Child abuse encompasses all acts of commission & omission,which may harm a child.It can be classified under four heads viz-physical,emotional,sexual & plain neglect.Abuse can take any fiendish form because the child being young,vulnerable &easily accessible to the tormentor;is totally in his/her clutches.What such a pervert cannot do with grown-ups,s/he does with the child.S/he will first ingratiate himself/herself with the victim's care-givers;or s/he might himself/herself be one of the care-giver; & then threaten the child into submission & silence.The effects of abuse spell disaster for the child.They are wide-spread & intangible;which is why it is not easy to enumerate them all.But abuse has chaotic repercussions on the child's body,mind & soul.It mars it's psyche irrevocably.Even one episode can have that effect on the child,& when such torment is continued over a long period of time it does untold damage & messes up his/her whole life.In order to safe-guard our children we must be able to recognise the changes which might indicate that the child is suffering exploitation.
A child's behavior will give the most conspicuous clues to a close observer, that it is being abused.There will be sudden changes in the way it has been hitherto behaving.The child may become taciturn & withdrawn.Or it may become fearful,easily startled & apprehensive.Sometimes the child is so scared that it will cling to a protective parent to such an extent that it looks unnatural.Another child could react by becoming aggressive,violent & anti-social,while a child who was till now timid & gentle ,may become hyper-reactive i.e easily provoked & angered.If you watch carefully you may find that the child avoids all objects & circumstances related to the abuse.
Academic down-slide or refusal to go to school could also be an indication that something is wrong.
Coming to the physical symptoms of child abuse-there would obviously be frequent cuts,bruises,fractures or burn marks if the kid is suffering physical abuse.If you want to read the searing account of how a child was tortured by her father please click here.Neglect would additionally show up in malnourished & unkempt state of a child.Emotional or sexual abuse could surface in the form of unexplained aches & pains.Or it may be manifested in tics,thumb sucking or bed-wetting.The child may have eating disorders or other somatic complaints which do not relate to any illness.An older child could even seek refuge in substance abuse.Running away from home could be another outcome of abuse.
Psychological repercussions of abuse are by far ,the most cruel;while the symptoms thereof,are impalpable.Through no fault of it's own,the poor child suffers guilt,shame,self-blame,remorse & feelings of worthlessness.It's self-confidence & self esteem are foremost casualties.Insomnia & nightmares often follow.The child may suffer from depression & anxiety.It could take recourse to self-harm .It's anger & frustration may result in reckless behavior leading to self destruction.One child may cling to a person whom it trusts,while another may be numb in familial & social interactions.In the long run abuse victims have difficulty in forming & sustaining relationships.
It is vital to mention here,that these symptoms could arise from causes other than child abuse.Secondly an abuse victim may show only a couple of symptoms,or even none at all.Therefore care-givers should not jump to conclusions & panic without verification .It is best to caution the child against such probability & talk freely to it regarding the various pit-falls that it might encounter; & also what to do in that circumstance--but all this without panicking the child.This is one issue where precaution is far,far preferable to cure.
This post owes a vote of thanks to Bhavna who motivated me to write it .