It is common to have a difficult relationship with your parents, especially during your adolescent years. Dealing with the hectic stress of growing up can be full of unseen pressures and may cause you to feel irritable and angry toward your parents. However, although this is normal, there are certain feelings that can be harmful and should be dealt with in a healthy and safe manner. It is important to understand what child abuse is or else it can be mislabeled. Often children will tell their parents that “this is child abuse” when they are grounded or have something taken away. However, child abuse is a very serious issue and should not be taken lightly.
Child abuse is the maltreatment of a child (under 18) in both a mental/ psychological and/or physical sense that is subsequent of the harming of a child. If you know someone that may be abusing his/her child, it is important to report it right away; however, for children, the situation may be much more difficult than picking up a phone and calling the police. Oftentimes, the child may not understand that what is happening to them is wrong because they have been psychologically damaged by their parent/guardian/family member, etc. It is important to be informed about what child abuse is as well as understand that children, just like adults, have rights to a life free from neglect or maltreatment.
For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on parental child abuse concentrating from the father toward the child. However, we will also be looking at types of child abuse and feelings associated with child abuse so that you, or someone you know, can seek the help they need. Child abuse is a serious and heartbreaking problem and must be dealt with in a sensitive manner to protect the child. But first, noticing that there is something wrong with what is happening to you is vital. People oftentimes consider child abuse to be strictly physical abuse, others know that it is also mental abuse. However, what few know is that neglect is the largest form of child abuse in the United States at 62% of maltreatment of children being neglect, according to dosomething.org.
Do you find yourself saying, “I hate my dad” to yourself or aloud? Do you feel animosity or anger toward your father derived from circumstances you may or may not understand? These feelings can make you hurt, make you feel alone, or even want to leave and run away, and it is important to understand these feelings for you to begin the road to help and recovery.
Finding yourself in a home with a violent male figure, oftentimes a father or boyfriend of the mother, can be frightening and may seem helpless to transfigure, but just know that you are not alone and that there are programs and helplines strictly for children in these very situations. According to the National Women Abuse Prevention Protection, domestic abuse is the single greatest risk factor in child abuse. In other words, when there is domestic abuse in the home there is a much higher risk of child abuse as well. 40-60% of men who abuse women also abuse their children. You are not alone. There are, sadly, millions of children from all around the world who have been victims of child abuse, and knowing that you are not alone may help you realize that there are people out there who are professionals who are dedicated to helping you.
Types of Child Abuse
According to Safehorizon.org, 1 in 10 children suffer from child maltreatment. 1 in 16 children suffer from sexual abuse, and nearly 1 in 10 children are witnesses to family violence. Child abuse is inexcusable and no matter what you are told, it is not alright for a parent, teacher, family member, etc. to physically, emotionally, or mentally harm you. We will be taking a look at the categories of child abuse: Physical, Emotional, Sexual, and Neglect. We will also be looking at ways for you to help someone you think is a victim of child abuse.
“Physical abuse is nonaccidental physical injury,” according to Childwelfare.gov. This would include beating, burning, shaking, or any other physical harm done to a child. However, discipliary punishment such as light spanking has yet to be identified as child abuse although research has varied in how spanking may harm a child’s psychological development. According to dosomething.org, approximately 5 children die a day as a result of child abuse.
According to Childwelfare.gov, “Emotional Abuse (or psychological abuse) is a pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth.” It may be hard for a child to understand if they are being emotionally abused, and out of all the other types of child abuse–soley emotional abuse if often hard to prove. However, it is also the most common, spreading out amongst all the other forms of abuse. Abused and neglected children are 11 times more likely to engage in criminal behavior as an adult. About 80% of 21-year-olds who were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder and 14% of all men and 36% of all women in prison were abused as children.
Childwelfare.gov defines Sexual abuse as activities done by a parent or caregiver with sexual acts. This includes penetration as well as fondling, incest, rape, indecent exposure, and sexual exploitation. According to dosomething.org, 1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys will be sexually abused before they reach age 18. 90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way and 68% are abused by a family member.
Neglect is defined by childwelfare.gov as “the failure of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver to provide for a child’s basic needs. Neglect may be:
In 2010, 1,537 children died of abuse or neglect. 79.4% were under the age of 4 and 47.7% were under the age of 1, according to dosomething.org.
These forms of child abuse are all wrong and inexcusable. If you know someone who is being abused, it is vital to assist the child as soon as possible through either the police or help hotlines. According to safehorizon.org, reports that came from teachers, law enforcement or legal representatives, or social service providers were at 60% (teachers 17%; law enforcement 17%; social service 11%). Therefore, no matter who you are, if you suspect that a child is being harm it is your duty to report it.
It is important to seek help if you or someone you know is being abused. It is important if you are the victim to seek help from a person who you trust and at a safe time. For children, a teacher or school counselor is often a way to express your situation in a safe environment. If you do not feel comfortable going to a one of the aforementioned, Child Help, Child Helpline International, NSPCC, or Kids Help are online helplines that you can call or chat with if you need support or help finding resources in your area.
So, if you feel things such as “I hate my dad so much” or feel as though you are being physically, mentally, sexually abused or neglected by your caregiver, it is important that you seek help and find support to get the needed guidance necessary for you to live a life without harm or cruelty. Mistreating a child is intolerable and there is no excuse for maltreatment of a minor. Therefore, helping a child who you think is being abused is vital, and it is better to be safe than sorry if you are unsure. If you are a victim of child abuse, it is important that you find a safe place to seek help so that you can be given the support and guidance you need to live a successful and happy life.