Commentary: Child abuse is an everyday occurrence

By R.D. Miller

More than April

During April, several communities, schools, health departments, including domestic violence centers will wear the color blue to show solidarity in honor of National Child Abuse and Awareness. April brings not only a new season but a more radiant spirit, fresh flowers, and birds, and a break from the cold winter for many.

Photo by Max Vakhtbovych

I have always enjoyed the changing of the seasons, especially from winter to spring. It reminders me that there are a few things around the home that need to be fixed. It can be absolutely ruined from the previous season that may be ignored because it looks excellent on the surface.

This hastily formed mentality often parallels how child abuse gets overlooked until it becomes a major repair, got pushed aside hoping it can last another season.

Many of us have questioned behaviors we encountered and never bother to inquire for whatever reason. Sometimes, it is too personal, revisited old wound, it is an over there issue or we are simply helpless because of resources, or too busy.

I however remember a videotape of an uncle trying to sell his young niece for sex to generate a few dollars. This story is just one and I am sure many of you are aware of an incident and it is not on tape, but does that mean it never happens?

So, what do you do?

Awareness is speaking up, and if you are a victim, seek specialized help. Make sure you trust the person who will hear your story and have a backup plan if you do feel uncomfortable and not to be re-victimized.

Understanding and identifying even the presence of psychopathology of sexual deviancy by some perpetrators or risk factor of becoming abused takes collaborative efforts by a unified community and it is everyone’s responsibility for prevention beyond April.

Child welfare professionals can play a critical role in helping identify possible substance use disorders (SUDs) and supporting families in overcoming safety barriers.

Your teacher, a family member, pastor, friend, political leader, and others in aware authority fail to discuss or prevent perpetrators of this crime against humanity share the same responsibility.

“It takes a village to raise a child,” a famous argument made by many. However, reducing these incidents and promoting awareness in April, despite its intention, can be difficult where a village often does not exist.

Sadly, especially in many impoverished and developing countries where they are struggling due to socio-economic and high criminal elements issues, polarization, inequalities coupled with ignorance, cultural traits, and taboo and barbaric ideology, a victim’s story easily gets lost.

Furthermore, negative portrayals of a victim simply by shaming, and minimization promote tolerance for the negative behavior. It can hinder even an investigation to hold perpetrators accountable, or treatment to reduce the child abuse cycle.

Beyond April’s Numbers:

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, nearly one in two women and one in five men have experienced some type of sexual violence and victimization. One of the most effective strategies is supporting families before they reach a crisis.

The International Labor Organization also reported that about 21 million people are victims of human trafficking, for sexual exploitation, especially women and children. This affects all communities, especially minorities.

Child abuse is defined as the non-accidental physical or emotional injury caused by an act.

• Educational neglect

• Neglect of basic needs

• Medical neglect

• Psychological neglect

• Child sexual abuse

There are also different types of child abuse violence from incest to trafficking, and in statutory rape relationships where adults engaging in sexual contact with minors.

Key victim assessment is a typology of an intake process, documentation, interview, or evaluation in assigning the challenges, confidentiality of the victim to ensure correct support beyond an interview.

Global Action also noted despite billions invested, to combat this issue, many people nonetheless believe this is not their problem. This type of thing only happens over there. As society’s disconnect grows, we are more connected far more than the devices inform us, and whatever happens over there often will have an impact over here or the other way.

As I have argued in the past, Boko Haram is not just a Nigerian issue, and this terrorist group might have taken 250 young women at one time, but in many other regions even where many vacations and experience the beautiful beaches and sunset, a young child goes missing daily due to child abuse, and that number is still rising.

These communities need to undertake a more comprehensive step to address as reports have shown an uptick in child abuse even death, and not only photo-ups just to send out an image of selected empathy or saying what is politically correct.

If leaders want to establish a lasting legacy, these issues must be at the forefront of the community agenda.  Child abuse topics should be part of all political debates for a candidate who seeks higher office.

Society cannot continue allowing an at-risk child’s story to be silent because everyone identifies the perpetrator especially due to one’s financial status, position held in the community, or family support one provides.

Analyzing next April:

On March 6, 2016, Johns Hopkins and American University researchers published what they called “sweeping bias in non-black teachers’ expectation of black students.”

Photo by Nesrin Danan

What does this have to do with child abuse you might ask?

Everyone is entitled to their own belief, and not everything should be perceived through the lens of black and white. However, the interpretation of information among influential people with decision-making power that can have a lasting effect has to be free of biases.

I believe the low expectation of non-white students as the sty shown by some white teachers is as dangerous as some who target a youthful person because he sees no hope.

Social neglect tends to cause more victims in the long run.

If a child’s development fails due to bias, it is no different from an academic system that allows criminals to pass through and become teachers, volunteers in schools, or churches that prey on innocent children.

As many studies have shown, such as a sexual offender who holds a distorted belief of their victims, if one has low expectations regardless of race or socio-economic status or culture; if a student person happens to be missing or becomes a victim of psychopathic abusers, it is less likely to put in the to find and protect this child.

Often, and sadly, when one addresses child abuse, the visible scar tends to be the only focus. However, when these children become victims, it is not solely due to diminished expectations, but the combination of the lack of resources, xenophobia, poor parenting, and many other community issues that failed to invest in child development. And therefore lessen the chance of succeeding.

Photo by Luis Dalvan

Today some of these neglected and abused children presently find comfort under a bridge from a passing business person who exploits them even more.

Many in wealthy home also being disguise on an electronic platform because the emotion is between the victims and the abuser on the screen.

Some designate it as bullying, but it frequently led to physical and sexual abuse by a perpetrator who uses vulnerability to their advantage.

Rebuilding April’s Awareness:

Sexual exploitation education are areas of society that will forever link with young people such as with media, politics. As a result, when society searches for answers to forge a better union, most events will provoke debates, resources and awareness.

Sometimes the experience one brings is simple from his or her social mobilization process. Therefore, it can be challenging to separate one from the environment that has been created, and this is why listening is key to the victim’s story to develop trust and prevent abuse.

Photo by RODNAE Productions

It also stretches to the offender, to develop an analysis of why one may believe it is normal behavior.

Poverty and inequality make it a daunting task, but April’s awareness cannot disappear when the season changes. 

Sadly, up the road, down the hill, at the local shops, child abuse up until now can be a muted subject.

It is not always due to low expectations, but where more victims are caused due to classism and other economic stratification.

Managing these crimes of opportunity is simply becoming more reactive, and when these lovely days or months approach it has to be beyond a spring cleaning until another color emerges.

What next? Domestic violence and so on.

This crime against humanity;  coupled with the collapse of society’s moral compass, whether in an urban city, rural area, or along the shores, child abuse is uncomfortable to discuss. However, how society corrects itself and builds for brighter surroundings, security and prosperity will make beyond April worth noting.

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