Children are so special for us. They are God's blessing to us. It is difficult to imagine someone knowingly or unknowingly hurting a child.
Mistreating and Neglecting a child is a child abuse. Child abuse is not only physical violence but also emotional, sexual abuse and neglect, all these leave long lasting marks because children grow up in a state of fear, if not provided with healthy psychological and social environment. Child abuse is not limited to certain sectors of society, it crosses all social, economic and ethical lines.
Child Abuse falls into following categories:
- Physical Abuse - First thing which comes to mind of Child Abuse is physical abuse such as striking, kicking, hitting, burning a child or scalding a child with hot water, starving a child, throwing an object at a child or using an object to beat a child, tying a child up etc.
- Emotional and Psychological Abuse - Emotional abuse is a pattern of behaviour that has negative effects on child’s emotional development and a sense of self-confidence and self-esteem. Constant criticism, threatening, terrorising, belittling, ignoring a child, withholding love and support etc.
- Sexual Abuse - It refers to forcing a child to engage in sexual activity. It also involves exploitation through pornography, fondling a child's genitals, forcing a child to undress, telling a child dirty jokes and stories etc.
- Neglect - Neglect is the failure of parent or caregiver to provide the child with basic needs such as not giving food, not paying attention to their behaviour, no proper place to live in, no medical care, placing a child in a dangerous situation that could lead to injury or death.
As a parent, first of all, we have to understand and trust our child. Children often lack the skills to protect themselves, we have to safeguard children and teach them skills to be safe. Below are simple ways which we may help in protecting children from any kind of abuse.
- Listen to your children. Listen to what they like and what they don't like. Know your child’s daily activities and habits. Always remember that open two-way communication with your child provides the best chance that you will know when a problem occurs. Create some kind of symbols of uncomfort or danger, which only you and your child understand.
- Teach them good touch and bad touch. You may take help of simple cartoon videos for it which are easily available on the internet.
- Encourage open communication. Build trust in you so that they can talk to you about any situation. Assure your children that their safety is your first priority.
- Set boundaries about places they may go, people they may see, and things they may do. Encourage smart thinking and strong character.
- Children should know their full name, home address, phone numbers.
- Children should have trusted adult to call if they are scared or have an emergency.
- Don’t frighten your child, you can teach some basic rules of safety in a non-threatening manner. Politeness and Patience are must for every Parent.
- Give them confidence that they will not get in trouble if they tell you about abuse or any other mistreatment given to them and also that if they share their experiences they will be safe and free from problem.
- Instead of the emphasis on the thing that they are surrounded by danger, we can teach them to be strong enough in all ways to fight the problem.
- Children should never go anywhere with anyone without your permission. Not going with strangers.
- Don’t leave your children alone at markets, fairs, railway stations, bus stands or parks.
- Ask your children whose home they visit. Interact regularly with your neighbours.
- Tell children not to talk to strangers. Do not share personal information. Do not eat anything given by anyone.
- Choose babysitter with care. Collect authentic information about them. Visit the babysitter place unexpectedly to see how your children are treated. Ask the children about their experiences with the persons at that place.
- Teach them to use main roads and avoid shortcuts while going to or coming from school. Walk the route to and from school with your children showing them landmarks and safe places to go if they are being followed or need help.
Nurture and take care of your child as they are the flowers which are going to blossom all through the process of development. Mental and psychological development is much more important for kids than mere studies and physical development. If you become a friend to your child, he/she won’t need any other friend. He/she will feel more connected with you and discuss all even and odds with you.