Child discipline and abuse is often poorly defined. Many parents at one time or another have felt the urge to strike their children. With physically abusive parents however the urge is frequent and a little more stretched.
Sadly seeing parents treating each other in abusive families makes the child think it is ok to do so and it happens in other families.
Child abuse is the physical, sexual, emotional or neglect of children. Neglect involves not providing adequately for the child’s food, shelter, medication and even affection.
While physical abuse involves assault, sexual exploitation include pressuring a minor to engage in sex, showing a child pornography or showing adult private parts.
Additionally there is the emotionally abuse which involves name calling and bullying the child.
Major cause of child cruelty is unemployment where parents without income to sustain their children become increasingly depressed. At such emotional turmoil any mistake by the child leads to over-reaction in disciplining which harms the kid.
Equally parents under substance abuse like alcohol, cocaine and other hard drugs often get out of control in handling their children especially when disciplining them. Under the influence they are pushed overboard which might include sexually abusing the children.
So what are the effects of abuse to the children? Physically a child is left with bruises, cuts and fractures with some leading to their early death.
Psychologically, the effects are worse and affect the child permanently. This affects their attentiveness in school, learning abilities and stress related experience. Neglected they bear emotional scars which affect their self esteem by being insecure and having a sense of guilt thinking they are the main cause of their problems and those affecting the families.
Growing up with these low esteem makes them easy victims of verbal and physical abusive from the society with a more likelihood of being criminals as adults. Sadly as boys end up being abusive the girls are socially constructed to accept abuse in families as a norm!
Sadly with limited number of resource centers for child protection for increase number of children in abusive families makes child protection to be strained. Governments need to help in stopping child abuse in the society and everyone needs to be committed against the vice and report any violators to child rights authorities.
Jackie Tulloh is an Internee journalist at Kenya’s Vice Presidential Press Services (VPPS).