A kid’s childhood should be filled with happy moments, laughter and lovely toys, not memories that make one shudder even at the thought of it. Being a child should not be a painful journey. After all, children are equal holders of human rights and they should not be denied a safe environment to grow and mature. However, many adults have failed to see the importance of ensuring the well-being of these young innocent kids. Every single day, almost five children die as a result of child abuse and at least one report of child abuse is made every ten seconds (“National”). Child abuse may take the form of physical, sexual, emotional or neglect, with physical abuse being the most common (“Child”). The incidence of parents and other guardians consciously, or even willfully, committing acts that harm the children they’re supposed to be nurturing is a sad fact of human society that cuts across all borders of ethnicity and class (Joseph). It’s high time for us to dig deep into the roots of this evil and look for solutions to combat the issue, before it continues to bring detrimental impacts to both the abused victims, and also, the society.
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Behind any actions, there is always a reason. Same goes to child abuse. Child abuse is triggered by many factors. According to Dr. Joel Akande, among all the contributing factors, lack of insight is the main culprit. Child abusers lack insight into the value of the children and this leads to sexual, verbal or physical exploitation of these kids (Akande). This may be due to the fact that the children are unwanted from unplanned pregnancy or they may be physically or mentally impaired (Akande). When these adults are engulfed in frustration or anger, children become their easy targets as they are vulnerable objects. If they were to value their precious kids dearly, they would always place the children’s happiness as their utmost priority. A responsible parent will try his very best to protect his child from any form of danger at all times. Apart from that, some caregivers lack parenting skills and they might have unrealistic expectations about child care (Saisan et. al). Child care is a daunting task, especially for working adults who have the heavy responsibilities to juggle between career and family. Without necessary parenting skills and support from others, caring for a child can be very stressful. Caregivers who are unable to handle child care stress tend to abuse their children as an outlet of their emotions (Gibson). They unleash their anger on the children to make themselves feel better as they have little control over their own emotions. This is especially evident in teen parents who have unrealistic and immature expectations about how much care babies and small children need (Saisan et. al). Also, parents under the power of drugs and alcohol can be abusive and easily neglect their children (Gibson). Drugs and alcohol abuse increases the likelihood of violence, because it interferes with communication among family members and abusers have lower abilities in controlling their behaviors (Miller et.al 357). Underestimation of the consequences of violence takes place at the same time as a result of interference with the brain centers that control socially unacceptable behaviors when adults abuse drugs and alcohol (Miller et.al). They lose their ability to judge what’s right or wrong when they are not sober. Parents who come home drunk or high on drugs are unable to take good care of their children, make good judgments and have control over often-dangerous compulsions (Saisan et.al). The neglected children are often left to fend for themselves and scavenge for their basic needs such as food under such harsh environment.
Herbert Ward once said, “Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime”. Indeed, it is true that child abuse leaves deep and long-lasting impacts on the victims, be it physically or emotionally. Physical abuse leaves visible signs, such as frequent physical injuries or unexplained bruises, cuts and wounds. This is often done by slapping, spanking and caning by the caregivers. Some may even resort to harsher means such as using hot iron and leather belt to harm their children. The visible physical scars and wounds will heal someday, but the emotional scarring will be embedded deep down in the children’s hearts throughout their lives. Victims of violence may face trouble developing self-confidence and a sense of self in them. It is difficult to overcome the core feelings of being worthless and hopeless, if a child is being repeatedly told that he is good for nothing since young (Saisan et. al). They no longer believe that they worth more or stand a place in the society. Abused children also cannot regulate and express their emotions effectively, in turn leads to unexplained anxiety, depression and anger in adult survivors of abuse (Saisan et.al). In addition, child abuse is a vicious cycle. Based on a literature review, Kaufman and Zigler have estimated that inter-generational transmission rate of child abuse is approximately 30 percent (186). This signifies that three out of ten people who were neglected in childhood will abuse their own children in the future. They are more likely to raise their children in the way they have experienced as a child, repeating the horrible cycle unconsciously. This causes unfavorable effects to the society as a whole, as the future leaders of tomorrow are not empowered to fulfill their potential as productive human beings, said Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the prime minister’s wife of Malaysia (“Getting”).
Hence, it is essential to put a halt to this terrible chain of abuse. First things first, caregivers have to be equipped with good parenting skills and it is vital to be mentally prepared for all the child care stress and challenges that follow. Parents should set realistic expectations of what children can handle at certain stages of development as it can help avoid frustrations and anger at normal child behavior (Saisan et.al). Emotional control and developing emotional intelligence is equally critical especially when one needs to handle children with special needs. Society has a pivotal role to play in combating this issue as well. The mindset of not wanting to encroach into other people’s lives should be discarded. One should not be reluctant to make a report to the authority if a child is suspected being abused by his caregivers. Society must realize that a small act of kindness can actually bring light into the darkness of a child’s life. The earlier the victims get help, the higher chance they have to recover from the abuse and not perpetuate the vicious cycle (“Child”).
“Truly, if there is evil in this world, it lies within the heart of mankind.”
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