Preventing child abuse

MARCH is Human Rights awareness month, and the Feverspoke to Jennifer Molefe, who’s a therapeutic supervisor at Child Line and Family Treatment Unit, to highlight the rights of children and ways to curb abuse against them.

She said that abuse ranges from physical abuse, where the abuse occurs when a child is purposely physically injured or put at risk of harm by another person, to sexual abuse, neglect and emotional abuse.

“Sexual abuse is activity with a child that includes fondling, oral-genital contact, intercourse or exposure to child pornography. Emotional abuse means injuring a child’s self-esteem or emotional well-being. It includes verbal and emotional assault, such as continually belittling or berating, as well as isolating, ignoring or rejecting a child.”

In addition, Molefe said there is medical abuse. “When someone purposely makes a child sick, to the point of requiring medical attention, it puts the child in serious danger of injury.

“This may be due to a mental disorder called factitious disorder imposed on another, such as a parent harming a child.

“And neglect. Child neglect is a failure to provide adequate food, shelter, affection, supervision, education or medical care.”

Molefe said that children are not being treated equally by their parents. She said that the abuse of boys is usually swept under the rug, and people only highlight the abuse of girls.

“Girls are being seen as a priority and boys are being sidelined as if they don’t get abused,” said Molefe

She emphasised that boys also have rights because they are children too. “Usually, parents have this rule that girls should return home early, before the sun sets, and boys are allowed to play outside until it’s late. It not supposed to be like that at all.

“Boys too should be given a curfew because while they play out until late, many things could happen to them. They might get abused, raped or even killed for nothing,” she said.

Molefe said recent statistics prove that boys are commonly abused.

“The reason girls are being seen as more important is because the damage is visible but with boys you often can’t see [the damage] unless you sit down with the child and ask if everything is fine.

“Boys don’t talk about their abuse but they take out the anger on other children in terms of doing what has been done to them. If the child has been raped, he’ll be moody and bitter and pull away from others,” she explained.

Molefe said that bullying can also be a sign of abuse and this can result in the child weeing in bed or having physical bruises on their bodies. Parents need to be aware of what is happening in their child’s life. A child who’s being abused may feel guilty, ashamed or confused.

He or she may be afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, especially if the abuser is a parent, other relative or family friend. A child may have an apparent fear of parents, adult caregivers or family friends. That’s why it’s vital to watch for red flags. She encouraged people to report abuse to the authorities immediately.

Children are not being treated equally by their parents... the abuse of boys is usually swept under the rug, and people only
highlight the abuse of girls. “Girls are being seen as a priority and boys are being sidelined as if they don’t get abused.”

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