Childhood is a sacred time of safety and well being, where it is the adults’ responsibility to protect the child from experiencing pain (Lieberman & Van Horn, 2004).
However, in reality this is fantasy for some children. For whatever reason, their parents do not protect them from pain and they become abused. Children that come into care and into Parkerville Children and Youth Care have been subjected to maltreatment in the form of abuse (sexual, physical or emotional) or neglect that was so severe the Department for Child Protection have either permanently or temporarily removed them from their natural families.
“Most parents try to do the best they can for their children. But some cannot, or will not meet their children’s most basic needs. Neglected children starve because their parents do not feed them; they freeze when left without clothing in frigid temperatures; and, left alone, they perish in fires. Emotionally neglected children fail to grow properly. Other children are actively abused. They are kicked, beaten, burnt, thrown against walls and radiators, strangled, suffocated, sexually molested, and even burnt alive. They are humiliated and terrorised by the people who are supposed to nurture them.” (Papalia & Olds, 1993, pp.283)
It is an unsettling fact that 85% of all maltreatment incidences against children are committed by someone from their natural families. It is most common for those children coming into care to have suffered chronic abuse and maltreatment and to have suffered multiple forms over a prolonged period of time. In Australia alone, there are approximately 31,166 children living in out of home care and foster care. Of the 317, 526 reports of maltreatment recorded in 2007-2008, only 55,120 were substantiated and even fewer again (34,279) were placed on child protection orders. (Statistics from the period 2007-2008, National Child Protection Clearinghouse, 2009; and Higgins & Bromfield, 2005).
George Jones Child Advocacy Centre
2 Wungong Road (Corner Church Ave)
Armadale WA 6112
What is Child Abuse
The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act defines child abuse and neglect as, at a minimum: any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or, an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.
Emotional abuse is sustained and repetitive behaviour by a parent, caregiver, sibling, relation or elder which damages a child’s emotional well-being. A child’s confidence, self esteem and social competence are continually attacked. Examples of emotional abuse include;
- Verbal abuse and name calling
- Being told you are worthless, useless, no good – over and over
- Being isolated for extended periods of time
- Being afforded no affection and being rejected
- Witness to Domestic and Family Violence
When an adult or older person inflicts pain and injury on a child or young person. This may include discipline that is too harsh, or physical punishment that is inappropriate to the child’s age. Physical abuse may involve a single incident or repeated episodes. The severity of injury from physical abuse can range from minor bruising to death. Examples of physical abuse include;
Neglect occurs when a parent or caregiver does not provide a child adequate care to meet their basic needs. This includes access to adequate food, shelter, medical treatment, supervision and education. Unlike other forms of abuse, neglect is an omission rather than a deliberate act.
Child sexual abuse is any sexual act with a child performed by an adult or an older child. Child sexual abuse could include a number of acts, including but not limited to:
- Sexual touching of any part of the body, clothed or unclothed
- Kissing or holding in a sexual manner
- Encouraging a child to engage in sexual activity, including masturbation
- Intentionally engaging in sexual activity in front of a child
- Penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth by a finger, penis or any other object
- Showing children pornography or using children to create pornography
- Encouraging a child to engage in prostitution
- Flashing or inappropriately exposing private parts to a child
- Obscene calls, remarks or emails to a child