The extent of the injury that a victim of child abuse suffers may not be instantly visible, but there can be long lasting trauma, both physical and psychological. The consequences of this are experienced not only by the child alone, but also by other children, families, and society. While specialists define the impact of child abuse in physical, psychological, behavioural, and societal terms, these damages are often combined. For example, brain damage can trigger cognitive delays or emotional difficulties, while psychological problems later translate to high-risk behaviours. It is important to define these health issues so that aid workers and concerned individuals and organisations can play their role in addressing them.
Formative years with depression and anxiety can push an individual to be more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol or consume drugs. These in turn cause physical health problems like STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) cancer, and other diseases.
Low self-esteem, depression, and relationship difficulties have been linked to a childhood of abuse and neglect, as well as difficulties during infancy. Depression is common among children who were neglected at young ages. Abuse and neglect can also trigger a lifetime of psychological and emotional conditions such as panic disorder, dissociative disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depression, anger, posttraumatic stress disorder, and reactive attachment disorder. Children placed in foster homes or out-of-home care can also suffer from low results in cognitive capacity, language development, and academic achievement. Other psychological issues can include antisocial traits.
Physical Health Consequences
Along with a destructive streak resulting from psychological issues, there are immediate physical issues to be addressed, including signs of violence like bruises, cuts, or broken bones. The pain these inflict can carry on for a lifetime. Victims of child abuse also suffer from higher incidence of allergies, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, high blood pressure, and ulcers. India’s fireworks sector is one of the biggest the biggest employers of child labour. High festive season demand sees children work long hours in cramped and dangerous conditions, and be directly exposed to chemicals used in fireworks, damaging skin and lungs. Both exposure to pollution and regular violence is also experienced by children who work as hawkers and roadside sellers.
How Save the Children is working to end child abuse
Strong alliances with local governance enable the NGO to perform intervention where child labour and abuse is suspected. Survivors of child labour and abuse are moved towards rehabilitation, in the form of medical care. After regular raids to free child labour, these children are provided happier, educational environments, to support preschool to primary school transition to mainstream education, via teaching, learning & play materials. Save the Children’s ‘Poshan Vatika’ (nutrition garden) grows nutritious seasonal vegetables, served to children for Mid-Day Meal Scheme.
The price of child abuse is paid by society as a whole – from the cost of child welfare system to vigilance over child abuse and neglect allegations, and even the cost of judicial, police, and civil society initiatives. Additionally, juvenile and adult criminal activity, mental illness, substance abuse, and domestic abuse that victims of childhood abuse inflict also takes a hefty toll. Leading child rights NGO Save the Children addresses both the causes and the issues resulting from child abuse. Child labourers are freed by the NGO and led to rehabilitation and education provisions. The NGO has withdrawn 50,000 children from domestic help in 2015 and provided access to holistic education to over 1.5 lakh children.