Show love to children, build patriot of tomorrow

IN HUMAN history, child abuse and neglect are serious public health problems and live to haunt the victims in childhood, whose only cure in some circumstances is pure feud or revenge as they grow into adulthood. It may look cruel, but generally painful, whichever way one might look at it.

In particular the abuses perpetrated by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a custodial role (such as a religious leader, a coach, a teacher) result in harm that the minor will live to painfully remember, let alone relatives, friends and neighbours, who would think of revenge and hence, permanent feud.

Looked at in another way, a child who is abused is more likely to abuse others as an adult so that violence is passed down from one generation to the next. It is therefore critical to break this cycle of violence, and in so doing create positive multi-generational impacts.

Again, children who are abused and neglected may suffer immediate physical injuries such as cuts, bruises, or broken bones. They may also have emotional and psychological problems, such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress.

Over the long term, children who are abused or neglected are also at increased risk of experiencing future violence victimisation and perpetration, substance abuse, sexually transmitted infections, delayed brain development, lower educational attainment, and limited employment opportunities.

Equally, chronic abuse may result in toxic stress, which can change brain development and increase the risk for problems like post-traumatic stress disorder and learning, attention, and memory difficulties. As the list prolongs, we must ask ourselves as Tanzanians, why must this culture be in our society and the perpetrators protected?

According to the World Health Organisation globally, nearly 3 in 4 children – or 300 million children – aged 2–4 years regularly suffer physical punishment and/or psychological violence at the hands of parents and caregivers. Equally, one in 5 women and 1 in 13 men report having been sexually abused as a child aged 0-17 years.

With this in mind, we must reach a point of collectively preventing child maltreatment and this must start from an individual, as we bank on government and stakeholders to go for professional and multisectoral interventions.

We must reach a point and say no more child abuse, because we are the masters of the game. To prevent child abuse and neglect violence, we must understand and address the factors that put people at risk for or protect them from violence, because everyone benefits when children have safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments.

Any abuse to children and neglect must be addressed by you and I. It is possible, play your part.

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