Tag Archives: child abuse

Battered Child Syndrome

battered child syndrome

The battered child syndrome is a form of child abuse. It is a clinical condition in young children who have experienced severe physical abuse, which often leads to permanent injuries or death. The perpetrator could be anyone – it could be a parent, guardian, relative, neighbor or even a total stranger.

The battered child syndrome should be considered on any child that evidently shows signs of bone fracture, subdural hematoma, failure to thrive, swellings of soft tissues and/or bruising. It should be considered to any child who has developed a degree of trauma due to variance and occurrence of abuse; it should be considered to any child who had died because of child abuse.

Psychiatric factors of battered child syndrome play an important in the pathogenesis of the disorder. Physicians who evaluate abused children are required to conduct a full assessment of the situation and guarantee that the repetition of such traumatic experience will never be allowed.

Battered Children Cases

Keanu Williams. Keanu was a 2-year old child who died in the hands of his ‘monster’ mother who is now paying for her crime in jail today. The toddler suffered from 37 different injuries that included bite marks, a fractured skull and a fist-sized tear in the stomach… he was definitely beaten to death. A post-mortem examination showed that he was repeated hit by a stick or rod which caused him to die from internal bleeding. The judge found Keanu’s mother, Rebecca Shuttleworth, guilty of four counts of child cruelty. ‘He was a defenseless child and it was your duty to protect him. Instead you beat him so severely he died a lingering death from his injuries a day or so later. You have also been convicted of cruelty by failing to summon the medical aid he so badly needed.’ These are just some of the statements that Mr. Justice Spencer told Rebecca Shuttleworth. He even added a tribute to the child by saying, ‘He was a delightful little boy described as a real character, a little entertainer who remained cheerful despite everything.’ It is truly unimaginable what Keanu Williams had to suffer from the outburst of violence of his own mother.

Lauren Kavanaugh. This young girl was tortured beyond imagination by her mother and stepfather. She was given back to her birth mother when she was 20-month old and from then on, she suffered 6 years of torture and starvation. She became known as ‘the girl in the closet’; locked away for so long in the back room of a mobile home. When she was rescued in the year 2001, she only weighed 25.6 pounds at 8 years old. The doctors at Children’s Medical Center Dallas said that she was damaged in ways that they have never seen. She had suffered from extreme depression and developed bipolar disorder… She had undergone all the necessary treatments – years of psychotherapy and hundreds of doctors’ visits. Lauren had indeed suffered a case of extreme child abuse and it is expected that she will have lifelong of emotional problems, long nights of tears and terror, fits of rage… She has suffered a great deal, losing her six key years of growth and development… She does not know her ABC’s, she wasn’t potty-trained, she doesn’t know how to hold a pencil and she doesn’t even know what it’s like to be in the sun. Fortunately, today, Lauren is surviving and thriving… With the help of her treatments and support from her loving adoptive parents, Sabrina and Bill Kavanaugh, Lauren is now talking more, eager to exercise and she shows more interest in learning new things.

Terrell Peterson. He was a 5-year old boy who lived in Atlanta Georgia who was beaten to death. Terrell only weighed 29 pounds and his body was full of cuts, bruises and burns when the authorities recovered his body. His mother was taking drugs while she was pregnant. Terrell’s parents would lock him up in a bedroom during weekends and denied him food. The complaints against his mother led social caseworkers to place Terrell and his siblings, who were also abused in the same way Terrell was, with their blood relatives. However, Terrell was not able to go with his siblings, he was left in the custody of Pharina Peterson – the grandmother of his half-siblings. Another child living in the home of Peterson said that Terrell was tied up often and his nourishment was a far cry from being proper. He was also allegedly burned by Peterson for telling the authorities about her abusive acts; one of Terrell’s teachers in school noticed he wasn’t walking right and inspected his feet only to find that they were burned to the point that it needed skin grafts. The authorities arrested Pharina Peterson and she was indicted on misdemeanor charges.

Sex Slavery

sex slavery

What is Sex Slavery?

