What is child abuse, and what it's not? Practical examples of child abuse and how to prevent it.
Research shows the number one treatment for child abuse is prevention.
“I couldn't believe a four-year-old was doing dishes. He was standing on the stool, doing the dishes while his mom was talking to me.” Is this child abuse?
My professional experience shows child abuse is a learned behavior, and it can be unlearned.
Many of my former clients were a victim or a perpetrator of child abuse. As children, they were either abused by their relatives, coaches, priest, teachers, youth pastors, friends, grandparents, or some of their parents who live with untreated mental illness, learning disabilities, or drug addictions.
What is child abuse?
The Family Court Act of the state of New York defines child neglect or abuse as the act, or failure to act, by any parent or caretaker that results in the death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation of a child under the age of 18. Nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S each year.
Call to report child abuse in New York: 1–800–342–3720.
In New York State, parents are required to take minimal care of their children under eighteen in the best way they can. No fancy house or millions of dollars in the bank to be a reasonable parent — provide time, food, medical needs, education, a clean place to sleep, and seek government assistance as needed.
What is not child abuse?
In many cultures, young children help around the house. They help to do dishes, pick up toys, fold laundry, assist in the family business, or make their lunch — learning living skills improve self-esteem.
Please don't call the police for children cleaning after themselves. Many families can't afford a maid.
In some cases, parenting is modeling, and a parent's experience and environment play a role in who abuses or takes minimal care of a child.
My professional experience shows child abuse is a learned behavior, and it can be prevented.
Examples of child abuse in simple terms:
Child abuse is an equal opportunity, and it happens in all races, incomes, genders, professions, and education. Who can abuse a child? For example, a social worker with the CPS, a family court judge, a priest, or a supermarket clerk can abuse a child. Pay attention because anyone can harm a child.
Here are some of the examples:
- Neglect: Expose a child to family violence or any harm. Fail to provide minimal food, shelter, clothing, medical services, or education.
- Emotional: Your child becomes your parent. Expose a child to domestic violence. Subject a child to humiliation, fear, verbal terror, or extreme criticism.
- Sexual: Have sex with a child or expose a child to sexual intercourse, pornography, or prostitution.
- Physical: Study shows corporal punishment may cause fear and other mental health issues. For example, hitting a child with a belt or stick can cause physical or emotional harm.
- Mental: Parents or others demand total submission and respect from a child.
I. Preventing child abuse:
Many studies show the number one treatment for child abuse is prevention. We tend to live what we experienced and unconsciously parent the way we observe our parents raised us. Seek help if you experienced any childhood traumas before you become a parent.
CDC-Kaiser ACE questionnaire is where to start to explore your early childhood experience.
As a new parent, take care of yourself and ask for help raising your child. It takes a village to raise a well-adjusted child.
Educate your child from a young age regarding what is right and wrong ( your core values). Work hard and smart to supervise your children and teach them life skills. Treat child abuse as you would with an infectious disease. Anyone can abuse a child — a parent, siblings, grandparent, best friend, neighbor, teacher, coach, or a beloved youth pastor.
Parenting is a challenging job; seek help if you're a new or young parent.
II. Recognizing child abuse:
Sometimes it's challenging to recognize child abuse. But a few things to look for are; marks on the body, difficulty walking or an extreme fear of changing clothes before peers, and non-cultural artwork or play.
Children tend to act out their abuse with other children or on toys or artworks.
Pay attention to your child and observe everything and everyone. Trust, but always verify.
III. Ask for help, report, and stop child abuse:
As a new or young parent, ask for help.
As a citizen, when you see something, do something. Pay attention to young parents — offer smiles or words of encouragement and inspiration.
Report and stop child abuse. Do something when you notice domestic violence in your apartment building, church, or a family reunion celebration. Call the hotline if children are involved. Call 1–800–4-A-CHILD (1–800–422–4453). Your report of child abuse can help the family and children get back on their feet with government services or support from relatives.
No worries, you're an anonymous reporter.
“The greater a child’s terror, and the earlier it is experienced, the harder it becomes to develop a strong and healthy sense of self.” — Nathaniel Branden.
The number one treatment for child abuse is prevention.
We can stop child abuse by helping and reporting any harm to a child under 18. Child abuse destroys many innocent lives, and taxpayers pay millions of dollars annually to treat maltreated children. Do something to help a child, family, and your community.
When you see something, say and do something. Call the hotline to help a child and family today.
“If you suspect a child has been harmed or is at risk, please dial 1–800–342–3720, to report what you have seen or heard. You can make a difference.” — OCF
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