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Child Matters: What Is Child Abuse?

over 6 years ago kayla





This article is for general informational purposes only and is not meant to be used or construed as legal advice in any manner whatsoever. All articles have been scrutinized by a practicing lawyer to ensure accuracy.



The child abuse phenomenon

Child abuse is not a new phenomenon in Malaysia but yet, the number of horrific cases recorded is on the rise.

According to statistics released by the Social Welfare Department, there is a consistent uphill trend in child abuse with 3, 831 cases in 2012, compared to 3,428 cases in 2011, which is equivalent to an average of 9 cases daily recorded in Malaysia.

What is child abuse?

Child abuse refers to serious violation or infringement of a child's right - a person under the age of 18, including physical, emotional or sexual maltreatment and exploitation.

There are several types of child abuse according to the Child Act 2001:

  • Neglect - Failure to provide basic needs and support of physical, emotional and mental development which include health, education, nutrition, that exposes the minor to all forms of harm

  • Physical abuse - A parent or guardian causes physical injury that results in bruises, burns, lifelong injury or death to a child due to intentional use of agents to the body of a child

  • Sexual abuse - An adult engages in a sexual act or inappropriate sexual behaviour such as exploitation, child prostitution, penetration, fondling or oral sex, to satisfy the desires of the said adult.

  • Emotional abuse - A parent or guardian emotionally abuse a minor without being violent but causes harm to a child's mental and social development such as terrorizing, humiliation and isolation
“Every time when I leave the house I feel very scared.”- Kelly (Child abuse: A victim speaks out, The Star, 21 August 2013)

Effects of child abuse and neglect

The effects of domestic violence and neglect on children may vary due to a variety of factors such as the types and severity of maltreatment (neglect, physical abuse, and/or sexual abuse) as well as the relationship between the perpetrator and the child.

Among the consequences of abuse and neglect on a child's health are:

Developmental and psychological impact

  • Depression
  • Personality disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Social difficulties

Behavioural effects

  • Drug abuse
  • Risky sexual behaviour
  • Suicide/Self-harm

Physical effects

  • Bruises
  • Swelling
  • Sexually-transmitted diseases
  • Abrasions
  • Malnourished

Read more on the effects of domestic violence on children here:

Children from violent families may be subjected to abuse or neglect. A study has shown that an estimated 30% - 40% of children of women who are abused are abused themselves. Child witnesses of violence who were also physically or sexually abused have been seen to exhibit more behavioural problems than non-abused child witnesses. - WAO

Child abuse in Malaysia

We Malaysians are caring and loving people, aren't we? Yet, we read about horrific and severe child abuse cases in the local media.

Is child abuse an epidemic in Malaysia? Can the statistics and its breakdown enlighten us about this uphill trends in Malaysia?

What do we know about the situation in the country and how can we end this child cruelty?

And what do you know about the Child Act 2001 and the National Child Protection Policy?

We will discuss these in the next and final part of this Child Matters series.

If you suspect a child is being abused, or if you need help and have questions about child abuse, please contact:

  • Social Welfare Department hotline: 1-800-88-3040
  • WAO Helpline : 03 7956 3488

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