2DefinitionsThere is no uniform agree-upon definition of child abuse in Canada.Vanier Institute of the Family (1993) uses these working definition:
3Child AbuseThe physical, psychological, social, emotional and sexual maltreatment of a child whereby the survival, safety, self-esteem, growth and development of the person are endangered.
4Types of Child AbusePhysicalNeglectSexualEmotional
5Physical AbusePhysical assaults (such as hitting, kicking, biting, throwing, burning, or poisoning) that cause, or could cause, physical injury as well as behaviors or omissions that cause, or could cause, physical injury to a child.
6NeglectSustained deprivation of food, clothing, hygiene, shelter and other needed care so as to cause, or potentially cause, physical, emotional, developmental or psychological harm or disability.
7Neglect This includes: Failure to provide medical, dental or psychiatric care needed to prevent or treat physical or emotional injury, illness or disabilityDeprivation of emotional nurturing or physical and cognitive stimulationFailure to educate a childLeaving a child alone or in the care of another that demonstrates intentional abdication of parental responsibilityParent behavior that contributes to the delinquency of a child
8Sexual AbuseAny sexual exploitation of a child whether consented to or not.Includes touching of a sexual nature, sexual intercourse, or behavior of a sexual nature toward a child.Excluded is normal affectionate behavior towards children and normal health or hygiene care.Sexual activity between children may constitute sexual abuse if the age or power between the children is significant.
9Child Sexual Abuse Can have devastating long term consequences. Many teenage runaways leave home on account of it.75% of female adolescent runaways in Toronto experienced child sexual abuse38% of male adolescent runaways in Toronto experienced child sexual abuse
10How many children are sexually abused? Proportion of women who are sexually abused before age of 16 – 25%Proportion of men who are sexually abused before the age of 16 – 10%These children can grow up to experience depression, self-destructive behaviour, poor self-esteem, substance abuse, anxiety, and feelings of isolation and stigma.
11Who sexually abuses children? 9/10 children who are sexually abused know their abuser.Strangers can and do abuse children, but it is far more common for children to be sexually abused by people they know and trust.
12Emotional AbuseEmotional attacks or omissions that cause, or could case serious emotional injury.Includes:Behavior of parents or guardians who persistently do not take an interest in their child (no talking, hugging, or just being emotionally unavailable to the child)Repeated threatsConfinementRepeated exposure to violenceOngoing humiliation and ridiculeFundamental attacks of a child’s sense of self
13Child AbuseChild abuse is vastly under-reported much like other kinds of abuse within families.Neglect is more prevalent than physical abuse.
14What can happen to children who are abused? Child abuse can lead to delinquency, criminality, mental illness, developmental delays, and increased risk-taking among other personal and social problems.Victims are at risk of suffering from learning disabilities, brain damage, malnutrition and language delays.Large proportions of prison inmates and mental hospital patients experienced abuse as a child.
15What kinds of people are child abusers? Perpetrators can be male or femaleThey can be mothers, fathers, siblings, stepparents, babysitters and others who have contact with the childThey come from all parts of societyHowever, some stressors may be characteristic of child abusers.
16Stressor Characteristics Abused as a childSingle parentSpouse is gone much of the timeDivorceAlcohol or other drugs.Low self-esteemIsolationHusband uninvolved and criticalEmotional immaturityPostpartum depressionUnrealistic expectationsStress of unemploymentFinancial stressOther stresses of any kind.Mental illness
17Children at Risk for Neglect and Abuse Unwanted ChildrenChildren living in foster or step familiesPremature childrenThose with physical or mental challengesThose with poor healthA hyperactive childA child that reminds the parent or someone they do not likeMost dangerous age for physical abuse: 3 months – 3 yearsFirst incidence of sexual abuse usually occurs between: 3-8 years
18Children at RiskChild abuse happens in all kinds of families, regardless of their economic status, heritage or structure.However, child abuse is reported more among lower-income families.
