Child abuse happens more often than we would expect. It happens behind closed doors away from the public eye. It isn’t talked about as much as other issues such as racism or suicide yet it takes the lives of at least three children everyday and affects millions of children and families every year.

Child abuse is a serious issue that needs to end now.

There are four different forms of child abuse: neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. All of them are damaging and harmful to children. Child abuse not only hurts the child in their childhood but often has lifelong effects, damaging the bright future the child once had. Child abuse can lead to psychological problems in the future, drug and/or alcohol problems, and quite often victims of abuse will abuse their own children, continuing the vicious cycle.

Childhood only happens once in a lifetime and should be preserved and treasured. Dave Pelzer once said, “Childhood should be carefree, playing in the sun; not living a nightmare in the darkness of the soul.” Child abuse isn’t always very obvious; children often are afraid to talk about it or will lie when asked where a strange injury came from, but there are signs. Strange or irregular emotional or social patterns, avoiding certain situations, poor hygiene or other health issues, and low self esteem are all symptoms.

If you see a child with symptoms of abuse, contact local authorities or try a hotline such as 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). These are anonymous and can potentially help a child in a bad situation. A child in this situation is scared and often doesn’t know how to get out of it. it is up to the people around them to pay attention and help a child who is being abused. Only then can the cycle of abuse be stopped and children given a better life and a better future.

Nell Tarno, Student, Harwood Union High School, Moretown, VT