Child abuse : The forms, symptoms and parental behaviour – Protective measures

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παιδική κακοποίηση - Child abuse

Child abuse. Published on

Increasingly in our country, child abuse phenomena are seeing the light of day. Atrocious acts that shock and anger public opinion. They give every parent the feeling of a threat to their own child and the suspicion that something similar might have happened to their child and not been reported.

Child abuse is defined as any intentional harm or ill-treatment of a child. Child abuse takes many forms, often occurring simultaneously. Some of these include:

  • Physical abuse. Child abuse occurs when a child is intentionally physically injured or put at risk of harm by another person.
  • Sexual abuse. It is any sexual activity with a child. This can include full sexual intercourse, intentional sexual touching, genital contact, etc. It may also include sexual abuse of a child without contact, such as exposure to sexual activity or child pornography, observation-video recording of the act, child prostitution, including sex trafficking.
  • Emotional abuse. Emotional abuse means injury to the child’s self-esteem or feelings. It includes verbal and emotional assault, such as constant belittling of a child, as well as social alienation, ignoring or rejection.
  • Neglect. It is the lack of adequate food, shelter, proper living conditions, supervision, education or medical care.
  • Medical abuse. Medical child abuse occurs when someone gives false information about an illness to a child who requires medical attention, putting the child at risk of injury and unnecessary medical care, as recently reported in the media.

In many cases, child abuse is perpetrated by an acquaintance whom the child trusts. Often by a friend, relative or parent.

Symptoms of abuse.

A child who is being abused usually feels guilt, shame and confusion. The child is likely to be afraid to talk to anyone about the abuse he or she is suffering, especially if the abuser is a parent, other relative or family friend. Children who are being abused show characteristic signs that should not be ignored under any circumstances. Some of these are the following:

  • Withdrawal from friends and from daily activities.
  • Changes in behaviour. Signs of aggression, anger, or hyperactivity are shown.
  • Changes in school performance towards the lower usually.
  • Depression, unusual fears, sudden loss of confidence and anxiety.
  • Problems sleeping.
  • Absences from school.
  • Challenging behaviour.
  • Self-harm or suicide attempts (in extreme cases)

Symptoms depend on the type of abuse and may vary. The presence of similar signs does not necessarily mean that a child is being abused. Statistically, however, the above behaviours have been reported by children who have been or are being abused.

Naturally, the signs given are not only on a psychological level or on the level of changing habits. When a child is abused it also carries physical symptoms which are not negligible or unnoticed. Some of the signs of abuse are the following:

  • Unexplained injuries, such as bruises, or minor burns on the skin. These injuries usually do not match the explanation given by the child.
    Signs and symptoms of sexual abuse.
  • Sexual behavior and knowledge that is not age-appropriate for the child.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases and frequent urinary tract infections.
  • Pain, or injury to the genitals or anus.
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior with other children his or her age or older.
    Signs and symptoms of emotional abuse.
  • Signs and symptoms of neglect.
    Poor personal cleanliness.
  • Lack of clothing or supplies to meet physical needs.
  • Theft of food and belongings.
  • Poor attendance at school.
  • Lack of attention to medical problems or lack of necessary follow-up.

παιδική κακοποίηση

Child abuse. Detective Pelekasis Nikos and Associates.

Sometimes in cases of sexual abuse or prostitution the child may have money and objects that have not been given by parents or relatives. Money, in addition to intimidation and threats, in many cases acts as a purchase of silence and as an incentive to repeat the act.

A parent’s behaviour can also give us signs of child abuse. The signs indicate a parent who:

  • Shows little interest in the child.
  • Appears unable to recognize the child’s physical or emotional distress.
  • Blames the child for any problems that arise.
  • Constantly belittles the child and describes the child in negative terms, such as “worthless” or “bad”.
  • Expects the child to take care of the parent. Parent appears to be jealous of other family members or friends if they receive the child’s attention.
  • Uses harsh physical discipline on the minor.
  • Demands a high level of physical or school performance from the child.
  • Severely limits the child’s contact with other children.
  • Offers unconvincing explanations when questioned about the child’s injuries or avoids giving an explanation.
  • Repeatedly brings the child in for medical examinations for alleged illnesses not found during the doctor’s examination.
Corporal punishment

Experts condemn the use of violence in any form. Some people still use corporal punishment, such as spanking, to discipline their children. They often use corporal punishment believing that it will help their children improve their behaviour. Research shows that spanking is associated with worse, not better, behavior. It is also linked to mental health problems, difficult relationships with parents, lower self-esteem and lower school performance.

Any physical punishment can leave emotional scars. Parental behaviours that cause physical injury or emotional trauma, even when done in the name of discipline, can constitute child abuse.


Some children overcome the physical and psychological effects of child abuse, particularly those with strong social support and resilience. Children who can adapt and cope with adverse experiences. For many others, however, child abuse can lead to physical, behavioural, emotional or mental health problems even years later.

Protection measures

You can take important steps to protect your child from child abuse, as well as prevent it from friends, relatives, etc. The goal is to provide children with safe and stable relationships. The measure of prevention is very important.

Teach your child how to stay safe online. Place the computer in a common area of your home, not in the child’s bedroom. Use the parental controls offered by the computer itself to limit the types of sites your child may visit. Check your child’s privacy settings on social networking sites. Take this as a negative indicator if your child is secretive about their online activities.

Cover the basic rules of the internet.

Teach your child not to share personal information, not to reply to inappropriate or scary – threatening messages and not to arrange to meet an online contact without your permission. Tell the child to let you know if an unknown person contacts them via social media. Report online harassment or inappropriate senders to the service provider (facebook, instagram, etc.) and local authorities if necessary.

Some children will never admit to being abused by another person. Let alone when it is a friend, relative or even one of the parents. In cases like this the only way to ascertain whether a child is being abused is through monitoring methods.

  • If the abuse is taking place on the school premises or at a friend’s house we can place a hidden audio recorder inside an object or the child’s clothing. This way we will be able to listen to all conversations that take place during the child’s absence from home and for as long as he or she is at school or at the other family’s home.
  • If the abuse exists inside the home a hidden camera with audio recording can be installed. This way we will have video and audio during our absence, when we are at work etc.
  • If abuse is done via the internet. It is possible to install a monitoring program on the device or computer. So we have full access to the conversations, messages and also the pages the child has accessed.
  • Absence from school or home ( at older ages). It can also be placed inside a garment or object gps device which enables us to have a live stream of the location. Also as mentioned above in case of using a mobile phone we can see the location through the tracking program.

The above methods may seem to some to be impermissible or unethical as they violate the personal freedom of the child. But let us consider at this point how many similar cases would have been avoided or stopped at birth if parents had acted accordingly. In any case, we should have signs – indications to proceed with such techniques and not out of overprotectiveness and the will to impose our opinion on children. The boundaries in this are fine and should not be crossed.

In cases where we observe child abuse in a child other than our own, it is harder to disclose it as we do not have the above capabilities. The most prevalent option is to report the incident and the evidence to the police as well as to similar agencies that act in the interests and care of children.

“The above text may be indicative of practices and methods used in the past. Some tactics and methods may now be applicable under the new law 5005/22 concerning the procedure for the removal of privacy of communications, cybersecurity and protection of personal data of citizens.”

Detective Pelekasis Nikos and Associates
Private Investigations Office
39 Stadiou Street, Athens, 2103616406
8 Dragatsi, Piraeus, 2104131298

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