Intervene early in child abuse | Opinion

Violence against children refers to any form of abuse or neglect and can take many forms, such as physical abuse (shaking, hitting, burning), neglect (failure to provide adequate care or medical assistance), emotional abuse (belittle , ignore or humiliate), sexual abuse (inappropriate touching or sexual exploitation).

Since this is a phenomenon that leaves its victims highly vulnerable and has direct implications for their mental health, it should be seen as a public health problem.

In Portugal, it reaches worrying dimensions. Data from the 2021 CPCJ Activity Assessment Report, carried out by the National Commission for the Promotion of the Rights and Protection of Children and Young People (CNPDPCJ), indicates that 42,098 promotion and protection processes were initiated in 2021.

The effects of maltreatment generate costs for society, being, in its victims, negative and persistent, undermining their development path and their emotional, psychological, physical and behavioral well-being. As a consequence, these children become a risk group for mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, emotional difficulties, problematic relationships, school failure, etc.

The child is deprived of developing his abilities and skills, reducing his social integration and the probability of having a normative development. Late adolescence can be a particularly difficult time, with some problems worsening, leading to delinquent behavior and substance abuse.

An equally disastrous consequence relates to the risk of generational transmission of this type of practices, with the literature pointing out that experiences of maltreatment in childhood may result in difficulties in the exercise of parenthood, in psychopathology and in a criminal course in adult life.

Our society needs to know how to prevent, signal and intervene early on this problem, which should immediately involve the training of professionals who deal with children, to detect mistreatment, to generate faster responses by the justice services. and social services and to reinforce early intervention, encourage reporting by members of society and provide a support service to children and their families, seeking to prevent the continuation of violence.

A complete approach to preventing abuse and protecting children involves several steps, a lot of financial investment and the work of professionals from different areas, who, in conjunction, can implement and reinforce cross-cutting measures centered on social policies and the development of intervention programs. and actions that lead to changes in attitudes regarding the use of violence against children.

Measures include promoting social equality and better living conditions for the population, education for early childhood care, creation and dissemination of more support centers for victims and aggressors, transmission of messages through campaigns in average that favor gender equality and ways to prevent abuse, in addition to carrying out training actions in communities that promote positive parenting and an interaction with children based on respect, their well-being and affection, as well as for the abolition of physical punishment as an educational strategy.

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