There is no standardized definition of child abuse. However, several definitions proposed by various organizations contain basic, similar elements in relation to children. Such elements include exploitation, ill-treatment or abuse that takes place in physical, emotional, or sexual form. Other than these, neglect and disregard of responsibilities in relation to child care also amount to child abuse (Korbin 6). Most forms of child abuse cause harm or pose the possibility of harm to the child and can occur in all set ups ranging from home to learning institutions.
Possible consequences of child abuse may be far reaching and may affect children all through their teenage into adulthood. Outcomes of child abuse may range from minor to severe injuries. They may cause low self esteem, brain damage, poor social adjustment and substance abuse. These ultimately affect the child’s physical health, psychological adjustment, cognitive and behavioral predisposition (Korbin 52).
Physical and health abuse usually take place in forms of violent shaking or blows on a child while other forms that are similar to such may include asphyxiation or the use of fire in burning the child. Acts of neglect include denial of water and food, denied access to medical services, and lack of access to recommended motor stimulation. The mild outcomes include bruises and minor physical damages which may extend to broken limbs and deeper wounds in serious cases (Korbin 50-58) although in other cases, these can lead to internal bleeding, brain damage and even end up causing everlasting impairments and disabilities. Neglect can lead to malnutrition when a child is denied food. This results in nutritional deficiencies like Kwashiorkor and Marasmus as well as diseases such as Cholera, Goiter and Rickets among others. Extreme cases of physical abuse and neglect may lead to death, which is the saddest consequence of physical abuse (Korbin107-110).
Cognitive development of children and their educational and academic success also suffer the consequences of child abuse. As a result of abuse, children may develop problem-solving and other life skills at a slower pace than the expected. Intellectual abilities also vary between children who are abused and those who are not. In consequence of maltreatment and abuse, there is a general drop in academic achievement of individuals and an increase in deviance compared to children who are not abused (Reece 20).
Psychosocial adjustment, emotional behavior and social interactions are also affected by child abuse. Most common consequences appear in the form of behavioral disorders and the experience of such consequences may occur immediately or much later in life (Newton and Julie 19). Many children who are abused may end up with a range of psychological and emotional consequences, which include reduced self esteem, anxiety disorders, reduced vitality in social relations and difficulties in affection and attachment (Ascione 74). Further, they may have Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and disorders in eating. In specific occasions, abused children may face the consequence of attempting suicide because of unstable emotions. According to Pandey, psychological effects of child abuse affect the cognitive process. In this, there is reduced perceptual identification, lowered learning and memory abilities, reduced creativity and intelligence, and perceptual and attribution problems (28-35). Drug and substance abuse and violence also suffice as possible consequences of all forms of abuse. These may occur at childhood or later in adulthood. Children who are abused physically face an increased risk of violence and engagement in drug and substance abuse later in life.
In conclusion, the consequences of physical, cognitive, psychosocial, and emotional abuse of children are diverse. They include minor to severe injuries and sometimes death. Others consist of low self esteem, stress and anxiety disorders, suicidal tendencies, reduced intelligence and substance abuse. To protect children from abuse and its consequences successfully, the government, non-governmental organizations, child advocacy groups, institutions of learning and parents have to make joint efforts for success to be achieved (Gilbert 224).
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