May 24, 2003

Child Abuse

Posted in Abuse Articles at 2:43 am by iBlog

About Child Abuse…

Child abuse is widespread and can occur in any cultural, ethnic, and income group. Child abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual. It can also result from neglect. Abuse can result in serious injury to the child and even possible death.

Studies show that one in four girls and one in eight boys are sexually abused before the age of 18, and that approximately one in 20 children are physically abused each year. Physical abuse involves harming a child by, for example, burning, beating, or breaking their bones. Sexual abuse occurs when there is inappropriate touching of a child’s breasts or genitalia, or by someone exposing their genitalia to a child. Neglect can include physical neglect, such as withholding food, clothing, shelter, or other necessities. Emotional neglect includes withholding love or comfort or affection. Medical neglect occurs when medical care is withheld.


Children who are abused are often afraid to complain; they are fearful that they will be blamed or that no one will believe them. Parents are often unable to recognize symptoms of abuse because they may not want to face the truth. A child who has been abused needs access to special support and treatment as soon as possible. The longer the abuse continues, the less likely the child will make full recovery.

Watch out for unexplained changes in your child’s body or behavior. Conduct a formal examination only if you have reason to suspect your child has been abused. Otherwise, the child may become fearful. Be alert to any of the following changes:

Signs of Physical Abuse: Any injury (bruise, burn, fracture, abdominal or head injury) that cannot be explained

Signs of Sexual Abuse: Fearful behavior (nightmares, depression, unusual fears, attempts to run away) Abdominal pain, bedwetting, urinary tract infection, genital pain or bleeding, sexually transmitted disease Extreme sexual behavior that seems inappropriate for the child’s age

Signs of Emotional Abuse: Sudden change in self-confidence Headaches or stomachaches with no medical cause Abnormal fears, increased nightmares Attempts to run away

Signs of Emotional Neglect: Failure to gain weight (especially in infants) Desperately affectionate behavior Voracious appetite and stealing food


Abuse can happen in a variety of family settings. However, abuse is more likely to occur in families that are isolated and have no friends, relatives, church, or other support. Parents who suffered childhood abuse are more likely to abuse their own children. Alcohol and drug abuse also increases the likelihood that child abuse will occur. Parents who are overly critical, who are very rigid in their disciplining methods, who show too much or too little concern for their child, and who are under extreme stress are more likely to abuse their child.

Abusive parents often do not intend to hurt their children. Usually they are lashing out in anger, but a single episode increases the likelihood that other instances will occur. Such parents need professional help to develop coping strategies.


If you suspect a child has been abused, contact a pediatrician or a local child protective agency for help. Physicians are legally obligated to report all suspected cases of abuse or neglect to state authorities. They can also recommend a therapist and provide the necessary information for investigators. Doctors may also testify in court to obtain legal protection for the child and to criminally prosecute an individual suspected of engaging in sexual abuse.

Whatever the nature of the abuse, steps should be taken immediately to report the abuse and obtain help. Delaying a report decreases the child’s chances for full recovery. Oftentimes, a child who has been abused or maltreated will become depressed and develop suicidal, withdrawn, or violent behavior. As the child grows older, they may turn to drugs or alcohol, attempt to run away, or they may refuse discipline and abuse others. Childhood abuse may also result in sexual difficulties, depression or suicidal behavior in adulthood.

If your child has been abused, you may be the only person who can help him. Do not delay reporting your suspicions of abuse. Denying the problem will only worsen the situation; allowing the abuse to continue decreases the child’s chance for full recovery. In most cases, children who are abused or neglected suffer greater emotional than physical damage. A child who is severely mistreated may become depressed or develop suicidal, withdrawn, or violent behavior. The younger the child and the closer the child’s relationship is to the abuser, the more serious the emotional damage will be. As adults, they may develop marital and sexual difficulties, depression or suicidal behavior.

If you suspect child abuse of any kind, you should:

  • Take the child to a quiet, private area
  • Gently encourage the child to give you enough information to evaluate whether abuse may have occurred
  • Remain calm; do not upset the child
  • If the child reveals the abuse, reassure her that you believe her, that she is right to tell you, and that she is not bad
  • Tell the child you are going to talk to persons who can help
  • Record all information
  • Immediately report the suspected abuse to the proper local authorities


  • American Psychiatric Association
  • National Library of Medicine

Last Reviewed: 15 Apr 2005


  1. tiffanysams said,

    I wish that more attention was paid to this when I was a child. Thank you!

  2. Victim said,

    This blog represents our forum’s voice to pursue and to bring to the public’s attention all people/organizations/firms that have advertently / inadvertently supported child abuse directly or indirectly. We request everybody concerned to come forth and assist our initiative to expose offenders.

  3. robbie357 said,

    I was sexually abused for 7 years by older boys in the neighborhood where I grew up. I was also beaten by a psychotic father from my earliest memories until age 15. I have made two videos that have been used by churches, law enforcement, psychology grps, etc.

    Here they are if you are interested. ANYONE has permission to post and/or embed these, or use them for groups, etc.

    A Childhood Changed:

    The Aftermath:

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