DISCIPLINE, GAMES OR ABUSE?
Helping Children to
No matter how much we love our children,
raising them is a demanding and often stressful job. It can bring
frustration along with joy. To cope, we refer to our own
childhood experiences. For some, this leads to child abuse.
Parents who were abused as children often do
not fully understand the harm they cause. Emergency room
physicians may be told that a child had an accident. Seldom does
and abusive parent admit to causing injury.
Children may go along with the story because
they tend to assume responsibility for the incident. They find it
difficult to accept that they are abused. When you try to help,
they may withdraw.
The law, however, is clear regarding what
constitutes abuse. In part, federal law states that it is a crime
to cause evidence of "
skin bruising, bleeding,
malnutrition, sexual molestation, burns, fracture of any bone,
subdural hematoma, soft tissue swelling, failure to thrive, or
death, and such condition or death is not justifiably explained,
or where the history given concerning such condition or death may
not be the product of an accident."
Statistics show that most sexual molestation is
committed by relatives, friends or neighbors.
Handicapped and retarded children are
susceptible, as are younger children in families with child abuse
history. Other risky situations include changes in step or foster
parents, and young girls frequently left alone with step or
You can protect your children by letting them
know that they should not want to be touched in the genital, anal
or breast areas. You'll be educating them about their bodies.
They'll understand that you want to know if they have problems.
And if you suspect abuse, watch for signals like these:
- Behavior problems, such as running away or
- Emotional problems. Fear of grownups,
anxiety, guilt or crying.
- Failure to establish or keep friendships.
- Words or artistic expressions that suggest
- Telling others about sexual experiences.
- Suicide attempts.
- Psychological changes, such as phobia,
hysteria or hypochondria.
- Bleeding, infections, rash, and discharge
in vaginal, genital or rectal areas.
You Can Help
You can be caring and alert. Share facts with
your own children about abuse and how to guard against it.
Prepare them so that they can be wary of friends as well as
You can support the child who reports physical
abuse or sexual molestation to you. You can be sensitive to
feelings of fear and guilt.
You can refer situations to child protective
services. Adults can be referred to organizations such as
Parents Anonymous. You may ask a school counselor to intervene.
The experience of helping a child can be
upsetting. Ask for the help of professionals and other parents
when you need it. If the child is not your own, it's important to
respect the legal and confidentiality rights of the family.
Copyright © 1989, PARLAY INTERNATIONAL