Effects of abusive and violent behaviour towards children

What is child abuse?
Being abusive towards a child can include name calling, yelling, physically hurting, punishing and using any violent means to instil fear in the hope of disciplining or affirming the role of absolute leadership.
• Abuse could be physical, emotional and social
• It can also include child neglect, where the child is not loved or cared for and the basic needs for survival are not met

Who is the offender?
• Child abuse is prevalent across all sections of society irrespective of race, socioeconomic standards and religion
• Anybody in contact with the child could be an offender including school, play area, relatives or even parents

Why would parents abuse their child?

Some of the reasons:
• Stressful situations in their lives – financial crisis, relationship problems, illness or work pressure
• Unrealistic expectations from their children beyond their capability or intelligence
• Living with domestic violence
• History of depression or other mental illness
What could be the impact of abuse in the family?
• Constant disharmony in the family environment, where shouting, yelling and violent behaviour is exhibited towards other family members or the child, can cause long-term and lasting negative effects.
• Children might grow into adults with depression or become abusive in relationships and more seriously can get involved in conduct disorder and crimes.

Signs of child abuse
• Children may show their dislike for such behaviour by either acting up or becoming withdrawn and quite
• Child may not discuss with parents about the abuse if they are worried that parents may not trust them or even ridicule them
Signs to look out for in troubled child
• Presence of single symptom or sign does not indicate child abuse
• Dropping grades
• Either eating a lot or loss of appetite
• Frequent temper tantrums and defiant behaviours
• Daydreaming and having poor attention spans
• May have trouble with sleep
• Frequent abdominal pains and headaches with no medical
cause
• Not waiting to play and spend time with peers
• Younger kids may start with thumb sucking, nail biting or bet wetting

What to do?
• If you see any of the signs mentioned in your child or in the child of a close friend or family you should take steps towards resolving the issue when there is still a chance to prevent emotional scarring in the child
• Discuss openly with the child
• Show that you trust your child
Teachers, doctors, other family members or friends must address the issue with child welfare organisations when they can see
• That a child is showing unexpected behavioural changes
• Is ill kept (Not very clean)
• Presents with frequent non-accidental injuries and burns
• When the parent is a known substance abuser
• When a parent-child interaction does not involve eye contact and parent is excessively critical of the child

When extreme disciplining is leading to loss of control
• Understand that discipline is where a child knows and understands the definite ground rules and not development of fear wherein the child who does not know what will trigger off an anger explosion
• They should learn to speak their mind instead of hitting and adopt means like counting to 10 before shouting
When extreme disciplining is leading to loss of control
• Get anger management counselling
• Have age-appropriate, realistic expectations from their children to prevent frustrations

Please remember
• Every child has the right and deserves to grow up in a happy and safe environment
• Every child has to have support to meet their basic needs for survival
• Every child needs to be loved and cared for
• It is a crime to be abusive and violent towards children
• It is our responsibility as adults to make our children responsible and good citizens for making the world a better place

Team Ovum Hospitals