Over the weekend, residents of Shinyalu in Kakamega county were left in shock after a woman attacked and seriously injured her 13-year-old step-son for allegedly stealing a meal of kumbe kumbe that she had prepared. Trouble started when the stepmother, violet Injeete, arrived home to find an empty cooking pot where she had left her precious stew. The police have launched a manhunt for Injeete who has since gone into hiding.
The case is just one in a mass of similar cases some of which go unreported. A 2020 survey by Action Aid found that about half of the Kenyan Child population has suffered at least one form of violence which constitutes to child abuse. Schools open in a few days and some abused children will find refuge and safety being in school. Teachers can help abused children but only if they are able to spot the signs of abuse. Here are some of the telltale signs that a child is being abused.
Fear of the parent
Children are scared of many things but a parent should not be one of those things. If you notice that a child is always avoiding their parent and is scared most of the time. Try to dig deeper, the feared parent may be abusing the child.
Physical Scars and Injuries
The good book advises parents to never spare the rod if they want to raise a disciplined child. However, there is a difference between disciplining a child and abusing them. If you notice a child that always has scars and injuries that they don’t want to talk about, the child is most likely being abused by their parents and it’s important to take action.
Sudden Changes in Behavior
Some children suddenly start showing strange behavior due to the abuse they experience at home. For example, a child who was previously fluent in their speech may start stuttering. Other children may become withdrawn and sad while others may start wetting themselves. If you witness such a child, try to create a safe space where they can express themselves and find out what is happening in the home front.
Expressing Hatred for a parent
If a child tells you that they hate a parent, or you overhear them saying that to their friends, again establish a close relationship with the child and try to find out why they hate their parent. You may just discover that the child is being molested by their parent or caregiver at home.
A child that appears neglected
Neglect can show in different forms. For instance, it could be a sick child that is not receiving medical attention even though their parent has been informed, or a child who comes to school looking unkempt.
A reluctance to go home
While some kids may rush to go home once the school day is over, some kids will show a reluctance to leave the school. This may be them trying to escape the abuse they face at home.
Signs of sexual abuse
Some children may exhibit signs of sexual abuse. For example, they may spot their clothes or have blood in their underwear. Other children will exhibit sexual behavior that is inappropriate for their age. Yet others may make inappropriate sexual jokes or outrightly tell you or their friends that they are being abused. All these signs should not be ignored.
To Wrap it up…
The age where children were the responsibility of the whole society is gone and individualism has crept deep into the core of parenting. Nevertheless, each one of us in the society has a responsibility to look out for the safety and well being of children. Teachers especially are well placed to identify any signs of abuse as they spend a lot of time with children.
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