Violence against children in the form of mental and physical abuse has been a growing phenomenon in the past few years. Out of the many places that can inflict violence on a child, schools are most common. Often, children are abused by their peers, older children or teachers, and this severely impacts their well-being. Abuse can be verbal, physical or any other kind of exploitation, and can cause them much harm.
Many a times in such cases, the abused child is too ashamed, guilty or confused to come out in the open and talk about it. He may dread the abuser, and thus, keep the traumatic experience to himself. This is why it becomes vital for parents to understand the signs that indicate child abuse. They should be able to know if their child is upset or behaving abnormally, and take actions accordingly.
Signs of Abuse
There may be bruises or burns on your child’s body. If he gives you unconvincing explanations for these injuries, it could be a sign of physical abuse.
Abuse can cause a lot of changes in your child’s behavior. He might appear anxious, depressed, scared, withdrawn or might even get aggressive.
Returning to old habits:
Children who are abused, often show behaviors that they had when they were younger, like sucking their thumb, bed-wetting, being afraid of the dark or scared when meeting strangers. In severe cases, there could also be a loss of acquired language and memory problems.
Change in eating patterns:
Abuse causes a lot of stress and anxiety. This can lead to changes in a child’s eating habits, causing a sudden gain or loss in his weight.
Difficulty in sleeping:
Abused children are scared most of the time, and may often have nightmares or may find it difficult to fall asleep. As a result, they are tired and fatigued the entire day.
School performance is affected:
Children who are abused, find it difficult to concentrate on their academics and are frequently absent from school.
Lack of hygiene and personal care:
Abused or neglected children often appear uncared for. This may be visible through their lack of hygiene and cleanliness. They may look dirty, have a body odor, or lack sufficient weather-appropriate clothing.
Risk taking behaviors:
Abused children often indulge into high-risk activities like taking drugs and alcohol or carrying weapons.
Inappropriate sexual behavior:
Many children who are abused sexually, show a hyper sexual behavior or may use explicit sexual language.
Dealing with Child Abuse in School
The first thing to do is to talk to your child. Parents’ support is what he needs the most and what will help him recover better. Encourage him to talk about the incidents and let him pour his heart out to you. Once he has started talking, it will be good to take him out for some family time. Enjoy, partake in fun activities and take him out for his favourite meal. Many a times, he could be hesitant or not interested. Don’t force him, let him do what he wants. It is also an ideal option to seek expert help. Take your child to a good counselor who can deal with the situation in a more planned manner. Once you find out who the abuser is, report it immediately to the school authorities. In case things turn out to be more serious, take legal action.
Child abuse is not something that should be ignored. It can have various damaging impacts on your child’s well-being and on his mental health for years to come. Therefore, be on the lookout for any symptoms that may indicate abuse in your child, and in case you see a red flag, don’t falter to take immediate actions.