IN today’s world, many parents, especially in Africa, exploit their children in diverse forms under the guise of training. Most believe that they have to bring up their children the same way their parents brought them up. However, this is not advocacy against child training; as an African parent, I can attest to the need to give children adequate training so that we can be proud parents in future.
The importance of basic training for children cannot be overemphasised, especially in today’s world where deviance and immorality seem to be the order of the day. But while we have to train children, parents and guardians need to be cautious so that they do not expose their children to exploitation.
What can be defined as exploitative behaviour? It simply refers to acts bordering on deliberate maltreatment, manipulation or abuse of power and control over another person, common with surrogate parents or people who have domestic helps, though some parents also engage in this. It simply connotes taking advantage of another person or situation especially a minor under our care for personal gain or certain bias.
This comes in many forms; manipulation, child labour, excessive control, slavery and sexual exploitation among other acts. Exploitation is when children are allowed to work in dangerous or unhealthy conditions or when they are underpaid and coerced into forced labour, debt bondage or outright slavery.
Child exploiters use children to their advantage for gratification or profit and sometimes to score a point in a vendetta against an adult related to the child and it is often associated with cruel, inhumane and harmful treatment of the child.
Children that are exploited also face abuse of different kinds and both acts do not respect gender; it can happen to a girl or a boy especially from someone that is supposed to care for the child. There are different kinds of child abuse; physical, sexual, emotional, neglect, substance or medical child abuse. Most cases of sexual abuse involve a close trusted adult or family member who abuses the child’s trust.
Neglect seems to be the most common in today’s society. It is when an adult doesn’t carry out expected responsibilities in the care of a child; depriving a child of basic needs like attention, education, food, housing clothing and medical care or even monitoring and supervision.
Recognising a child abuser or exploiter is not something that is easy because they do not come with labels neither are they differentiated with wealth, status, education, religious or political affiliation. Though sometimes, people who abuse kids can show obvious signs like keeping the child away from others, finding it difficult to explain their children or wards constant injuries and imbalanced behavioural problems as well as constantly putting the child down or talking negatively about the child
How can we recognise children undergoing abuse? Because it is difficult for children to talk about abuse, concerned people need to look out for signs; when you see a child that frequently has bruises, especially in places kids don’t usually get bruises from play, and can’t explain concisely how they get the injuries or you know children that exhibit fear about going to their homes after school or a play session; when you notice a child that stays away from others or shows signs of deep emotional trauma, distrust, anger or fear.
While ascertaining there is abuse is usually difficult and sometimes impossible, showing care and concern may go a long way in helping the victim. The earlier abuse is identified and stopped, the better it is to save a child’s life.
To be continued…
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