The true facts and figures about child abuse and its extent can be very difficult to ascertain.
Child abuse is something that is frequently hidden, with the abusers going to great lengths to cover up the signs of abuse.
Children are less able than adults to recognize abuse and much less likely to report it.
This means that the statistics available are almost certainly inaccurate, with the true figures probably far higher.
However, much is known about child abuse that gives at least a picture of the problem and can help people to spot it and do something to help.
A child who witnesses domestic violence or abuse of any sort in the home is likely to become emotionally or psychologically damaged, even if the abuse is not aimed at the child.
As many as five children die every day as a result of child abuse.
More than three out of every four cases of child abuse involve children who are under the age of four.
The majority of abusive parents have a history of being abused themselves.
As many as 90 per cent of children who are abused know their abusers. Around 68 per cent are actually abused by a family member.
One out of three girls, and one out of five boys will experience some form of sexual abuse during childhood (up to the age of 18).
Somewhere around 30 per cent of abused children go on to abuse their own families later in life.
Records show that the abuses suffered by children can be broken down as follows: Neglect 62.8 per cent; physical abuse 16.6 per cent; sexual abuse 9.3 per cent; emotional/psychological abuse 7.1 per cent; medical neglect 2.0 per cent; other 14.3 per cent.
In this case, ‘other’ may be defined as abandonment, exposure to drugs or any other situation not outlined in the above categories.
Children who are abused in the home are more likely than others to commit crimes in later life.
What to do if you are a child who is being abused.
If you are suffering abuse, there may be a trusted adult that you can turn to in the first instance.
However, if you are being abused by a family member, it can be difficult for another member of your family to accept or believe the situation, so it may be better to turn to a teacher, a friend’s parents or your doctor or minister.
If you are a victim of child abuse who feels that there is no person in your immediate life to whom you can turn, it is important for you to know that there are organizations and professionals who will help you.
No one will belittle your fears or concerns and you will always be taken seriously.
It’s also important to understand that when you turn to a help organization for a problem of child abuse, your safety will be treated as paramount.
You will be advised on how to protect yourself, and can be given a place of safety to escape to if necessary.
Counselling can be provided for you too, to help you recover from the effects of abuse.
Children at risk can also call emergency services or go to the police or their local accident and emergency department of the hospital.
If you have been living in an abusive relationship, you may feel confused and afraid and not know where to turn or what to do.
You may have mixed feelings of love and anger; wanting the abuse to end, but not wanting the relationship to be over.
If you are in immediate danger call 911. For help contact Interior Health Crisis Line 1-888-353-2273.