Child abuse has long been treated as a taboo in our society. While most would rather not think – let alone talk – about it, what we forget is that turning a blind eye doesn’t necessarily mean we can escape the gravity of this issue. Discussing the evil of child abuse out loud and making our children aware of it is the need of the hour. If we work together and pay heed to the following tips, we can all help make the lives of our children much safer:
1) If you are a parent, family friend or guardian to a child, make sure that you encourage him/her to talk openly with you about their day; build up a level of trust wherein the child feels that he/she can tell you anything. If they believe that an adult has been acting inappropriately with – or towards – them, they are much more likely to tell you about it if they trust you and know that you will listen to them.
2) When disciplining your child, try to remain calm and show them that anger and violence are not acceptable even as a form of punishment, and even from people that they might trust. Once they learn that verbal or physical punishments are not acceptable, they are less likely to accept such behaviour from anyone.
3) If your child isn't at school, make sure that you know exactly where he/she is and with whom. If they are spending time with people that you don't know well, try and get to know them a little better to reassure yourself that they are trustworthy.
4) If your child has somebody in their life that you do not completely trust, try and talk to the person one-to-one or even check within your community to see if anyone else shares your misgivings. Sometimes there are signs or 'red flags', such as an adult who seems only to mix with children and doesn't appear to have any friends of their own age. They could be entirely innocent, but best to err on the side of caution and closely monitor their relationship with your child.
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5) Teach your child, or any child in your care, that they are special and that they have the right to be happy and safe. Instilling this mind set will encourage them to feel as if any form of abuse directed towards them from an adult, is not their fault and that they do not deserve it, making them far more likely to report an offender.
6) Educate yourself about the different forms of child abuse; physical and sexual assaults may be the obvious indicators of abuse, but if a child is being verbally harassed or even neglected in any way, this can also constitute abuse.
7) Leading on from this, it's also important to know the possible signs of child abuse; the first and most obvious indicators of abuse are physical injuries that can't be explained, but you may also need to look for changes in a child's behaviour or personality. Perhaps they have become anxious, depressed or secretive; their eating or hygiene habits may have changed. These could be signs that the child is suffering from physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
8) Involve yourself with local abuse prevention schemes in your area and get up to speed with all the laws and regulations that exist to protect children. You may even volunteer to help out others who are more vulnerable than you. Perhaps most importantly, connect with others who share the same concerns as you and work together as a team to prevent child abuse.
9) If you are witness to any case of abuse towards a child, be it physical, sexual or verbal, report it immediately to the relevant authorities. If a child has confided in you that they have been abused, reassure them that they have done the right thing by telling you, and make them understand that it wasn't their fault. The quicker you report an incident, the quicker the offender can be apprehended and removed from the community, and the less chance of another child suffering at their hands.
10) It is vital that communities work together to support and protect families with children, so wherever you can, make sure that you are a part of this, and if necessary, start up your own group or scheme and do whatever you can to help educate others about the abuse of children.
Children are a nation’s future. And their childhood is meant to be nurtured and not spoilt. Someone who abuses a child is not solely responsible for destroying his/her own life but ultimately hinders the overall progress of a developing land. Thus, this ill practice needs to be completely evicted from the world.
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This post was first published on Nov 21,2015