Usually, child protection has been commonly alleged to be a matter of concern to professionals in specialized social service, health, mental health, and justice systems. In these areas of specialization, issues of much greater concern such as sexual abuse, Female Genital Mutilation and physical abuse, among many others ‘serious cases’ are what the public is made most aware of. However, there are other forms of abuse that we rarely speak or think much about. These forms of abuse may seem of no major concern but actually affect the self-esteem of a child and the general all roundedness of a child who will be an adult one day.
Neglect and emotional abuse are some forms of child abuse we rarely look at but affect a child’s mental or emotional health. Some may say that these are not of major alarm and maybe the children should learn to grow up at an early age as the world is not fair. However, psychologists will not approve to these as children should be nurtured and well taken care of not only physically and providing for their every need, but their emotional needs and psychological well-being should also be considered.
Forms of child abuse we do not think are serious enough to warrant any attention include;
- Being forced to study at all times without any break except for eating and sleeping which are in most cases rushed. The child will therefore be limited on growth and socialization with other children their age. This tends to happen when the parent demands a level of academic performance the child cannot achieve.
- Being discriminated because of their name by relatives. This is especially so if the person the child was named after was not a good role model in the family
- Being stigmatized because of being either too thin, too short, too tall or too short among relatives.
- Being denied food when the child has done something wrong
- Belittled and compared to others especially their own siblings, cousins or neighbors.
- Outright hatred especially if born outside wedlock because you are a reminder of a painful heartbreak
- Being locked in the house and forced to entertain themselves for example like watching television. This is especially so when the child wants to go play with other children instead of watching TV.
- Being made to feel of shame and guilt because of other people’s mistakes
- Certain body uniqueness or abnormalities especially if a child is disabled may be pointed at making the child feel embarrassed and unwanted and inferior among family and friends.
- Being locked in the house with younger siblings whom you are forced to take care of the whole day while the parents are at work
- Made to feel inadequate when you are handed down hand me down clothes or toys especially when parents openly point out that you are not the favourite son or daughter.
- Parents claiming they are too busy at all times and do not pay attention to the activities the child is involved in school or sports and any other child activity
The list could go on and may fill pages over pages resulting to a book. This forms of abuse affect a child’s emotional capabilities and may affect their adult life later on. Some of this cases are severe as the child does not recognize if they are at all loved by their parents or guardians.
In some cases, children run away when they get the opportunity. If these situation gets to their teenage years, the child may commit suicide or become an antisocial teenager who can be easily swayed into partaking into harmful activities such as drugs or sexual activities. This is because the parents are not concerned about the well-being of the children. We have had many cases of young adults getting involved in uncouth behavior which is considered immoral in the society.
Parents and guardians should show concern for every aspect of the child’s life in terms of the child’s care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs. They should see children as gifts and not ‘things’ that came to ruin their life. They should also not demand academic performance the child cannot out rightly achieve.
We should remember that everyone is unique and has a unique talent and a unique way of expressing this talent. Not imposing anything on children and letting them do what they are supposed to do at certain stages in their life’s ensures having adults in the society who parents can even have a decent conversation with.
It is everyone’s duty to do everything they can to protect the little ones. How can you take part? By donating to Childline Kenya – an NGO that saves children by providing a safe environment for them. They do this through a 24 hour emergency helpline 116 which people can call and report cases of child abuse. Cases can also be reported 0799873107. There’s also a chat function on the Childline website.
Individual can choose to donate an amount of Ksh. 116 to support the Helpline, Ksh. 500 to transport a child from a harmful environment, Ksh. 700 for meals and safe shelter for 1 child and Ksh. 2,000 for outpatient emergency medical assistant to 1 abused child.
For the corporates, they can donate Ksh. 25,000 for the full rescue of 1 child from a harmful environment, Ksh. 100,000 for inpatient medical support to 1 abused child, Ksh. 200,000 for quality counseling and emergency rescue for at least 8 children per month.
How can you donate?
Paybill number: 891300
Account number: 11124
Business Name: MCHANGA
Reference : 11124
Business number: 891300
Account number: 11134