Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse

Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse

  • Child abuse is something that should be taken very seriously and should be addressed with grave concern. In our country the numbers are alarming. There are many kids that are abused but we never notice them because we are not aware of the signs and symptoms. Here a few signs that should set off alarm bells in your mind if you ever do notice them.
  • 1) Physical Abuse:
    These are the easiest to spot. If you see any bruise marks, any kind of blood clots, cuts etc on the child's body then immediately ask them about it. If the child shows any sort of hesitation in responding, then you need to be aware that something might be wrong. If the child's explanation does not match the bruise mark you see on the body then know that the child is lying. It is up to the adult to make the child comfortable enough to get the child to open up.
  • 2) Emotional Abuse:
    One of the biggest indicators when a child has been emotionally abused is that there will be a sudden drop in his/her self-confidence and self-esteem. Along with this will be the glaring sign of the child withdrawing from being social. The child will also begin to develop mood swings.
  • 3) Sexual Abuse:
    If a child has been sexually abused by a particular person, the child will most likely be afraid of that person. Now the child may not know or understand what exactly has been happening, but will begin to associate the person who has sexually abused them with pain. Therefore the child may be unwilling to spend time alone with that person. Another indicator is that the child may have a lot of sexual knowledge which might be inappropriate for that age.
    If you find that the child has trouble walking or sitting or is complaining of pain in their private areas, immediately get them checked by a doctor. It is possible that the child has been sexually abused.
  • As adults it is always our responsibility to protect our young ones. Let's learn to identify when a child is in distress, mentally or physically. If we cannot protect them then we as a society have failed. Always take the child seriously. Pay attention if they complain for any kind of discomfort or if you see a sudden change in their behaviour. It could be red signals for something larger, something deeper and something much more than just a tantrum.
  • Sometimes, a child might find it difficult to express in words what has happened to them; enable them to use their own ways to describe it to you. You can allow the child to use crayons to draw a picture to tell what is on their minds, or even allow them to use their toys like dolls or cars. What they cannot say in words, they can always express through their creativity. It is up to us adults to be watchful for these signs and take timely actions.

Are you emotionally abusing your child?

Are you emotionally abusing your child?

  • Abuse can come in various forms and types. When someone says the word child abuse, the first thing that comes to mind is sexual abuse. But equally prevalent in the world today is another type which is emotional abuse. It may not have any physical indicators like broken bones and bruises, but it can be a scar that can go deeper and affect the child in ways we cannot imagine. Sometimes we may be doing it unintentionally without really knowing what might account for emotional abuse. Here are a few steps you can take in order to avoid the same.
  • 1) Name calling:
    With young children it is very easy to get frustrated and lose our temper. In the heat of the moment we may say something really harsh that we do not mean. Words like "nitwit, dumb" or even sentences like 'pain in my life' especially to a young girl can cause serious impacts in the mind of the child. The child can develop inferiority complex and might begin to second guess herself in everything she does.
  • 2) Emotional Neglect:
    This is what happens when you side-line the child completely. If in their formative years, a child is not given the adequate attention and affection needed it can prove to be fatal to the mind of a child. Being a predominantly patriarchal society, where boys are favoured over girls, this type of neglect can be seen at large. This form of emotional abuse can scar the girl for life, causing her to withdraw into a shell or completely rebel against her parents and family.
  • 3) Terrorising:
    Threatening the child with severe physical punishment and instilling in the child a sense of negative fear amounts to physical abuse. As parents or an adult that is responsible for the child, it is important that we know the line between discipline and abuse. If the child becomes afraid of the adult in a way that they would prefer to stay away from them or are afraid of interacting with the adult in any form, then it is cause for concern.
  • 4) Isolating:
    For whatever reasons, the caregiver, or parent might refuse to let the child participate in social events that enable them to interact with peers of their own age. This fuels in the mind of the child a feeling that they are not allowed to speak or interact with anyone. Loneliness sets in and that leads to further repercussions in the mind of the child.
    These things can happen even to the best of parents. However it is always better to be aware of things like this. You might love your child but sometimes you might be subtly hurting them too. Better safe than sorry!

If you've been abused as a child, don't hide your story.

If you've been abused as a child, don't hide your story.

