Health Watch
  • 4th June was designated as International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression by United Nations in 1982.
  • The day acknowledges pain suffered by children worldwide due to physical, mental and emotional abuse.
  • It also calls for awareness regarding rights of children to a healthy and productive life without discrimination.
It has been 34 years since 4th June was designated as the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression by the United Nations. UN and various organizations have been working incessantly towards protection of the rights of children and have achieved progress as well. Despite this, the figures of child abuse remain appalling. Almost 2 million children were killed in conflict in the past 20 years and 5.7 million children around the world are still engaged in child labor. This goes to show the magnitude and deep rootedness of the issue.
International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression 2016
International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression 2016

Child abuse received worldwide acknowledgment and attention due to Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the first legally binding instrument created by the UNICEF (United Nations Children's Emergency Fund) in 1989. It enlists the rights that must be realized by every child without exception.

In order to prevent child abuse, it is important to understand it.

Forms of Child Abuse

Emotional Abuse

In a survey, 10.6% adults admitted to being emotionally abused in childhood.

When a caregiver or a parent harms a child, it either causes emotional damage or hampers the emotional development of the child. This action qualifies as emotional abuse.

It may be caused by:
  • Over-criticizing a child and developing a sense of low self-esteem by humiliating or using foul language.
  • Creating fear in the child's mind in the name of discipline.
  • Using verbal threats.
  • Isolating the child.
Emotional abuse is not only meted out by family members. In a research conducted by WHO, 20-65% of school going children have reported being bullied. The most common of child abuse, emotional abuse manifests physically as development delays, speech problems, bed-wetting and weight loss/gain. The psychological ramifications may be lifelong and result in anxiety, aggressive nature, anti-social behavior and may even lead a child towards suicide.

Physical Abuse

Any physical harm or injury caused to a child constitutes physical abuse. A staggering 28% adults report being physically abused as a child. A caregiver indulging in harsh disciplinary behavior by hitting, slapping, shoving or whipping a child may not only injure the child but also scar him for life, physically as well as emotionally. It may inculcate a feeling of insecurity and self-destructive attitude in the child. Physical abuse is also prevalent in schools in many countries around the world where corporal punishment is not considered illegal.

Another common form of physical abuse is child labor. According to International Labor Organization (ILO), 5.7 million children across the globe are still into forced child labor. Most of them work in conditions that are unsafe and deleterious to health. Child labor deprives children of the right to education and a happy childhood. Poverty is the main reason behind child labor.

An unfortunate and disturbing form of physical abuse is the recruitment of child soldiers. Around the world, about 2,50,000 children are involved in armed conflicts. Children below 18 years, some of them as young as 7 years of age, are misguided, coerced, threatened or abducted for enrollment into rebel groups and terrorist outfits as spies, suicide bombers, fighters or sex slaves. So many young lives are nipped in the bud due to this extreme form of physical violence.

Sexual Abuse

When a child is subjected to sexual acts by an adult or an older child, sexual abuse is said to occur. Inappropriate sexual talk, display of sexual organs, forcing a child to strip, sexual act, child prostitution and child pornography are the different ways children are sexually abused. Research shows that up to 36% of girls and 29% boys have suffered sexual abuse in childhood. According to ILO, 1.8 million children are victims of child prostitution and pornography around the world. Around 1 million children fall prey to human trafficking annually and are transported across borders for illegal sex trade.

The horrendous acts lead to physical torture and injury and have long term psychological damage on the victim.

Even child marriage is a form of sexual abuse and is still prevalent in many parts of the world. According to UNICE's global database of 2015, 1 in 4 women were married before the age of 18 years world-wide and South Asia had the highest rates of child marriage.

Child Neglect

Children are incapable of taking care of themselves and require an adult or a parent to supervise and ensure their wellbeing. Neglecting the physical and emotional requirements of a child or failing to provide the required medical and educational resources also amount to abuse. Exposing the child or leaving the child in potentially dangerous situations, neglecting the hygiene of the child, deserting the child or not offering food to a child is physical neglect. Not offering love, emotional support and indifference towards child's developing anti-social or delinquent behavior constitute emotional neglect. Not allowing a child access to appropriate care due to any reason or not following the doctor's advice regarding the child's treatment is medical neglect. Educational neglect refers to keeping the child away from school for prolonged periods of time or not sending the child to school at all.

A common form of child abuse, this one is difficult to gauge and determine.

4th June is the day when United Nations and other organizations express solidarity in their endeavor to eliminate child abuse in all its forms from the world, without any exception. Owing to the efforts of these bodies, a lot of international attention is being focused on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and implementation of its recommendations.

The Preamble of CRC rightfully states:
...recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable right of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world..."

References :
  1. Child marriage is a violation of human rights, but is all too common
  2. Issue of Child Abuse
Source: Medindia

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