Its purpose is to sexually exploit the victim. Sex slavery comes in the form of single-owner sexual slavery, ritual slavery, forced prostitution and non-sexual purposes that involves non-consensual sexual activities. Back in the days, concubinage was the most prevalent form of sexual slavery and it still goes on in some cultures today – women are forced to live their lives in sexual servitude.

Sexual slavery is a form of enslavement as it limits a person’s autonomy, freedom and power to decide – especially matters that involve sexual activities. There are various types of sex slavery including forced marriages, domestic servitude and forced labor that includes sexual activities. Sex slavery constitutes a continuing offense because it involves practices that treat women as servants and thus, violate laws that prohibit slavery.

Confessions of a Sex Slavery Victim

‘I can never forget my past or the cruelty of those men. I’ll never understand it.’

Sreypov Chan is a young Cambodian woman who suffered from sex slavery when she was a young girl… At 7 years old, when most young girls are invited to slumber parties, she was sold to a brothel in Phnom Penh to work as a sex slave. What made her situation worse is that her own mother made the sale. For many years, pimps would force her to have sex with at least 20 men in a day… if she refused or try to run away, Sreypov was punished – burned with a hot poker, covered with biting insects and every unthinkable punishment there is.

Sreypov luckily escaped the brothels when she turned 10; she was able to start a new life and is now ready to talk about her story. Sadly, she is not the only one who has suffered and is continuously suffering from sex slavery today… There are more than 12 million individuals who are victims of forced prostitution and labor around the world.

‘My whole identity was robbed. Unless you’ve been in that position, you can’t understand.’

Meghan Stephens (not her real name) has suffered a similar fate as Sreypov Chan. When she was 14, she fell in love with a man who turned out to be a pimp… Her boyfriend sold her to different men for 6 years. She is now 25 years old and living a life with her true identity revealed in fear that her past will be discovered. When Meghan was being trafficked, she was forced to have sex with multiple partners in a single day. Her boyfriend made her believe that escort work is the only way to raise enough money for them to be together. Meghan grew up in a troublesome household, her parents divorced when she was 4 and her mother was an alcoholic. That is why her mother permitted Meghan to live with her boyfriend. Meghan depended on her boyfriend for everything – she was innocent, in love and very reliant. Meghan lost her confidence which made it even more impossible for her to leave her boyfriend and the life that she lived with him. Her boyfriend also threatened to kill her mother if Meghan would try to leave or escape… Meghan even recalled one particular night when she had sex with 110 men before being violently sick. The owner of the brothel had to close for the night and back then, she thought that the owner was really nice to do that. It only shows that Meghan was really not in the right frame of mind at the time. She felt helpless and she did not want to put her mom in danger so she continued with what she was doing.

Kathleen Frank. She was abused by her father at the age of 10 years old. At least that is the age she woke up to it; Kathleen’s father abused her while she was sleeping.  But later in her years Kathleen started getting flash backs of times when her father was ‘too close’ and certain touches were uncomfortable for her. Shortly after Kathleen realized she was being abused, she became this target of others who also abused her, such as her great grandfather, cousins and her brother. Kathleen told her mother, but her mother refused to believe her.  Perhaps her mother did believe Kathleen but was in denial, in any case Kathleen did not get the protection she needed and felt she had to find ways to protect herself. This is when Kathleen became assertive in her attitude, angry with her abusers, and eventually developed the mind set that the only way someone will love her is to give them what they want. This attitude caused Kathleen to turn toward young men of at least 8 to 20 years older than her for attention and love them in the wrong way. Kathleen had a warped perspective on what love was, and it wasn’t until she was in her later 30’s when she realized how much she needed help. Kathleen sough help; she sought God, it was her way to get a right perspective on love and to know the unconditional love of Christ. Kathleen started journaling her feelings and revelations of her healing process. After 10 years of writing her thoughts, her fears, her healing, Kathleen published her journals in her recent book, ‘I’m Fat and Nobody Cares’. Kathleen’s book tells the world her story in detail in hopes to help others who have had similar experiences. Kathleen was able to receive complete healing of her abuse through her writings and her book has helped thousands of abused women and girls receive healing too.

