Children and teenagers usually interact with different types of people every day, such as neighbors, teachers, parents, and grandparents. However, the coronavirus pandemic has forced them to self-isolate, use their gadgets, and spend most of their time at home. This may sometimes mean that they might need a hand with parenting. When a child experiences abuse, there are not many chances for adults to see the signs.
Isolation can place the children at a higher risk of neglect and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. In schools, administrators are making efforts to protect them from abuse. It is everyone’s obligation to keep children healthy and safe. We are also responsible for seeing the signs and reporting our concerns to the proper authorities. We must play our part in reaching out for care and support to our families.
Here are a few pieces of advice and information for you, whether you are a parent at home with your children, a caregiver, or a concerned citizen that wants to help make a difference amidst the pandemic.
Signs Of Child Abuse
The quarantine and social distancing measures have caused so much stress and changes in people’s attitudes. Some are feeling the pressures of lack of finances, while others are depressed that they lost their jobs. Whatever it may be, parents may be worried that their child is anxious or withdrawn for some reason. Be vigilant and watch out for these signs of abuse.
- aggressive behavior or shouting repeatedly
- hearing children crying for a long time
- things have broken at home
- children looking messy or not able to change into clean clothes
- aloof or anxious children
These obvious signs may not apply to all children, as other things could be happening in their homes that may be affecting their moods or behaviors. However, if you are worried or your intuition doesn’t appease you, you might as well call for help.
Reaching Out Through Phone Or Online
Indeed, you don’t see your neighbors and their families as much as you saw them before, but there are still means in which you can reach out. And by keeping in contact with a child who may be abused at home, you have an opportunity to spot possible signs of child abuse.
- Ask the child questions that will enable you to help him express how he feels inside. Try open-ended questions like ‘how are you today,’ ‘is there anything new that happened today,’ ‘what’s it like at home,’ or ‘tell me about your day.’ Asking similar questions is actually good because if the child is hiding something or is afraid to tell you about abuse, he will soon be able to as you proceed with your similar questions.
- Give teens and children the chance to talk about them too. It may not be easy on their part to talk comfortably online with you, so try to keep it regular and simple. Let them talk about what tv show or series they’re currently watching and what it’s all about. Or if they learned a new game or read a new book lately. You can also keep in touch through online apps and games so that they will feel more at ease with you.
It’s also vital that we support parents, guardians, and caregivers. Ask how they’re doing or if they’re coping well with the current situation. Let them express their worries and anxieties to you and let them know that you are there for them as well.
When A Child Tells You, He Is Abused
It can be troubling or even scary when a child tells you that he is abused. At first, you might not know how to react. If you are in this situation, these are our recommendations:
- Listen to them when the child is talking. Be patient and concentrate on what he’s trying to say. And if you are shocked, don’t show it. He might hold back and stop confiding in you.
- Assure him that he was right in telling you. This will make a huge impact on how they will feel. Keeping the abuse to himself would only scare him and cause him anxiety and fear.
- Tell him it’s not his fault, because abuse is never any child’s fault. He must hear it from you.
- Explain to him that you’re going to talk with someone who can help. If the child is older, you can explain to him that you will be reporting the abuse to someone who can help him.
- Do your part in reporting to the proper authorities or organizations what the child has confided in you – the soonest time possible.