Child abuse

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Child abuse includes all types of abuse that are threatening or violent to a child. This not only includes physical violence but also emotional abuse or neglect.

There are several forms of child abuse:

Physical child abuse
Physical abuse is committed when, for example, an adult regularly hits a child.

Emotional or mental abuse
Emotional or mental abuse is committed when an adult regularly calls a child names or humiliates or intentionally frightens a child.

Physical neglect
Physical neglect is encountered when a child does not receive the care that she/he needs. For instance, she/he does not receive food or has nowhere to sleep.

Emotional or mental neglect
Continuous lack of positive attention for a child is also a form of child abuse. Every child has the right to be loved, and to receive warmth and security from its parents or guardians. Emotional or mental neglect also includes witnessing violence among parents or guardians.

Sexual abuse
Sexual abuse is classed as all sexual contact perpetrated by an adult against a child.
This abuse might be intentional, but that is not always the case. In certain circumstances, people may no longer be able to care for their loved ones or clients. And this could cause their behaviour to worsen and manifest in abuse.

Although child abuse is widespread, tackling it requires more than just identifying signs like bruises, for example.

If you recognise one of the several signs, this does not necessarily mean the child is being abused. However, it is advised to look out for these signs and register them.

Signs in child

What does the child look like?

  • Often has stomach ache, headache, or faints
  • Gains weight or loses weight
  • Looks tired
  • She/he is often ill or is ill for a long time
  • Hair is dirty, or teeth look uncared for
  • Has bruises, injuries, or scars
  • Wears dirty or worn clothes and shoes

How does the child interact with other people?

  • Lives ‘in his/her own world’
  • Demands a lot of attention or is afraid to be alone
  • Does not invite friends to his/her home
  • She/he is afraid of certain places or people
  • Does not want to be touched
  • Looks away when you try to make eye contact

Which situations does the child encounter?

  • (Suddenly) cannot socialise with his/her peers
  • Is often late at school or absent from school
  • Shows behaviour which is not in keeping with his/her age
  • She/he is often alone
  • She/he is hungry, does not have breakfast, or does not bring lunch

How does the child behave?

  • She/he is easily distracted
  • She/he is suddenly too lively or too quiet
  • Often disobeys adults or the rules
  • She/he is often very early at school or hangs around long after school
  • Says negative things about himself/herself, others, or the world
  • Re-enacts violent or sexual situations
  • Becomes angry easily and then hits, kicks, and bites others
  • Steals or breaks items
  • Uses alcohol or drugs

Signs in adults

Interaction with the child

  • Shouts at the child and calls the child names
  • Hits, kicks, or pushes the child when something happens
  • Often keeps the child at home
  • Complains about the child
  • Does not comfort the child
  • Imposes so many rules that the child is able to do very little
  • Gives the child tasks that are not in keeping with his/her age

How does the adult feel?

  • Says that he or she cannot handle the child
  • Acts as if he or she does not care about the child
  • Says negative things about himself/herself, others, or the world

How is the family doing?

  • Has little contact with others or other families
  • There is a lot of arguing at home
  • Family members are often sick or call in sick
  • Has often moved houses or often moves to a new address with the family

How does the adult interact with other people?

  • Does not keep appointments
  • Prefers not to speak with teachers or supervisors
  • Acts against the advice of school or other organisations
  • Regularly in contact with aid organisations
  • Always visits different doctors and hospitals
  • Refuses medical or mental assistance for the child

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