Child abuse is a state of emotional, physical, economic and sexual maltreatment meted out to a person below the age of eighteen. It has clearly emerged that young children in the age group of 5-12 years are at the risk of abuse and maltreatment. It is a globally prevalent phenomenon. Very few people are aware of accurate information regarding child abuse. The common misconceptions and myths assists the sexual assaults against children.
WHO distinguishes four types of child maltreatment. According to WHO Physical abuse: Physical abuse is the inflicting of physical injury upon a child. This may include slapping, kicking, beating with stick, pushing, shaking. Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse is inappropriate sexual behavior with a child. This may include sexual assault, making the child fondle private parts, exhibiting private body parts to a child, photographing a child in the nude, forcible kissing. Emotional Abuse: Emotional abuse is also known as verbal abuse, mental abuse, and psychological maltreatment. This may include lowering of the self esteem of the child by harsh treatment, ignoring, shouting or speaking rudely, comparison with siblings or other children, name calling and use of abusive language. Neglect: It is the failure to provide for the child's basic needs. Neglect can be physical, educational, or emotional. This may include not providing adequate food or clothing, appropriate medical care, supervision, or proper weather protection (heat or cold).
Myths and facts
Myth: Girl children are always the victims of child abuse.
Reality: The study on Child Abuse in India, carried out by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007, found that 52.94 per cent of children who reported facing one or more forms of sexual abuse were boys. Unfortunately child sexual abuse with male victims is underreported.
Myth: There is no chance my child will get abused. I never leave my children in the care of strangers.
Reality: The people most likely to abuse a child are the ones with most access and trust. In most of the cases, the children are violated by someone they know. Abusers can be cousins, uncles, caretakers, babysitters and family friends. Only 10% of the abusers abuse the children they don’t know.
Myth: Only men sexually abuse children.
Reality: Both men and women can be responsible for sexually abusing children. Although the majority of abusers are men, a small percentage(about 4% ) of female offenders have also been reported to abuse children. Female offenders have been reported in cases of abusing both male and female children.
Myth: Abused children always tell.
Reality: Children often fail to disclose their abuse. Children take time to process and understand what had occurred to them. Even if they disclose, it will not be immediate.
Myth: The person is successful and acts normal.There is no way he could have abused the child. The child is making false accusations.
Reality: A common misconception is that a person who is kind, normal and successful cant be a child abuser. They always win the trust of the parents by being compassionate, caring and morally sound. Sexual offenders understand the importance of their public image and ensure hiding their private behaviour from their neighbours, friends and relatives.
Myth: Sexual abuse only happens to people of certain religion, race and low income group.
Reality: It can happen in large and small families; wealthy and lower income families. Sexual abuse cuts across all race, class and gender barriers.