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Child Physical Abuse

Child abuse is any harm caused to, or neglect of a child by another person, whether adult or child. Child abuse occurs in all cultural, ethnic and income groups. Physical abuse can cause serious injury to a child and may even result in death. With sexual abuse, the offender is often someone the child knows.

Warning signals of Child Abuse

• Repeated bruises or injuries.
• Maintains a fearful or passive attitude.
• Behaves in a highly aggressive or destructive manner.
• Wears torn, dirty clothing all the time.
• Goes without supervision for long periods of time.
• Misses school on a regular basis.
• Lacks energy, is always hungry and looks unhealthy or emaciated.

Child Sexual Abuse

There is no universal definition of child sexual abuse. However, a central characteristic of any abuse is the dominant position of an adult that allows him or her to force a child into sexual activities.

Child sexual abuse may include: fondling a child’s genitals or other body parts, masturbation, vaginal and anal intercourse.

Child sexual abuse is not solely restricted to physical contact but to non-contact abuse such as exposure and child pornography.

Victims of Sexual Abuse

Children and adolescents regardless of race, culture or economic status, appear to be at an approximately equal risk for sexual victimization.

Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse

A most common finding, shows that the majority of sexual offenders are family members and persons who know the child. Sexual abuse by strangers is not nearly as common as sexual abuse by family members. Both men and women commit sexual abuse.

Children should be taught that they need not allow anyone to harm them in any way. They should also feel that they can tell you if anyone ever harms or hurts them, either by physically or sexually abusing them.

Protect Your Children

• Never leave your child alone in a public place, whether in a stroller or car.
• Always accompany your child to the bathroom in a public place.
• Get to know babysitters and your child’s older friends before leaving them alone with your child.
• Make a list of emergency telephone numbers and place the list, preferably near a telephone.
• Check with your trusted neighbour immediately after arriving home.
• Never go into your home if a door or window is ajar or broken.
• Show them how to use door and window locks and to lock them when they are home alone.
• Teach them the correct method of answering the telephone and responding to a call at the door,   when they are home alone.
• To avoid walking or playing alone outdoors.
• If they feel they are being followed either on foot or by a vehicle, run to the nearest store, public   place, neighbour or crowded area.
• Always encourage them to tell you if something happened while they were away from you that   made them feel uncomfortable in any way.
• Never go close to a vehicle with a stranger in it, because he/she could pull them in the vehicle.
• Not to play with fire, electrical appliances, outlets, stove, gas or other dangerous/deadly substance   or objects.

Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children

• Extreme changes in behaviour, including loss of appetite.
• Nightmares that recur, sleep patterns that are disturbed or a fear of the dark not previously   exhibited.
• Bed wetting/soiling, excessive crying or sucking the thumb.
• Underclothing that is torn or lost.
• Vaginal or rectal bleeding, itching, pain, swollen genitals and vaginal discharge.
• Knowledge of, or unusual interest in sexual topics.
• Intense dislike or fear of a specific person.
• Sudden behavioural changes, such as poor schoolwork, withdrawal , running away, disruptive or   aggressive behaviour.

If you think that you have reason to be alarmed or you have doubts or questions as to whether the possibility exist that a child has been physically abused, or neglected, contact the Local Police or other authorities.