Break the Silence for the Victims of Child Abuse

victims of child abuse

‘Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.’ – Thomas Jefferson 

Many victims of child abuse keep their suffering a secret because they feel ashamed and afraid… most of them continue to suffer long after they have survived their abusive experience. They have terrifying nightmares that make them wake up shaking and disoriented in the middle of the night. They live in constant fear that their past may become reality again.

Victims of child abuse may continue to live that way if no one will help them ‘break the silence’! Erin Merryn is just one of the many survivors of child sexual abuse; she is responsible for the legislation of Erin’s law – this requires public schools to educate students about sexual abuse prevention. Erin’s goal is to encourage other victims of child abuse to speak up….to break their silence!

The force behind Erin’s law has helped others to come out and speak up about their abusive experiences… here are some of the stories of people who are just like Erin Merryn.

The Story of Ter-rae Lee

Ter-rae Lee is a survivor of child sexual abuse; she had been abused by her own father from ages 11 to 13. An article that she read from Seventeen Magazine encouraged her to speak up about her experience and tell her mother. Through the help of RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), she began her recovery and was able to gain a confession from her father. Today, her father is serving time in prison – which makes Ter-rae feel safe after a long, long time. Ter-rae wants to encourage other victims of child abuse to break their silence and obtain justice for their abusive experience; ‘When you tell your story, you will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. There’s always light after the dark, and one day you might be able to help someone by talking about what happened.’

The Story of David Moody

David Moody is one of the victims of child abuse; it took him a while before he spoke up about his abusive experience. He struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety before he decided to tell his wife about the male babysitter who molested him when he was 9 to 10 years old. After getting the counseling that he needed, David is now comfortable talking about his experience. ‘I was like a pressure cooker that had a valve released. I didn’t know how tight I had been wound up until I said the words out loud’. Today, David wants to help others learn about child sexual abuse and encourage survivors to share their experience. ‘It is an emotional freedom, to finally know that it was not my fault; that I am strong and that I deserve to be happy. It is a clearness like nothing I have ever experienced until now’.

The Story of Kathleen Frank

Kathleen Frank was abused by her father at the age of 10 years old. At least that is the age she woke up to it; Kathleen’s father abused her while she was sleeping.  But later in her years Kathleen started getting flash backs of times when her father was ‘too close’ and certain touches were uncomfortable for her. Shortly after Kathleen was realized she was being abused, she became this target of others who also abused her, such as her great grandfather, cousins and her brother. Kathleen told her mother, but her mother refused to believe her.  Perhaps her mother did believe Kathleen but was in denial, in any case Kathleen did not get the protection she needed and felt she had to find ways to protect herself. This is when Kathleen became assertive in her attitude, angry with her abusers, and eventually developed the mind set that the only way someone will love her is to give them what they want. This attitude caused Kathleen to turn toward young men of at least 8 to 20 years older than her for attention and love in the wrong way. Kathleen had a warped perspective on what love was, and it wasn’t until she was in her later 30’s when she realized how much she needed help. Kathleen sought help, she sought God, it was her way to get a right perspective on love and to know the unconditional love of Christ. Kathleen’s started journaling her feelings and her revelations of the healing process. After 10 years of writing her thoughts, her fears, her healing, Kathleen published her journals in her recent book, ‘I’m Fat and Nobody Cares’. Kathleen’s book tells the world her story in detail in hopes to help others who have had similar experiences. Kathleen was able to receive complete healing of her abuse through her writings and her book has helped thousands of abused women and girls receive healing too.

 

Be the Voice of Victims of Child Abuse

According to surveys, about one in ten children suffer from child sexual abuse before they turn 18. In order to help put a stop to this social problem, you must ‘be the voice’ of victims of child abuse. You can do this by helping promote education, awareness and advance the conversation about this issue. Get in touch with abuse prevention organizations in your area, especially if you know someone who is suffering from child sexual abuse.

By simply speaking up, you can help save the life of a child abuse victim; offer useful information about where people can turn to for help if needed. Help empower people and organizations to prevent child sexual abuse all over the world; help create a safe environment for children where abuse does not exist. If you make it one of your priorities to help, nothing is impossible!

