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As care providers, we should also be aware of some cultural practices which may seem as abuse but are culturally considered a normal practice in certain ethnicities.


Child abuse is defined as “any act or a series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child” (Falkner, 2018). Child abuse is seen in various stages and can be sexual abuse, physical abuse, psychological abuse or even a combination of both. Cases of child abuse are more rampant in unstable families, where parents are always in constant fights, families that have a parent or both indulging in drugs like alcohol, and other substance abuse. Children of a parent or parents who practice prostitution are also at highest risk because they may tend to lure the child, and especially if female, into practicing the same vice for financial benefits.

School aged children are a good example in child abuse. This affects the children psychologically and always manifests in class performance and behavior. Abused children start performing poorly in class as their grades start dropping as compared to how they used to perform academically. Behaviors will change and they they become withdrawn, overtly aggressive to their peers, they may become bullies because they use this as revenge or getting out the anger in them. Concentration in class dwindles and may want to either come to school early or stay until very late in school just to avoid the situation at home.

Abused children will have medical and or physical problems which are brought to the parent’s attention, but parents will always assume these issues and fail to address them. Physically abused children may have wounds in different healing stages, this may involve burns, bruises, cuts and bites. They will always be afraid and shy away from adults by trying to avoid them. Neglected children may always appear in dirty tattered clothing, undone hair, foul smelling clothes which are not changed, lack of body hygiene, having inappropriate clothing for the weather. They are in constant need of medical attention for different ailments. They would have missed scheduled appointments with the care providers and even miss immunizations. Sexually abused school children may shy away from there peers and avoid changing clothes in the same room with fellow peers, they may have difficulty walking or sitting and they will have sophisticated, bizarre or unusual sexual knowledge with decrease in appetite, ( Childwelfare.gov, 2007). These children may become thieves and keep begging for money and food. As care provers, we should do a thorough assessment and make sure that such cases are reported to the authorities because as much as all these are indicators of abuse, it does not mean that 100% they are.

As care providers, we should also be aware of some cultural practices which may seem as abuse but are culturally considered a normal practice in certain ethnicities. In Africa we have the Sudanese and Kenyan Nilotic who use sharp blades to make patterns on human skin, especially on the face as a sign of beauty and they also make incisions in the abdomen and chest and herbs are burnt over the raw incision areas when someone is sick, or for protection from evil spirits. So, when they come to the hospital, the provider might see this as a sign of abuse, which is not the case to them culturally.

Reporting suspected abuse or neglect in the state of Maine is made to the Maine Office of Child and Family Services at 1-800-452-1999.This is a 24hour service line. One has to state there name and contact information, name of the family you are calling about, physical address, work/ school information for the adults or children in the family, a description of the problem you are concerned about, your knowledge of other risk factors as domestic violence, substance abuse or mental health issues, any relatives or resources you are aware of. One may request for confidentiality or anonymity. Report is recorded and investigated but not all reports are worked upon.


Falkner, A. (2018) Health Assessment: Foundations for Effective Practice retrieved from


Home-Child Welfare Information Gateway (2019) Retrieved from


Abuse Reporting -Child Welfare Maine DHHS :OCFS (2019) Retrieved from


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