is a growing issue in the United States, South America, Africa, and Asia. It is truly an international problem. A recent study indicated that approximately 50% of all Indian children have been sexually abused at one time in their life, whilst about 25% of Brazilian children are abused each year. In the U.S., the actual percentage of children who are abused each year may be much less, but it still remains an important societal problem.
Child abuse takes on many forms, which include physical, sexual, and emotional. Neglect is also a form of child abuse.
Approximately 9% of American children live with parents who abuse drugs and/or alcohol. These substances contribute to child abuse and neglect. According to Child Help
, a child abuse prevention and treatment organization, there are approximately three million reports of child abuse in the United States each year, involving approximately six million children (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2014).
Healing from Child Abuse
If you have been abused, recovery may seem like a daunting task. But it is important that you realize that you can heal from your traumatic experiences. The first and perhaps most important step is to acknowledge the abuse and/or neglect, and share your thoughts and feelings with a sympathetic listener. This may be your romantic partner (i.e. boyfriend or girlfriend), minister, mentor, or mental health professional (i.e. psychologist, psychotherapist, counselor, psychiatrist, or clinical social worker). Talking about the abuse and/or neglect at your own pace can help you overcome the anxiety and depression caused by past abuse. It is common to experience high levels of said emotions when you have been abused and betrayed by someone you love and/or cared about. To help calm you, try art. Soft, gentle, soothing therapies like art therapy can actually help your mind, body, and soul recuperate from traumatic experiences.
If you have experienced child abuse and/or neglect, it is imperative that you take steps to emotionally heal. The best way to push past your conflicting feelings is to reopen your heart and forgive. You also need to be able to trust again. Realistically, learning to trust and love will take time and persistence, but the outcome will be well worth the effort. You will be able to regain your life. It is not uncommon for people who have been hurt deeply to be especially sensitive to violence and trauma, regardless of whether it is true life or images on a movie or television screen.
So even watching violent and/or disturbing news reports can damage your psyche, especially if you have been abused and/or neglected. In fact, news reports that provide in-depth details about abuse (of any nature) can trigger painful memories. These memories can actually interfere and/or delay your healing process if ignored or dismissed. So be wary of anything you see or watch whilst in the healing process.
It is imperative that you understand and accept that you are in no way responsible for the abuse you endured. You did not deserve to be abused and/or neglected. The person that hurt you is the perpetrator. They betrayed your trust and they took your love for granted. If you still feel like you are somehow to blame for the abuse, share your feelings with a trusted confidante or schedule counseling sessions with a mental health professional.
You have been victimized, and do not deserve to carry around such heavy baggage. Remember that although you were preyed upon, you are a survivor. In order to move on with your life, you will need to accept love from those who truly care for you. Your family and friends love you unconditionally, and they will help you heal from your experiences.
Child Abuse Counseling
The main function of a counselor is to listen to you without judgment. A counselor is not there to simply solve your problems for you, but to actively listen to your concerns and help you
develop solutions to your problems. In other words, a counselor guides you as you work through your issues, and he/she helps you develop strategies that will work for you. Healing occurs as you work through your issues. Do note, however, that at the beginning of counseling you will more than likely experience intense pain (as you recall the abuse and/or neglect), but these memories will ultimately help you recover. Over time the pain will subside and you will heal.
Child Abuse - Treatment and Misdiagnosis
Although counseling is often essential and necessary in cases of child abuse and neglect, realize that not all children who have undergone such trauma have a mental illness or a psychological disorder. In other words, there are many cases in which abused and/or neglected children have been misdiagnosed as having a mental illness or psychological disorder. In fact, children and even adults have been diagnosed as having ADHD and/or manic depression (i.e. bipolar disorder), when in reality they were simply dealing with the aftermath of childhood abuse and/or neglect. Misdiagnoses are more common than you may think, and this injustice often occurs within the school system and health care system.
It is common for people, regardless of age, to be reluctant to share their experiences with others, so it is imperative that physicians, mental health professionals, and loved ones be cognizant of this fact and allow the victim to share his/her story when he/she feels ready. For instance, a little girl who has been abused may not feel comfortable opening up about her experiences with an authority figure. In fact, she may keep her feelings and memories “bottled up” inside of her for the rest of her life if not properly treated.
So though a child may display some symptoms normally associated with bipolar disorder, in reality he/she may be a victim of abuse, and in need of special care and therapy. They would need emotional healing, therapy, love, security, and stability (Caputo, M. 2009).
Over-drugged, Abused Children in Florida.