Physiological Effects of Child Abuse

physiological effects of child abuse

Victims of abusive attacks develop the feeling of fear, confusion and anger even after their traumatic situation is over. Some of them are unable to form relationships with others and detach themselves from reality; the physiological effects of abusive acts may vary from one person to another depending on the victim’s experience and ability to cope.

Undergoing abusive attacks may cause a person to break down and develop serious mental illness such as depression, paranoia and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). If these physiological effects are not properly addressed, the victim may fall into greater physical, emotional and mental problems later on.

Mental health professionals may help a victim deal with their emotions; seeking the help of an expert may help you develop your coping skills and rebuild your self-esteem. Abused victims who do not undergo therapy after their traumatic experience may develop the habit of substance-abuse or alcoholism. Seeking professional advice is never too late; even if many years have passed since the abusive act you should still get help.

Effects on the Cortex and Limbic System

Adult survivors who have history of child abuse often easily respond to minor triggers; abused victims can be reactive even to minor stimuli that can cause their frontal lobe function to decrease and their limbic system to increase. Thus, their learning and problem solving development is slowed down while their impulsiveness is increased.

Decreased Hippocampal Volume

Your hippocampus (a small region of the brain that forms part of the limbic system and is primarily associated with memory and spatial navigation) plays an important role in processing information on the brain – without it nothing makes sense. It is very sensitive to stress hormones; when the hormones reach a high level they affect the ability of the hippocampus to function properly. If a person goes through excessive stress, he or she is unable to differentiate useful information from not. A particular stimulus may easily be misinterpreted in the absence of rational evaluation, which results to the inappropriate response of a person.

Thyroid Production is Affected

Your thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones that can modulate metabolism. When it doesn’t function properly, your body may suffer from a number of health concerns involving your physical, physiological and interpersonal functioning. A deficit in thyroid production may compromise your neurobiological structures and decrease your resilience from trauma; creating additional stress to your ‘state of mind, body and soul’.

Types of Child Abuse


child abuse

Child abuse is a major social problem today. The statistics of this social problem is very sobering as children are continuously being maltreated every day, all over the world. Children are meant to be cared for and loved, yet many adults inflict not only physical damage but also emotional wounds.

Child abuse occurs in varying situations and for many different reasons. Some children are subjected to more than one form of abuse at a time. The effects of abusive acts that children experience can affect them gravely as adults; they may undergo psychological, emotional and social problems later in life.

The following are 4 major categories of child abuse:

Physical Abuse

Incidents of domestic violence that are committed against children have remained prevalent in many areas of the world. Some common forms of physical abuse that children suffer from are kicking, burning, scalding, threatening, punching, biting and any act that involves deliberate aggressive actions that inflict pain. This type of abuse is apparent because it leaves wounds, scars, sore muscles and bruises on a child’s body.

Emotional Abuse

This type of child abuse affects the psychological and social aspect of the victim. Many parents emotionally abuse their children without being physically or sexually abusive. However, emotional abuse also accompanies physical and sexual abuse at times. Some parents practice child-rearing approaches that are characterized by aggression and manipulation such as shouting and emotional blackmail.

Some common examples of emotional child abuse are exploitation, corruption, over protection and prevention of the child from exploring, learning and participating in normal social interactions. Emotional ill treatment toward a child can cause serious effects on his or her emotional development as an adult such as establishing relationships with others.

Neglect

This is defined as the inadequate provision of a child’s basic needs that may result to impair his or her health and development. Neglecting a child comes in many forms such as inability to:

  • Provide food, shelter and clothing
  • Protect a child from emotional harm
  • Properly respond to a child’s emotional needs
  • Ensure appropriate forms of supervision such as caregivers
  • Provide adequate medical care and treatment
  • Meet a child’s education needs
  • Provide opportunities for intellectual growth and development

Sexual Abuse

Sexual child abuse involves forcing or luring a child to take part in sexual activities. It can be described as an incident where an adult or older adolescent engages a minor in a sexual act or behavior. This type of abuse may occur in both penetrative and non-penetrative forms; penetrative sexual abuse includes rape and assault by penetration while non-penetrative acts involve exposing a child to abusive images and encouraging him or her to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

Many children who are sexually abused exhibit disturbing behaviors such as inflicting self-harm, being violent or aggressive, bedwetting, eating disorders, mood swings and unhappiness. When they become adults, they may suffer from poor mental health, substance abuse, suicide attempts and depression.

