Essay: The impact of child abuse

In this piece of work I am going to be discussing the issues of child abuse and the impact it may have on the child at present and later on in life. Child Abuse is a type of violence that could leave a child physically and emotional scarred for life. This doesn’t have to occur in just one type of environment but it can also take place in many other kinds such as living with a single parent, adoptive parents, grandparents or in the care of another family member. The definition of child abuse is anything that puts a child at harm or puts them at risk of being harmed. There are several types of abuse which include emotional, physical and sexual to name a few. In order to know for sure, if a child has been abused there is certain warning signs that one must look for before jumping to conclusions, these can include sudden drug taking, weird behaviour, different behaviour at school and possible suicide attempt. In the today’s world almost one in five have experienced serious sexual abuse, physical abuse, or extreme physical or emotional neglect at some point within their lifetime and One in 14 children in the UK being physically abused. On average, every week in the UK, at least one child is killed by another person as said by the ‘NSPCC’.

Child abuse has a long history and Children have been subject to abuse by their parents or other adults since presumably the beginning of time. For many centuries the laws have failed to protect children from abuse and children under English common law were known as the property of their fathers, as women were property of their husbands, until the late 1800s. The first case of child abuse was believed to have been uncovered in Egypt, when the find was made in a cemetery and is the earliest record of child abuse. The child found was believed to have been around 2000 years old and showed signs of repeatedly broken bones and believed to have being shaken repeatedly. This kind of abuse still happens today and can have life changing effects for the poor children.

Both boys and girls suffer abuse and can be more than just broken bones, it can have a real impact on their school life, home life and their ability to trust anyone. Taking a look at emotional abuse, this as ‘Jan Howath’ ,2007 says it could be people such as mum, dad or carer that fail to interact with the child and do not provide any physical or emotional affection to develop the child’s sense of self worthy and positive identity’. Things are also said to the child like ‘Their no good at anything’ or they will face continuous yelling and shouting and possibly even exposing the child to violence or the others that are being abused by themselves .Whether it be the abuse of a parent or a sibling. Emotional abuse can also involve deliberately trying to scare or humiliate them, this type of abuse says the ‘NSPCC’ could lead younger children or babies to be over affectionate with people they don’t really know or haven’t met for very long, lack confidence, bed wetting or become wary/anxious and in some cases the child could become nasty to other children or pets. Older children tend to use foul language or act in a way you wouldn’t expect them to know for their age. They also tend to struggle with controlling strong emotions, have extreme outbursts, seem isolated from their parents and lack social skills or have few friends if they have any at all.

Physical abuse according to the ‘NSPCC’ is deliberately hurting a child causing injuries such as bruises and broken bones which isn’t accidental and children who are physically abused suffer violence such as being hit, poisoned, kicked, slapped, burnt or having objects thrown at them but in some cases Shaking or hitting babies can cause non-accidental head injuries also. Sometimes parents or carers will make up or cause the symptoms of illness in their child, perhaps giving them medicine unnecessarily and purposely making the child unwell ‘ this is known as fabricated or induced illness. Physical symptoms can also include bruises, burns or scolds, fractured or broken bones, bites and scratches. This could lead children to not do as well at school or education, criminal behaviour, drug and alcohol problems, bedwetting and drug and alcohol problems. Showing a lot of love and reassurance along with a safe environment can help victims to deal with these problems more easily.

Then there is sexual abuse, as said in safeguarding by Jenine Lindon, 2007 the majority of identified sexual abusers are male, but there has been increasing awareness that sexual abuse by women happens and has been underestimated. Most abusers are known to the children who they abuse because they are a family friend, a relative or a trusted person who has access to children. Abduction and sexual assault by total strangers is very rare by comparison. A child’s compliance and silence about the sexual abuse may be coerced through various means by the adult, and sometimes the adolescent who abusers peers younger children. Abusers may also directly threaten to hurt the child or someone they care for dearly (parent or pet). Abusers may also claim that nobody will believe the child or that people will blame and despise the child. The abuser will also try bribing with gifts and sweets in order for them to keep quiet and in a lot of case children do. Lastly some abusers work to convince children that what there’re doing is acceptable or normal or that it is an activity within the family or between people who supposedly care for each other. This could also have a big effect on a child life including not doing so well at school, bedwetting, attempted suicide, refusing to eat and wanting to be alone more often.

