A society is a creation of social realities. Social reality is a culmination of both positive as well as negative aspects of life. One such negative factor that has created a sense of unrest in society and is relatively a recent phenomenon that received much-needed attention is child abuse. A social evil that is not just limited to a populous country like India but is prevalent in every society around the globe. Childhood is the essential phase of life.
Economic stratification also leads to widespread cases of child abuse in the society where poverty strikes children are highly likely to fall into the trap of child abuse, therefore, there is a direct relationship between poverty and child abuse. There are various forms of child abuse. Child abuse can range from raping a child, torturing children at workplaces, severely beating them up at schools or homes to even employing children as child labor is a form of child abuse. The consequences of abuse are extremely deep and leave their imprints on the minds forever. Psychologically, a child is shattered but the actual pain is not felt at an initial stage, the outcomes as feelings that generate at later stages of life influence their perceptions about themselves and also of society. They often face long-term illness or even choose to end their lives as a result of seclusion from society.
The current study additionally attempts the results and preventive measures to curb child abuse. It is the obligation of the general public and the society at large to execute a primary prevention program, especially in families and schools to assist youngsters to grow and prosper in society with the right set of open mindset. Each part of a child’s life should be acknowledged, esteemed, and valued by the child’s parent and guardian. Any malfunction to the esteem or value system of any of these basics of the children psychosocial being included classes of child misuse and disregard. In the recent decade, child abuse has surfaced very rapidly with growing intensity. The need for the hour is to stop this evil at any cost and educate society of the repercussions children to face in the long run. It’s a burning issue of every society and society should consider the issue skeptically. Moreover, the right set of preventive measures, strategies can avoid child abuse worldwide.
CHILD ABUSE: A CONCEPT
Abuse is any type of conduct or act that is intentional to have authority over, threaten, intimidate, or hurt someone else. It is the misuse of an authority that the person has by means of being close to the victim, and negatively uses confidence and dependence of the victim to make the victim defenseless. Abuse can range from mental, sexual, emotional, monetary.
Child Abuse is any activity, conduct, and gestures by someone who is grown-up(adult) or child that makes extensive harm to a youngster. It tends to be physical, sexual or emotional, but can similarly as frequently be about an absence of love, care, and consideration. WHO (2002) characterizes child abuse and neglect in society, or child abuse, as all types of physical or emotional torture, sexual maltreatment, disregard or careless activity, or business or other abuse following in unmistakable or conceivable mischief to the kid’s wellbeing.
Child – A child is a person with his or her own traits of personality or characteristics, living in the phase of development from birth and puberty. This phase provides them their mindsets, perceptions, and opinions. A child makes up that layer of the society that is the frailest, powerless, susceptible, and entirely reliant on grown-ups. It is the hardest reality to witness a situation where children end up in territories of cataclysmic events and calamities or zones of military battle activities and become the prisoners and survivors of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
DIFFERENT FORMS OF CHILD ABUSE
There are various forms of child abuse, a few types are visible in society in the magnanimous form such as sexual abuse but there are some that are not completely evident in the public. Abusing the child through words, slap, beating, criticizing remarks pave a way for insecurity, low confidence, and loneliness among the children. Child abuse is present mainly in four forms in the social fabric.
● Emotional Abuse- According to American Humane, ‘Emotional abuse of a child is commonly defined as “a pattern of behavior by parents or caregivers that can seriously interfere with a child’s cognitive, emotional, psychological, or social development”. Therefore, emotional abuse comes into existence when a child is neglected severely by isolating him or her, moreover, the psychological and social well-being is affected as a consequence. It includes criticizing, rejecting, degrading and discriminating, and terrorizing a child. Emotional abuse is present in almost every form as a consequence of other forms of child abuse. The result of such abuse is so severe that children also take steps such as suicides. Moreover, the child might enter a phase of depression, severe anxiety, nausea, and other psychological illness. Emotional abuse can also become a root cause for restricting a child’s emotional development, making it tougher for the child to express the feelings.
