Different Types of Child Abuse...
Child abuse covers a spectrum of behaviour, from less to more abusive.
Protecting children from abuse is a responsibility shared by everyone.
A first step in protecting children from abuse involves facing up to the fact that it happens at all and understanding the nature and types of abuse.
It covers a range of unacceptable behaviour, including what may be described as physical punishment.
It can involve hitting, shaking, squeezing, burning, attempted suffocation, drowning, giving a child poisonous substances, inappropriate drugs or alcohol.
It includes the use of excessive force when carrying out tasks like feeding or nappy changing.
The position of the bruising is important: bruises on cheeks, bruised eyes without other injuries, bruises on front and back shoulders are less likely to occur accidentally, as are diffuse bruising, pinpoint haemorrhages and finger-tip bruises.
Bruises occuring frequently or re-bruising in the same position as old or faded bruising may also be indicators of abuse.
The pattern of bruises may also be an indicator: bruises reflecting the cause, for example finger-tip, fist- or hand-shaped bruising. Bruises incurred accidentally do not form a pattern.
It is very important that mongolian spots are not confused with bruises as a type of child abuse. They should not arouse suspicion of abuse.
Mongolian spots are smooth, bluish grey to purple skin patches, often quite large, consisting of an excess pigmented cells (melanocytes).
They are sometimes seen across the base of the spine (sacrum) or buttocks of infants or young children of Asia, Southern European and African descent. They disappear at school age.
Diagnosis of types of child abuse is by health care professionals: it is rarely made on the basis of physical indicators alone and may depend on prompt referral to appropriate professionals.
Examples are cigarette burns, especially when clear and round and more than one, and burns reflecting the instrument used, for example by placing a heated metal object on the skin.
The pattern and position of scalds can be significant, for example a 3 year old child with scalds on their feet that are spread like socks. This would imply that the child was placed in hot water and probably held there.
The result may be a small fracture or bleeding into the brain (subdural haematoma).
A small outward sign of head injury accompanied by irritability, drowsiness, headache, vomiting or head enlargement should be treated with urgency, as the outcomes can include brain damage, blindness, coma and death.
Damage in a young child ususlly results from something being forcibly pushed into the mouth, such as spoon, bottle or dummy.
It hardly ever occurs in ordinary accidents. This damage may be associated with facial bruising.
The presence of the following additional indicators increases the likelihood that injuries were sustained non-accidentally; they should be recorded alongside the physical indicators.
Some of these additional indicators highlight the need to keep accurate, up-to-date records...
This behaviour should be recorded in order to consider it alongside physical and additional indicators, but it cannot be said to prove the existence of abuse...
Neglect involves acts of omission, that is not doing those things that should be done, such as protecting children from harm.
This contrasts with other types of child abuse that involve acts of commission, that is doing those things that should not be done, for example beating children.
To understand neglect you need to know about children's basic essential needs and their rights.
It also includes failing to protect, for example leaving young children alone and unsupervised.
It is important to remember that behavioural indicators may be due to causes other than neglect. For this reason, you need to be aware of the background of children in your care.
Diagnosis will not be on the basis of behavioural indicators alone. Possible medical conditions that may account for the physical indicators observed will need to be ruled out.
This occurs when children are harmed by constant threats, verbal attacks, taunting and/or shouting.
Emotional abuse includes the adverse effect on children's behaviour and emotional development as a result of their parent or carer's behaviour, including their neglect and/or rejection of the child.
This category is only used in circumstances where it is the only or main form of abuse. Children may fail to thrive as a result of emotional neglect or abuse, as well as of physical neglect.
Children who are neglected are more likely to be victims of other types of child abuse, such as emotional, sexual or physical abuse.
An example of a social taboo of family roles might be incest.
Victims of sexual abuse include children who have been the subject of unlawful sexual activity or whose parents or carers have failed to protect them from unlawful sexual activity, and children abused by other children.
Sexual abuse covers a range of abusive behaviour not neccessarily involving direct physical contact.
It often starts at the lower end of the spectrum, for example exposure and self-masturbation by the abuser, and continues through actual body contact such as fondling, to some form of penetration.
It happens to all children in all kinds of families and communities. It is untrue that it is only found in isolated rural communities.
Both boys and girls experience sexual abuse. As far as we know, many more girls are abused than boys.
There have been reported incidents of children as young as 4 months old being sexually abused.
Both men and women sexually abuse children. It is becoming clear that the majority of children who are sexually abused know the identity of the abuser.
They are either a member of their family, a family friend or a person the child knows in a position of trust, for example a teacher or a carer.
In a study of college students, 19 per cent of women and 9 per cent of men reported having been sexually abused as a child.
Out of 3,000 respondents to a survey by a teenage magazine, 36 per cent said they had been subjected to a sexually abusive experience as a child.
If sexual abuse is not recognised in the early stages, it may persist undiscovered for many years.
In addition, there are signs that are specific to either boys or girls...
The following should be recorded accurately and discussed with the designated person in your establishment or a senior member of staff...
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