Article one of the UNICEF Children Act describes a child as a person under the age of 18 years, except a particular state sets the legal age lower than this (UNICEF par.1). Prevention of child abuse is a priority for many children rights protection agencies. Child abuse can get perpetrated by parents, guardians, caregivers, or custodians, including coaches, the clergy, and teachers. There are four principal forms of child abuse that agencies have laid down strategies to prevent. The first form is the physical abuse that involves physical force like kicking, hitting, shaking, burning, or other kinds of force against children. The second form is the sexual abuse, which encompasses coercing or inducing a kid to get engaged in a sexual act. Sexual abuse includes behaviors like penetration, fondling, as well as the exposure of the child to other forms of sexual activities. The third form is the emotional abuse, which refers to the behavior that can harm the emotional well-being or self-worth of a child. Emotional abuse can actions like shaming, name-calling, withholding love, rejection, or threatening (Chaffin et al. 84).
According to UNICEF, one out of seven children has experienced child abuse in the last year. However, not all kids suffer abuse at an equal rate. Young kids (1-12 years old) are reported to experience the worst forms of abuse, while those aged between 14-17 years experience non-fatal abuse (UNICEF par. 6-8). Pressman notes that ethnicity, race, and low family income are among the factors that influence the exposure of children to various forms of abuse (326). For example, a majority of the cases seem to occur among African-American children compared to the whites. It is also argued that children who live in families with low socioeconomic status experience higher rates of child abuse compared to their colleagues from well-to-do families (Shonkoff et al. 232).
Reynolds and Ou suggest some of the strategies and approaches that are quite essential in the prevention of child abuse (560). One of the strategies is the strengthening of families’ economic status. Government agencies responsible for the enhancement of the socioeconomic policies should formulate strategies aimed at the improvement of the economic status of the families. Empirical evidence indicates that low-income families face numerous challenges in educating and taking care of their children. Therefore, strengthening the financial situation of such households will help in reducing child abuse through the improvement of the ability of parents or a guardian to provide the rudimentary needs of children like shelter, medical care, or food. Also, strengthening the economy ensures the growth of the children as well as the improvement of the mental health of parents (Chaffin et al. 87-89). The policies are essential in changing the family context through the development of a balance between family and work, allowing the parents to provide necessary care for their children. Research also indicates that family-friendly work strategies lessen the risk factor of child abuse that includes depression and stress (Chaffin et al. 86).
The second strategy of preventing child abuse is the changing of social norms and embarking on supportive and positive parenting. Social norms are expectations and beliefs on how a group or members of a particular community should behave. Some of these standards relate to the safety and development of children, including those that encourage breastfeeding, safe sleep, child passage, shared responsibility, and talking to children. One of the social norms relevant to the prevention of child abuse relates to the disciplining of children by their parents. In addition to altering social norms linked to behavior, changing their perception of the occurrence of child abuse and their responsibility in its prevention is important (Shonkoff et al. 230).
The third strategy is the provision of quality care and early education on life matters. Early childhood education and quality childcare help in improving cognitive, emotional, and social development of children. It increases the chances that children will experience a stable, safe, and nurturing environment in the societies they live (Gordon and Lance 1942-43). Empirical evidence suggests that there is a need to ensure that children are provided with quality care. Lack of quality child care is linked to an upsurge in child abuse cases and negligence. The ability to access quality and affordable care is associated with reduced maternal depression and parental stress, both of which are risk factors of child mishandling. Early childhood training encompasses the engagement of the parent or guardian in a bid to enhance the parenting attitude and practices in the children. Also, parent involvement in the schooling of their children is of the utmost importance. It is during education sessions that parents get an opportunity to develop their social connection to children (Shonkoff et al. 233).
The last strategy of preventing child abuse is the enhancement of skills to promote the healthy development of children. The association of kids with their parentages and other family members of society plays caregivers role in the growth of children’s physical, emotional, social, and intellectual capacity (Pressman 328). The empirical studies show that inadequate parenting skills lead to financial issues and make it more difficult for parents to provide nurturing and care needed for children’s safety and a stable environment that protects the welfare of children.
In conclusion, child protection agencies and parents or guardians need to work hand in hand in ensuring that children’s rights are protected. Protection of rights includes prevention and control of child abuse. UNICEF and other organizations fighting for children’s rights have been at the forefront of the fight against child abuse. The essay has discussed some of the ways in which child abuse can get prevented. Government agencies, parents, guardians, caregivers, and those responsible for taking care of children ought to take these strategies into consideration.
Chaffin, Mark, Funderburk, Beverly, Valle, Linda, and Bard, David. “A Combined Motivation and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy Package Reduces Child Welfare Recidivism in a Randomized Dismantling Field Trial.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, vol.79, no.1, 2011, pp. 84-95.
Gordon, Dahl, and Lance, Lochner. “The Impact of Family Income on Child Achievement. Evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit.” American Economic Review, vol.102, no.5, 2012, pp. 1927-1956.
Pressman, Steven. “Policies to Reduce Child Poverty: Child Allowances versus Tax Exemptions for Children.” Journal of Economic Issues, vol.45, no.2, 2011, pp. 323-332.
Reynolds, Arthur, and Ou, Suh-Ruu. “Paths of Effects from Preschool to Adult Well-Being: A Confirmatory Analysis of the Child-Parent Center Program.” Child Development, vol.82, no.2, 2011, pp. 555-582.
Shonkoff, Jack, Garner, Andrew et al. “The Lifelong Effects of Early Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress.” Pediatrics, vol.129, no.1, 2012, pp. 232-246.
UNICEF. The Convention on the Rights of the Child: Guiding Principles: General Requirements for All Rights. 2015. https://www.unicef.org/crc/files/Guiding_Principles.pdf Accessed February 27, 2017.