Child Abuse and Mental Health Awareness

Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the world.

What is child abuse? Child abuse is when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child. There are many forms of child maltreatment, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, exploitation and emotional abuse.

Mental illness and child abuse, often co-exist together. What this means is that in many children who have been abused, they could develop a mental health challenge. Child abuse can also cause people to experience one or more symptoms of another mental illness. Some of the signs that a child is being traumatised or physically and sexually abused include:
For physical abuse:
-any bruises in unexpected places, cuts, spiral fractures, burn patterns (like with cigarette burn on a part of the skin).
For sexual abuse:
-bleeding, bruises, difficulty walking in the first few days or weeks,

Consequences of child abuse:
A child that might be out going, friendly and happy suddenly becomes withdrawn, sad, undergoes academic failure, personality changes such as bed wetting at night if that’s not something that they have done. Sometimes there is nothing you can see but the child is still hurting on the inside and it’s so important that you listen if he/she says for example ‘he touched this’, listen to them and believe them.

There is a rising increase in cases of child abuse in Cameroon especially in this COVID-19 lockdown period. And because of the lockdown season, we are not able to see the children and monitor some of their mannerisms which they may display. This poses a challenge on another level.

The main question we ask ourselves is, why are there so many cases of child abuse during this COVID period? The probable reason revolves around stress and financial constraints. Anytime there is a rising stress level or less economic flow of income into a home, that is going to translate into other kinds of stress. Unfortunately that stress would sometimes translate into taking it out on the children. With sexual abuse during this COVID-19 period, a child is so much limited to who they can tell and/or speak to.

Also, across Cameroon child sexual abuse hotlines are inexistent or services such as social affairs and police are down to a greater extent. Most cases are not reported while some are reported and it may take time for the police to reach the particular area.This therefore leaves the child with more mental, physical, emotional and psychological trauma.

Child abusers are often very manipulative people and are most often people we know already. In Cameroon, child sexual abuse is very problematic and culturally regarded as a taboo to speak out. There is a dire need for such abusers to be brought to the forefront of discussions. Recently we learnt of a mass rape in Douala Cameroon wherein a teacher in a primary school allegedly raped over 15 girls in class six and reports at the time indicated that the man may have disappeared, and the case which was opened earlier this year may remain unresolved. Cases like these leave so many questions unanswered and we begin to have serious doubts about the justice system in our country.

Are your children safe at home again? do not hesitate to contact us through any of the links below.

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