The media reveals the sad extent of child abuse in the country. Many of these cases go undetected because young children are unable to articulate what happened to them.
Older children who are abused by people such as their parents or close relatives, are afraid to talk about it. Their dependence on parents and the fear of abandonment is a reality.
It is incumbent upon all of us, teachers, parents, family members, neighbours and others to recognise signs of child abuse and to report it to the relevant authorities.
Abuse may take various forms including, physical, sexual, emotional and neglect.
Physical abuse includes bruises, burn marks, fractures and skin discoloration.
The following are common indicators of physical abuse: (Ref: Kit Richert)
The child is not able to explain the injury or the story is unbelievable.
The child may be aggressive or withdrawn.
The child is jumpy, on edge, or fearful.
The child is uncomfortable in dressing in front of peers.
The child is overly eager to please adults or wary of them.
The child is afraid to go home or frightened of his parents.
The child seems very afraid of getting into trouble.
Indicators of sexual abuse include:
Sudden changes in behaviour.
Depression, suicidal ideation or running away.
Regression to more childlike behavior.
Changes in relationships with adults, becoming clingier or avoidant.
Lower interest in school or lower achievement.
Shows sexually provocative behavior.
The child talks about sex or being touched.
Common indicators that a child is being neglected include:
Frequent hunger at school.
Fatigue, falls asleep in class or seems listless.
Begs and steals (food and property).
Comes to school early and leaves late.
Says there is no one at home to take care of him.
By reporting abuse to authorities such as Childline and the SAPS, you might save a child’s life.
“No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.” – James Dobson