  • Aditi's mother died when she was only 8, and so Aditi went to live with hergrandmother. Her grandmother loved her, and though she missed her mother, she had ahappy childhood. She was a promising student who dreamed of becoming a doctor.
  • That changed when Aditi was 12. One day her aunt came to her grandmother's home. "Come with me, Aditi", implored her aunt. As they walked to the next village, Aditi asked questions, but her aunt refused toanswer. Once in the village, Aditi understood. Her aunt had sold her virginity to one ofthe village elders.Aditi returned to her grandmother. In physical and emotional pain, she kept silent about what had happened. But one day, she could be silent no more.
  • The rape had left herpregnant.
    Aditi refused to bring shame upon her grandmother. And so under cover of night, sheran away to the city. Aditi managed to find work as a typist and gave birth to a healthygirl. She never returned to her grandmother's village again.The rape robbed Aditi of her innocence and also her future as a doctor. But Aditi refusedto let it rob her of her dignity. She raised her daughter and provided for her by workingas a typist. But she never told anyone, including her daughter, the story of herconception and birth.
  • Eventually, Aditi worked in a home for vulnerable children. She began by doing clericalwork, but her gentleness and wisdom opened up the way for her to become a teacher inthe home. Eventually Aditi became the director.Aditi loved the work she did with the girls. But she did what many children's homedirectors do. She encouraged the girls to be thankful for shelter, and food, and clothing,and an education … and to bury their pain, their shame, and move on in life.
  • One day, Aditi listened to a radio drama that told the story of two sisters, Sarah andEsther. Their story was different than her own, but there were similarities. The girls hadbeen orphaned and sent to live with relatives. There they were abused and one of thesisters had been exploited. Just like Aditi, her virginity had been sold.In the radio drama, Sarah and Esther face many challenges, but eventually they weresafe in a home for girls. But unlike Aditi, the director of the home, Maria, encourages thegirls to tell their stories. And while it takes time for the girls to trust Maria, eventually theydo. And as they tell their stories, they begin their journey of healing.As a result of listening to Sarah and Esther's story, Aditi told her story for the very firsttime. And at the children's home, she began to cultivate an environment of trust so thatthe girls could stop burying their pain and instead, tell their stories and begin to heal.If your story is like Aditi's and you have buried the pain, buried the shame, and justmoved on, perhaps today is the day for you to begin your journey of healing and tellyour story.
  • -Cindy Finley, Global Director, RiverCross, is our guest writer sharing a real life story with More than bread to support the awareness campaign to protect children from sexual abuse.
    -And if you need a safe person to whom to tell your story, call More than Bread at +91 94459 10101 or email @ info@morethanbread.in
  • *While the story is true, the names have been changed.

What to teach your child to avoid abuse.

What to teach your child to avoid abuse.

  • In a world where abuse of so many types are prevalent, it is imperative that we are aware of our surroundings and take it upon ourselves to be smart, wise and guarded about it. It is equally important to talk to your kids about how to guard themselves from the 'bad' things out there. Here a few small ways that you can talk to small children about this issue. If you are a parent, teacher, counsellor, an elder sibling, this can help you in approaching the topic in the right way with the child.
  • 1) Teaching those names of sensitive body parts:
    If you talk to them about their private parts, teaching them the names, it is easier for the young child to tell you exactly what has happened or where they have been touched. If they can identify, they can speak it clearly.
  • 2) They are private:
    Once you've told them the names, make sure to keep reiterating the fact that these are private parts and that no one, under no circumstances can touch them there.
  • 3) Good touch and bad touch:
    This is crucial. The child should know the difference between the touch of a parent while bathing them, and the touch of another individual to their private parts. If the touch feels strange and if the adult has told the child to not tell anyone else, then it is bad touch. A doctor can touch them in their private parts for examination only and only in the presence of their parents.
  • 4) The buddy system:
    Tell the young girl to always walk in pairs or in a group. Never alone, especially in strange or new streets and roads or while walking to and fro from school.
  • 5) It's perfectly fine to say "no":
    Engrain it in the child's mind that they are allowed to say 'no' to someone touching them. This may sound strange to the child as they are told to follow rules without questioning, but when it comes to touch, give them the liberty to say no. If a young girl is uncomfortable hugging or sitting on someone's lap at any event or gathering, respect her decision. It would be wise to talk to her about her reasons for saying no. This helps the adult to understand what about the adult in question makes her uncomfortable.
    These are just a few pointers, but if they are told to the child in their formative years, i.e; 2-5 years, the advice stays with them for years on end, and it will definitely go a long way in protecting them in the future too.