: Choose an issue of importance to you-the issue could be personal, school related, local, political, or international in scope-and write an essay in which you explain the significance of that issue to yourself, your family, your community, or your generation.
An issue of significant importance in our society, an issue which spans across varied economical and social crossroads, an issue which is prevalent in every community but one that is rarely addressed by media outlets or in any forum of greater public acknowledgment is the issue of child abuse. Our nation's children are our greatest asset. The children of today are the clay which will shape our society in the next twenty years. Protecting our children now will ensure a stable society in years to come.
Child abuse is more than broken bones and bruises. While physical abuse might be the most visible sign, other types of abuse, such as emotional abuse or child neglect, also leave deep long lasting scars. Some signs of child abuse are more subtle than others. While physical abuse is shocking due to the scars left, not all child abuse is as obvious. Ignoring children's needs, putting them in unsupervised or dangerous situations, or making a child feel worthless or stupid are also child abuse. Regardless of the type of child abuse, the result is serious emotional harm. Subsequently, the result is another member of our society with emotional constraints.
Child abuse doesn't only happen in bad neighborhoods or poor families. It crosses all economic, racial, and cultural lines. More often than not, families who seem to have it all together from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed doors. While abuse by strangers does happen, statistics show that most abusers are family members or others close to the family. This makes it particularly difficult to diagnose and correct.
It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle when they eventually have their own children, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. However, many adult survivors of child abuse have a strong motivation to protect their children against what they went through and become excellent parents.
There are various types of child abuse, but the core element that ties them together is the devastating emotional effect on the child. Children need clear boundaries, structure, predictability, and the security that their parents are looking out for their safety. Abused children cannot predict how their parents will act or react. Their world is an unpredictable, a frightening place with no rules. Whether the abuse is a slap, a harsh comment, stony silence, or not knowing if there will be dinner on the table at the end of the day, the end result is a child that feels unsafe, uncared for, and alone. Ultimately, another member of society is created, one with no ability to contribute in a healthy manner.
The earlier abused children get help, the greater chance they have to heal from their abuse and not perpetuate the cycle. Awareness is critical so children who are being abused or neglected have a chance at getting early help.
Learning to recognize the symptoms of child abuse and raised awareness is a vital component in putting an end to the suffering so many children endure. The help and support of an outsider in an abusive situation has shown to be the deciding factor in the success of a child who has endured what most of us would consider cruel and a violation of our basic human rights.
If you see a child with any symptoms of abuse, and you are able to step in and assist, without making the situation more difficult for the child, you are not only assisting a child, but making a contribution to a better society in years to come. A child who shy's away from contact, has unexplained bruises or welts, a child who is left in unsupervised situations, shows signs of neglect such as poor hygiene, or even a child who appears to be on constant alert as if waiting for something bad to happen may be a child who is suffering from some type of abuse. Be vigilant, be supportive, do your part and don't turn a blind eye to a situation where your instincts alert you. Even a small motion of support may be the turning point in a child's life. Our society as a whole will be better for it.