The Trauma of Child Abuse

The video seems ordinary enough. A woman is feeding a baby and sometimes she feeds herself from the baby’s food. This is typical of most mothers. Then as the woman stops feeding, the child sits up and vomits the food. The woman then throws the baby on the floor, hits her several times with what looks like a torch. Still unsatisfied and in obvious annoyance, she steps over the baby twice, kicking her as she does so.

The video has gone viral having been viewed about 27 million times as at the time of writing this piece. It has also appeared in many dallies in the United Kingdom, UK. The woman is a 22-year-old nanny from Uganda looking after the child of one Eric Kamanzi. The outcry and provocative response this video has generated shows the traumatic effect it generated on people across the world.

When we talk about child domestic abuse, this is a classic example of it. It is an everyday occurrence that we (as parents) need to be mindful of. So what can we learn from this video even though (thankfully) it didn’t happen in Nigeria?

For starters, it shows that child abuse is quite prevalent; it is commonplace and takes many forms. One of it is physical beating or smacking which leaves bruises; the other is the verbal, persistent onslaught that a child is subjected to. A mother in the UK found that her toddler had stopped making physical progress such as crawling. She thought her baby was more cheerful than what her toddler had become when she started to take her to a babyminder. So she visited the minder unannounced to find that her baby was tied to her seat, covered in his own vomit. His nappy had been unchanged as well. Another minder was caught inducing a child with medicine.

Little children can be quite a stressful undertaking for adults who are weak and feeble. People who look after children are more likely to take their frustration on the child in question. Another case was a father who threw his baby son across a wall. The child survived that ordeal but went on to develop severe complications from which he died nine years later. The man was arrested and in court it was found rather unfortunately that the boy’s death was not linked to the trauma his father had imposed upon him.

People who look after children on a regular basis need to be monitored as, unwittingly, they may bring harm on the children they are looking after. This includes parents. A child is more likely to die by injuries inflicted by his own parents than from any other place.

Parents need to realise that they are not angels. When they get tired and weary, they should seek to relieve that stress by doing other things than imposing themselves on their children. Children are kids whose bones are undeveloped. Mothers especially can suffer from post-natal depression. Child domestic abuse is real and the question is, what do you do when you suspect your child is being abused? You can do what the father of the child in the video above did. He installed hidden cameras around his house to record what the nanny was doing to his daughter. This can be expensive but it can provide the much needed peace of mind. The candid advice is if you have any reasons to doubt the integrity or character of your minder, then don’t use that minder. This also includes the fact that if you suspect the minder to be a social person who entertains a lot, then you don’t want your child in that person’s house. Your child could be at risk of grooming and abuse from the guests of the minder. In the UK, many times a parent has to drop the child with the minder than the other way round as it is in Nigeria.

Secondly, you need to look for marks left on a child’s body. Parents should query every cut, bruise and mark left on a child’s body especially if it carries on and it becomes unexplainable. Thirdly, parents must make sure the nursery or minder is staffed with competent people. In the UK, people who look after kids must regularly undergo police checks. Could this be introduced in Nigeria? Could we have a database of all persons accused of child abuse? Surely we can do something legally to protect our children. This answer is left to our legal, judicial, political, educational and religious institutions.

In the UK, public opinion is being shaped to offer men who find children attractive to come out and seek help. As revolting as this sounds, could we also see a shift in the way we see child abusers? Could we offer potential abusers the opportunity to seek help in medical institutions in Nigeria?

The father of the child in the video later posted recent photos of the child showing her happy and smiling. This does not help calm nerves, as that child needs to undergo diagnostic scans to check that she hasn’t broken or damaged anything or that nothing is bleeding internally.

The decision to bring up children is a very sober one; it is one that imposes a responsibility that never stops. This incident happened in Uganda; it can happen anywhere in the world. The nanny will be charged to court and the world awaits what the sentence will be. For the rest of us with little children, we must carry on doing the best we can to protect our children.

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