Nearly five children die every day in America from abuse and neglect
Child abuse can result from physical, emotional, or sexual harm; it can even result from neglect. There are multiple causes and connections which can contribute to child abuse such as alcoholism, substance abuse, anger issues, and poverty just to name a few. But child abuse has no limits--it affects all strata of life. It does not see or care about who you are, where you come from, or where you have been.
Studies show that one in eight boys and one in four girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. Clinically speaking, I think these numbers are much greater as they are under reported.
What is abuse? Physical abuse involves harming a child by hitting, burning, beating, and/or breaking bones. Child sexual abuse is the deliberate exposure of a minor child to sexual activity in all its forms. Child neglect occurs when someone does not provide the food, clothing, shelter, or other necessities that are essential for the survival of the child.
As a clinician, I have seen too many children suffer from child abuse. In working with children that have been sexually abused, many people do not realize that most abuse comes from family members or people that are close to the family. One of the things I recommend to anyone who thinks that a child is being abused is to report it immediately to police or DHR (334) 242-1310. http://dhr.alabama.gov/services/child_protective_services/abuse_neglect_reporting.aspx
Food for Thought
I remember in the early part of my career working with a family of five. The mother reported that she had been sexually abused by her grandfather, who sexually abused the client's mother, and the grandfather had sexually abused her children and now was sexually abusing her grandchildren. I had asked the client at the time if she or anyone had previously reported the sexual abuse, and she indicated that it has never been reported because the grandfather was a main figure in the family. This sick cycle had continued for more than four generations. I reported the grandfather for all the alleged abuse that occurred in the family. This story unfortunately is common in many families. However, it only takes one person to break the cycle of the "don't talk" rule of dysfunctional families. If you can help one child out do it! Remember Report-Report-Report.
Hector Oswaldo Chavez, MS, is a Marriage and Family Therapist, Professional Counselor, and Substance Abuse Counselor. He serves on multiple boards and has worked in a variety of clinical settings such as with the Army, Navy, Hospital Inpatient and Outpatient, Community Mental Health, and Private Practice. His professional views may not necessarily reflect the views of other mental health or medical professionals. If you have any personal or family concerns about the topic discussed, please seek professional assistance.