Saturday, 18 December 2021 16:08

What's abuse?

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Any action which may cause harm, such as physical injury, sexual assault or even emotional trauma.


A child psychiatrist tells Jyoti Shekhar Singh about the impact of child abuse and how to deal with it

How does one identify child abuse?

It can be identified by observing behavioural changes in a child—such as nightmares, skin disorders or bedwetting. It can also manifest itself through direct verbalisation: "I am being hurt by uncle at home," or "my teacher forces me to do something wrong". Physical indicators include injuries around genitalia, mouth and anus; bruises on forearms; bite marks below waist; cigarette burns; fracture of arms and legs, etc. Emotional  indicators couldbe child-like behaviour, withdrawal from friends and family members, truancy, sudden change in academic performance, changes in appetite or sleeping habits.

What are major forms of child abuse?

The major ones are physical assault, sexual assault and child labour.

Physical assault refers to any form of punishment that may cause bodily harm to the child—beating with a stick/belt/slipper; hitting on the head; burning with cigarettes; biting; hair-pulling while making the child stand on one leg for hours together. Sexual assault includes inappropriate touching anywhere on the body by an abuser or forcing children to engage in sex-related activities such as masturbation. Child labour is exploitation of child labourers for work in hazardous industries like fireworks manufacturing, coal mines, etc.

What are the aftereffects of child abuse?

The child may suffer from physical injuries, mental and emotional trauma, behavioural problems and social isolation. He or she may also have low self-esteem and lack trust in people. The child could become aggressive, violent and abusive himself or herself or to others, leading to juvenile delinquency. There is a higher chance of drug/alcohol abuse in later life for those who have faced child abuse.