December 5, 2020

Child Abuse

There can be no keener revelation of society’s soul,

then the way in which it treats its children.

-Nelson Mandela.

No one looks at the world as bright and pretty as a child. In this huge world about one-third of population consists of children. Children are a very important element in social structure and a chief resource for the development process of the nation. Therefore they should be protected and cared. But unfortunately they get abused not only physically but also mentally and socially and their necessities get ignored. By a study of UNICEF it’s shown that in 30 different forms a child gets abused by his own parents in order to teach them discipline. Not only physically and psychologically but a child also gets sexually abused. According to the data of the National Crime Records Bureau, NCRB in 2018, 109 children were sexually abused every day in India. And yes this is a harsh reality of a powerful and developed country like India.

Who Is A Child?

Any person who has not completed the age of 18 years is a child.[1] Though many laws define child differently for example The United Nation Convention defines child as a human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.[2] Definition of child abuse may vary from professionals to professionals, society to society. According to WHO child abuse includes all types of physical or emotional ill-treatments, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence, and commercial and other exploitation, which results in actual and potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of relationship of responsibility, trust or power.

What is Child Abuse

Child abuse can be defined as any act, failure or negligence, on the part of any individual, adult or child, that leads to severe threat to the life and development of a child and results in prolonged physical and psychological impacts on his/her health and well-being.[3] When a child gets abused during his/her childhood, it leads a lasting imprint on their mind for always. A child is not only abused by the outsiders. Many a times they get abused by their own parents, teachers, care taker or their own siblings. A child gets abused in many forms. Physical harm is not only a way of abusing a child. A child also gets abused mentally, socially, emotionally, sexually and sometimes get neglected and exploited. Any of these kinds that harms child’s health survival development or dignity are abuse.

Classification of Child Abuse

Child abuse is not only about the black eyes. When a child is ignored left unsupervised, exposed to dangerous or sexual situations or making them feel worthless, all this leaves deep lasting scars on the kids[4]. It is very important to classify the types of child abuse not only to understand its occurrence but also to procure and extract solution to the problem.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse of a child is defined as the intentional use of physical force against a child.

That results in – or has a high likelihood of resulting in – harm for the child’s health,

survival, development or dignity. This includes hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, strangling, scalding, burning, poisoning and suffocating. Much physical violence

against children in the home is inflicted with the object of punishing.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is defined as the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she

does not fully comprehend and is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child

is not developmentally prepared, or else that violates the laws or social taboos of society.

Children can be sexually abused by both adults and other children who are – by virtue

of their age or stage of development – in a position of responsibility, trust or power over

the victim.

Emotional and Phycological Abuse

Emotional and psychological abuse involves both isolated incidents, as well as a pattern of failure over time on the part of a parent or caregiver to provide a developmentally appropriate and supportive environment. Acts in this category may have a high

probability of damaging the child’s physical or mental health, or its physical, mental,

spiritual, moral or social development. Abuse of this type includes: the restriction of

movement; patterns of belittling, blaming, threatening, frightening, discriminating

against or ridiculing; and other non-physical forms of rejection or hostile treatment.

Neglect

Neglect includes both isolated incidents, as well as a pattern of failure over time on the

part of a parent or other family member to provide for the development and well-being

Of the child – where the parent is in a position to do so – in one or more of the following

areas:

• health;

• education;

• emotional development;

• nutrition;

• shelter and safe living conditions.

The parents of neglected children are not necessarily poor. They may equally be financially well-off.[5]

Consequences of Child Abuse

The effect of child abuse is irremediable. Apart from immediate physical injuries children can experience through maltreatment a child’s reaction to abuse or neglect can have lifelong and even intergeneration able impacts[6]. As the abuses are of different kinds and leaves lasting effects so the scars may also differ. Some of the scars may be physical like burn marks, bruises and welts, head trauma, weakened brain, difficulty in walking, lack of physical development, STDs, bad physical condition and etc. But talking about the emotional and psychological scars it is the binding effect for the whole life of the child. Children facing the abuses or neglects feel the most of the pain inside. They also undergo feeling of guilt, regret and suffer low self-esteem. They blame themselves for the situation in which they are. It is very hellish or problematic for them to make relationship or trust someone. Sometimes they even don’t trust their parents, and if someone is not trusting their parents then whom they will trust. They also experience loneliness and get bullied by the society and all these things straight away effect the brain and psychological condition of the child. Abuse creates a feeling of hopelessness, hate, pessimism misery gloom and unworthy. It was seen by many researchers that children’s who have suffered abuse probably have low educational acquirement due to the teasing and mockery of the society. Abuse not only damages the present but also damages the future of the child. They also try to harm themselves or attempt suicide. Abuse leads the children into anxiety and depression because somewhere that abuse or incident strikes into the mind of the child, they turn to be alcoholic, and they try drugs or any intoxicant to numb out the painful feeling.

