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What is child abuse?

A child is 0- 18 years old, depending on the particular country or jurisdiction.


Wherein parent / guardian fails to provide the child with basic needs, love and care.
Examples include:

Withholding of food, clothing, medical care, education, and even affection and affirmation of the child’s self-worth. 

Child abuse is when a person exerts his or her power over a child in ways that harm and/or exploit the child. The abuser is powerful; the child is vulnerable. The abuser can gain power over the child through size, position, knowledge, or money. All of these work to make the abuser feel he or she is able to behave inappropriately toward a child and that the child will be unable to stop the abusive behavior.

The child is vulnerable to an abuser as a result of having fewer resources available to him or her. The child is physically smaller and weaker, intellectually less mature, and can be economically dependent upon the abuser or some other adult. When a child’s vulnerability and an abuser’s misuse of power combine with opportunity, then child abuse may and often does occur.

Abuse Indicators

If every member of society is educated on the signs and indicators of abuse, action can be taken earlier on in reporting and investigating suspected abuse.  Thus, helping to bring help, safety, and protection quicker to children subjected to any form of abuse. If you observe these signs from a child you know, please report it to your local authority.  

Physical Abuse

Possible Signs of physical abuse

  1. Failure to thrive

  2. Pattern of inappropriate dress for climate

  3. Begs or steals food; chronic hunger

  4. Depression

  5. Untreated medical condition

  6. Poor hygiene

Emotional Abuse

Possible Signs of Emotional Abuse

  1. Exhibits severe depression and/or withdrawal

  2. Exhibits severe lack of self-esteem

  3. Failure to thrive

  4. Threatens or attempts suicide

  5. Speech and/or eating disorders

  6. Goes to extremes to seek adult approval

  7. Extreme passive/aggressive behavior patterns

Sexual Abuse

Possible Signs of Sexual Abuse

  1. Unusually advanced sexual knowledge and/or behavior for child’s age and development stage

  2. Depression – cries often for no apparent reason

  3. Promiscuous behavior

  4. Runs away from home and refuses to return

  5. Difficulty walking or sitting

  6. Bruised/bleeding in genital or anal areas

  7. Exhibits frequent headaches, stomach aches, or extreme fatigue

  8. Sexually transmitted diseases


Possible Signs of Neglect (may include signs of physical abuse)

  1. Failure to thrive

  2. Pattern of inappropriate dress for climate

  3. Begs or steals food; chronic hunger

  4. Depression

  5. Untreated medical condition

  6. Poor hygiene

When a child is abused in one of our temples or schools, many victims are created, including the child, the congregation, the child’s family, and even the family of the abuser.

Of course, of foremost importance is the child who has been harmed and he or she must be cared for.

Innocence has been stolen from the child and the trauma of abuse causes emotional injury as well as physical injury. Feelings of mistrust, guilt, and sheer emotional pain are scars that can last through the victim’s life. Spiritually, great harm is done to the child when a trusted person in the temple community perpetrates the abuse. The child may struggle with faith in Krsna and the temple with questions like: “If Krsna loves children, how could He let this happen to me?” and “How can the devotees go on chanting and taking part in kirtan, acting like nothing has happened?” Experiences of child abuse create emotional effects, as well as physical, that can be profound and can effect the victim’s life for many years.

Consequences of Abuse

If any such child abuse is brought to the attention of the child protection team, the team should act upon it with deliberation. The longer the abuse goes on, the more harm it does to the child. If you suspect a child is in a dangerous situation, take immediate action.

Every team should learn and follow local laws on mandated reporting of child abuse to civil authorities.

It is our responsibility to protect the children sent to us by Lord Krishna and Srila Prabhupada.

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