Abuse of children is one of the most relevant problems in today’s society. Unfortunately, even the most developed states face such problems very often. It is more and more spoken that it is necessary to get rid of inadmissible secrecy, which leads to ignorance and denial. Instead of protecting children and providing safe environment for them, their parents and tutors are forced to oppose various social services, courts etc.
“Abuse can have a devastating effect upon children’s lives and leave them with a very low opinion of themselves, which can last well into their adult lives. In some cases, disclosing the abuse to their families can isolate them from the people, they would normally turn to first for support, so it is very important for them to find someone who really cares and who can give them the time and opportunity to express themselves” (Freedman & Combs, p. 114).
Before starting to observe effective therapies of treatment of abused children, it is necessary to define what abuse is and what the actions are that may be treated as abuse of a child. National Center for Redress of Incest and Abuse lists the following points as the experience of children abuse:
Thus, Nichols and Schwartz state that ?hildren are often unwilling to reveal that they have experienced an abuse. This happens because most often they are abused by the people they know, their relatives or friends of their parents. That is why children may have confused emotions, in case this was a person a child trusts. They often do not realize that they were abused. The experts proved that a child abuser may be a person of any religious or social environment; he may be respected and trustworthy member of the society. As far as a child’s family is concerned, this could be any male, more or less close relative: father, uncle, stepfather, brother, cousin, family friend or grandfather. Female relatives or mothers abuse children very rarely. It happens that the person who abuses a child in his own family, abuses children from another family as well (Nichols, M., & Schwartz, R).
Abuser may aim at children of a particular gender or age. Abusers often act as caring, kind and attentive friends of children, trying to establish intimate relationship with them. The process of building a friendship may last for long and an abuser will be waiting until a child trusts him. Sometimes abusers try to establish friendly relations with one of the parents in order to be closer to a child.
Because an abuser always tries to establish trustful relations with a child, it takes some times until an abuse starts. By this time a child may become dependent upon the abuser. The specialists call it grooming. The abuser may be regarded by other people as reliable and respected person. He even may assure himself that he does not do anything harmful to a child (Nichols, M., & Schwartz, R). A child develops trust to the abuser, he or she becomes dependent and abuser uses this situation to keep the fact of abuse in secret. An abuser may use various emotions of a child, for instance, fear, guilt or embarrassment to hide what had happened. (1) Parents should remember that a talkative child who has trustful relations with his or her parents or close relatives, who tells them about his or her feelings and emotions, will be less likely to obey a single adult wishing to abuse him or her (Nichols, M., & Schwartz, R).
Of course, it is better to prevent children from possible abuse, rather than treat them after. According to Sachsenmaier, there are some necessary issues that are important for those adults that desire to prevent their children from the case of abuse. (2) It is necessary to establish trusting relationships with children. They should know that they can share anything with the adult closest to them. Adults should carefully watch their child’s behavior and notice any changes. It is essential to speak with the child about abuse in a manner appropriate for his or her age. It is not necessary to reveal the child anything, but he or she should be informed enough not to be confused by other people, who may have negative intentions (Sachsenmaier).
Adults should notice when a child shows interest in some issues and speak with him or her about these issues, carefully explaining necessary things. A child should be aware of what can be kept in secret from the adults and what cannot. It is necessary to watch how children behave while contacting with other children (Sachsenmaier).
As it has been said above, children are inclined to keep in secret facts of abuse, and parents even do not notice that something is wrong with their child, even in those cases when this was one of the parents who caused an abuse. These are the signs that abused children may reveal:
- they try to avoid staying alone with this or that person;
- they change their behavior;
- they speak about the secrets;
- they describe strange behavior of a particular adult;
- their behavior is premature;
- they look depressed or upset (Sachsenmaier).
Specialists agree that when an abuse happened, it is necessary to discuss it with the child. “There have been a number of sensational cases involving child care centers where large numbers of children have been molested and where it continued for years before one child finally told his parents. Such situations could not continue for so long with so many children if they felt safe to go to their parents. Children suffer silently and needlessly because of the lack of open communication with their parents…” (Parry& Doan, p. 115).
Conversations in which the child expresses his or her emotions and feelings are the central part of the process that is aimed at destroying a negative dominant. As soon as the specialist has heard that a child in the process of storytelling reveals that his or her viewpoint is dominated by abuse he or she experienced, the specialist has a possibility to see what the main points the child fights with are. Then it is necessary to externalize negative feelings with the help of special questions that are aimed at externalizing negative experience.
“Externalizing is an approach to therapy that encourages persons to objectify and at times personify the problems that they experience as oppressive. In this process, the problem becomes a separate entity and thus external to the person or relationship that was ascribed as the problem” (White & Epston, 1990, p. 38).
The commentators speak about increasing tendency of giving more significance to honesty and openness. According to White and Epson, (3) It is necessary to stop the secrecy which imprisons the child, they state. In case the child hides all his or her emotions and shares them with nobody, consequences of the abuse may be awful (White & Epston, 1990, p. 38).Sometimes children do not want to reveal an abuser because this is an immediate relative and they want to protect him.This issue is widely discussed by specialists, as well as the media .
Unfortunately, child abuse remains an issue that still needs to be resolved. Studies, which were conducted with the purpose to resolve the problem, can’t give any appreciable results and the issue needs further discussion. This paper has provided instructions for parents and tutors on how to protect children from abuse. The instructions were based on the study of expert’s propositions. However, the issue needs further investigation and new solutions.