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Child abuse can be defined as intended or unintended harm to a child by another person
who may be parents, relatives or guardians. There are four major categories which are
physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and emotional abuse.

The cases in Malaysia are getting serious; according to Social Welfare Department of
Malaysia indicated each year at least 1,000 children in Malaysia are reported as victims.
With high statistics of child abuse, children rights are taken away and children also loose
the opportunity to live healthy and happily.

It is a repulsive issue for the society and it would affect the image of the country.
Furthermore, it is a big problem with a serious impact on the child's physical and mental
health, well-being and development throughout their lives. Children should have the
human rights of live free from violence, harm and exploitation.

Nowadays, government have organized Child abuse prevention campaign which help the
them escape from abuse and also educate the public to love the children. Children are the
hope in the future of the country and the well-being of children is very important.

There are few organization which included Protect and care the children (P.S the
children), Malaysian Pediatric Association (MPA), Social Welfare Department of
Malaysia, The Women's Aid Organization (WAO) and The United Nations Children's
Fund (UNICEF). These few organization is playing important roles to protect the
children; in addition they always concern about the issues of child abuse and try their best
to give the best life for the children. Children are future leader in our country and they are
innocent and have right or opportunity to stay healthy and happily.

Types of Abuse
Physical Abuse occurs when a child suffers or is likely to suffer significant harm from an
injury inflicted by a child's parent or caregiver. The injury may be inflicted intentionally
or may be the inadvertent consequence of physical punishment or physically aggressive
treatment of a child. The injury may take the form of bruises, cuts, burns or fractures.

Sexual Abuse occurs when a person uses power or authority over a child to involve the
child in sexual activity and the child's parent or caregiver has not protected the child.
Physical force is sometimes involved. Child sexual abuse involves a wide range of sexual
activity. It includes fondling of the child's genitals, masturbation, oral sex, vaginal or anal
penetration by a penis, finger or other object, or exposure of the child to pornography.

Emotional Abuse occurs when a child's parent or caregiver repeatedly rejects the child or
uses threats to frighten the child. This may involve name calling, put downs or continual
coldness from the parent or caregiver, to the extent that it significantly damages the
child's physical, social, intellectual or emotional development.

Neglect is the failure to provide the child with the basic necessities of life such as food,
clothing, shelter, medical attention or supervision, to the extent that the child's health and
development is, or is likely to be, significantly harmed.
What are the causes of child abuse?
There is not any single fact which causes child abuse; abuse usually occurs in families
where there is a combination of risk factors. Abuse and neglect occur most often in
families who are under pressure and lack support. Most abuse other than sexual abuse
occurs in families to which some, or all, of the following apply:

• Poverty
• Lack of education
• Serious marital problems
• Frequent changes of addresses
• Violence between family members
• Lack of support from the extended family
• Loneliness and social isolation
• Unemployment
• Inadequate housing.

In some cases the abuser may also display the following:

• Very high expectations of the child and what the child should achieve
• The parent may have been abused as a child
• A lack of knowledge and skills in bringing up children
• Low self esteem and self confidence
• Depression
• Alcohol and/or drug abuse
• Mental or physical ill health
• Work pressures.

Certain community attitudes may encourage child abuse. These include:

• Acceptance of the use of violence and force

• Acceptance of physical punishment of children
• Acceptance of parents "ownership" of children and their right to treat children as
they see fit
• Racism
• Inequality between men and women.

Who are the abusers?

With child sexual abuse, the overwhelming majority of abusers are male, and the majority
of victims are females although many boys are also abused. Sexual abuse is associated
with attitudes to women and sex that men learn from a young age as well as unequal
power relationships between men and women and adults and children.

Both men and women commit physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. It often
depends on which parent spends most time with the child. Child abuse usually takes place
in the home with someone that the child knows rather than with strangers.
Who is likely to be abused?
Abused children come from all levels of society, although most abused children who are
reported to authorities are from families where there is high mobility, a lack of education,
loneliness, poverty, unemployment, inadequate housing or social isolation.

With physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect, boys are somewhat more at risk than
girls. However there are more girls sexually abuse than boys. Abuse may be directed at
only one child in the family.

Children can be abused at any age. Some children are more at risk of abuse eg. under 2
years of age and children with disabilities. Many adolescents are victims of child abuse
and neglect. Sometimes abuse commences during adolescence as parents may experience
difficulties in dealing with the adolescent's behaviour and desire for independence.

What are the effects of child abuse?

