What is child abuse?

What is child abuse?

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Child abuse is one of the most serious problems on the planet. Violence against children occurs everywhere, in different forms and intensities. Often it is rooted in cultural, economic and social practices.

A child is mistreated or abused when his physical or mental health, or safety, is in danger, either by actions or omissions carried out by the mother, father or other persons responsible for his care; when they have suffered damage (wounds) or risk of damage (dangerousness), as a result of having been hit with the hand, kicked, shaken, pushed, burned, stabbed or hit by a parent or figures who exercise that role; Then the mistreatment occurs by action, omission or negligence.

Adverse experiences in childhood have unfavorable consequences and are related to the accumulation of multiple risk factors. Its sequelae are clearly manifested during adulthood, with consequences as diverse as obesity, cancer, type 2 diabetes, sexually transmitted infections, depression, suicide attempts, post-traumatic stress and polydrug use, among others. Knowing what is happening is important to deploy timely measures to mitigate the associated toxic stress and avoid its effects.

Much of the research focuses on the impact of school-age abuse. However, the first events can date back to infancy and early childhood, and be more damaging than when experienced at other times. Despite the fact that this stage has been comparatively neglected in research terms, it has been estimated that more than 60% of children in this age range have experienced adverse, potentially harmful situations.

The concept of child abuse is relatively recent. The first term described was the beaten child syndrome (Tardieu, 1868), after performing autopsies on 32 beaten and burned children. From all this (Kempe, 1962) he defined it as the use of non-accidental physical force, aimed at injuring or injuring a child, by their parents or relatives, based on the clinical characteristics presented by the cases that were admitted to the pediatric service of Denver General Hospital, Colorado.

And, finally, Fontana (1979) expanded the concept and indicated that these children could be attacked not only physically, but also emotionally or through neglect, replacing the term beaten with that of abused.

The World Health Organization (2016) defines child abuse as abuse and neglect of those under 18 years of age. Includes all types of physical or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, neglect and commercial or other exploitation that cause or may cause harm to the health, development or dignity of the child, or endanger their survival, in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.

Exposure to intimate partner violence is also sometimes included among forms of child abuse, which is a global problem with serious consequences that can last a lifetime. Despite national surveys in several low- and middle-income countries, data on the current situation are still lacking.


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See article in El Diario NY


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