Unseen wounds of abused children
Child abuse or maltreatment constitutes all forms of physical and emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child's health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power. Child abuse is the crime of harming a child in a physical, sexual or emotional ways. There are other forms of child abuse like trafficking, child labor and commercial sexual exploitation.
Research shows that child abuse is caused by abusers who suffer from dysfunctions of biological, psychological, or socio-cultural nature. Significant family dysfunction of one sort or another is almost always present in the backgrounds of repetitive abusers. These dysfunctional patterns often do not stop when abused children grow up, but continue in modified form as long as the involved parents are still living. Additionally, borderline personality traits may be characterised by explosive impulsivity and extreme mood changes that whipsaw from loving feelings to hateful feelings when frustrated or angry. Drugs and alcohol unfasten controls, which may lead to abuse.
Poverty and social disparity are common widespread international issues, and no matter the location, show a similar trend in the correlation to child abuse. Although these issues can likely contribute to child maltreatment, differences in cultural perspectives play a significant role in the treatment of children. In certain nations, son preference is also a major reason of child abuse.
It is known that a child can be abused physically, sexually and psychologically. In consequence, children who had been psychologically abused suffer from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, symptoms of post-traumatic stress and suicidal tendency at the same rate and in some cases, at a greater rate than children who are physically or sexually abused. Among the three types of abuse, psychological maltreatment is most strongly associated with depression, general anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, attachment problems and substance abuse. Psychological maltreatment that occurs alongside physical or sexual abuse is associated with significantly more severe and far-ranging negative outcomes than when children were sexually and physically abused and not psychologically abused.
In reference to Bangladesh, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) has been conducted a survey supported by UNICEF in 2012-13. The multiple indicator cluster survey found that one in every three mothers believes that corporal punishment is needed to teach children family rules and social norms. It is also found that to teach discipline and order two-thirds of children aged 1-14 years, are beaten by parents. The survey reported that in Bangladesh over 65% children were assaulted in any way. 4-6 % of children are suffered through physically harsh punishment and 73.6% child are beaten who are under age of 4.
Parents, family members and also teachers physically abuses children which is socially accepted but this mental set-up must be changed as the supreme court also directed rules against such physical assault inflicted to children. Moreover, in 2013 the Children Act has been enacted for the purpose of implementing the rights and obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to section 70 of the act any person responsible for beating, torturing or abandoning a child and consequently if he suffers injury of any kind, will be punishable with five-year of imprisonment or a fine of one lac or both.
But these words seem meaningless when we see a child is killed by offenders in a broad daylight. Of course the rajon killing reminds us the importance of removing the cultural norm or mindset that 'beating children is nothing serious! While in the developed states, incidents of child abuse get utmost attention and care. So differences in these cultural beliefs demonstrate the importance of examining the legal and cultural perspectives while studying the concept of child abuse.
The writer is Lecturer in Law, School of Social Science, Humanities and Language (SSHL) Bangladesh Open University.