Hesperian Health Guides
Chapter 14: Preventing and addressing abuse of children
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Children depend on many people as they grow. Family members, guardians, friends, teachers, and others all provide children with love, guidance, support, and protection, and children have a right to all of these. But no one is born knowing how to care for children. Everyone has to learn, and everyone sometimes makes mistakes that hurt children.
Caring for small children can be very demanding. It requires a lot of patience and understanding. Some people are not prepared for how much work it is to be a parent or caregiver, or do not know what to expect of a young child, a difficult child, or a child with a disability.
HIV adds even more stress, leaving families and communities with fewer resources, fewer people to care for children, and more people suffering from stigma, worry, fear, illness, anger, and sadness. This affects children deeply. While children grieve, react to their family’s health and economic problems, or learn to get along in new families, their behavior can become even more difficult to deal with.
Children need adults to help each other become better caregivers — for children and for all community members. If we can do this, children will have a better chance to develop well, families can be spaces of love and support, and children can learn skills that will make them better people and better parents later on. Community support for families can make a big difference for children and in preventing and stopping abuse.