Archive for the ‘Child Abuse’ Category

PostHeaderIcon How Domestic Violence effects our kids

Our culture unfortunately already seems to encourage that boys/men act aggressively and show their power in a physical manner. Women are perceived as weak oftentimes and are easily preyed upon by abusers. Currently, our culture encourages women to act in a submissive manner and to accept male domination. Unfortunately, it is these very values that increase the likelihood that some men will become abusive to their wives and also their children.

Even in today’s times, society will often encourage girls no matter the extent of the abuse, to stay with their abusers. Society often expects men to use physical means to control their surroundings and this includes their wives/girlfriends and their children. With all this said, where does this leave the children who are witnessing these learned abusive behaviors in their home or are being abused themselves.

First and foremost, children that are in an abusive environment almost always suffer from low self-esteem. They often have cognitive or language delays, delays in their overall development, and stress-related problems. These kids are without a doubt the most stressed out children that are seen for psychological treatment. They either are very angry; belligerent and exhibit acting out behaviors or they are quiet; withdrawn and are willing to say very little out of fear of reprisal. These children often feel guilty for not stopping the abuse and younger children often do not understand the abuse and they take responsibility for the abuse occurring to their mother or to themselves.

Children that witness domestic violence seem to live in a constant state of extreme anxiety and their school work and their social relationships really suffer. The boys that witness this abuse often become abusers themselves and the girls are often battered in their own relationships as an adult. Because the old addage really applies here, you do what you know or what you are familiar with. These children struggle in school and problems academically due to lack of concentration and frequent absences from school as a result of stress-related illnesses such as constant headaches, stomach problems, or difficulty sleeping at night.

Whether or not a child is witnessing abuse in their home or is a victim of the abuse themselves, the psychological effects are often the same, these are children that are traumatized for years to come. Anger and violence play a very negative role in the overall development of a child. Mental health treatment with abused children tends to be long and arduous as a result of the damaging effects. As always, if you suspect that a child is living in this kind of environment or is being abused themselves, please contact your local abuse hotline.

PostHeaderIcon Witnessing Child Abuse

How do we as Americans respond to child abuse? A new study by Prevent Child Abuse America reveals a very alarming trend of how Americans respond to child abuse.

As surprising as this is, three out of ten Americans have witnessed a child being physically abused and two out of three have witnessed a child being emotionally abused. Yet nearly half of these individuals failed to respond in any way to the incident that occurred. This is according to a study that was released to Child Abuse America. What research is showing us is that most Americans fail to respond when they witness abuse in a public place because they do not know what to do.

So how can we respond to child abuse or neglect in a public place.

1.) We can start a conversation with the adult in order to direct attention away from the child. A good suggestion could be, “My child sometimes acts just like that when we go somewhere.”
2.) Look for an opportunity to praise the child or parent. This diffuses the situation and provides something positive into the situation.
3.) Avoid making a negative remark or look, this only adds fuel to an already bad situation.
4.) If the child is in imminent danger, then by all means find someone to help you. Do not try to diffuse a situation by yourself. That could be dangerous for you.
5.) Talk to the child and take an interest in something about them. For example, remark on how pretty or handsome they look or remark about something about their appearance. Most kids respond to praise in this manner.

The worst thing that a person can do when they witness abuse or neglect is to do nothing and just walk away. Even if you don’t want to “get involved”, the very least that should be done is to notify someone in a store where you observed the incident. In order for abuse to stop, everyone must get involved even if it makes them uncomfortable. Don’t turn a “blind eye” to abuse, this only exacerbates an already prevalent problem in the United States.

PostHeaderIcon Signs a child has been sexually abused

As parents and caregivers we often are uncertain of what to look for when a child has been sexually abused.  The thought or possibility that our child has been abused in any way is a parent’s biggest fear and often times a parent does not want to believe anything has occurred and overlooks the signs.  Some behaviors that children exhibit may signal sexual abuse, however they also might just be a child having seen an adult movie or something they watched on television that has adult content.  Try to remain calm but also look for the following signs that your child has been abused.  These are some indicators, however it does not mean for sure that your child has been abused and a pediatrician or a mental health professional should be contacted in order to make an evaluation.  Always better to err on the side of caution and be sure that your child is alright:

The signs of sexual abuse are the following:

Unusual discharge from the vagina or penis.  Somtimes in kids this is a reaction to a change in laundry soap or their soap, however a pedicatrician should be contacted to be sure.

When your child is repeatedly touching themselves, whether this is at home in their bedroom or bathroom or when they are out in public.  This does not mean when they casually touch themselves, all children will do this, I mean when they are compulsively touching themselves and they appear very anxious when they are doing so.

Stimulating themselves or having contact sexually with pets.

Repeatedly and compulsively drawing pictures of genitalia.

Playing with their feces.  Children, especially preschoolers and very young children find this fascinating, however beyond this age it is not a fascination.  It usually signals anger or having went though a traumatic event. 

Engaging in oral sex, fondling, or sexual contact with another child.  Sexual contact with a child much older or much younger is usually a sign for alarm, however when children “play doctor” or engage in “you show me mine and I will show me yours” is not usually a sign of sexual abuse.  Most children are curious and will engage in trying to “play doctor” at some point.  Stop this behavior and look carefully for any signs of abuse that may have occurred. 

Lastly, when a child has significant anxiety around certain people they encounter or places that they have to go.  Their fears or their anxieties should be discussed with them to try and ascertain exactly what is wrong.  Don’t ask over and over repeatedly, this will cause them even more anxiety. 

What should be done by a parent that is uncertain as to whether or not their child has been abused is to err on the side of caution.  If you are just not sure that your child has been abused and you can not get a straight answer from your child, then ask your child’s pediatrician for an evaluation.  If abuse is involved, contact a mental health professional for individual and family counseling immediately.