Protect Childhood*

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Child Abuse can be defined as causing or permitting any harmful or offensive contact on a child’s body; and, any communication or transaction of any kind which humiliates, shames, or frightens the child. Some child development experts go a bit further, and define child abuse as any act or omission, which fails to nurture or in the upbringing of the children. There are several types of abuse that a child can be exposed to, and many children are subjected to various forms: physical, sexual, emotional, abuse, and neglect. A child might display any or no warning signs if he or she is currently being abused or has been abused in the past.

Different kinds of abuse are:

Physical Abuse:
The inflicting of physical injury upon a child. This may include, burning, hitting, punching, shaking, kicking, beating, or otherwise harming a child. It may, however, been the result of over-discipline or physical punishment that is inappropriate to the child’s age.

Sexual Abuse:
The inappropriate sexual behavior with a child. It includes fondling a child’s genitals, making the child fondle the adult’s genitals, intercourse, incest, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism and sexual exploitation. To be considered child abuse these acts have to be committed by a person responsible for the care of a child (for example a baby-sitter, a parent, or a daycare provider) or related to the child. If a stranger commits these acts, it would be considered sexual assault and handled solely be the police and criminal courts.

Emotional Abuse:
also known as: verbal abuse, mental abuse, and psychological maltreatment). This can include parents/caretakers using extreme and/or bizarre forms of punishment, such as confinement in a closet or dark room or being tied to a chair for long periods of time or threatening etc. Less severe acts, but no less damaging are belittling or rejecting treatment, using derogatory terms to describe the child or blaming.

The failure to provide for the child’s basic needs. Neglect can be physical, educational, or emotional. It may also include abandonment.

Facts and Figures about Child Abuse:

  • UNICEF estimates that 300 million children worldwide are victims of abuse and exploitation
  • WHO estimates that 53,000 children died worldwide in 2002 of homicide
  • Between 133 and 275 million children worldwide are estimated to witness domestic violence annually
  • 50% of people forced into commercial flesh trade industry are children and 220 million are working as child laborers (UNICEF, 2004)