Abuse is harmful to children. Children may experience a range of emotional,
psychological and physical problems and trauma as a result of being abused or neglected.

All forms of abuse are likely to result in emotional problems for the child, in particular, a
lack of self esteem and distrust of adults. The longer the abuse goes on, the more serious
are the effects. Abused and neglected children are more likely than other children to be
self destructive or aggressive, to abuse drugs and/or alcohol, or become young offenders
or "street kids". In some situations abuse and neglect may result in permanent physical

In the longer term, adults who have been abused as children are also more likely to abuse
their own children and often experience difficulties in forming satisfactory relationships
with other adults.

Treatment and counselling services for children who have been abused assist in working
through the trauma and in reducing the effects of the abuse. The most serious effects are
likely to occur when no one takes action to stop the abuse and to protect the child.

How can abuse and neglect be recognised?

Behavioural or physical signs which assist in recognising child abuse are known as
indicators. A single indicator can be as important an indicator as the presence of several
indicators. A child's behaviour is likely to be affected if he/she is under stress. There can
be many causes of stress, including child abuse, and it is important to find out specifically
what is causing the stress.

Physical Abuse

Physical indicators include:

• Bruises, burns, sprains, dislocations, bites, cuts

• Fractured bones, especially in an infant where a fracture is unlikely to occur
• Poisoning
• Internal injuries.
Possible behavioural indicators include:

• Showing wariness or distrust of adults

• Wearing long sleeved clothes on hot days (to hide bruising or other injury)
• Demonstrating fear of parents and of going home
• Becoming fearful when other children cry or shout
• Being excessively friendly to strangers
• Being very passive and compliant.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is not usually identified through physical indicators. Often the first sign is
when a child tells someone they trust that they have been sexually abused. However the
presence of sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, or vaginal or anal bleeding or
discharge may indicate sexual abuse.

One or more of these behavioural indicators may be present:

• Child telling someone that sexual abuse has occurred

• Complaining of headaches or stomach pains
• Experiencing problems with schoolwork
• Displaying sexual behaviour or knowledge which is unusual for the child's age
• Showing behaviour such as frequent rocking, sucking and biting
• Experiencing difficulties in sleeping
• Having difficulties in relating to adults and peers.

Emotional Abuse

There are few physical indicators, although emotional abuse may cause delays in
emotional, mental, or even physical development.

Possible behavioural indicators include:

• Displaying low self esteem

• Tending to be withdrawn, passive, tearful
• Displaying aggressive or demanding behaviour
• Being highly anxious
• Showing delayed speech
• Acting like a much younger child - eg. soiling, wetting pants
• Displaying difficulties in relating to adults and peers.


Physical indicators include:

• Frequent hunger
• Malnutrition
• Poor hygiene
• Inappropriate clothing eg. Summer clothes in winter
• Left unsupervised for long periods
• Medical needs not attended to
• Abandoned by parents.
Possible behavioural indicators include:

• stealing food
• staying at school outside school hours
• often being tired, falling asleep in class
• abusing alcohol or drugs
• displaying aggressive behaviour
• not getting on well with peers.

The presence of indicators such as those described may alert us to the possibility that a
child is being abused. It is important that anyone who has concerns that a child or young
person is in need of protection contacts a local Child Protection Service for assistance and

5 Ways to Cope with Past Child Abuse

Adult survivors of child abuse may never forget what happened to them, but they can live
healthy, powerful lives.

1. Talk about it. Whether counseling is an option or not, talking about it with
support groups, close friends, and loved ones can help ease the pain. The long-
term effects of child abuse can be alleviated by admitting feelings, memories, and
hopes for the future.
2. Recognize unhealthy coping strategies. Overeating, shopping, drinking, drugs,
unhealthy relationships, and fear of intimacy are unhealthy coping strategies. They
may provide distraction from painful memories in the short-term, but they create
problems in the long run.
3. Tell the doctor. Treating migraines or depression may be treated differently if the
doctor is aware of past child abuse. Don’t let him or her shrug off the possible
long-term effects of abusive childhood relationships: doctors aren’t always up on
the latest research or psychological approaches to health care.
4. Read books and articles about child abuse. The more information you have
about abusive childhood relationships, the better equipped you'll be to survive the
long-term effects. And, consider guided imagery or alternative therapies that can
help you cope with past child abuse.
5. Learn to live for today. At some point, letting go of the past is a healthy strategy.
"Living well is the best revenge," said George Herbert. Focus on healthy adult
relationships, figuring out who you are, and achieving your goals. Set aside the
past and look ahead, to the future.