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Problem of Child Abuse

Child abuse is usually classified into three major types: physical, sexual and emotional. Each has recognizable characteristics. The indicators of physical abuse in the child are bruises, burns, fractures, lacerations and abrasions, abdominal injuries and human bite marks. The behavioral indicators of physical abuse are the abused child is wary of contact with adults, he /she becomes apprehensive when other children cry, show aggressiveness in behaviour, seem frightened of parents or caretakers and afraid to go home or cries when it is time to go home. Child sexual abuse has been defined as the involvement of dependent and immature children in sexual activities they donít fully comprehend to which they are unable to give informed consent.

The Juvenile Justice Act 1986 defines child sexual abuse as interaction between a child and an adult in which the child is being used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or another person. Sexual abuse is not often identified through physical indictors alone. A child can confide in a trusted person that she /he has been sexually assaulted. There are some physical signs of sexual abuse like difficulty in walking or sitting, pain or itching, bruises or bleeding, venereal disease and pregnancy in early adolescence. The sexually abuse child may appear withdrawn or retarded, may have poor peer relationships, may be unwilling to participate in activities, may indulge in delinquent behaviour.Emotional abuse is the neglect or maltreatment of children. It may involve a disregard of the physical, emotional, moral or social needs of the children. Besides these there are social abuses of children like kidnapping and forcing them to beg in streets.

The major causes of child abuse are adaptational failure or environmental maladjustment mostly on the part of the adult perpetrators but to some extent on the part of adults responsible for family socialization as well. The dominant causes of battering children found in a study were children disobeying parents, quarrels between the parents and the child beaten as scapegoat, child not taking interest in studies, child spending time away from home, child refusing to hand over his total earnings to his parents/guardians and child indulging in deviant behavior like theft and smoking etc.The main causes for sexual abuse given are adjustment problems of the perpetrators, family disorganization, victimís characteristics and the psychological disorders of the abusers. Four important causes of emotional abuse can be identified are poverty, deficient parental control and non cordial relations within family, maltreatment faced by parents in their own childhood or intergenerational transmission of child maltreatment and alcoholism of parents.

There can be multiple effects of abuse on children like self-devaluation, dependency, mistrust, and revictimization, withdrawal from people, emotional trauma, deviant behavior and interpersonal problems.

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