use of sexual language and sexual abuse which you would not expect them to know * Has physical symptoms that suggest sexual abuse – these can include anal or vaginal soreness or an unusual discharge, and pregnancy * Avoids being alone with a particular member of the family * Fears an adult or is reluctant to socialise with them
Symptoms of sexual abuse in children are similar to those of depression or severe anxiety and nervousness. They can include- * Bowel disorders, such as soiling oneself * Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa * Genital or rectal symptoms, such as pain during a bowel movement or urination, or vaginal itch or discharge * Repeated headaches * Sleep problems * Stomach aches (vague complaints) Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development.
It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. Emotional abuse can involve name-calling, sarcasm, bullying, criticising and putting a child under consistent pressure to perform to unrealistic high standards for their age.
It may involve seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying, causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone. A child who is being abused may feel guilty, ashamed or confused. He or she may be afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, especially if the abuser is a parent, other relative or family friend. In fact, the child may have an apparent fear of parents, adult caregiver or family.
This is why it is important to watch out for the signs and symptoms. Signs of Emotional Abuse may include- * Low self-confidence/self-worth * Unable to trust * Anxious and fearful * Frightened for no apparent reason, feelings of shame and guilt * Uninterested/low perseverance, delayed emotionally * Avoids eye contact Symptoms of Emotional abuse may include- * Headaches or stomach aches with no medical cause * Avoidance of certain situations, such as refusing to go to school or catch public transport * Desperately seeks affection * Social withdrawal * Depression
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health and development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of internal substance abuse. Neglect may include not providing adequate food, shelter, clothing, support, not protecting a child from physical and emotional harm or danger, not ensuring adequate supervision, not ensuring access to appropriate medical care or treatment. There are many signs and symptoms, which a child may experience if they have or are suffering with neglect.
Signs and symptoms of neglect may include- * Not receiving attention for physical or medical problems * Consistent bad hygiene, matted hair * No money for school lunch or the bus * Frequently late/absent for school * Falls asleep in class/constantly tired * Begs or steals food or money from classmates * Has difficulty making/keeping friends * Displays excessive need for attention and affection There is a growing concern for children being bullied, as it is hurtful and can lead to the child feel depressed or even suicidal.
Bullying can mean many different things, such as being called names, being put down or humiliated, being teased, being left out of a group on purpose, having money taken off you by other people, having rumours spread, being ignored and left out, being hit or physically hurt, being threatened and intimated. People can be bullied for all sorts of reasons or no particular reason at all, and it can result in their self-esteem being lowered. Sometimes people who bully others pick up on a small thing that makes someone stand out and they use it to hurt them.
This might be the way someone looks, the things they like doing or even what kinds of clothes they wear. Everyone is different, and it’s these differences that make people who they are. There are many signs and symptoms to look out for which may indicate a child is being bullied. The signs and symptoms of a child who is suffering from being bullied are- * Comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings; * Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches; Has few, if any friends, with whom he or she spends time; * Seems afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities with peers (such as clubs); * Takes a long, “illogical” route when walking to or from school * Has lost interest in school work or suddenly begins to do poorly in school; * Appears sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home; * Complains frequently of headaches, stomach aches, or other physical ailments * Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams Experiences a loss of appetite; or * Appears anxious and suffers from low self-esteem