Child abuse refers to any injury, emotional harm, death, or any other serious harm caused by the parent or caregiver through action or lack of action. This is a serious issue in today’s day and age. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, at least 1 in 4 children has a lifetime history of abuse, and at least 1 in 7 children have been maltreated in the year 2020.
Around 18% of abuses are physical, and most of them remain undetected and unreported. That’s how grave this issue is among children. The impact this type of treatment on children can have both short-term and long-term effects. The short-term issues can result in physical, emotional, and developmental issues, while long-term issues can last even a lifetime.
Signs to Look Out For
The signs and symptoms may be difficult to make out in children. As children are often subjected to physical injuries while playing, it becomes difficult to determine if the injury is caused due to normal activities or unusual incidents like physical abuse. But there’s a way to identify if a child is a victim of malicious treatment.
You need to look for patterns when identifying physical abuse in children. Another way to identify this is to check the regularity of these injuries. Also, you need to check if the explanations provided by the child match the wounds visible on the child’s body.
Here’re a few main symptoms:
- Burns or bite marks
- Fractured bones
- Scars on the face or body
- Vomiting, drowsiness, or seizures as a result of poisoning
- Breathing issues like drowsing, suffocating, or poisoning
- Swelling in the body
- Extreme sleepiness and unconsiousness
- Unusual behavior like being irritated or not feeding properly
Physical abuse can lead to a long-term impact on children, toddlers, and infants. According to the Children’s Bureau, child abuse is linked to a higher risk of a wide range of diseases in the long term. These include diseases like:
- Vision issues
- Lung issues
- Heart attacks
- Back issues
- High blood pressure
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Bowel disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Along with these diseases, it is is also linked to having a certain negative impact on the brain. It has been reported that certain areas of the brain fail to perform and develop properly due to the impact of abusive treatment. The areas of the brain that are impacted are the amygdala, hippocampus, cerebellum, corpus callosum, and orbitofrontal cortex. These areas are responsible for regulating emotions, decision-making, coordination, memory, and cognitive abilities.
The Emotional Toll
It also takes an emotional toll on the child. Here’re are a few ways in which it can impact the emotional health of the child:
- The child finds it difficult to thrive
- The child refuses to eat
- The child shows anti-social behavior. He/she remains withdrawn from other people.
- The child suddenly shows a lot of aggression.
- The child displays behavior that is attention-seeking.
- The child goes through emotional turmoil and shows signs of compulsive behavior and rigidity.
- The child fails to communicate properly with others
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A child suffering from abusive treatment can be reflected in the child’s social behavior. Here’re a few ways in which the effects can be seen in a child’s social behaviors:
- A child may show reluctance to go home or may even run away in some cases.
- A child may show unusual aggression, rages, or tantrums.
- A child may start to feel uncomfortable and might flinch when touched.
- A child may appear withdrawn from his family, friends, and any activity or activities he used to enjoy earlier.
- A child may become aggressive or throw tantrums all of a sudden.
- A child feels like he/she is bad or deserves punishment.
- A child may have suicidal thoughts or display self-destructive behaviors like an attempt to suicide or extreme risk-taking behavior.
- A child may also show hyperactivity or unusual behavior.
- A child may show clinginess to strangers.
- A child may show boredom and withdrawn behavior.
- A child may become unreactive to painful treatment.
- A child may also show manipulative behavior to seek attention.
Apart from all the above consequences, the child who has been subjected to abusive behavior also suffers from long-term consequences of it. Some of them are:
- The person who suffered from this has a higher chance of ending up with divorce later in their life.
- They also have a higher chance of developing drug and alcohol addictions.
- They have a higher likelihood of being homeless, indulging in criminal acts, and being unemployed.
Apart from the physical, emotional, and social consequences, abusive treatment also has psychological consequences. These are often long-term consequences. Some of the long-term consequences are as follows:
- Low cognitive skills and functioning – Cognitive skills and functioning refers to the child’s working memory, cognitive flexibility, and learning ability. Many researchers have gone on to prove that children who suffered from physically abusive treatment had learning issues.
- Low mental and emotional well-being – Children who suffer from physically abuse situations have a higher chance of ending up with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, or other psychiatric issues later on in their lives. There has been a study that proved victims have a higher chance of attempting suicide. It was also found that these people didn’t respond well to treatment of depression and or any other psychiatric issues.
- Post-traumatic stress – Due to suffering from this type of treatment, many children go on to develop post-traumatic stress later on in their lives, which further leads to depression, suicidal tendencies, substance abuse, and rebellious behaviors. This eventually affects their performance at school.
- Difficulty in forming social attachments – Children who suffer from physically abusive treatment develop difficulties forming social attachments that continue until adulthood. This leads them to develop anti-social traits, which may lead them towards criminal activities later on in their lives.
Get Help from a Trusted Therapist With DocVita
Now that you know the impact of physical abuse on children, you must make sure no one around you is suffering from it. Make sure to look out for the warning signs mentioned above in the article to identify potential victims, if any, around your vicinity.
Also, make sure the victim reaches for help. It might be a tricky situation to deal with. Hence the therapist may help them cope with the situation better. We at DocVita have various specialists from different fields to help you manage and cope with your loneliness better. All you got to do is hop on to DocVita’s book from therapist page and book your session.