Attentiveness to the Voiceless: A Closer Valuation of Child Abuse and Neglect in the Early Childhood Years

Attentiveness to the Voiceless: A Closer Valuation of Child Abuse and Neglect in the Early Childhood Years

Joyce Mathwasa, Zoleka Ntshuntshe
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0319-5.ch008
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


Children worldwide begin life with greater vulnerability as they suffer from various forms of mistreatment, discrimination, and exploitation at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and provide for them. This chapter focuses on how the rights of the child are violated through child abuse and neglect based on socioeconomic status in multi-religious and multi-cultural societies. Child abuse and neglect are social ills that threaten to diminish the social and moral obligation of every parent causing moral decay in the youth populace. While neglect may be viewed as parental behaviour of failure to nurture children, children suffer various forms of abuse from trusted relatives, caregivers, and strangers. Factors such as political instability, famine, and poverty have robbed children of their right to normal life. The chapter will also explore the criticisms or loopholes in the children's rights so that parents and caregivers can infuse them in their nurturing of the child.
Chapter Preview


By the end of this chapter you should be able to:

  • Define child abuse and explain how it affects children in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) phase.

  • Define child neglect and explain how it affects children in the ECD phase.

  • Identify types of abuse and neglect, and how that affects quality of learning in ECD.

  • Identify intervention stratagems for dealing with child abuse and neglect in institutions of learning.

  • Assess the efficacy and effectiveness of victim friendly courts, legislative structures and human rights drives in alleviating suffering to the children.

  • Engage in discussions on child abuse and neglect with the aim of making awareness to influence legislative attention and action.



According to The United Nations Convention on The Rights of the Child (UNCRC), any human being who has not attained the age of 18 years is defined as a child and should still be living under the protection of parents or legal guardians. These human rights also state that children have the right to life, education, food, health, water, identity, freedom, and protection (UNCRC, 1989). The original legitimately binding international instrument is the United Nations' 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which ensures that the full range of human rights; civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights are observed. Worldwide, governments have endorsed commitment to the protection and guarantee that children’s rights are observed and at the same time holding themselves accountable for this commitment before the international community. Despite the existence of the strong and legal statutes, constitutional, legislative and civic environment meant to protect children’s rights, media is amassed with child abuse and neglect globally. Hence, this chapter intends to highlight the magnitude of detrimental child abuse and neglect. For example, the IOL News reporter Charles informed the public on the 18th May 2018 that forty-one percent of rapes committed in South Africa were against very young children ( These stories confirmed earlier reports by Richter (2003) and Bird and Spurr (2004) that abuse and maltreatment of children in South Africa was outrageously high as established by extensively described rape of numerous infants and toddlers in 2001. In Latin America, watchdogs on the prevalence of violence against children estimate that thirty percent of children experienced violence (in the past 12 months) (Hillis, Mercy, Amobi & Kress, 2016). UNICEF (2019:6) in their Humanitarian Action for Children overview gave details of numerous types of violence against children in various countries in need of humanitarian aid:

Five hundred thousand children in eastern Ukraine affected by conflict are in urgent need of protection.

Two hundred and forty-one thousand children in Libya require humanitarian assistance due to protracted conflict, political instability, deteriorating public services and a dysfunctional economy.

In Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, the Niger and Nigeria, 1.5 million children will require humanitarian assistance due to political violence causing economic instability.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Abuse: The inappropriate treatment of a child, an unfair treatment or indecorously gain benefit or satisfaction from the horrific act. Abuse comes in numerous forms, such as: physical or verbal maltreatment, assault causing injury, defilement or rape, unjust practices, criminal acts, or other types of hostility.

Abandonment: When a parent surrenders the welfares and entitlements over their own children in an extralegal manner without intention of ever again resuming or reaffirming guardianship over them. Abandonment can also mean that whosoever has the responsibility of taking care of the child[ren] deprives them of basic needs such as food health shelter security and education. Abandonment is considered a form of abuse and neglect.

Neglect: A passive form of abuse in which a caregiver responsible for providing care for the child, fails to provide adequate care to the detriment of the child.

Protection: A legal or other formal measure intended to preserve civil privileges and constitutional rights.

Parental Conflict: Can be articulated through verbal abuse, taciturn wars, repudiating affection, denying a spouse indispensable resources and frequently there is physical violence.

Social Disorganisation: A state of society characterized by lawlessness, the breakdown of effective social control resulting in a lack of functional integration between groups, conflicting social attitudes, and personal maladjustment This disorganization can take the form of crime and other disruptions that can affect a segment of society.

Exploitation: The action of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work. This usually happens to children who are used without compensation or to immigrants who are paid below the expected renumeration scale.

Civil Unrest: Fighting between different groups of people living in the same country.

Antisocial Behaviour: A personality disorder categorised by immorality, capable of being violent, and the individual has no respect for authority.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: