Autistic teenager starved to death by her mom, a baby girl found in the dryer, childbride, a little boy found dead, archbishop convicted of child sex abuse, missionary abusing orphans, school bus driver abused an eight-year-old girl. These are just some of the abuse cases that hit the headlines this 2018. Each day different cases of child abuse are reported.
“The statistics are shocking: In the United States, over five children are reported to die every day as a result of child abuse and neglect. Bad enough. But it is estimated that between 50 – 60 percent of child deaths due to abuse are not recorded honestly on their death certificates,” according to psychologist and marriage and family counselor Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.
It is saddening to hear news of how helpless children become victims of these horrendous acts by adults, sometimes significant people in their lives who are supposed to be taking care of them and keeping them safe. “In reality, sexual assaults committed by strangers comprise only a very small percentage. An individual is 73% more likely to be assaulted by someone they know or someone close to them,” says Hung Tran, Psy.D. Some of their abusers are sentenced to life imprisonment or death, and others who managed to live freely continue abusing other kids, living as an average person does. But these kids that had become their victims will forever endure the pain and trauma they have caused them.
Issue Of Child Abuse
Kids from all walks of life can experience abuse, a child of any color, social background, or economic class. Even your own child can be a victim. And abuse is not only committed by strangers, but their parents, caregivers, close relatives, and friends as well. It often involves physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse that could cause injury or death to the child. Most parents are not aware that their failure to act in a case of violence against their children is a form of neglect which is also a severe form of child maltreatment.
Organizations Rescuing Children All Over The World
UNICEF reported an estimated number of 15 million teenage girls (ages 15 to 19) who experienced sexual abuse in their lifetime. Boys are also prone to abuse, but there was no global estimate given. Because of such large number, organizations worldwide aims to protect children against all forms of violence. Sexual abuse often happens together with other sorts of abuses.
Child Protective Services investigates reports of child maltreatment and abuse. They are also making sure that there is a home that would serve as a safe place for the kid to grow up in. Some states use different names such as Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Social Services, and Department of Human Services.
World Vision Mongolia together with National Authority for Children and Mobicom (country’s major mobile carrier) set up a 24/7 hotline where people can report child abuse. Besides organizing call centers for child abuse, they also offer stress management training to the operators who take the calls.
They have an alert-style program by an organized group comprising of leaders of all religious groups, law enforcement, local government and traditional healers, and child protection committees. Citizens from 73 villagers are encouraged and taught to intercede, and if it doesn’t work, they are to use the alarm (drums and megaphones). They are trained to block off exit routes to intercept the abductors. There is also a radio program that educates people on child sacrifice, good parenting, and how to care for neighbors.
Children in India are very much vulnerable to child marriage and child sex-trafficking due to poverty, poor gender relations, lack of education, and dysfunctional families. There is a community-managed Child-Friendly Learning and Recreation Centers set up by World Vision that aims to provide children-safe places to play and learn. Men care groups are also organized which educate and equip men about the integral value of women and girls. It aims to transform men’s attitudes to lessen prostitution. There is also a group named Girl Power that teaches teenage girls regarding personal safety.
An estimate of 1400 girls is not given a chance to be born because of Armenia’s cultural preference for a son. To counter this sex selection trend while babies are in the womb, World Vision focuses on creating an environment where both girls and boys are valued equally. They are working hand in hand with Armenian church and the government to work on policies that support gender equality and ending gender-based violence.
What You Can Do About Child Abuse
There is definitely something you can do. You can help by knowing if it is abused the moment you witnessed it. But how?
The moment you suspect an abuse regardless of your relationship to the child, you need to report it to the authorities. They know how to approach the issue better the professional way.
When a child is trying to give you a hint of what is happening by complaining of pain or injury, ask the kid’s permission first before checking for signs of bruises, especially if it is in the unexposed areas. It would be better to look at it in the presence of another responsible adult. If the injury is in the private parts, better have the kid examined in a clinic in the presence of a doctor. Be reminded that not all wounds, especially in the private parts, are due to abuse. Let the proper authorities investigate that matter.
“If you’re a survivor, your voice could be the most important tool in stopping child sexual abuse. Other survivors know the language of trauma and the pathways to healing. But anyone can help. Anyone be supportive. Anyone can stop abuse,” according to Sarah Newman, MA, MFA.
Take note of the possible abuse or neglect – the date, time, place, and events. For strangers, note the plate number of the car and other information that might be helpful to the investigators.
However good you intend to help a child who you suspect is experiencing abuse, do not forget to always respect the child’s trust, privacy, and feelings.
You can also at least attempt to prevent it from happening. “Provide all children with age-appropriate sex education. If you don’t take it on yourself to have “the talk” about sex and sexuality, your kids will get what is often faulty information from peers, the internet and media. Knowing about love, sex, and intimacy shouldn’t be left to chance,” according to