What is child abuse?
Newsday News, Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Child Abuse Hotline - 1-3-1 (Tel1) or 800-4321 (Tel2)

Child Abuse Background

Child Abuse is defined as any act or inaction on the part of a parent or caregiver which results in the neglect, physical harm, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child, 18 years and under. This is according to information provided by the Ministry of Social Development.

There are long term implications for children who have been abused. They often experience emotional and psycholigcal trauma that haunts them years after the physical wounds have healed.

There are four major types of Child Abuse:

• Neglect: The failure to provide for a child’s basic health, nutritional and educational needs, absence of love and affection.

• Emotional: Constant and repeated acts of verbal insults or psychological abuse or cruel punishment.

• Physical: Causing physical injury to a child.

• Sexual: Inappropriate touching, fondling of genitals, intercourse or making them the subject of pornographic material.

Warning Signs of Child Abuse:

Children who are being abused typically exhibit extreme changes in behaviour like:

• Withdrawal from activities, friends or family

• Unusual interest in, or avoidance of, all things of a sexual nature.

• Sexual behaviour

• Visible sadness

• Poor hygiene or appearing malnourished

• Avoidance or dislike of visiting a relative, family friend or authority figure

• Marked decline in school performance

• Aggressive and disruptive behaviour

• Self-destructive and self-abusive behaviour or suicidal thoughts.

What should I do if a child indicates that she/he has been abused or is being abused:

• Be calm. Don’t express shock, panic or disbelief.

• Find a private place to talk. Let the child know that telling the truth is the right thing to do.

• Let the child tell the story in his/her own way.

• Do not ask questions that put words in the child’s mouth or make assumptions about what may have happened.

• Only make promises that you can follow through with.

• Do not promise that everything will be resolved, “fixed” or “get better”

• Immediately after the disclosure:

- remind the child that what happened is not their fault

- call and make a report to the nearest district police station

- seek help from a professional trained to deal with cases of abuse.

• Never attempt to confront the abuser.

Identifying signs of physical and sexual abuse in children
Trinidad Guardian Wednesday 4th May, 2008

Child Abuse Background

Child abuse is defined as the mistreatment of a young child or young person under 18 years.

In keeping with the thrust toward recognising and providing assistance to abused children, the Ministry of Social Development has produced three pamphlets—Abuse, Incest and Our Children...Our Future.

Child abuse can take the form of:

• Physical—hitting, punching, kicking, shaking, harming or hurting a child, eg: pulling ears, pinching

• Verbal/emotional—constant insults, cursing, name calling, excessively ignoring, confinement in closets, bondage in chains

• Sexual—inappropriate touching, fondling, oral stimulation, sexual intercourse, incest, child pornography and sexual exploitation

• Neglect—depriving a child of food, clothing, education, medical care, love and affection

• Abandonment—leaving a child alone or unattended.

How do I know if a child is being abused?

• Unexplained bruises, cuts or fractures on different parts of the body

• Behavioural changes, such as aggression or withdrawal from activities, friends or family

• Depression—constant fatigue

• Stealing—eg: food, money, clothing

• Poor hygiene—unkempt appearance, malnourishment

• Complaints about pain and itching in the genital area

• Use of drugs or alcohol

• Sexual activity—sexual role playing or acting out

• Significant drop in performance in school/ a loss in interest in school/high absenteeism

• Poor peer relationships

• Begging and peddling.

What to do when a child says he/she has been abused?

• Believe the child until evidence suggests otherwise. Remember, research shows children rarely lie about abuse.

• Be calm. Do not express shock, panic or disbelief

• Find a private place to talk Assure the child that telling someone was the right thing to do

• Listen to the child tell the story in his/her own way

• Use open, non leading questions. Do not put words in the child’s mouth

• Do not make promises you cannot keep

• Call and make a report to the nearest Police Station, Health Office or National Family Services office

• In the event of sexual abuse, take the child for a medical examination as soon as possible

— Compiled by Michelle Loubon
Child Abuse Hotline - 1-3-1 (Tel1) or 800-4321 (Tel2)

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