19Why?This may be due to:Housing situation makes them more open to observation and more likely to be reported.Greater incidence of reporting among teachers, professionals and neighbors,Greater willingness of child welfare to interveneGreater chance of prosecution by justice system.Many middle-class abusers are probably not identified
20StatisticsBetween 1988 and 1992 there was an increase in the number of cases of child sexual abuse reported to police, more charges laid, and more cases involving very young victims.70-80% of victims were female, most under the age of 1215-22% were under the age of 594% of abusers were male; ¼ of them were under the age of 18
21More StatisticsProportion of abusive husbands found by Canada’s Correctional Services to have grown up in violent, abusive families: 75%Proportion of families in which the woman is assaulted and the children have also been abused: 1/3Proportion of male adolescent prostitutes found by one study to have been physically or emotionally abused by family members: 72%
22Detecting AbuseThese symptoms, when combined, can indicate if a child is a victim of physical abuse.
23Physical Abuse Signs The child: Avoids physical contact with adults Seems frightened of parents and other adultsShows apprehension when faced with adult disapprovalIs frightened when other children cryShows extreme aggressiveness or introversionSeems sad and anxious and shows little self-esteem
24Physical Abuse SignsMisses preschool or school frequently and returns with mending cuts and bruisesDoes not like to take off his or her clothesTakes on the role of the parent within the familyDoes not have good social relations with his or her peersArrives at school early and leaves late, is in no hurry to return homeIs too eager to please
25Detecting AbuseThese symptoms, when combined can indicate that a child may have been a victim of child sexual abuse.
26Sexual Abuse Signs Difficulty walking or sitting Torn, soiled or bloodied underwearComplaints of pain or itching in the genital regionContusions or bleeding on genitals or in the anal regionVenereal disease, especially in children under 13Difficulty in maintaining good social relations with other studentsChange in appetite or sleep patternFear and anxiety toward the opposite sex
27Sexual Abuse SignsBehavior associated more with younger children, such as incontinence, infantile or backward reactionsInordinate need to be comforted by one parent, show excessive attachment to that parent especially when aggressor is presentRefusal to change clothes for phys ed. or to join in physical activitiesKnowledge of bizarre or unusual sexual practicesCaresses, kisses and seductive behavior towards children and adults alike
28PreventionNever discipline your child when your anger is out of control.Participate in your child’s activities and get to know your child’s friends.Never leave your child unattended, especially in the car.Teach your child the difference between “good touches,” “bad touches” and “confusing touches.”When your child tells you he or she doesn’t want to be with someone, this could be a red flag. Listen to them and believe what they say.Be aware of changes in your child’s behavior or attitude, and inquire into it.Teach your child what to do if you and your child become separated while away from home.Teach your child the correct names of his/her private body parts.Be alert for any talk that reveals premature sexual understanding.Pay attention when someone shows greater than normal interest in your child.Make certain your child’s school or day care center will release him/her only to you or someone you officially designate.
29What to do if a child come to you Be open and understanding.Let the child talk as much as he or she wishesBelieve the child.Reassure the child that he/she has done the right thing by telling you.Keep your own feelings under control.Do not promise not to tellDon’t try to conduct an investigation, yourself.If the child tells you of the sexual abuse immediately after it occurred, DO NOT bathe the child, or wash or change his or her clothes.Explain what you will do next to help them.
30Reporting the abuseIf you suspect abuse let the child’s parent or guardian know.If you do not know the parent or guardian or you suspect that they may be part of the problem, then you need to call a child and family service agency to report your concerns.Intake Services 835 Portage Avenue Winnipeg MB R3G 0N6 Phone: Toll-free: After-hours (emergency calls only):If you think that a child may be in immediate danger, call the police.IT IS EVERYONE’S LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT CHILDREN. IF YOU FAIL TO REPORT A CHILD IN NEED OF PROTECTION, YOU ARE COMMITTING A PUNISHABLE OFFENSE.