- What is Child Abuse?
- Childhood Lost
- By Barrington H. Brennen,
Dear Sir: What is child abuse?
Dear friend, Child abuse occurs when a parent, guardian or care giver mistreats
or neglects a child, resulting in injury, or significant emotional or
psychological harm, or serious risk of harm to the child. The challenge we have
in The Bahamas is that there are too many parents who refuse to admit that they
are abusing their children. Too many parents who feel they have the right to
hurt, scar, shame, belittle, and embarrass their so called unruly children.
These childrenís spirits are being eaten away bit by bit by stubborn, ignorant
parents, leaving only a shell of an angry person.
Many parents and other adults argue that what is being called
abuse today was in fact not abuse decades ago or was at least accepted as
healthy punishment. These same parents become frustrated and unable to deal with
their unruly children. In frustration, they become either physically or
emotionally abusive toward their children or they become extremely passive and
permissive, allowing their children to get away with anything. In the end, they
blame society because it has taught that "they should not beat the
child." To strengthen their abusive arm of punishment, they hastily quote
Proverbs 13:24: "He that spareth the rod hateth his son."
This is a total misconception. That fact is that child abuse
was always child abuse. We were just ignorant decades ago. Children have been
abused for centuries. During the Middle Ages children were considered
just talented pets and were thrust into adulthood at age 11. These children had
to fight for survival. Countless adults today carry the emotional and physical
scars they received during their childhood from their parents. Yet, they still
defend the "good old days" method of parenting.
Secretly many of these
parents do not want to give their children the same kind of treatment. However,
they know no other way because their parents never taught them. Some of these
adults have become permissive parents by refusing to treat their children the
way there were treated. Since they were not taught how to parent effectively and
deal with rebellious, naughty children, they become frustrated and eventually
lash out through shouts and screams, and occasionally through passionate blows
by the hand or an convenient instrument nearby. There are other parents who are
convinced that parents are to show power and authority over their disobedient
children by accompanying every command with a slap or passionate, angry hit to
Many parents argue that what is wrong with our children today
is that they are not getting enough physical punishment. In defending their
traditional childhood, they say "the beatings never hurt us." They
talk about how their parents were so strict, or would "thank their
parents" for inflicting such pain when they were young. Although we know
that not all physical punishments and other methods of discipline of the old
days were wrong, yet the without a doubt many of the parents decades ago did
in fact physically and emotionally abuse their children. Since no one shouted
or complained decades ago, we argue that the old tradition or punishment was
- HARD TO CHANGE BAD TRADITIONS
I challenge many of the readers to enter the dark closets of
their personal history and pull out the scary skeletons of pain, shame,
belittlement, and disgrace. Decades ago many children were not allowed to admit
pain. They were not to ask questions, or give their opinions. In reality they
were told "shut up" or "been seen and not heard," "stop
crying." I believe that one reason why it is so hard to change the
tradition of abusive parenting is that many parents are not being honest with
themselves. They have been taught to cover-up and deny taught to cover-up and
deny for decades. Hence, the tradition of child abuse continues.
I do not want you to think that the only form of child abuse
is the misuse of physical discipline on a child. In reality in The Bahamas,
common types of child abuses are sexual, neglect, and emotional abuse.
- TYPES OF CHILD ABUSE
Physical abuse, is
the deliberate application of force to any part of a childís body, which
results or may results in non-accidental injury. It may involve hinting a child
a single time, or it may involve a pattern of incidents. Physical abuse also
includes behavior such as shaking, choking, bitting, kicking, bring or poisoning
a child, holding a child under water, or any other harmful or dangerous use of
force or restraint. Child physical abuse is usually corrected to physical
punishment or is confused with child discipline.
Child sexual abuse
when a child is used for sexual purposes by an adult or adolescent. It involves
exposing a child to any sexual activity or behavior. Sexual abuse most often
involves fondling and may include inviting a child to be touched sexually. Other
forms of sexual abuse include sexual intercourse, juvenile prostitution, and
sexual exploitation through pornography. Sexual abuse is inherently abusive
emotionally and is often accompanied by separate and more direct forms of
psychological abuse or other forms of mistreatment.
Neglect occurs when
a childís parents of other care givers are not providing essential requisites
to a childís emotional, psychological and physical development.
occurs when a childís needs of food, clothing, shelter, cleanliness, medical
care and protection from harm and not adequately met.
occurs when a childís need to feel loved, wanted, safe and worthy is
not met. Emotional neglect can range from the context of the abuser simply being
unavailable to that in which the abuser openly respects the child. While a case
of physical assault is more likely to come to the attention of public
authorities, neglect can represent and equally serious risk to a child.
Emotional abuse is
usually found in the context of along-term problem in a parentís treatment of
a child. It is often a part of a pattern of family stress and dysfunctional
parenting. Emotional abuse frequently coexists with other types of abuse.
Constantly insulting, humiliating or rejecting a child, or saying that a child
is "stupid" or "bad" can harm a childís sense of worth and
Dear reader, it is now time that we end the long tradition of
child abuse in our country. Letís be honest in our country. Letís take an
honest retrospective look at our past. I believe that one way to end the cycle
of crime in our country is to stop abusing our children. Let us give our
children back their childhood.
Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send
questions or comments to
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 242-327-1980 for
professional help. Or WhatsApp 242-477-4002