What Causes Child Abuse

Child abuse is a crime. There is no specific reason for child abuse. It’s a myth that only bad people abuses their children, abuse doesn’t happen in good families, or children’s are abused by strangers only[7]. No, it’s completely wrong. There are lots of ground for child abuse. When a child is abused by a caretaker, trust worthy persons, there ought to be valid reasons behind such a conduct. That can be related to abuses past or present or maybe child’s present or permanent condition.[8] A parent always wants to give a happy and healthy life to their children but due to the lack of parenting skill, family problem, medical problem, economic condition, a barrier gets created between parents and children. Also when the parents doesn’t get support from their family member, friends, partner, community, etc., they get frustrated inside and their anger comes out in a form of abuse on their child. Financial pressure, job worries, lack of understanding between the parents and the children, drugs, alcohol, gambling, addiction, lower the self-confidence of the parents that whether they can meet their child’s needs which gives rise to mental health problems and are the reasons for causing abuse. Domestic violence is also a major cause for the rise of child abuse.[9] People who abuse their marital partners have a higher possibility of being violent in nature and also they have a high possibility of abusing their children as well[10]. Discrimination between the children’s in any form, may it be regarding the color of the child or depending on the sex of the children is also a kind of abuse which the children have to suffer. In some cases the child is treated as an unwanted person in the family by the parents and is a victim of being differentiated at every stage of life which also affects the growth of the children both mentally and physically and is also a kind of abuse which the child faces.

Till date any true information regarding a true incidence or the prevalence of child abuse is not known to the society. The reason behind this is very simple because the reported cases of abuse have either been filed by the abused child, his parents, teachers or some unknown person and all the statistics are based on these reports. Whereas most of the cases never come out and the reason behind this is very clear, this is either due to shame or the people are not ready to accept. The abusing of a child can either be physical or behavioral. It is usually found that more emotional damage is caused to the child when the abuse is done by a person who is a close family person of the child or is close to him/her.

Rights of A Child

When the constitution was framed, the constitution makers also kept in mind the better upliftment, growth, development, protection of the children from the improvised and backward condition because contribution of the children helps in the development and advancement of the nation. Therefore they paid much attention not only on inviolable rights of the children but also on safeguarding and promoting these rights

Article 14, 15 and 21A of the constitution deals with equal treatment, no discrimination and free and compulsory education to children at the age of 14 years respectively.

Similarly Article 28&24 prohibits human trafficking and forced child labor by children below the age of 14 years. These articles are also the fundamental rights in the constitution that come under the DPSP which imposes the duty over the state to ensure the health and strength of the workers and ensure that the tender age of the children are not abused and the children are getting opportunities and facilities of growth and development and also a healthy environment. It is the responsibility of the state to make sure that every child is getting proper care and education at least till the age of 6 years.

Not only the constitution but the state has also implemented various policies and programs for the welfare and development of the children. There are several bodies at the central as well as the state level to ensure the betterment of the children. Introduction of various acts and amendments has been done by the government for safeguarding the interest of children.

· Protection of child rights act, 2005.

· POSCO Act, 2012.

· Juvenile Justice Act, 2005.

Conclusion

From the overall study it has been acknowledged that child abuse is not only a heinous crime but also a threat to society, an obstacle in the nation’s development and growth. It is a problem with a difficult solution but the situation is accessible. There is only the need of awareness and of proper information. Prevention of child abuse will not only help the child in growth and productivity but will also help them in being social innovative and a civilized human being.

[1] Juvenile Justice ( care and protection of children) act, 2015

[2] Convention on the rights of the child, PDF

[3] Child abuse in India- An Analysis by Amisha U. Pathak

[4] https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect.htm

[5] Preventing child maltreatment: a guide to taking action and generating evidence

[6] Long- term consequences of child abuse and neglect.pdf

[7] https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect.htm

[8] Child abuse in India- an analysis, Amisha U. Pathak

[9] https://www.qld.gov.au/community/getting-support-health-social-issue/support-victims-abuse/child-abuse/child-abuse-causes

[10] Child abuse in India- an analysis, Amisha U. Pathak

Author Details: Akriti Singh Chandel (Lloyd Law college, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh)

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