April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. Many children silently suffer abuse every day without adequate treatment, creating emotional, physical and social issues throughout childhood and into adulthood. According to ChildHelp.org, three million reports of child abuse and neglect in the US are made each year, yet experts estimate the actual incidence is three times greater than reported. Keep reading to learn more about child abuse.
The toll of child abuse
The toll of child abuse includes a greater risk of mental disorders, teen pregnancy, crime and incarceration, drug and alcohol abuse, problems with relationships, and, at worse, death from the actual abuse or suicide. For this, it is crucial to be aware of the symptoms of child abuse and to do something about it.
Symptoms of child abuse
If a child is suffering from any form of abuse there “are common signs, but it depends on the age group and the child,” says Stephanie L. Jones, sexual abuse prevention advocate and author of The Enemy Between My Legs. “Signs for younger children include bed wetting, fondling with themselves, fear of certain places such as basements and dark rooms. For teenagers, low self esteem, binge eating, behavior issues at school and shutting others out are common behavioral traits of abuse,” she continues.
When child abuse bleeds into adulthood
If an individual, as a child, was either a direct victim of abuse or a witness of abuse, the psychological difficulties can be intense. A most recent highly publicized example is Chris Brown and Rihanna.”Chris Brown and Rihanna are both victims of child abuse — the abuse that they witness and probably experienced on some level is not a surprise at all. Abuse tends to be generational,” explains Jones. This is an unfortunate example of childhood abuse bleeding into adulthood. “What is most disturbing, is all of the attention around this situation and the lack of solutions being provided to help them deal with the hurt and pain of the past.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, Jones strongly suggests visiting the website for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (see below). This site provides contact information of national and local organizations specified to cities and states,” explains Jones.She also encourages individuals who have experienced any form of abuse to deal with the issue as best as possible. Most people just want to sweep it under the rug and hope for it to go away. That doesn’t happen when people don’t deal with their hurt and pain. Jones warns, “Chances are it will manifest again in some way.”