Recognising Child Abuse

As educators, you will often be the first to notice the change in behaviour of a child. This change could be the result of child abuse and it is vital that you recognise the signs and what constitutes child abuse.

Definition of Child Abuse

“Any interaction or lack of interaction by a parent or caretaker which results in the non- accidental harm to the child’s physical and/or developmental state.”

The term child abuse therefore includes not only the physical non-accidental injury of children, but also emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Therefore abuse can range from habitually humiliating a child to not giving the necessary care.

Myths about Child Abuse

There are many myths about child abuse, for example:

  • children are usually molested by strangers;
  • there is a universal taboo in all cultures about incest; men who abuse are psychotic or retarded;
  • incest only happens to girls;
  • the child always feels negative towards the offender;
  • mothers know of incest and condone it;
  • it does not happen in my family or community; and
  • there is no love and affection in families in which abuse occurs.

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