Batter My Innocence
Author: Christine McLean
The school bell rings and the air fills with the sounds of childish chatter. Shelby sighs heavily, picks up her books and slowly walks towards the school’s entrance with her head down and her eyes filled with a sadness uncommon to the average child. She dreads what she’s going to see when she gets home but she gets on the bus and smiles as she sees the beautiful trees and flowers that she passes by. “If only I could be as beautiful as these trees,” she thinks. She arrives at the enormous two storey mansion she has called home and before she can open the door, she hears the screaming. “Stop David stop! You’re hurting me.” She turns the door handle as slowly as she can, not wanting her parents to hear her enter but the stupid door decides to creak. “Shelby, is that you? Come here you stupid girl. You’re just as disgusting as your mother.” Slowly, she closes the door and enters the harsh world that is her home.
There are many children, just like Shelby, who face the harsh realities of abuse daily. In the United States alone, there were 3.3 million reports of child abuse of 6 million children in 2005.  According to the Child Abuse Council (1999), child abuse is “physical, emotional, sexual, and/or neglect” Child abuse results when a caregiver does things that greatly harm a child. It is therefore important for all people involved in childcare to understand each form of child abuse so that they are able to deal with children who have these issues.
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The Child Abuse Council (1999) states that physical child abuse involves “shaking, hitting, beating, burning, or biting a child”. It is the form of child abuse that can be most easily identified. The American Humane Society states that the main causes of children being physically abused are:
- inappropriate or excessive physical discipline
- parents’ immaturity
- lack of parenting skills
- poor childhood experiences
- social isolation
- frequent crisis situations
- alcohol and drug abuse
- domestic violence
The Child Abuse Council (1999) states that emotional child abuse involves the parent or caregiver “constantly blaming or putting down a child; excessive yelling and shaming”. In Shelby’s story, it was evident that she was undergoing emotional abuse. The American Humane Society also refers to this type of abuse as “psychological maltreatment” and posits the following causes:
- The consistent absence of a parent or caregiver or the parent or caregiver’s blatant avoidance of the child while in his or her presence
- Refusing to meet the needs of the child
- Unreasonably restricting the child’s social interactions and freedom of movement.
- Being a negative influence on the child by forcing him or her to engage in inappropriate or illegal behavior.
- Constantly belittling, shaming, ridiculing or verbally threatening the child.
- Instilling a deep sense of fear in the child by threatening or bullying
It pains my heart to know that there are so many innocent children in the world who are unloved and have been neglected by their parents and relatives. Some of them are on the streets and are moving from one Children’s home to another or one foster home to another. The Child Abuse Council defines neglect as “a pattern of failure to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs”. The American Humane Society further states that neglect can also include failing to meet the educational, medical and healthcare needs of a child.
Along with physical abuse, sexual abuse is another form of child abuse. In more recent times, it has become common for boys to be sexually molested by male relatives. The Child Abuse Council defines sexual abuse as “incest, any forced sexual activity, exposure to sexual stimulation not appropriate for the child’s age”. Child pornography and prostitution, along with direct and non-direct contact with sexual organs or sexually explicit content, all constitute forms of sexual abuse.
We all have a duty as members of our communities to take care of the children around us. If you see any signs of a child being abused, report it immediately.
 American Humane Association (n.d.). Child physical abuse. Retrieved on September 22, 2013, from http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/child-physical-abuse.html.
 American Humane Society. (n.d) Child physical abuse. Retrieved on September 22, 2013, from http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/child-physical-abuse.html.
American Humane Society. (n.d) Emotional abuse. Retrieved on September 22, 2013, from http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/emotional-abuse.html.