Literature Review on ‘Child Abuse’:

Child abuse is a severe social issue, and the term was first coined by professor C. Henry Kempe in a research article published by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) as ‘the battered child syndrome’ (Newberger, 2018). Later on, the research field adapted it as a societal problem and the official definition devised by the World Health Organization (WHO) is “any form of physical, psychological, or emotional harm done to the child by an adult/child is defined as child abuse” (WHO, 2020). The literary definition of child abuse is any action by another person-adult or child-child which cause harm to a child in physical, emotional or sexual form, is an act of child abuse (Fayaz, 2019). A report by national children alliance indicated that child abuse cases are rising at an alarming speed and nearly 700,000 children in the US are abused every year. Approximately, 678,000 children are victims of child abuse and neglect in the US, which reflects child abuse as a serious issue worldwide (NCA, 2020). In the UK, nearly 83% of child abuse cases are reported every year out of 100% child populace (Radford, Corral, Bradley, & Fisher 2011). The ratio of child abuse cases hike is becoming a social stigma because child abuse causes immense harm to the physical, mental, and emotional health of the victim (Dahake et al., 2018). Child abuse affects the lives of thousands of children due to fatal implications on mental, physical, and sexual health (Mehnaz, 2018). Ironically, the abuse is passed over to the next generations and friend’s circle of the victim because the spiteful acts are repeated by victims unconsciously in their adulthood (Lee, 2009). Therefore, it is mandatory to put the vicious cycle of abuse to an end to maintain a healthy discipline in society regarding children’s privacy, safety, and health in all aspects.

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A report by the WHO reveals that child abuse is not limited to beating or bullying only, but there are several other forms of abuse (WHO, 2018). A report by child welfare information gateway shows that child abuse can exist in five typical forms which are physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect. For example, sexual abuse of children refers to involving children in activities that hinder their privacy and provoke sexual desires in them to satisfy the predator. On the other hand, physical abuse includes beating, choking, fear of dark rooms and strangling (Appleton & Sidebotham, 2017). These activities permanently or temporarily sabotaging a child’s physical functioning. Similarly, emotional abuse involves damaging the mental health and growth of children, like isolating, ignoring, bullying, yelling, and abusing (Alfandary, 2015).

The ironic implications of child abuse is victim turning predator, mental and emotional trauma which can last for a lifetime and even juvenile delinquency (Evans & Burton, 2014). Even if the child is prone to prolonged neglect in any form, he can become an emotionally unstable person for the lifetime (Child Welfare, 2018). Moreover, the physical and emotional form of child abuse is likely to result in the same behavioural pattern adopted by the child in later life stages. The child abuse forms, thus, are needed to be understood explicitly, and proper awareness should be given to parents and caregivers to educate children about abuse.

Parents often overlook emotional abuse and neglect in dense family systems. Particularly in Asian countries, the rate of emotional abuse in children is high due to cultural barriers (Barbara Lee, 2014). Research shows that the family environment and a high rate of domestic violence in homes have yielded a growing percentage of child abuse (Afolabi, 2014). The child who lives in a toxic environment where one or both parents are emotionally unstable and fail to manage their anger and stress; are likely to be such individuals as they grow up. The child feels irreparable damage to their emotional and psychological well-being and needs proper counselling to diminish the impact of the family environment from the mind. However, it is least likely that children who are a victim of domestic violence among parents could forget. Rather, they feel emotionally unstable throughout their lives. The suicidal intention, a common outcome of abused children’s emotional health, is a radical implication for such children (Almuneef & Saleheen, 2016). By being repeatedly abused by parental behaviour towards each other or the toxic family environment, children are likely to think about ending their life as their vulnerable emotional state cannot handle the ongoing trauma and damage. Therefore, parents are advised to maintain a positive family environment that can nourish the child instead of bringing lifetime damage to their emotional health (Popova, 2016).

Global authorities and policymakers indicate that every child needs a certain level of protection from abuse. The term child protection was developed during the formation of the Children Rights Act 1933 (Leg UK, 2020). The goal of child protection is to promote, protect, and fulfil children’s rights to protection from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and violence. It is expressed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and other human rights, humanitarian and refugee treaties and conventions, as well as national laws (Resource Centre, 2020). The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) defines child protection as mandatory action to be taken by every person to safeguard little children from the abuse (UNICEF, 2020). UNICEF is the official global platform which collects the data on child abuse and produces official policies to protect them. The channels of UNICEF are working in 190 countries and work progressively on different aspects of child abuse via contacts with regional and local human rights authorities. UNICEF is supported by state governments and is funded by all signatory countries (Mathews & Bross, 2015).

A study asserts that child abuse motivators are easy to allocate (Fayaz, Child Abuse: Effects and Preventive Measures, 2019). Correspondingly, this is because the act of child abuse carries forms that are actually to the mental and emotional health of the predator. Therefore, the societal response towards a child is pertinent to shape the normality in a child’s behaviour. Otherwise, the child grows up and becomes a predator for others. Therefore, it is important for parents and guardians to protect their children from unnecessary intimation or emotional mingling with others who can bully the child in any form. The child abuse act has also been studied by another researcher who affirms that the sexual form of child abuse leaves multiple emotional, physical, and psychological imprints on a child’s mind (Badoe, 2017). The child who has been prone to sexual abuse feels reluctant to indulge in sexual activities with their spouses later in life. Therefore, parents need to be cautious to maintain their children’s privacy and teach them about prevention measures regarding abuse and its forms. Moreover, it is found from research that child abuse is not confined to marginal communities, but instead, abuse to children is reported from every status class (Murray, Nguyen, & and Judith A. Cohen, 2015). Hence, the need to form robust laws and action policy is evident to protect children from every community, status, and background to alleviate the issue from society. The international child health agenda states that the awareness and proper cognisance to children are mandatory to integrate the concept of child abuse. A child is protected from abuse upon realization of the context of term abuse and its forms. The thorough awareness in children regarding emotional, physical, and psychological abuse has resulted in a successful decline in child abuse cases (David & Rhona, 2014).

Another way to protect children from abuse is the timely reporting of abuse by the victim. The research reinforces the concept of promoting confidence in children to be open about anything disliked by them (Chandran, Bhargava, & Rao, 2019). A child must be given confidence to always tell parents or caregivers about their emotions, feelings, and sensations which are turbulent to their emotional, mental, or physical health (AlRammah et al., 2019). However, a common concept is victim shaming or parental blaming for incidents of child abuse. Media reports vulnerabilities at the victim’s end who already suffers from actual trauma. Research negates such practices and firmly state that protection to child abuse can be minimized but not completely alleviated by confining children at their homes (Salter, 2018). A child needs an open environment to explore, play, and enjoy the colours of life. It is an inept concept to confine children from public exposure in order to “protect” them from abuse. Instead, parents and caregivers should ensure the basic safety measures like no harmful object to play, no intimacy or loneliness allowed with strangers and the proper confidence to children to communicate about abuse and more to reduce the probability of children’s abuse (Lloyd, 2018).

Hence, multiple ways can be adopted in order to protect children from child abuse. The review entails previous studies that have been conducted to understand child abuse, its forms, and possible ways to protect children from all forms of abuse.

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Alfandary, R. (2015). Emotional Abuse of Children – Theoretical Considerations. Bar Ilan University. Retrieved nov 8, 2020, from

Almuneef, M. A., & Saleheen, H. (2016). Family profile of victims of child abuse and neglect in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi medical journal, 37(8), 882-888. doi:DOI: 10.15537/smj.2016.8.14654

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