The Miami Herald
It is reassuring to know that after a child-abuse related death in Broward County Florida, where a boy had inappropriately been given psychiatric medications, and without providing appropriate supervision and oversight for his case, there has been targeted training on the issue of inappropriately use of psychiatric drugs to control children’s behavior. Approximately 13% of abused, abandoned, and/or neglected southwest Florida foster care children are taking anti-depressants and mood stabilizers, and it is implied that there is a significant percentage of these who do not have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. While leaders in Florida foster care deny the allegations or try to minimize the findings, many are rightly concerned.
"We do believe that medications are being used to calm agitated and/or unruly children,"
states Frank Prado director the the regional Guardian ad Litem office in Florida, an advocacy organization for abused children. “There's so much more you can do with children - you can give them other outlets to work out their energy."
Child abuse is a damaging and life-threatening epidemic that needs to be addressed. Psychiatrists need to be cautious when diagnosing and labeling children and teens, who may have been abused, with psychological disorders and mental illnesses. These individuals require specialized therapy and a strong support system.
People who have been abused don't need the same pharmaceutical treatments as those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness or psychological disorder like manic depression (i.e. bipolar disorder) or ADHD.
Reporting Child Abuse
In the United States, the law regulates reporting cases of child abuse or suspected child abuse. In some states, anyone who has knowledge of child abuse and neglect must report it to the proper authorities (i.e. the police or a state child abuse agency). In other states, anyone in a position of authority is obligated under law to report child abuse and neglect. Moreover, in most cases, teachers, professors, and ministers must report suspected child abuse.
However, some states grant ministers "ecclesiastical privilege." In other words, these individuals are not required by law to report every case of suspected child abuse. Some ministers, however, may feel obligated to report suspected child abuse, regardless whether or not the law requires it. Although rare, some states do not require that all cases of child abuse and/or neglect be reported to the proper authorities. In these states, individuals are asked to use discretion when reporting cases.
Even though suspected child abuse and neglect cases are reported and/or investigated, it does not necessarily mean that the “accused” child abuser is actually guilty. In some cases, the “accused” perpetrator is cleared of any allegations of child abuse. This includes teachers who have been wrongly accused of abusive behaviors towards students.
If you suspect that a child is being abused and/or neglect, report it immediately. Remember, this is a child’s life. Be a hero. Don’t be afraid to do the right thing. Err on the side of precaution and report the suspected abuse. Do not worry about the a person’s reputation; if he/she is innocent, then the allegations will be dismissed.
Deliberately Exposing Children to Pornography is a Form of Child Abuse
Believe it or not, exposing children to pornography is considered a form of child abuse. According to the Division of Youth and Family Services, a child abuse agency in New Jersey, adults or teens who deliberately expose children to pornography should be reported to authorities because it is a form of sexual abuse. How? Well, exposing children to pornography can emotionally and mentally harm them, increasing their risk of sexual molestation.
In addition, parents, stepparents, and/or older siblings who leave pornographic material unattended where children can access it are considered neglectful because they are unable to protect the children from exposure.
Responsible parenting involves: providing safeguards on accessible computers and websites, and keeping all electronic devices in a visible, rather than private, location in the home. Unmonitored Internet access, for instance, in a child or teen’s bedroom can leave him/her open to pornographic websites. It is important that parents and caregivers utilize computer and Internet safeguards on all electronic devices in the home.
In some cases of abuse and/or neglect, protective measures, as well as mandatory parental training, can result in a better situation for a vulnerable, at-risk child. However, it must be acknowledged that “old habits” are not easily changed, and in some cases, even after parental training, the child may once again experience abuse and/or neglect. Child abuse prevention agencies must closely monitor previously neglectful parents and not just assume that the child is now safe. As mentioned, a parent can slip back into old habits at times, which can be detrimental to children who have been abused and neglected in the past.
We have provided a variety of resources, articles, website links, and data on child abuse and neglect that we sincerely hope is helpful for victims of child abuse and child abuse prevention.
Child Abuse Statistics and Facts - International Child Abuse
According to a study reported in the New York Times
(2007), approximately 50% of Indian children are sexually abused, but many of the cases are not reported to the government. Moreover, according to Renuka Chowdhury, women and child development minister, the abusers tend to be the children’s own parents or relatives.
The study also indicated that approximately 65% of school-age children report being beaten by teachers on a regular basis.
Also, 12,447 Indian children ages 5 to 12 years old, and 2,324 Indian young adults have experienced some form of abuse (i.e. physical, sexual, emotional abuse, and neglect). The study did not have a margin of sampling error.
Furthermore, the Indian government has prohibited the employment of children under age 14 to work as domestic servants or employees at hotels, restaurants, and small teashops because they have
often been subjected to physical violence, mental trauma, and sexual abuse.
References to Child Abuse and Neglect Information