Children are entirely dependent on adults as they grow up. As such, the people they depend on, parents, teachers, relatives, have a significant role to play on the child’s health and well-being. No one wants to see children get hurt, or for them to grow up in fear, but sometimes we make mistakes that can hurt them.
Children, as much they are a joy, are also a responsibility. They are reliant on the adults for basic necessities like food, clothing, shelter but also love and attention and a sense of security. And while parents or guardians want to provide these things, sometimes circumstances limit them and they can’t. Adults may not want to hurt children intentionally, but under such pressure they may lose control. They may not understand how to deal with so much stress, or they may not know how to properly discipline their children.
Sometimes, people don’t really realise that they are being abusive or neglectful. They may never have intended to hurt the child. There are times when the frustration gets to be too much and the adult ends up taking it out on the child. These problems are more likely to arise if the parent or guardian were themselves abused in their lives.
There can also be an issue if the parent or guardian simply doesn’t know how to discipline their child without giving physical repercussions. While physical harm shows the quickest results, it has horrifying long lasting effects. There are many ways to correct a child without harming them. Praising good behaviour will reinforce it, and the child may want to continue behaving well knowing it gets a positive feedback. Communicate clearly on what is and what is not acceptable behaviour, and when things reach a crux, tell them why it is wrong and the effects of misbehaviour. When a child misbehaves, give them a time-out to think about what happened.
Neglect or abuse can have many root causes, many of which are unintentional. But these things can have long lasting harmful effects on children. We need to be very careful in our dealings with children and our style of parenting. Abused or neglected children often have learning problems, difficulty in social situations, sleeping problems, behaviour problems, fear of certain places or adults, and depression.
For people who have witnessed a child get abused or neglected, it can be understandably difficult to report such a thing because they don’t want the risk of ruining a family. But remember that when you report such serious issues, you could be saving the child’s life. We want children to be safe, healthy and happy, and so we must take responsibility should the situation call for it. They are our future after all.
To post any questions about how to keep your children safe view our expert Norbert Almeida's profile here: