April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month. In this fourteeth blog we are exploring what is child abuse and do we as adults perpetuate it. Child abuse can be perpetuated by parents, caregivers, adults or older adolescents engaging in behaviors and conduct that can cause physical or emotional harm to a child or younger adolescent. These behaviors may or may not be intentional. The least recognized form of child abuse is omission i.e. neglect. The five main categories of child abuse and neglect are physical abuse, emotional maltreatment, neglect, sexual abuse and witnessing family violence.
An example of neglect would be pushing off your child to family members, babysitters, teachers etc. that are supposed to be a substitute for your parenting. Of course parents are busy and it does take a village to raise a child but if the village is forever taking care of your child that IS neglect. You can only hope after thorough research, tough vetting and good judgement of character that your children are being taken care when we’re not around but that’s not always the case. To prevent the chances of your child being abused you have to be an ACTIVE parent. Providing more than the child’s basic needs and being visible to everyone who may be watching is a sign to predators to move elsewhere. Read more about predatory signs HERE.
An example of physical abuse is obviously punishing your child through physical violence i.e. punching, slapping, hitting etc. I know as a Haitian-American physical violence as a correcting method is common in Haitian households. ajenou, pechen, rale zòrèy, bay kout pwen, bay kalot etc. are all forms of physical violence; now as a grown woman I can remember all the times my Haitian relatives beat me but I can’t remember the intent behind it or what was their excuse behind it. This is physical abuse. I think when I really understood the vitriol and evilness rooted corporal punishment was when my father confided in me on how he was raised as a child. To keep it short and confidential, his mother took on the energy of slave owners. She would beat him to the point that he would lose control of his bladder. And as a grown man in is middle age years the memories bring him to tears.
An example of emotional abuse is gaslighting or reacting in a manner to get an emotional response from your child. This is like what DJ Envy was talking about during an episode of The Breakfast Club because his son forgot to turn off the lights in his house. Remind you DJ Envy’s son is a minor and as an After School Teacher that works with children during the weekdays I KNOW that I will have to repeat myself multiple times a day. So for DJ Envy to be on his 4thor 5thchild and not know this is highly unlikely. Did I mention DJ Envy has money and lives in an affluent neighborhood? I’m pretty sure a light bill won’t put him back especially since he’s a sneakerhead and all in his 40s. To put the icing on his emotionally disturbing cake, DJ Envy ran over his son’s Xbox and aired the whole ordeal on air to embarrass his son to his peers who might be listening or will be listening. DJ Envy’s purpose was to hurt his son’s emotional attachment to the game system. This is no different from the social media trend of parents shaving their children’s hair off on camera for the world to see. One child, Izabel Laxamana eventually committed suicide after her father cut off her hair and aired it out on social media. Just because your child does something to upset you, doesn’t mean you have the right to emotionally abuse him or her. Children are humans too and their feelings can be tremendously hurt as well.
Witnessing Family Violence
An example of witnessing family violence is what Chris Brown’s childhood was about. Chris Brown witnessed his mother being physically abused by his step father while he was a child. That abuse left an impact on him and in 2009 Chris Brown repeated the cycle of physical abuse by beating Rihanna in that infamous Grammy Pre Party Scandal. The reputation tarnished Chris Brown’s good guy image and forever haunts his career. And as a father now I’m better sure he wouldn’t want his daughter Royalty dating a man like him or getting beaten by a man like him.
We are flawed human beings. We are perfection and a work in progress all at the same time. The point is to be the best version of ourselves. Parents who exhibit signs of abuse or can think of times where they acted in the moment and thinking back now see their actions could be labeled as abusive, it’s not too late to change. You can take the time to come up with new ways to reason with your child or become more active in your child’s life. You only have 18 years to influence your child to make him or her the greatest version of themselves. Yes, you will make mistakes and yes you’ll probably fail/disappoint him/her but consistency and genuineness counts a long way. Drop the bad habits you’ve seen growing up to establish new ones as an adult. Whatever you do stop being abusive to your child.
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