● Child Sexual Abuse- Sexual abuse is an exploitative sexual act done by an adult or other adolescent. It is a form of abuse where the adult or the adolescent is in a relationship of trust, dependence, or control with the (victim) child and uses the relationship in a negative manner. It includes physically coming in contact with the child, sexual intercourse, involving the children in pornographic activities, prostitution, or using the means of the internet to circulate any such activity that comes under the ambit of sexually abusing children.
● Physical Abuse- Physical abuse can be caused by punching, beating, kicking, shaking, gnawing, burning, or throwing the kid. Physical abuse may likewise result from excessive or improper discipline or brutality inside the family. Wounds to a child may shift in seriousness and range from minor bruising, welts or other marks, fractures of higher intensity, to its most outrageous form, the death of a child.
● Neglect might be Physical – inability to give important fundamental necessities of food, clothes, and shelter. Medical – failure to look for, get or finish medical care for the kid or Abandonment – leaving a kid in any circumstance without providing necessities of life to survive. Similarly, a lack of parental responsibility towards their children is also a clear sign of neglect.
CHILD ABUSE: IMPACT
The impact of physical abuse ranges from short-term effects to severe long-term impacts. Potential injuries to the bodies such as fractured bones, skin injuries, etc can be detrimental in the long run emotionally, psychologically and the change can be witnessed in behavior patterns too. Depression, anxiety disorders, drug use, and other mental illness have a direct link with physical child abuse.
Emotional abuse is a grave form of abuse that can cause such a great impact on a child’s life. There is a higher risk of developing mental illness, other health problems, self-harming tendencies, etc. One of the most significant consequences of emotional abuse is that due to lack of affection or care from elders, it becomes extremely difficult for the children to communicate, express, and maintain their relationships with others in society.
Child sexual abuse is the most severe form of child abuse which has long-term effects of severe intensity. The after-effects are basically a chronic neurological illness that creates a series of
negative situations. Guilt and shame become constants of their lives when society regards them with a secluded community.
Children who face neglect in their lives feel extremely heavy to balance social and personal lives. They are more likely to experience post-traumatic stress, depression and there is a high tendency of breaking the rules and regulations. They become highly egoistic and often face anger control problems.
Such a level of child abuse is detrimental to not just a child’s life but also to the nation’s future. A nation where everyone is protected under the rights of several freedoms has a current scenario where its youth and children are trapped in the cycle of various forms of child abuse.
LAW AND CHILD ABUSE
Article 14 and 15: Article 14 states that the state shall not deny any person equality before the law or equal protection of law within the territory of India. But Article 15 (3) expresses the fact that the state has the power to make special provisions for the upliftment of women and children in society.
Moreover, other articles mentioned in the constitution also provide a safeguard against such abuses in society.
Article 23 eliminates human trafficking and forced labor.
Article 24 prohibits the employment of children aged below 14 years in any hazardous factories, mines, or industries.
SIGNIFICANCE OF PROTECTING CHILDREN
Children are the purest form of living human creatures. At such a tender age, they lack a sense of maturity, which in turn makes them a fragile personality with no power to retaliate when they are hurt physically, psychologically, or sexually. They are at such a vulnerable phase of life that their innocence and incorruptibility lead them to a trap of various abuse on a daily basis. A child’s mind is an impressionable box of thoughts where people with perverted minds make use of children being dependent on them completely and lacking a sense of maturity by exploiting them in several forms of abuse.
Role of Family: A family is the principal line of protection when it comes to a child’s life. Guardians or different parental figures are answerable for building a protective and affectionate home climate. A child’s learning and socialization are most impacted by their family since the family is the child’s essential social gathering. It is the family which is dependable to deal with the essential requirements of a child and if the family neglects to care for the necessities of a child, it is the commitment of the local government to take care of the kid’s welfare and childhood upbringing.
Role of other institutions: Children and youths spend an enormous segment of their time in school, which gives teachers more admittance to students than most different experts. For this very reason the expression “educator” is intended to incorporate not just the school educator, but other school faculty engaged with serving the child too. The educator can add to the expanded prosperity of children in a variety of ways. Positively, the principal factor of protection against the issue of child abuse is one of awareness ensured by schools and similar institutions.
