As a parent, do you really know what child abuse is? Are you in a position to identify if your child is being abused? Do you know what to do or where to report instances of abuse?  

These are all questions parents should keep in mind because child abuse continues to occur and sometimes goes unreported for lack of knowledge on how to deal with such situations.

What is child abuse?

To many, child abuse is only about the child being sexually or physically assaulted but scientists will argue that any form of action causing a negative change in behavior of a child is abuse.

According to the World Health Organization(WHO), child abuse or child maltreatment is the abuse and neglect that occurs to children under 18 years.

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Therefore, child abuse takes many forms. For instance, yelling, scolding and telling a child to shut up is emotional abuse, especially if they are trying to express themselves. All children have the right to express themselves through speech. When you scold or hit your child for expressing him/herself this is a form of abuse which may cause them to start withdrawing.

Neglecting your responsibilities of taking care of the child is also abuse. This includes neglecting to pay school fees or healthcare when you are in a position to.

Children may also be abused when in the care of other people such as relatives, domestic help or even while in school or church. In some cases, you may fail to know when abuse happens but there are signs which can help you know if your child is being abused.  

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These signs include unexplained injuries( bruises and scratches), unexplained burns, injuries that do not match the given explanation by the caregiver, maybe your house help.

The child may also be withdrawn and tend to avoid certain people. They may also have little interest in activities such that a child who used to be physically active starts to avoid his play partners.

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How to deal with child abuse

As a parent, you need to be well-informed about the steps to take when abuse happens.

For starters, have an open relationship with your child so that they can be able to confide in you in case of abuse.

You can also educate yourself on how to identify abuse in children, especially those who may not be able to express themselves well.

Additionally, when a child has been abused seek help through organizations that have professionals who are equipped to deal with such issues and avoid blaming or castigating your child for abuse. Finally, raise the issue with the authorities for assistance and if you detect child abuse in your community, ensure that you also report.

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