I am a mother of two girls. My first daughter was born in 2006 and she is now a very chatty almost-5-year-old. And my younger daughter is a perky almost-3-year-old. No matter what happens during the day, watching them sleeping at night is the highlight of my daily routine. They are handful and I love them to bits. One of my greatest fear is someone might hurt them & no one would help.
Why am I sharing these with you?
UNICEF, recently, launches Get on Board campaign to unite 100,000 supporters to stop child abuse in Malaysia.
What is CHILD ABUSE?
Child abuse (and neglect known formally by United Nations agencies as child maltreatment) is harm (or risk of harm) caused to a child by a parent, guardian or another person in a position of responsibility, trust or power over the child.
There are four major types of child abuse:
- Neglect: failure to provide for a child’s basic needs.
- Physical abuse: punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning, shaking, stabbing, choking, or otherwise harming a child.
- Sexual abuse: fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and commercial exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.
- Emotional abuse: constant criticism, threats, rejection as well as withholding love, support, or guidance.
Child abuse affects children’s health, development and strips away their dignity. In most cases, long-term emotional scars are left behind.
Children and young people with special needs, including children with disabilities and those living with HIV and AIDS are particularly vulnerable to abuse. Undocumented children, migrant and refugee children are also at risk.
Do you now that, based on statistics from the Department of Social Welfare, Malaysia :
- Child abuse is on the rise in Malaysia with an increase of some 700 reported cases between 2006 and 2008.
- Average of 7 children in Malaysia were reported to be victims of child abuse each day in 2008.
- 1 in 2 child victims reported in 2008 were abused by a parent.
Based on 2008 reported figures, neglect is the most common form of child abuse in Malaysia. The breakdown of the three key forms of abuse are as follows:
- 952 child victims experienced neglect, meaning a caretaker failed to provide for the child’s basic needs.
- 863 child victims were physically abused.
- 733 child victims were sexually abused, 72% were incest.
- 58 child victims were abandoned babies.
- Failure to provide care and supervision has become the most frequent cause of death among children.
The more alarming issue is most child abuse goes unreported and the statistical snapshot could be just the “tip of the iceberg”.
CHILD ABUSE: Myths and Facts
It’s only abuse if there is physical violence.
Physical abuse is just one form of abuse. Children can also be harmed by emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. These types of abuse are usually hidden from sight and, as a result, people are less likely to take action and help the children.
Only bad people abuse. Good people don’t.
Not all abusers are bad and want to harm their children intentionally. Some abusers may have been victims of abuse themselves, and grew up not knowing any other way of parenting or treating children. Others may be struggling with mental health problems, alcohol and drug addiction and other personal problems.
Many children do not know their abusers.
Although some children are abused by complete strangers, many actually know their abusers and trust them. Abusers are most commonly family members, or someone who is close to the family and the child.
Child abuse doesn’t happen in “good” families and wealthy households.
Child abuse can happen in any household, regardless of ethnic background, culture, religion or economic status. Sometimes, a family that seems to have it all can hide a different story behind closed doors.
Many adults who suffered abuse in childhood are not affected by this abuse in adult life.
Although some adults manage to cope with abuse they suffered as children, many remain deeply affected in adult life. It is not easy to just get over child abuse. Survivors of child abuse need care and support to overcome the trauma of abuse and live full healthy lives.
Abused children will definitely grow up to be abusers.
Some survivors of child abuse may unconsciously repeat the violent or abusive treatment that they experienced as a child. However, many have a strong motivation to protect their own children from experiencing what they had suffered and, instead, become wonderful parents.
A child is responsible for the abuse that he/she suffers.
A child is never responsible for the abuse he/she suffers. The responsibility for abuse lies solely with the offender. In the case of sexual abuse, offenders often try to shift the blame for their actions by accusing the child of being promiscuous or seductive, especially if it involves a teenager.
Children lie about being sexually abused.
It is extremely rare for children to lie about being sexually abused. In reality, children may not want to disclose sexual abuse because they are embarrassed, afraid or uncomfortable.
CHILD ABUSE : What can you do if a child confides in you?
- If a child approaches you to confide in you, remain calm and listen.
- Believe the child. Talk to the child in a non-leading, non-threatening way.
- Reassure the child that it is not his or her fault.
- Look out for signs or symptoms of abuse.
- Let the child know that telling you about what happened was the right thing to do.
- Reassure the child of your help and support.
- Do not demonstrate feelings of shock.
- Do not react negatively to what the child has to say.
- Do not confront the abuser.
Seek help by calling 15999.
Alternatively, report to the nearest police station or contact the Social Welfare Department directly. If you believe that the child needs medical assistance, take the child immediately to the ‘Accident and Emergency’ (A&E) Unit of the General Hospital or the nearest hospital in your locality.
IT’S OUR BUSINESS
Child abuse is not someone else’s problem. It is OUR problem. You can do your part to help and make a difference: By learning more about abuse. By talking about it and raising awareness. By asking questions and staying alert. By minimising opportunities for abuse. By getting involved and reporting abuse or any suspicion of abuse.
DOING THE RIGHT THING!
Children need love and support if they are to grow and develop to their full potential. They need protection from abuse which can distort and destroy their lives.
Get on Board is a "peoples' campaign" by UNICEF to provide the Malaysian public with the knowledge, insights and resources to stop child abuse. The digitally-driven campaign, a first by UNICEF in the region, aims to unite 100,000 supporters to raise their hand in support of children. We hope the Malaysian public will embrace this campaign as their own, and support and promote it in their own unique ways to ensure a safe and protected childhood for every child in Malaysia.
DO THE RIGHT THING.
FIGHT CHILD ABUSE!
I'm on board and am now one of thousands official campaigner.
The above facts and infos are just some of reading and campaign materials prepared by UNICEF.