This blog begins a new series. A difficult one. A series that will likely be hard to read. But I believe that safety comes from being armed by facts. And if we know what to look for and how to recognize these situations, we can put an end to it.
So take a deep breath and read on. Feel free to take a break and come back to this later, because it’s heavy stuff. Know that it might raise feelings that are uncomfortable, scary or downright ugly. It’s all normal and okay. But if this series bring up feelings that push you down the rabbit hole or into a dark place, then please contact me by email at the link above or contact your nearest health care professional. I can guarantee that what I’m going to talk about affects some of you, as it has me. So take care of yourself.
As you read, please remember that many of us are survivors. Some of us survive with more grace than others. Some of us are comics and some of us are researchers. Some of us are cool and some of us, like me, are not. The statistics show that some of your friends and/or family, or perhaps yourself are survivors. This series is going to take a look at child abuse over a four week period. Today we’ll examine definitions and symptoms. Monday January 16, we’ll take an in depth look at child sexual abuse. For our children, it’s not the stranger we have to worry about – it’s our families, teachers, coaches, ministers and friends. On January 23, we’re going to look at outcomes and treatment for those of us who were abused as children. Then on January 30, we’ll discuss signs and symptoms that we all should be aware of so we can keep the little ones safe. No one should be in the dark about this issue. A child’s life may depend on our knowledge.
So please take a deep breath and sit back. It’s time to begin.
Child abuse is an epidemic across Canada and the United States. From www.childhelp.org come these frightening statistics:
- More than 5 children die EVERY day as a result of child abuse
- 80% of these kids (or four of them) are under the age of four
- More than 90% of sexually abused juveniles and children know their abuser
- These stats are irrelevant of socioeconomic levels, race, religion or education
- 80% of adults abused as children have some sort of psychiatric disorder; about 30% of them will abuse others when adults.
- 59% of abused children are more likely to be arrested as a juvenile; 28% are more likely to be arrested as an adult and 30% of them are more likely to commit a violent crime.
What are the types and symptoms of Child Abuse:
- Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong.
- Shows extremes in behavior (extremely compliant or extremely demanding; extremely passive or extremely aggressive).
- Doesn’t seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver.
- Acts either inappropriately adult (taking care of other children) or inappropriately infantile (rocking, thumb-sucking, tantruming).
2. Physical Abuse
- Frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts.
- Is always watchful and “on alert,” as if waiting for something bad to happen.
- Injuries appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt.
- Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home.
- Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as long-sleeved shirts on hot days.
- Clothes are ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the weather.
- Hygiene is consistently bad (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor).
- Untreated illnesses and physical injuries.
- Is frequently unsupervised or left alone or allowed to play in unsafe situations and environments.
- Is frequently late or missing from school.
4. Sexual Abuse:
- Trouble walking or sitting.
- Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age, or even seductive behavior.
- Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason.
- Doesn’t want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
- An STD or pregnancy, especially under the age of 14.
- Runs away from home.
That’s enough for today. I have the sites from which I took this information, if you’d like to dig a little deeper. Most of us don’t know these stats or are so upset by them, we don’t want to see them. But we can’t protect our children or our grandchildren unless we are armed with information.
I’m going to give you that information, one teaspoon at a time. You’ll have a week to think about it, digest it and come to terms with it. And then I’ll stop. I hope you’ll join me on this difficult road to discovery. It won’t be pleasant but it will be worthwhile.