Child abuse: Is it really happening?

Children under the age of 18 or known as minors in Malaysia are protected by the Malaysia Child Act 2001

Many think that whenever they heard of “child abuse” it is equivalent to physical abuse only, but child abuse are so much more than that. Ever wonder what is under the category for “child abuse” under the Malaysia Child Act 2001?

Under the Child Act 2001, “Child abuse” is defined as when a child has been or is at substantial risk of being physically or emotionally abused or sexually abused, or has been or is at substantial risk of being neglected in terms of adequate care, food, shelter, clothing, medical attention, supervision, and safety, or has been abandoned or used for begging by the parents or persons in charge of the child at a young age

Based on a report by Department of Social Welfare, Malaysia shows that as the year increases, the child abuse cases are also increasing.

Child maltreatment and neglect are all too widespread. In the last year, at least one out of every seven children has been subjected to child abuse and/or neglect, and this figure is likely underestimated. In the United States, 1,840 children died as a result of abuse and neglect in 2019.

Children who live in poverty are more likely to be abused and neglected. Poverty can put a lot of strain on families, potentially increasing the risk of child abuse and neglect. When comparing children from low-income families to children from better-income families, the rates of child abuse and neglect are five times greater.

Child mistreatment costs a lot of money. In the United States, the total lifetime economic impact associated with child abduction is estimated to be $1.2 billion.

What are the consequences of child abuse towards the children?

Sexual abuse as a child is an adverse childhood experience (ACE) that can have long-term effects on how a person thinks, acts, and feels, as well as short- and long-term physical and mental/emotional health implications.

The following are some examples of physical health consequences:

  • Infections that are spread by sexual contact (STIs)
  • Injuries to the body
  • Heart disease, obesity, and cancer are all chronic illnesses that develop later in life.

The following are some examples of mental health consequences:

  • Depression
  • Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Did you know?

Females who have been sexually abused as children are 2-13 times more likely to be sexually victimised as adults.

Individuals who have been sexually abused as children are twice as likely to be victims of non-sexual intimate relationship violence.

How, as a parent, we can prevent child abuse from happening to our children?

  1. Families’ economic aid should be strengthened.

By increasing financial stability in the home, having financial stability guarantees a better family relationship; less fights, better future for the children. Financial stability also means better opportunities for the children. Children are also allowed to have a better childhood. 

  1. To help parents and positive parenting, change social standards.

Validate your child’s emotions, give the same love and attention to each of them equally. Allow them to talk about what’s bothering them and allow them to express their emotions. Educate children on how to communicate their emotions. Show your love and affection on a daily basis.

  1. Provide quality and early education for your child. 

Parents must take responsibility for their children. Participate. Attend back-to-school nights and parent-teacher conferences, volunteer at the school, and get to know other parents and teachers. Everyone else is just as busy as you are, and even if they don’t always show it, your child notices when you care about their education. Visit the school and its website; you’ll be able to communicate with your child about school more effectively if you know what it’s like for them at school. Seeing you around school can also increase children’s self-esteem.

  1. Improve your parenting abilities to help your child grow up healthy.

With your youngster, practise active listening. When feasible, provide options. No matter how busy you are, make some time to spend with your child. Giving them full attention is also part of good parenting skills. Avoid using a high tone voice with your child. Screaming, humiliating and labelling your child are all bad ideas. They will only hate you for it, and the hate will continue to grow as they grow older. Also parents try to only assign chores that are age-appropriate to your child. 

While child abuse and neglect is a serious public health issue, it is also one that may be avoided. It is vital to implement preventive initiatives, promote awareness among families, teachers, and the community, and make legal measures in order to safeguard children from this predicament.

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