The effects of abuse

All Woman

Abuse, whether physical, sexual or emotional can have adverse effects on the development of a child.

Dr Ganesh Shetty, child psychiatrist, said aggressive behavioural change, nightmares, psychosomatic illnesses and early sexual maturity are part of the short-term effects after a child is abused.

"In the long run they may become low-achieving, short-tempered adults with low self-esteem," Dr Shetty said. "Sometimes they become perpetuators themselves, enter into abusive relationships, or have multiple personalities."

The Office of the Children's Advocate (OCA) said more than 8,000 cases of child abuse were reported between January and August 2013, while it is contacted every 30 minutes with an allegation of ill-treatment.

Sharian Hanson, senior legal policy officer at the OCA, said the 8,030 cases of abuse ranged from physical to sexual, to emotional, with neglect and missing children being high on the list.

Dr Shetty said factors shaping the abused child's development and future prospects are his/her level of resilience; whether or not the perpetrator was a stranger or family member; whether the abuse is a one-off or ongoing situation; and also whether or not the child is supported or blamed for the incident.

"If the child is blamed, he/she is further victimised," he added.

Other effects of child abuse include confusion, changes in behaviour such as aggression, anger, hostility or hyperactivity, or changes in school performance.

Specific signs and symptoms will depend on the type of abuse the child is going through.

A child who is abused may feel afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, especially if the abuser is a parent, other relative or family friend and may have an obvious fear of parents, adult caregivers or family friends.

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