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Child Protection Week: Childhood Trauma has lifelong impacts

Neelam Rahim | neelam@radioislam.co.za

3-minute read
28 May 2024 | 13:33 CAT

Image: LinkedIn

Child Protection Week aims to create awareness of children’s rights with the intent to stop the cycle of neglect, abuse, violence and exploitation of children. National Child Protection Week this year is commemorated from 28 May to 4 June 2024.

However, millions of children are living a life where they are anything but protected. By the age of 17, six in every 10 South African children will undergo at least one adverse childhood experience – defined as stressful and potentially traumatic situations that occur during childhood and adolescence and threaten their safety, security, trust or bodily integrity.

In an interview on Radio Islam International, Dr Layla Paruk, who is a member of the South African Society of Psychiatrists, explains that any negative life experiences have risks of physical and mental health problems.

Dr Paruk pointed out that A 2023 South African study found that each Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) event in childhood raised the risk of adulthood depression by 12%, anxiety by 10% and inability to manage stress by 17%. Adult participants in the research had experienced an average of three ACE events by the age of 17.

Adverse childhood experiences include:
• Physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
• Emotional and physical neglect.
• Experiencing serious accidents or medical conditions.

Adverse experiences in the home, community or school are also counted as ACEs, for example, exposure to domestic or community violence, violence or abuse at school, living in poverty or homelessness, family break-ups, or living with a parent with mental health or substance abuse problems.

Instability or grief due to separation from parents or the imprisonment or death of a parent, caregiver or close relative also causes stress and trauma that can impact a child’s development.

Adverse childhood experiences and trauma can also stem from children’s online lives, for example, cyber-bullying, threats, harassment and sexual abuse and exploitation.

Listen to the full interview on Your World Today with Mufti Yusuf Moosagie here.

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