If you’ve been on social media recently, you’ve probably heard of the youtubers controversial child abuse case that has been circulating and raising a lot of important questions. It seems that there is a huge division and misunderstanding online on what child abuse actually is. Does it only entail violence? Amid all this talk it became clear that most people don’t really understand what child abuse is and that violence is only one part of issue, but there are a lot of other forms that fall under that same umbrella that we should be talking and raising awareness about. It is also important that people understand how these forms of child abuse can affect children and impact their mental health. So, today we’re discussing what is child abuse and we’re talking to Dr. Hala Hammad to explain to us how does child abuse affect children, so that people can be catious with children and aware of the things that can harm them. 

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What is child abuse?

Child abuse is the mistreating of children either verbally or physically from the parent, caregiver or others. It includes neglect, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation and any form of physical abuse.

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Is it common for children to be exposed to child abuse by those responsible for them?

Unfortunately the answer to this question may be somewhat shocking, but we have to face reality. According to reports by children's rights organizations, there are about 6.6 million children who are exposed to abuse every year. Knowing that, these are only the cases the organizations are aware of…

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What are the different forms of child abuse?

We mentioned above that child abuse can be phyiscal, verbal or even neglect, so we gathered here some of the different forms, acts, or lack thereof that are considered child abuse.

1. Bullying and constant mocking the child.

2. Screaming at the child and threatening them.

3. Using mean words to desribe them, like you’re a loser or you’re ugly, stupid and so on.. 

4. Preventing children from communicating and socializing with others.

5. Comparing the child to others, and preferring others to them. 

6. Not allowing the child to express their opinion.

7. Punishing the child by depriving them of food, clothes, and others.

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8. Neglecting the child and not paying attention to their needs.

9. Leaving the child alone for long periods of time.

10. Child confinement, at home, a room or anywhere.

11. Exposing the child to feelings of fear and dread, even jokingly.

12. Hitting, biting, pushing a child.

13. Burning or stinging the child as a form of punishment.

14. Child restraint and binding.

15. Attempting to suffocate the child.

16. Emotionally blackmailing a child.

17. Kissing a child against their will.

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18. Telling a child sexual jokes.

19. Describing or insulting the child in sexual terms.

20. Child trafficking, such as photographing them to earn money, employment, and others.

21. Child sexual harassment, assault and abuse.

All of these acts fall under child abuse, whether you are a father, mother, or anyone responsible for taking care of a child. Even if the child is provided with a beautiful home, food and everything they could want, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be mistreated and exposed to child abuse with any of the above forms.

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What are the psychological effects of abuse on children?

Dr. Hala Hammad, a consultant psychiatrist for children, adolescents and family relations, talks about the effects of child abuse..."Of course it has very negative effects. The connections between cells in the brain are formed in the child within the first five years of their life, and when they’re exposed to any form of abuse, these connections don’t happen correctly. The chemistry of the brain changes, and they begin to feel like the world is an unsafe place, and as a result of these changes, the child suffers from many psychological problems that may extend throughout their life, such as constant anxiety, inability to handle life pressures, personality disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, problems with future relationships and marriage, problems with their own children, and it may result in abuse and others.” Dr. Hammad added, “Unfortunately, the matter can extend to physical illnesses as well, such as irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, and others. ” .

Dr. Hala Hammad stresses that the effects of abuse on their mental health are equal in intensity if the violence is verbal or physical. But the percentage may differ in the event that this violence is constant and repeated or if it’s just one time or a mistake made.

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Can the person responsible fix what has been done, of abuse, against the children?

This was another question we asked Dr. Hala Hammad. She said they can of course do that and that it’s not too late to fix what went wrong, but through following the three points below...

1. Acknowledging the mistake and apologizing to the child.

2. Promising to not repeat that form of abuse again under any circumstances.

3. Respecting the child and not neglecting or underestimating their feelings in the future.

We believe now, it is time for every parent and person responsible for taking care of a child to take a closer look at what they’re doing or how they're affecting the children now and their future. Admitting the mistake is just the beginning, and as Dr. Hammad said it is not too late, and there is still time to fix what was done in the past.