Commentary: Child abuse is an everyday occurrence

R.D. Miller

Before April: During the month of April, several communities, schools, health departments, including domestic violence centers will wear blue to show solidarity in honour of National Child Abuse and Awareness. April brings not only a new season, but a brighter spirit from the cold winter.

I have always enjoyed the changing of the seasons, especially from winter to spring. It reminders us that there a few things around the home that need to be fixed. However, for some, these damages from the past season will be ignored because it looks good on the surface. This quickly formed mentality often parallels how child abuse gets overlooked until it become a major repair, got pushed aside hoping it can service another season.

Sure, many will say the right thing, but their record must be scrutinized about funding, and programs to combat this issue. I still remember that video tape of an uncle trying to sell his young niece for sex to make a few dollars. This story is just one we have on tape…

Child abuse is not always visible, like a flood, rain, broken bridge or snow and a few news headlines where society assesses the damages and swiftly moves on. Understanding and identifying even the presence of psychopathology of sexual deviancy by some perpetrators, or risk factor of becoming a sex worker, takes collaborative efforts by the entire community and it is everyone’s responsibility for prevention beyond April.

Your teacher, a family member, pastor, friend, political leader, and others in authority who are aware and fail to discuss or prevent perpetrators of this crime against humanity share the same responsibility. “It takes a village to raise a child,” a famous argument made by many. However, reducing these incidents and promoting awareness in April despite its intention can be difficult where a village often does not exist.

Sadly, especially in many poor and developing countries where they are struggling due to poor socio-economic conditions, polarization, inequalities coupled with ignorance, culture traits, and taboo and barbaric ideology, a victim’s story easily gets lost. Furthermore, negative portrayals of a victim simply by shame and even tolerance of this behaviour by pimps who lower these children, and combined with the lack resources for even an investigation to hold perpetrators accountable, or treatment, the child abuse cycle continues.

This assessment is a typology of an intake process, documentation, interview, or an evaluation in assigning the challenges or blame in its identification. Child abuse is an ocean that has taken everything in its path, while the appearance of a calm sea overshadowing this vicious behavioural psychopathic undercurrent.

Beyond April’s Numbers: According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, nearly one in two women and one in five men have experienced some type of sexual violence, and victimization. The International Labour Organization also reported that about 21 million people are victims of human trafficking, for sexual exploitation, especially women and children. This affects all communities, especially minorities.

Child abuse is defined as the non-accidental physical or emotional injury caused by an act.

• Educational neglect

• Neglect of basic needs

• Medical neglect

• Psychological neglect

• Child sexual abuse

There are also different types of child abuse violence from incest to trafficking.

Global Action also noted that billions have been spent, regardless of race, sex, creed, colour, or sexual orientation, but many would still believe this is not their problem. This type of thing only happens over there. As society’s disconnect grows, many are more connected far more than the devices tells us, so more can be done.

As I have argued before, Boko Haram is not just a Nigerian issue, and this terrorist group might have taken 250 young women at one time, but in many other regions even where many vacation and experience the beautiful beaches and sunset, a young child goes missing daily due to child abuse, and that number is still rising.

These communities need to see what is happening to their students and be able to respond in seconds, not days or weeks, or just saying what is politically correct.

Such as the delicate balance sometimes on perpetrators being arrested even by the United Nations that blasted major news headlines, that seem to coincide with the month of April awareness. Often the work that is going on to protect children gets pushed aside especially in places that are pre-occupied with an election campaign and others who have just completed where new leader is trying to create personal legacy or already campaigning for the next one. Soon, one hopes, child abuse topics should be part of all debates and even become a litmus test for a candidate who seeks higher office.

Society cannot continue to allow an abused child’s story to be silent because everyone knows the perpetrator especially due to one’s financial status, position held in the community or family support one provides.

Analyzing next April: Sexual exploitation, education, health are areas of society that will forever link with young people such as with media, politics, and professional concerns, as most scholars have argued. As a result, when society searches for answers to forge a better union, most events will provoke debates. Sometimes the experience one brings is simple from his or her own social mobilization process. Therefore, it can difficult to separate one from the environment that has been created.

On March 6, 2016 Johns Hopkins and American University researchers published what they called “sweeping bias in non-black teachers’ expectation of black students”.

What this has to do with child abuse you might ask?

Everyone is entitled to their own belief, and not everything should be seen through the lens of black and white. However, the interpretation of information among influential people with decision making power that can have a lasting effect has to be free of biases.

I believe the low expectation of non-white students is as dangerous as an uncle who believes in incest. Although I have not done a controlled study to draw a strong correlation and these teachers in the study have not been convicted of child abuse; however, social neglect tends to create more victims in the long run.

As many studies have shown, such as a sexual offender who holds a distorted belief of their victims, if one has low expectations regardless of race or socio-economic status or culture, if this person happens to be missing later in life and becomes a victim of psychopathic abusers, what do you believe the effort might be to protect this child.

Often, sadly, when one addresses child abuse, the physical scar tends to be the only focus. However, when these children become victims, it is not solely due to low expectation, but combination of the lack of resources, xenophobia, poor parenting and many other community issues that failed to invest in a child development. And therefore lessens the chance of succeeding.

Today some of these neglected and abused children now find comfort under a bridge from a passing business person who exploits them even more. If a child’s development fails due to bias, it is no different from an educational system that allows criminals to pass and become teachers, volunteers in school or churches that prey on innocent children.

Rebuilding April’s Awareness: Given the recent studies, there are plenty interpretations, confirmation and some will seek immunity and give the impression that it is only over there. Although racism is still alive, as this confirms, many poor and developing countries especially in the Caribbean could use another April awareness.

Sadly, up the road, down the hill, at the local shops child abuse still can be a muted subject. It is not always due to low expectations, but where more victims are created due to classism and other economic stratification.

The plight of women in general, coupled with the collapse of society’s moral compass, whether in an urban city, rural area, or along the shores, child abuse is uncomfortable. However, how society corrects itself and builds for a brighter surrounding security, and prosperity despite April’s good intention is much deeper.

Managing these crimes of opportunity is simply becoming more reactive, and when these special days or months approach it has to be beyond a spring cleaning until another colour emerges.

What next? Domestic violence and so on.

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