By Marli Naidoo
We will not give our children stones when they ask for bread. Unfortunately there are parents who do exactly that. Child abuse occurs in all communities and children do not always hate the abuser. In most cases the abuser is somebody known to the child or his family.
Child abuse is any interaction or absence of interaction that results in non-accidental damage to the child’s physical condition or development. This includes not only physical damage but also emotional and sexual abuse, as well as neglect.
Sexual abuse takes place when somebody forces or solicits a child to participate in sexual activities. Whether the child agrees to it or not is immaterial, it is still abuse. It starts with spying on a child to much more serious sexual activities.
Physical abuse is any action that leads to injury to or the death of a child. It could be bruising or lashes, cuts and chafes, fractures or sprains, poisoning, burns and any repeated injury for which there is no acceptable explanation.
Neglect takes place when a child’s physical needs are deliberately not attended to. This includes the provision of food, warmth, shelter and protection against danger as well as neglect to obtain medical care or to provide for the education of a child. Children may not be left at home on their own.
Emotional and psychological abuse is an existing pattern that harms or restricts the child’s emotional development or feeling of self-worth. This comes in the form of criticism, threats or rejection. It is also seen as abuse when a child is ignored or isolated, used for the benefit of adults, sworn at or when he is lied to.
Chjld exploitation is the exposure of a child to child labour, slavery, sexual exploitation, child pornography, human trafficking and the forced removal of body parts.
Violence is any activity by a person, organisation or context that prevents a person from exercising his human rights. This could be verbal, physical, emotional or political, or could include armed conflict.
It is everybody’s responsibility as a community to ensure the safety of our children. If you suspect that a child is being abused, it is important that you contact a social worker, the police or Childline. Do not confront the perpetrator by yourself.