Child Abuse and Neglect
Child maltreatment is when a child experiences some sort of mistreatment whether it is physical or mental harm so various things can cause child maltreatment such as sexual abuse, neglect or bullying and harassment.
Physical abuse is when a child’s guardian is being violent towards the child such as hitting, kicking, strangling, burning, suffocating and even biting, also if a guardian deliberately makes their child ill this is a form of physical child abuse a good indication of whether a child is being physically abused is if they are constantly having marks such as bruises or burns on their body and they seem a little afraid of their parent or guardian, it is also an indication if the parent or guardian seems like they are an alcoholic or drug addict.
Sexual abuse is a very common form of abuse and sexual abuse is when a child or young person is forced to do sexual acts such as oral, anal, rape or even being forced to take off all of their clothes and even if the child is or isn’t aware that this is abusive then it is still a form of sexual child abuse, some indications that a child is being sexually abused is when a child starts to become depressed and little clingy, they start to take an interest in sexual matters, starting to have mood swings or being afraid of going to bed and even having itching, rawness or bleeding in private areas.
Emotionally and mentally abusing a child is when someone makes a child feel unwanted also being over protective with a child such as locking them away because their guardian is too afraid to let them out then this can be a form of emotional and mental abuse because it leaves the child isolated from other people, it is also abuse when an adult makes a child feels frightened and intimidated by bullying or scaring them, parents being violent towards each other in the presence of a child is also emotional abuse because it leaves the child feeling upset and even traumatised there are different indications that can show a child is being emotionally and mentally abused some possible physical indications are the child has diarrhoea and starts wetting the bed or the child starts to have headaches, abdominal pains and nausea, some indicators can be in a child’s behaviour they could start having fear of failure, having overly high standards, neatness, cleanliness, their behaviour being inappropriate for their age, not good at making friends and also had attempts to run away.
Neglect is another form of abuse, if a parent or guardian cannot provide the adequate things for their child to develop such as food, clothes, a house, water and heating then this is a form of neglect, also when a child is being ignored and a parent or guardian isn’t paying attention to their medical needs or giving them the support and attention they need then this is child neglect some physical indicators of child neglect are when the child hasn’t attended the doctor or dentist in a very long time even though they need to, a child not attending school regularly or even a child not being registered at a school and just roaming the streets, a child having poor hygiene, always feeling hungry, dressing inappropriately in harsh weather, some indications in a child’s behaviour can be signs they are being neglected such as constantly wanting attention, stealing food, being upset or depressed a lot, doesn’t trust others and being a little rebellious.
If someone suspects that a child is being abused then they should report it straight away, section 14 of the Child,Family and Community Service Actsays that you should report your concerns to the Ministry of Children and Family Development if you have reason to believe that a child is being abused.
The Children’s Act says that all group care providers should have a written policy that is in line with the Local Safeguarding Children Board and with local guidance and procedures and should be used effectively and they should also inform the members of staff and the parents of the policies and procedures. If there is a suspicion that a child is being abused, as the responsibility of the care provider you should note down the things that have given you concerns and suspicions and the date and time when the things happened and also any contact you have had with the parents or carers, you should not note down things that are just your opinion it should be based on facts. Make sure all records are stored in a secure place in a locked draw and only a few professionals to have access to the draw. All the notes should be cross-referenced with other files and records on the child.
If you are still in doubt about the child being abused then you could seek advice from a social worker that is qualified in child protection and they will research whether the family and the child are already known by social care services and then they will start their enquiries by asking questions to people that are involved with the child such as their parents, teachers and doctor, they will ask them whether there is any concerns that the child is being abused and if there is then the ChildProtection Enquiry begins and because of the confidentiality the person that has reported the case is not informed about the enquiry. Before making referrals the parents or carers should be informed of your intentions of referring them to the Local Authority Children’s Social Care Team. When working with children or young people that have been abused their age and maturity should be taken into account when speaking to them, their rights should be respected and they should not be pressured into speaking.
The child should be taken seriously and their concerns and fears should also be taken into account and not be brushed away because of the age, the child may be telling the truth and their views are important so they should be taken into account for the child’s best interest. A child should also be spoken to without their parents or an adult they know being present because this could make the child be less open about speaking about events that have taken place and the child may also be scared to speak about the events in front of their parents or adults that might be present, the child should be spoken to alone in an environment that is suitable for the child and with the right support available for the child.
When working with parents and families good communication should be maintained because parents and families know the child more and in some cases they know what is best for the child, their parents can also realise better when their child’s behaviour has suddenly changed and they are not being themselves. If a concern about a child being abused is raised and when it is going to be referred to the local authorities then it should be discussed with the parent or family member first about the concerns and how they will be investigated, the parents should be given information right from when a concern is raised and throughout the whole protection procedures. Parents should be allowed to ask question which should be answered honestly without any judgemental comments or accusations, information is also given to parents and families to where they can get support and advice.
In some cases parents or family members may not be honest and they may deliberately harm their child which is why they should be listened to carefully and an open mind should be kept of how the child may have got injured, signs that indicate abuse or neglect should be explored. If a child discloses that they are being abused they should supported and reassured by telling them what they can do, you should also believe what the child is telling you and you should listen to everything the child is telling you but not try to investigate too much because the child protection worker will do the investigating, you should report the information to management in the organization or the child protection organization.
When responding to a child disclosing their abuse you should listen to them attentively so you have enough information to give the child protection organization, you should not make promises to the child that will not be kept, you should also reassure the child that it is right for them to tell someone about their abuse and they shouldn’t be afraid, the child should not be pressurised into speaking you should let them speak in their own time and in their own words, you should also keep calm and tell the child what you plan to do next and you should not confront the person that is abusing the child.
After disclosing that they have been abused people are given support such as learning to protect themselves they are taught that their body’s belong to them and they have a right to their own privacy, they are also taught to trust and express their own feelings and also know the difference between good and bad secrets, they are also given emergency numbers to phone when in danger and told what to do when they are lost. In some cases of child abuse the child may have the supportof a counsellor, counsellors can be found in schools or your GP could help you to find your local counsellor.
Counsellors help children by building a trusting relationship and help them feel comfortable about speaking about the abuse and supporting them in their thoughts and feelings. To minimize the effects of abuse children should be made to build their self confidence and taught about what to do in situations of abuse, they should also be informed of all the help and support that is available when a child is being abused. Children should also be encouraged to speak up when they are being abused or feeling uncomfortable about a situation so all the information can be written down and investigated, they should also be listened to attentively and they should be taken seriously so action can be taken sooner and the abuse can be stopped sooner rather than later.