MNA Editorial Desk: Child abuse, a heinous crime, has become a worldwide problem today. Despite having strict laws in almost every country, it continues to grow. It is a grave concern in Bangladesh too. Children are the future of a nation or the world but we are failing to fulfill their rights, which is very important if we want a safe, secured and bright future. Child abuse has increased significantly during the last two decades and we must stop this trend for the sake of a better world. We might not even realize how badly this can impact our society or the nation. Hence, we need to take necessary steps immediately to stop child abuse in our country as well as in the whole world.
Child abuse refers to any behaviour by parents, caregivers, teachers, other adults or older adolescents that is outside the norms of conduct and entails a substantial risk of causing physical or emotional harm to a child or young person. Such behaviours may be intentional or unintentional and can include acts of neglect and abuse. The five main subtypes of child abuse and neglect are physical abuse, emotional maltreatment, neglect, sexual abuse and witnessing family violence.
Aside from the immediate physical injuries, children can experience through abuse, a child’s reactions to abuse or neglect can have lifelong and even intergenerational impacts. Childhood ill-treatment can be linked to physical, psychological, behavioral as well as societal consequences as a whole. The outcomes for each child may vary widely and are affected by a combination of different factors resulting in complex trauma, which reflects the multiple and interacting symptoms, disorders and multiple adverse experiences and the broad range of cognitive, affective and behavioural outcomes associated with prolonged trauma, particularly if occurring early in life and involving an interpersonal.
Adverse outcomes of abuse and neglect often emerge in childhood and adolescence and may continue in adults with histories of abuse and neglect. A study suggests, parents who had experienced physical abuse in childhood were significantly more likely to engage in abusive behaviours toward their own children or children in their care. An estimated one-third of children who are subjected to child abuse and neglect go on to repeat patterns of abusive parenting towards their own children.
Adults with a history of child abuse and neglect are more likely than the general population to experience physical health problems including diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, arthritis, headaches, gynaecological problems, stroke, hepatitis and heart. Mental health problems associated with past histories of child abuse and neglect include personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative disorders, depression, anxiety disorders and psychosis. Depression is one of the most commonly occurring consequences of past abuse or neglect.
Evidence shows associations between child abuse and risks of attempting suicide in young people and adults. In the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study in the United states, it was indicated that adults exposed to four or more adverse experiences in childhood were 12 times more likely to have attempted suicide than those who had no adverse experiences in childhood.
Children are being exposed to several types of abuse throughout the world. They are often victims of man-made calamities like; wars. Millions of children are residing in different refugee camps all around the world. Many of them watched brutal actions against their near and dear ones. Like; the children from Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh have seen their parents, siblings, friends being slaughtered, houses being burnt, women being raped and infants being killed barbarically. These incidents must have posted black dots in their minds and though their behaviour does not show aggressiveness right now as they are in tender ages, when they will grow up, they might turn violent and aggressive.
Incidents like; divorce of the parents; violence inside family etc are affecting chindren. In the rich families of our country, abusing child housemaids is becoming a very common issue. Most importantly, child abuse at educational institutions including religious educational institutions has become a grave concern. Children are being victimized in different forms like; torture, forced sexual ctivities and even killing.
Schools, madrasas – nothing seems to be absolutely safe for children today. All sorts of religious educational institutes were also found in such heinous acts – madrasas, catholic schools, asrams and many others. In Bangladesh, incidents of child abuse have increased in recents times. Even in clashes between families, children are becoming scapegoat. It is very unfortunate. The change in the mentality of the children in Bangladesh is very visible as we are finding children and teenagers with more violent and selfish behavior.
The greatest concern related to child abuse today is extreme drug abuse. Children with bad experiences at home like; divorce, extramarital affairs and multiple marriages of parents, domestic violence etc are creating negaitivity among children. Hence, consumption of drugs is increasing alarmingly. Moreover, these children are easily diverted to drug trade, extremism and any sorts of crime as they are abused and deprived inside their own family. It is not only the case in Bangladesh but also in most of the countries today.
We cannot control drugs or extremism if child abuse cannot be eliminate. Huge amount of drugs are being smuggled into Bangladesh as the consumption in increasing. From a study it was found that, the majority of drug abusers were deprived or abused during their childhood. No law can eradicate drug abuse if demand cannot be reduced.
Along with the leaders and decision makers of Bangladesh, the global leaders also need to realize that, child abuse is a grave social concern and it will affect the future very badly. If we cannot protect the children at the tender ages, we cannot expect anything good from them. Hence, we need to take serious actions against child abuse.
No crime against children should go unpunished. Any crime against children should be non-bailable offence. The laws against child abuse should be strictly imposed. Nationwide campaigns should be run to inform people of the impact of child abuse as well as punishment of such crimes. Educational institutes should check the background of the teachers while appointing them and the teachers should be trained on behavior and must be monitored closely. A child support cell should be set up at every educational institution. War and other genocidical actions must exclude brutality on children as per the Geneva Convention.
We cannot get assurance from the global leaders. But from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has taken Bangladesh to a new height during the last decade, we expect a lot in eradicating child abuse from Bangladesh. We are sure that, with her visionary leadership, she is well aware of the consequences of child abuse in Bangladesh and will take all sorts of necessary measures. We just want a safe childhood for all the children of Bangladesh as well as the world.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and Chief Patron, Bangabandhu Shishu Kishore Mela