The World Health Organisation distinguishes four types of child maltreatment, sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect and emotional and psychological abuse.
The “WHO” shouldn’t have to distinguish between the four types of maltreatment, we should want to be and do better, but as my own story shows having had my own difficulties to deal with, regardless of what adults have to deal with, whether it’s a parent or grandparent, or an institution, there is no excuse for child maltreatment.
Child maltreatment happens when parents ignore their child’s needs and then continue to overburden them with guilt over what they deal with. Being a parent myself, I know how important it is that we put our issues aside and give of our best and continue to make our best work in the interests of our children, regardless of what we get to deal with.
Children become aware of the family dynamics from an early age, even the ones they can’t change and although they may not always hone-in on what their struggles are or what they mean, they still continue to believe their parents have their back.
It is only when children reach adulthood that the damage done by their parents will manifest itself in mental health issues, particularly if they’re still exposed to living in a hostile and toxic environment. It is wrong for any adult to behave in ways that are inadequate, cruel or indifferent to a child’s needs, or continue to exploit children inappropriately.
Children are not always aware of being maltreated, primarily because that goes against the trust they have in their parents.