Recently in the news the head of the Dominica Child Abuse Prevention unit said there has been an increase of about 30 percent of reported cases of child abuse in Dominica. Most cases were of physical abuse. Each year, many children are traumatized by physical, sexual, and emotional abusers or by caregivers who neglect them, making child abuse as common as it is shocking. The scars can be deep and long-lasting, affecting not just abused children but society.
Most of us canâ€™t imagine what would make an adult use violence against a child, and the worse the behavior is, the more unimaginable it seems. But the incidence of parents and other caregivers consciously, even willfully, committing acts that harm the very children theyâ€™re supposed to be nurturing is a sad fact of human society that cuts across all lines of ethnicity and class.
Signs of Physical Child Abuse
Signs of physical child abuse include visible marks of maltreatment, such as cuts, bruises, welts, or well-defined burns, and reluctance to go home. If you ask a child about how he or she got hurt and the child talks vaguely or evasively about falling off a fence or spilling a hot dish, think hard before you accept the childâ€™s story at face value.
Getting help for an abused child
Although many people in Dominica are reluctant to get involved in other familiesâ€™ lives, when it comes to child abuse, you donâ€™t have the option of keeping silent. If you know of a child being abused or even suspect abuse, you have the responsibility to report it.
By reporting, you can make a tremendous difference in the life of a child and the childâ€™s family, especially if you help stop the abuse early. Early identification and treatment can help mitigate the long-term effects of abuse. If the abuse is stopped and the child receives competent treatment, the abused child can begin to regain a sense of self-confidence and trust. Parents may also benefit from support, parent training and anger management.
If you suspect a child is being abused, the best first place to call to report is the National Child Abuse Hotline in your country.