It's important we get the facts about child abuse, but it's just as vital we don't panic and overprotect our children.
There are four main types of abuse:
- Physical - when parents or other adults deliberately injure a child or do nothing to prevent it. This not only includes physical violence but also giving children alcohol or drugs. The most serious cases can result in brain damage and even death.
- Emotional - when parents continuously fail to show love and affection to a child. This might include sarcasm, threats, criticism, yelling and taunting. The effects are serious and long-lasting.
- Neglect - when parents fail to meet a child's basic needs for food, warmth, clothing or medical attention. Neglected children may be very withdrawn or very aggressive, and can develop health problems or have difficulty coping at school.
- Sexual - when an adult, or sometimes an older child, uses a child for sexual gratification. This might mean forcing a child to carry out sexual acts, or deliberately showing a child adult pornographic videos or magazines, and filming or photographing children in a sexual way. Both boys and girls are sexually abused, and it can happen to very young children - even babies - as well as older ones. The effects of sexual abuse are enduring and highly damaging. Some children who are abused in this way may go on to become abusers themselves.
- It's estimated that at least one child dies every week in England and Wales as a result of physical abuse. Babies are particularly vulnerable and are five times more likely to be killed than all other ages.
- Approximately 30,000 children are currently on child protection registers. A child's name is placed on the register when health or social services staff are concerned that the child's at risk of abuse.
- Eight out of ten young people who've experienced physical abuse have also seen violence between their parents and carers.
It often isn't possible to protect your child from stories of abuse or abduction in the news. If your child is upset by a reported case, stress these cases are very rare and that almost all children lead safe and happy lives; only a tiny percentage of adults hurt children in any way.
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