Take a Stand Against Child Sexual Abuse

child sexual abuse

Children have been victims of many forms of abuse and the most common is child molestation. Child sexual abuse happens when a child is being used for sexual stimulation by an adult or an older adolescent. This can occur in different settings including home, school or workplace where a child is forced to do labor as well.

Child sexual abuse cases are not getting any better and today this abuse continues to be a serious social problem. In fact, this is what is called “secret crime” and may be hidden for a lifetime if the victim refuses to tell anyone about it. Victims of child sexual abuse are hesitant to report their situation because they are usually threatened by their perpetrators and or they feel ashamed as if they encouraged or caused the abuse.

Victims of Child Sexual Abuse

Many victims of sexual abuse are children who have learning disabilities or are usually isolated. It’s easy for perpetrators to intimidate these children because they are vulnerable and afraid. Poverty may also be a cause of sexual abuse; many children who come from poor or broken homes are lured into prostitution by their perpetrators in the act of ‘helping’ them. However, its vital to point out that child sexual abuse can happen to anyone and they happen to children from lower to middle class or high class families. National statics say that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are a victim of child sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse is a global problem.

Children who suffer from child sexual abuse typically do not tell anyone about it because they think that no one will care or believe their story. Their abuser threatens some and the victim lives in fear of being hurt or even killed if they tell anyone. Victims also feel ashamed of their story, especially if their perpetrator is a family or friend.

How to Stop Child Sexual Abuse

Have you ever watched an adult play with a child and felt uneasy about it? You may be over-reacting, but what if you’re not? Always trust your instincts, everyone should speak up!

People who often make sexualized comments or behaviors toward a child deserve to be questioned. If you just let this behavior slip, you are already risking the well being of the child and not helping put a stop to child sexual abuse.

People who usually abuse children are empowered by the reluctance of other adults to acknowledge the discomfort of the situation. It is an adult or a parent’s responsibility to keep a child safe at all times. You can do this by establishing boundaries and limits with everyone that surrounds your child and speaking up when someone violates any of your rules.

An open communication with your children can also help prevent child sexual abuse. Parents of children who are victims of sexual abuse find themselves wishing that they had talked more to their child. Teach your child how to talk about the words ‘penis’ and ‘vagina’ in a comfortable manner so they can tell you when they are sexually approached or made uncomfortable by anyone.

Knowing how to use the right words is a powerful tool to prevent child sexual abuse. If your children feel embarrassed talking about sexual behaviors with you, they will also find it difficult to tell you if someone acts sexually inappropriate toward them.

Take responsibility and speak up against people who make children feel uncomfortable through touching, cuddling or their words. In that way, you are setting an example to the child that it is okay to say ‘no’ when someone makes him or her feel uneasy.

Traumatic Effects of Child Molestation

child molestation

The effects of sexual child molestation can be very devastating; most of its victims suffer from grave distress and experience different kinds of psychological, spiritual and mental symptoms that may last for short or long term. It’s normal for victims to feel powerless, afraid, distrustful and ashamed after the traumatic events that they’ve been through.

They may show destructive behaviors, experience sleep and eating disorders, have difficulty coping in school and develop unhealthy habits such as alcoholism and substance abuse. They may also show fear every time they encounter someone who shares similar characteristics to their abuser. Some find it difficult to establish adult relationships and sexual functioning.

