Amarah's Corner: Pay attention to signs of child abuse
Hi! My name is Amarah. Kids are important to Jesus and they’re important to me, too!
Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “Whatever you’ve done unto the least of these (kids), you’ve done it unto me.”
“Kids like me” are kids and adults of all ages whose parents are, or were, drug addicts and alcoholics; kids who have suffered, or who are suffering, abuse and neglect on multiple levels; and kids who are victims of bullying.
April is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month so I want to share some signs/symptoms a child may demonstrate that are cries for HELP, not just ‘bad behavior’ as too many people assume. A child’s behavior changes when something bad happens to them because he/she doesn’t know how to say it, or maybe he/she is afraid to tell. So, I will tell you some behavior changes that might help you recognize when something is wrong in a child’s life.
I know this because I lived it but I was too afraid to tell anyone, but my eyes were saying, “Help me! Help me, Please!” and I demonstrated behaviors that are listed below, but no one ever asked me if anything was wrong or if I needed help. I was so hungry I ate my hair and my fingernails because there was no food at home, and I ate food scraps off the floor and out of trash cans at school or wherever I was and I know people saw me do it but nobody asked me if something was wrong or if I needed help. So, the Hell I was living in due to my mother’s addiction, continued until the day she was arrested for forging a doctor’s name on a prescription, 10/19/2012.
Children and adolescents may develop ‘symptoms’ following trauma such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, Osofsky (2016), and/or ongoing verbal, mental, emotional abuse and neglect. Symptoms related to trauma/abuse may look like ‘bad behavior’ or unusual emotions. It is extremely important for parents/caregivers/teachers to know children’s behaviors and emotions can become dysregulated (“off”) where they demonstrate more aggressive or withdrawn behaviors such as sadness, anger, or show very little emotion as a way of coping with trauma/abuse (Osofsky, 2016). According to Osofsky (2016), some of the “red flag” behaviors of concern seen in children of different ages include:
* children under 5 years of age: returning to earlier behaviors such as thumb-sucking, bedwetting, fear of darkness, separation anxiety or excessive clinging
* 6-11-year-olds: disruptive behaviors, extreme withdrawal, inability to pay attention, sleep problems and nightmares, school problems, psychosomatic complaints
(stomachaches, headaches or changes in usual behaviors)
* 12-17-year-olds: sleep problems and nightmares, school problems including changes in performance and truancy, risk-taking behavior, problems with peers, changes in usual behaviors, psychosomatic complaints (stomachaches, headaches, depression or suicidal thoughts)
Parents/caregivers/teachers need to recognize “red flag” behaviors and identify when a child needs help (Osofsky, 2016). Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/parenting-after-traumatic-events-ways-to-support-children/
When a child’s parent is an addict (alcohol and/or drugs) the child is 1000 percent at risk of every kind of abuse, possible. Emotional abuse, mental abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse - everything imaginable, and unimaginable. Horrible things happened to me at the hands of my mother’s so-called ‘fiance’ and her ‘friends’ who were not friends — they were addicts, just like she was. Horrible things happened to me and I was just a kid, and my mother was in the next room but she never knew because she was passed out in her drug-comas. She did and said terrible things to me, too, but I don’t think she remembers because she was so ‘high.’ I believe that is the reason she refuses to communicate with me, now. I believe she is afraid to face me because she knows she doesn’t remember the evil she said and did to me, subjected me to, or the evil she allowed to happen to me because of her addiction. But, I still pray for her every day.
Please, do the right thing. Make a positive difference in the life of a child. The hotline number: 1-844-264-5437.
“So often children being left unsupervised, having unexplained injuries, not properly being cared for, parents who might have mental health issues that are a distraction from their ability to care for their children, or substance abuse issues, drug addiction, these are the types of warning signs…” Reggie Bicha, Executive Director, Department of Human Services (Colorado).
Thank you for reading my column. Write to me, Amarah, Hope for Kids Like Me, P.O. Box 354, Alamosa, CO 81101. If you know a kid like me, or parent, who wants a Bible, or WBS Bible Correspondence Course, contact me and I will make sure they get it, “…and all the earth may know there is a God…” (I Samuel 17:46, KJV).
My goal is to help kids like me, and I want to help their parents, too. Until next time, remember, Jesus Loves You, and JESUS IS LORD!