For the majority of us, Christmas is a joyful time of year but this is not always the case. Encouraging a child to open up about negative experiences can be difficult, even more so during the festive season. The NSPCC’s current campaign raises awareness over this serious issue, and offers platforms for when children finally do break their silence about being abused.
What Constitutes Child Abuse?
Child abuse is not solely limited to physically harming the child, which is an important distinction to make when trying to identify and stop a child from being abused. Visible behaviours that affect the child emotionally and psychologically are also forms of abuse.
For example this could be:
- Behaving violently or inappropriately towards others in front of the child
- By means of neglect
- Name calling and bullying
It is vital that parents, guardians and teachers be vigilant if they suspect any of these forms.
Some signs that may suggest that abuse is occuring are:
- Sudden changes in behaviour
- Withdrawal from usual activities
- Depression and anxiety, sudden loss in confidence
- Attempts at running away
- Rebellious or defiant behaviour
- Frequent absences from school
- Marks, such as bruising, which the child is reluctant to discuss
Abuse, in any form, is very damaging to young children and their development, so it is important to handle it tactfully. Making children understand that it’s safe for them to speak up about abuse and how to do it is vital. This Christmas the NSPCC’s Christmas campaign seeks to do just that.
If left unaddressed child abuse can seriously damage the development of an individual, resulting in a plethora of mental and emotional issues later in life.
The NSPCC’s Christmas Appeal
The NSPCC has just launched its Christmas campaign urging people to speak out about incidents of child abuse this Christmas titled ‘Break the Silence’.
The main focus of the campaign is to draw attention to their recently launched ad, which displays quite a stark contrast to the joy normally associated with this time of year. The advert shows the experiences of a child who is being abused over the Christmas period, and is suffering in silence.
In 2016 in the UK alone, 58,000 children were identified as needing protection from abuse, with other figures showing that sexual abuse against children has risen in 2017. We don’t know how many children are being or have been abused in the UK, which is why it is so important they are encouraged to speak out.
Break The Silence This Year
If you know of a child who you suspect is being abused, then it is important to contact the appropriate authorities as soon as possible. Approaching a child over something as serious as abuse is never easy, but remember that they are desperate for someone to take notice of their situation and help.
“Christmas is always a difficult time for those who have been abused because it is a family time when different members of the family who do not normally meet get together. Abusers may visit and use the opportunity to cause harm.”
“Christmas is also a time when memories from the past can be triggered, and painful memories recalled. For children who are at risk of abuse, it is sometimes a holiday which is dreaded.”
“If abuse has taken place, then a child usually displays signs, which can cause suspicion that something is wrong. It is not difficult to have a conversation and ask questions, which may result in disclosure and the breaking of the silence that surround abuse.”
“If someone makes a disclosure it is important to listen and let the person know that you believe what they say, as victims often blame themselves and fear rejection. They have often tried to disclose before, and not had the right response, or disbelief with accusations of lying.”
Our specialist Abuse Law solicitors understand how difficult it can be to broach to the subject with a child and are here to offer assistance with any legal queries surrounding this sensitive area.
Get in touch using either or Freephone number, or our online enquiry form.