Physical, sexual and psychological violence and neglect of children falls under the category of child abuse. Child abuse can occur anywhere – at home, in school, in temple, in church, in the streets, or any other place. Child abuse is found to be more rampant in broken families, where the parents are living separately according to a report generated by UNICEF. For this reason United States and United Kingdom are found to rank very low in terms of children’s well being and mental health.
Causes of child abuse: – Poverty, want, lack of education and awareness, divorce, mental illness, personality defects, drug and alcohol addiction, parental disability and a history of family abuse are all cited as reasons of child neglect and child abuse, world over.
Effects of child abuse: – Abused children can get very disturbed, develop suicidal tendencies, take to alcohol, drugs, violence and go haywire. Child abuse has multiple effects at various levels on the individual and society. The consequences of child abuse can extend to adulthood and affect various relationships destroying many families and lives in the long run. Child abuse can translate into injury, bad health, cognitive problems even death in extreme cases, on the physical level. Its emotional effect is most visible in the form of depression, low self esteem, personality disorders, academic problems, anxiety, stress and eating disorders. The abused usually take to abuse themselves, at a later point of time, as a strategy of survival. The behavioral effects of child abuse are seen in the form of child delinquency, teen pregnancies, aggression, substance abuse, irrational anger and anti-social conduct.
Prevention of child abuse is said to be possible at three levels; primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary prevention involves community activities, which are meant to make an impact on families even before abuse and neglect is diagnosed. Parent’s education sessions, family support drives, and public awareness rallies are some services, which come under primary prevention of child abuse. Secondary prevention activities are targeted at families suffering from substance abuse, parents who have special needs children, high risk parents, teen parents and low income families. Families which come under tertiary prevention are those who have come out in the open about their need for intervention, with or without court help. Tertiary prevention is the same as treatment given away from family support.