Types of child abuse

Child “abuse is commonly recognised as any behaviour towards a child that causes harm to that child in some way. This behaviour may be deliberate, or the parent may not be aware of the affects of their behaviour.” (Flynn, H. et Al. 2004. p.51). Child abuse is categorised into four main areas- physical, sexual, emotional and neglect and abuse can be classed solely in one area or a combination or these areas.

Penny Tassoni states “physical abuse takes place when an adult inflicts injuries on a child or does not prevent them- for example, hitting, shaking, or using excessive force when feeding.” (Tassoni, P. et Al. 2002. p.570). If a child has marks or bruises to the body in places that are unlikely to be caused by an accident it could be a sign of physical abuse. These signs “might include unusual-shaped bruises, scalds and burns (sometimes from cigarettes), bite marks, and fractures.” (Tassoni, P. et Al. 2002. p.575). Children may show a number of behavioural signs that also indicate physical abuse.

These could include being withdrawn and unusually quiet, being aggressive towards others or in role-play situations, not wanting to remove clothing, for example getting changed for P.E. It could also be if the child doesn’t want to sit down or seems to ‘wince’ when putting pressure on part of the body, and another sign is if the child is reluctant to be with their parent or another carer as this could indicate that the child is afraid of the person.

Sexual abuse is when “the adult uses the child in order to gratify their sexual desires. This could involve intercourse or anal intercourse; it may involve watching pornographic material with the child. Children may be forced to engage in sexually explicit behaviour or oral sex, masturbation or the fondling of sexual parts.” (Bruce, T. et Al. 2005. p.514). Sexual abuse is more likely to be inflicted on a child by a member of their family, or somebody that they know and trust. Some of the signs of sexual abuse are bruising, itching or discomfort in genital areas, which as a result could cause the child pain when sitting or walking, “vaginal discharge in girls, swollen penis or discharge in boys,” bruises or marks on the top and inner thigh area, and “distress when having nappy changed (babies and toddlers).” (Green, S. 2006. p.78).

The behavioural signs that may indicate if a child is being sexually abused include regression, for example bed-wetting, becoming withdrawn and keeping to themselves, or acting out and portraying sexually inappropriate behaviour to other children or adults. Children may also try to make themselves less desirable to their abusers by trying to change their appearance- this could lead to eating disorders including excessive weight gain as well as weight loss, or bad personal hygiene to try and repel their abuser.

Emotional abuse is “persistent emotional ill treatment of a child… It may involve making a child feel worthless or rejected by ignoring him/her; calling the child names or belittling him/her; continually blaming one child for other children’s behaviour; or being emotional; or, as parents and carers being so involved in their own problems that they overlook their child’s needs.” (Flynn, H. et Al. 2004. p.53). This type of the abuse is least likely to have any physical signs or symptoms, although some children may start to self-harm as a way to gain attention. “The main indicator of emotional abuse is the child’s need for attention and low self-esteem.” (Tassoni, P. et Al. 2002. p.577).

Other behavioural indicators may be attention seeking, being overly friendly or anxious to please others, reluctance to go home, and not smiling or having a ‘blank’ expression. Children who are anxious to please adults as a result of emotional abuse are often targeted by paedophiles “as they offer the child love and affection,” which the children crave. (Tassoni, P. et Al. 2002. p.577). However this affection is inappropriate and would result in further abuse for the child.

Neglect is when a child’s basic needs are not met either intentionally or unintentionally. This could be by not providing adequate food, shelter or clothing, ignoring a child’s health or not giving love and support to a child. Some of the physical signs of neglect are malnourishment, a continuous dirty and unhygienic appearance, lack of sleep, and they may “suffer from frequent minor infections, such as colds and coughs, due to inappropriate nutrition and subsequently become run-down.” (Green, S. 2006. p.77).

Other signs that a child may be neglected are constant hunger, or stealing food as a result of this, constant tiredness and lack of attention as a result, and a lack of clothing or inappropriate clothing for the weather. Children that are being neglected may also have poor social skills or relationships with adults, as they do not get the adequate interaction at home.

I am going to be looking at the common signs and symptoms of the different types of abuse. The types of abuse I will be looking at are physical, emotional, neglect, sexual and bullying. I will state the physical indicators …

May involve hitting, shaking, throwing, burning, poisoning, drowning, suffocating, and any physical harm to a child. This may also be caused by parents/carers or known adults who may also make up symptoms of illness. Signs and Symptoms Indicators and behaviours …

Children are increasingly sexually abused by members of the same family. Significant research studies have been conducted on the issue of sexual abuse with analysis carried out from all angles. The documentation available about sexual abuse reveals several devastating effects …

Physical abuse occurs when people physically hit, shake or in some way hurt or injure children or failing to prevent these injuries from happening. Physical abuse includes hitting, shaking, kicking, punching, scalding, suffocating and other ways of inflicting pain or …

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