Child Abuse

Today we will be discussing child abuse. Child abuse is not just physical violence directed at a child. It is any form of maltreatment by an adult, which is violent or threatening for the child. this includes neglect, child trafficking, Child labor, forced adoption, targeted violence against girls like Infanticide, female genital mutilation, Sexual initiation of virgins, breast ironing, Child marriage etc.

All these we’ll be looking at today.

Child Abuse

When Child abuse occurs in the home and the abuser is, for example, the child’s parent or care-giver, this is a form of domestic violence.

But children are sometimes abused by other adults on whom they are dependent, such as day nursery workers, teachers and sports coaches.

Sometimes abuse is intentional, but not always. If parents or caregivers are no longer able to cope with caring for the child, this can result in dysfunctional behavior and abuse.

Scope of the abuse

In 2010 Leiden University and TNO (Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research) carried out a study into the scope and nature of child abuse. Every year an estimated 119, 000 children experience some type of abuse.

Types of Child abuse

There are five general types of child abuse:

  1. Physical abuse: all forms of physical abuse
  2. Emotional or psychological abuse: an adult regularly berates the child, acts in a dismissive and hostile manner towards the child or intentionally scars the child.
  3. Physical neglect: The child does not receive the care and nurturing that it needs.
  4. Emotional or Psychological neglect: Continuous lack of positive attention for thec child. Ignoring the child’s need for love, warmth and security. This category also covers cases in which children are witnesses to violence between their parents or caregivers.
  5. Sexual abuse: sexual contact which an adult forces upon a child.

Child Abuse Examples

Child Trafficking

Child trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation. Children are trafficked for purposes such as of commercial sexual exploitation, bonded labour, camel jockeying, child domestic labour, drug couriering, child soldering, illegal adoptions, and begging. It is difficult to obtain reliable estimates concerning the number of children trafficked each year, primarily due to the covert and criminal nature of the practice. The International Labour Organization estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.

Child labor

Child labor means the employment of children in any work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, or is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful. The International Labour Organization considers such labor to be a form of exploitation adn abuse of children.

Child labor refers to those occupations which infringe the development of children (due to the nature of the job or lack of appropriate regulation) and does not include age appropriate and properly supervised jobs in which minors may participate.

According to ILO, globally, around 215 million children work, many full-time. Many of these children do not go to school, do not receive proper nutrition or care, and have little or no time to play. More than half of them are exposed to the worst forms of child labor, such as child prostitution, drug trafficking, armed conflicts and other harzardous environments. There exists several international instruments protecting children from child labor, including the Minimum Age Convention, 1973 and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention.

More girls under 16 work as domestic workers than any other category of child labor, often sent to cities by parents living in rural poverty such as in restaveks in Haiti.

Forced adoption

Switzerland, between the 1850s and the mid-20th century, hundreds of thousands of children were forcefully removed from their parents by the authorities, and sent to work on farms, living with new families. These children usually came from poor or single parents, and were used as free labor by farmers, and were known as contract children or verdingkinder.

In some Western countries throughout the 20th century and until the 1970s, children from certain ethnic minority origins were forcefully removed from their families and communities by state and church authorities and forced to “assimilate”. Such policies include the Stolen Generations (in Australia for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children) and the Canadian Indian residential school system (in Canada for First Nations, metis and Inuit), with such children often suffering severe abuse.

During the One Child Policy in China, women were only allowed to have one child. Local governments would allow the woman to give birth and then they would take the baby away stating the mother violated the one child policy. Child traffickers, often paid by the government, would sell the children to orphanages that would arrange international adoptions worth tens of thousands of dollars, turning a profit for government.

Most of the children living in institutions around the world have a surviving parent or close relative, and they most commonly entered orphanages because of poverty. It is speculated that, flush with money, orphanages are increasing and push for children to join even though demographic data show that even the poorest extended families usually take in children whose parents have died. Experts and child advocates maintain that orphanages are expensive and often harm children’s development by separating them from their families and that it would be more effective and cheaper to aid close relatives who want to take in the orphans.

Targeted Violence against girls.