 

Psychological Effects of Child Molestation

  • Guilt and Shame – victims tend to blame themselves for the wrong things that happened to them. Abusers tend to make their victims feel that the abuse is the victim’s fault; making the victim feel like a bad person.
  • Isolation – incest victims suffer from different emotional turmoil compared to other children. They become secretive and isolate themselves from anyone – even people who mean them no harm; they are distrusting.
  • Betrayal and Anger – victims of child molestation feel betrayed and angry not only by their perpetrators but also the world. They depend on adults to shower them with care and nurture them with love, but instead they were helplessly and repeatedly abused. It is common for victims to feel anger towards non-offending adults whom they feel failed to protect them from the sexual assault.
  • Melancholy – children who were sexually abused feel grief because of their loss. This feeling is more intense if their abuser is a loved one whom they trusted and depended on.

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a framework used to treat child victims of child molestation. Through PTSD, psychologists and psychiatrists are able to identify disturbing behaviors that need to be focused on during therapy.  However, PTSD doesn’t apply to all victims of child molestation; it depends on the diagnosis and in some cases, PTSD occurs many years after the abusive event took place. The following are some criteria for PTSD:

  1. The victim experienced a very traumatic event that almost anyone who undergoes the same situation will feel the same.
  2. Re-experiencing the event through at least one of these ways: intrusive recollections of the trauma, disturbing dreams about the past, flashback episodes and exposure to things that remind the victims of what they’ve been through.
  3. The victim is hyperalert, feels guilty about surviving, experience memory problems, avoids activities that arouse recollections of the abusive event and intensifies symptoms if reminded by the event.

 

Long-Term Effects of Child Molestation

Survivors of sexual abuse may experience a myriad of emotions long after their abusive traumatic episode is over. They may feel depressed for a long time and suffer from anxiety attacks; have low self-esteem and develop ‘damaged goods’ syndrome – the victim forms a negative image of himself or herself because of self-blame. Child molestation victims may also isolate themselves from others and refuse to disclose information about themselves; some even get destructive and have sexual difficulties and intimacy.

Child Slavery

child slavery

 

Child Slavery pertains to the enslavement of children at a very young age. Back in the day, children were sold to pay for their family’s debts or if their parents need money to live. Some children were even sold to pay for the crimes that their family has committed.

 

Short History of Child Slavery

Somewhere between the 1700s and 1800s, the rise of the machines diminished the need for hand labor. Factories began to open everywhere and the owners found it convenient to hire children to run their machines; the labor cost is cheaper for children than for adults. Child Slavery became very rampant in the mid-1800s and children could be seen working in farms and other industries.

Many children began working before they even turn 7 and they had to work at least 12 hours a day just to earn a dollar. Working children were deprived of their right to play or go to school. Many of them became very ill because they had very little time to rest and their working environment was damp and dirty.

Many groups were angered by the cruelty – church, teachers, labor groups and so forth. The British government was the first to pass a law against child slavery. The laws gradually shortened the children’s working hours, increased the age of qualification and improved the working environment.

 

Child Slavery in the Chocolate Factory

Countries in Western Africa supply most of the cocoa in the world and as the demand for chocolate grows, the rate of child slavery also increases. The children of West Africa grow in an environment that’s characterized by extreme poverty; most of them are forced to work at a young age to help their families.

Majority of the working children in chocolate factories are girls and they stay there for months while some end up working through adulthood. Their working day usually begins at 6 in the morning and ends late in the evening. Their tasks include climbing cocoa trees to cut bean pods and others clear the forest by using chainsaws.

The use of heavy and dangerous equipment obviously violates the international laws of labor, and groups like UN are working on eliminating these forms of child slavery. Human traffickers often abduct these young children and take advantage of their innocence while their own family sells some to traffickers.

 

 

Stop Child Slavery Today

Awareness can help stop child slavery today. Slavery is rooted in vulnerability; traffickers always prey on the poorest and weakest society. The vulnerability of abused communities can be empowered through education, organized groups and liberation.

Educating members of the community – parents, teachers, church and children will make them aware of their rights and opportunities. Awareness will prevent the traffickers from luring and trapping them into slavery. Always remember, a little education can go a long way.

The presence of organized groups in communities can also help liberate victims of child slavery. These groups can help watch out for the children’s welfare and provide counseling to community members. Non-profit organizations also work with the police to track down enslaved children and free them from their perpetrators.