KOTA KINABALU: Ninety-five percent of child abusers are comprised of people who actually know the children. This could be the child’s parent, teacher or any of their friends, according to medical expert, Dr Joseph Lee.
“Failing to provide clothing, food and protection to children can already be considered as abuse,” said Joseph.
Most of the time, a child will refuse to tell others about their painful experience. If they are getting abused, they would most probably keep it to themselves.
Joseph said that it is important for the adults, especially the parents to establish a friendship between them and their child. This will develop trust and thus the child will be more open about any problems that they might be having.
In his talk, Joseph elaborated on the main symptoms of child abuse. He broke it down into three parts, namely physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
Parents who hit their children is one of the many examples of physical abuse.
“I have worked at Queen Elizabeth Hospital before and now I am running my own clinic. I have seen countless cases of children whose bodies were swollen and some even mentally traumatized as a result from abuse by their parents,” added Joseph.
Joseph further explained that things like this might prevent the children from wanting to go to school, in fear that their scars or bruises may be visible to their friends. They may even come up with excuses to skip school.
As for sexual abuse, the symptoms may be something that is straightforward such as rape or something that is indirect, like showing pornography materials to the children.
“Even talking about sex to children might count as sexual abuse if it is not done in the right context,” added Joseph.
Parents and teachers have the responsibility to educate the children on certain parts of their body that should not be touched by any adult, without proper reason. This information is important to safeguard the children, especially girls.
Perhaps the most overlooked symptom is emotional abuse. Examples of emotional abuse can be something as simple as parents who keep on scolding and giving negative comments to their children.
“Parents who always complain about their child, like calling them naughty all the time, might affect the child’s mindset,” he explained.
Joseph reiterated that it is vital for the parents to show the kids the value of acceptance. They need to accept the children for who they are and they should not keep criticizing them.
Emotional abuse may instill bad traits in a child’s mindset. For example, children who suffer from emotional abuse may grow up to be violent.
Joseph, who is a registered member of the Malaysian Medic Council and a lifetime member of the Global Mission Medical Group, spoke during the Almacrest Little Fashionista event at Oceanus Mall last Saturday.
The event which was organized by Almacrest International College (AIC) was aimed at spreading awareness on the dangers of child abuse.
The event is part of AIC’s assessment/coursework, where students are required to organize a charity event. They have to complete it before they go for their practical.
The assessment, which is called M.I.C.E Management, encourages students to work with NGOs and to address any current social issues. There will be two M.I.C.E events ever year.
This year, the students chose to work with SABATA and the Sabah Child Welfare Association.
This year’s event saw the college students organizing a beauty pageant which featured primary school students from all over Kota Kinabalu.