As they state on the website ‘GOV.CO.UK’ Safeguarding was introduced and is a term which is broader than ‘child protection’ and relates to the action the commission take to promote the welfare of children and protect them from any harm. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. Safeguarding is defined in Working together to safeguard children 2013 as protecting children from maltreatment, preventing impairment of children’s health and development, making sure that children grow up in environments consistent with the provision of safe and effective care and, taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes. The trustees of charities which work with vulnerable groups of people, including children and must always act in within their best interests to ensure they take all the reasonable steps to prevent harm coming to them. Having safeguards in place within an organisation not only protects and promotes the welfare of children but also it enhances the confidence of trustees, volunteers, staff, parents/carers and the public. The necessity to safeguard children applies both to charities in other countries and in the UK where children may face different or additional risks of exploitation or abuse. These safeguards should include a child protection policy and procedures for dealing with issues of concern or abuse and for the purposes of child protection legislation the term ‘child’ refers to anyone up to the age of 18 years.

According to ‘’ it is impossible to measure the true magnitude of violence against children worldwide. There is a lack of data on the exact number of child victims because so much happens in secret and is not reported. However, between 500 million and 1.5 billion children are estimated to experience violence yearly. In each year as many as 275 million children worldwide are estimated to witness domestic violence. Even though the family home should be the natural environment for protection of children, it can also be a place where children experience violence in the form of discipline. Data and statistics from 37 countries shows that 86 per cent of children 2’14 years old experience physical punishment and/or psychological aggression and Two out of three children are subject to physical punishment. Certain groups of children are particularly vulnerable to violence, including children belonging to minority groups, children living on the streets, children with disabilities, refugee, and adolescents in conflict with the law and displaced and migrating children. Generally for some reason boys tend to be at greater risk of physical violence and girls face a bigger risk of neglect, exploitation and sexual violence.

As said by the ‘NSPCC’ there are currently over 92,000 children in care in the UK and more than half of children are taken into care because of abuse or neglect. The number of children in care has been increasing over the past few years with the numbers increasing every year. 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused and 1 in 3 children sexually abused by an adult did not tell anyone. Over 90% of sexually abused children were abused by someone they knew, Over 2,700 children were identified as needing protection from sexual abuse last year and 16% of contacts to the NSPCC’s helpline last year were concerns about sexual abuse. Over 18,600 children and young people talked to Child Line last year about sexual abuse and Over 1,000 young people talked to Child Line last year about online sexual abuse. More than 23,000 sexual offences against children were recorded in the UK last year as well as Over 5,500 sexual offences recorded against children under 11 last year. Nearly 30,000 registered sex offenders have offended against children, One third of sexual offences recorded by the police are against children and child sexual abuse costs the UK ??3.2bn a year. The NSPCC’s helpline has responded to over 7,300 contacts and calls about sexual abuse last year.


As you can see child abuse can affect people in many ways which cause psychological and emotional problems such as bed wetting, being over affectionate with people they have not known very long and not doing so well at school. It also proves that it not necessarily a stranger that carries out the abuse, but can also be family or family friends. With the right kind of social support, including love, therapy and a good environmental children are able to cope with and sometimes overcome childhood traumas, make multiple attachments and develop socially building sustainable relationships. You can also see the different types of abuse that the abusers carry out, every type being different but affecting the victims near enough in the same way. However you can see that we have some very good charities in the UK such as the NSPCC which offer a lot of help and information to victims and people who are concerned for another’s welfare and what to do if you think someone is being abused. The horrifying statistics show just how many victims there are from abuse and the law needs to be changed in some way to get these numbers lowered drastically.

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