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For those who have not experienced abuse, it is near impossible to fathom the kinds of abuses that are heaped upon children and their after-affects. As hard as it is to imagine, someone intentionally hurting a child, about 1 million children are abused every year in the United States. These of course are only the reported incidents. Many, many more are unreported and undetected, often because the children are either afraid to tell or simply do not know life any differently.
When mistreatment becomes abuse, children are injured, neglected, and emotionally damaged. Approximately 1,000 to 1,300 U.S. children are known to die each year as a result of physical abuse. Those who survive suffer emotional trauma that lasts long after the bruises have healed.
Some studies report that in the United States, as many as one out of every eight boys and one out of every four girls is sexually abused before turning 18 years old. In nearly 90% of these cases, sexual abuse occurs in the home, particularly when younger children are involved. A child who knows the abuser (about 90% of the cases involve an abuser who was previously known to the child) usually senses that the abuse is wrong. S/he may feel trapped by the affection felt for the person or indeed fearful of the power the abuser has to affect his/her life. For this reason, oftentimes s/he doesn’t tell.
Emotional abuse is one of the most common, harmful, yet overlooked forms of child abuse. The effects can last a lifetime, stripping a child of self-esteem and affecting his/her relationships, happiness and success.
Whatever the statistics, what we can say for certain is that child abuse is far too frequent and too often hidden.
Child abuse by definition, is any mistreatment of a child that results in harm, physical or otherwise, and that has no “reasonable” explanation. Child abuse is generally divided into several categories including physical, sexual, emotional, and neglect.
Physical Abusecan include the following actions, particularly if they are continuous, pervasive, and extreme, and if they are done intentionally to harm a child:
hitting, pinching, shaking, beating with or without an object,
burning with a match, cigar or cigarette,throwing,
kicking, scalding with hot water,
pushing and holding a child underwater, tying up a child,
starving or failing to provide food for a child, biting, choking a child
Sexual Abuse includes any of the following:
Allowing or forcing children to witness sexual acts,
showing sex organs to a child,
involving a child in pornography - either by showing pornographic material or making a child pose/perform for pornographic pictures or videos,
telling a child “dirty” stories,
forcing a child to undress,touching,
fondling or kissing of a child’s sex organs,
making a child touch someone else’s sex organs,
forcing a child to have sex with someone, having sex with a child.
Emotional Abuse occurs when a parent engages in any of the following with regards to their child:
criticizing – always finding fault
belittling – making fun of or calling namesinsulting,
rejecting, ignoring, terrorizing, blaming, withholding love, support or guidance, showing no respect.
Anything which otherwise makes the child feel that s/he is worthless and incompetent.
Physical Neglect can include the following - particularly if the action/inaction is seen to interfere with a child’s growth and development:
failing to provide for a child’s needs for things like proper food, hygiene, education, love and attention, supervision – leaving a child alone for extended periods of time, not providing adequate housing or warm clothing in cold weather, locking a child in a closet or room, not providing medical care when a child is sick or injured, placing a child in a physically dangerous situation.
Shaken baby/shaken impact syndrome is a specific form of child abuse.
It is the leading cause of death in child abuse cases in the United States. Although most incidents last just 5 to 20 seconds, that is enough time to cause sufficient brain damage to kill the baby. In some cases, a blow to the head accompanies the shaking