Under natural conditions, mortality rates for girls under five are slightly lower than boys for biological reasons. However, after birth, neglect and diverting resources to male children can lead to some countries having a skewed ratio with more boys than girls, with such practices killing an approximate 230, 000 girls under five in India each year.

While sex-selective abortion is more common among the higher income population, who can access medical technology, abuse after birth, such as infanticide and abandonment, is more common among the lower income population. Female infanticide in Pakistan was a common practice. Methods proposed to deal with the issue are baby hatches to drop off unwanted babies and safe-haven laws, which decriminalizes abandoning babies unharmed.

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is practiced mainly in 28 countries in Africa, and in parts of Asia and the Middle East.

FGM is mostly found in a geographical area ranging across Africa, from East to West-from Somalia to Senegal, and from North to South – from Egypt to Tanzania. FGM is most often carried out on young girls aged between infancy and 15 years. FGM is classified into four types, of which type 3 – infibulation-is the most extreme form. The consequences of FGM include physical, emotional and sexual problems, and include serious risks during childbirth.

In Western countries this practice is illegal and considered a form of child abuse. The countries which choose to ratify the Istanbul Convention, the first legally binding instrument in Europe in the field of violence against women and domestic violence, are bound by its provisions to ensure that FGM is criminalized.

In Australia, all states and territories have outlawed FGM. In the United States, performing FGM on anyone under the age of 18 became illegal in 1996 with the Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act.

Sexual initiation of virgins

A tradition often performed in some African regions involving a man initiating a girl into womanhood by having sex with her, usually after her first period, in a practice known as “sexual cleansing”. The rite can last for three days and there is an increased risk of contracting Sexually transmitted infections as the ritual requires condoms not be worn.

Breast ironing

The practice of using hot stones or other implements to flatten the breast tissue of pubescent girls is widespread in Cameroon and exists elsewhere in West Africa as well. It is believed to have come with that diaspora to Britain, where the government declared it a form of child abuse and said that it could be prosecuted under existing assault laws.

Violence against girl students

In some parts of the world, girls are strongly discouraged from attending school, which some argue is because men favored with elevated and patriarchal status fear losing power to women. They are sometimes attacked by members of the attacks are common in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Notable examples include the kidnapping of hundreds of female students in Chibok in 2014 and Dapchi in 2018 in Nigeria.

Child Marriage

A child marriage is a marriage in which one or both participants are minors, often before the age of puberty. Child marriages are common in many parts of the world, especially in parts of the world, especially in parts of Asia and Africa. The United Nations considers those below the age of 18 years to be incapable of giving valid consent to marriage and therefore regards such marriages as a form of forced marriage; and that marriages under the age of majority have significant potential to constitute a form of child abuse.

In many countries, such practices are lawful or – even where laws prohibit child marriage – often unenforced. India has more child brides than any other nation, with 40% of the world total. The countries with the highest rates of child marriage are: Niger (75%), Central African Republic and Chad (68%), and Bangladesh (66%).

Bride Kidnapping

Also known as marriage by abduction or marriage by capture, has been practiced around the world and throughout history, and sometimes involves minors. It is still practiced in parts of Central Asia, the Caucasus region, and some African countries.

In Ethiopia, marriage by abduction is widespread, and many young girls are kidnapped this way. In most countries, bride kidnapping is considered a criminal offense rather than a valid form of marriage. In many cases, the groom also rapes his kidnapped bride, in order to prevent her from returning to her family due to shame.

Legislations on Child Abuse

Laws and legislation against child abuse are enacted on the provincial and Federal Territories level. Investigations into child abuse are handled by Provincial and Territorial Authorities through government social service departments and enforcement is through local police and courts.


In Germany the abuse and the attempted abuse of vulnerable persons (including children) is punishable according to the German Criminal code S. 225 with a from 6 month to 10 years. However, crimes against children must be prosecuted within 10 years of the victims reaching 18 years of age.

As of 2020, Germany and the Netherlands are 2 out of all 27 EU countries that do not have any reporting obligations for civilians or professionals. There is no mandatory reporting law, which would grant reporters of child abuse anonymity and immunity.

United States

In the 1960s mandatory reporting in the United States was introduced. In 1974, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was introduced. As of April 2019, 18 states had legislation requiring that mandated reporters report based on suspicion of child abuse of neglect.

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