Child abuse has taken the grip of society so firmly that it has become necessary to eliminate it. The effect of child abuse is overwhelming and it can seriously affect the advancement of the kid. Child abuse can influence each part of a person’s life going from, physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development.
FACTORS CAUSING CHILD ABUSE
● Individual Risk Factors
1. Lack of communication about a child’s needs between parents and children.
2. Parental history of neglect, no affection, abuse, low education, and variation of economic conditions.
3. Perverted minds and emotions that justify such behavior of abuse.
● Family Risk
1. Social isolation becomes a major factor.
2. Depression history in the family with parents getting divorced also leads to child abuse.
● Community and Crisis Risk Factors
1. Violence at the community level.
2. Neighbourhood drawbacks such as high unemployment, low wages, and high poverty ratio even generates situations for child abuse to rise.
RIGHTS OF CHILDREN
The constitution of India was of a vision that children should have a bright future with comprehensive growth, development, upliftment, and protection. A society with fewer mortality rates of children and malnutrition. The constitution framers desired for a society with a good overall participation of children in the progress of the nation.
Therefore, policymakers specifically focused upon providing children with basic rights and privileges, hence, policies were generated to protect and safeguard the interests of a child.
CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION
The expression “PREVENTION ” is regularly used to talk about an action that stops an activity or conduct. Research has discovered that effective child abuse intercessions must both lessen hazard factors and elevate protective components to ensure the prosperity of kids and families.
Protective factors are situations in families and networks that, when present, increase the well-being and prosperity of youngsters and families. They are credits that fill in as tools that help guardians who may somehow be in danger of abusing their children to discover assets, supports, or adapting methodologies that permit them to parent successfully, considerably under pressure too.
PROTECTION OF CHILD RIGHTS ACT, 2005
The act paved a way for the setting up of the National Commission for Protection of child rights, 2007. This body works under the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The function of this statutory body is to protect child rights and spread awareness about child abuse in society. Moreover, it provides redressal and rehabilitation to affected children.
PROTECTION OF CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT,2012
The most significant law that revolves around child abuse in society is POCSO,2012. This act focuses upon child abuse, sexual harassment against children, and many related offenses into consideration. The act had set up special courts that cater to the needs and interests of children. They work upon child-friendly procedures for carrying out investigations .
Child abuse is a pervasive and complex problem prevailing not just in Indian society but also worldwide. The problem has reached prominent heights in the recent decade and the need of the hour is to immediately stop the increasing cases of child abuse across the world. Child abuse not just hinders the child’s productivity but at the same time, vandalizes the cycle of socialization of the kid. It is subsequently necessitated that the general public stirs to the call of ensuring and improving their childhood. The developing complexities of life and the changed socio-economic conditions have presented the children with new and various types of abuse. In any case, the dismal condition of the cases is that such terrible acts are accounted for less.it is in this way necessitated that the general public stirs to the call of securing and upgrading their youth. This would not just permit more noteworthy interest of children in the cycle of advancement and development but will also advance for the greater good of the world’s human progress.
 Irfan Fayaz, “Child Abuse: Effects and Preventive Measures”,The Indian Journal Of Psychology, 28th December,2020,https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334398542_Child_Abuse_Effects_and_Preventive_Measures.
 https://www.ukessays.com/essays/social-work/the-causes-and-effects-of-child-abuse-social-work-essay.php,(visited on 28th December,2020)
 Supra n. 4.
 https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/riskprotectivefactors.html, visited on 29th December,2020)
 Child Welfare Information Gateway,Child Maltreatment Prevention: Past, Present, and Future, 2017,https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/overview/whatiscap/ , (visited on 29th December,2020)
 Amisha U. Pathak,Child Abuse in India – An Analysis, http://indiathink.org/Child-Abuse-in-India-An-Analysis-by-Amisha-u-Pathak.pdf, (visited on 30th December,2020).
Author: Swastika Saxena