In today’s world, the issue of a child abuse is no longer news to every discerning mind. This is so because the misnomer is no longer seen as an offense to the person of the victim alone but also the larger society. The apparent inability of the authorities to implement to the letter enabling legislation to decisively deal with such cases has made the fate of the abused and, indeed the larger society pitiable.

You may ask: what is child abuse. According to one school of thought, child abuse simply means any indecent act against a minor or failure on the part of a parent or caretaker to act resulting in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation. It could also be defined as any act or failure to act, which makes him susceptible to serious harm or presents an imminent risk to the health of the child in question. Going by the import of this definition, child abuse and neglect refers specifically to parents and other caregivers.

A “child” is most often defined as a young human being between birth and puberty, a boy or girl.

From the forgoing, it therefore implies that the parents, guardians, caregivers as well as the state owe it as civic duty to provide for the child within the minimum world standards of care, protection, provision, security, etc.

Child abuse can simply be classified into four major types of maltreatment which includes: neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. The examples provided below are for general informational purposes only. Neglect is failure to provide for a child’s basic needs. Child abuse may also be physical failure to provide necessary food, shelter, or appropriate supervision under these four categories:

Physical abuse: This has to do with physical injury ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting with a hand, stick, strap, or other object, burning, or otherwise harming a child. Such injury is considered abuse regardless of whether or not the perpetrator had an intention to hurt.

Sexual abuse: It includes activities by a parent, caretaker or any other person aimed at fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution and so on. There must be a situation aimed at insulting the sexual sensibility of the child in question.

Considering the critical nature of child- related cases and the preponderance of abuse these days, medical investigation becomes inevitable especially in trying to help legal experts determine complex cases.

In trying to investigate a change of child abuse, a picture can be of help to determine eventual case results.

To do the task of documentation and investigation of a child abuse properly, it requires the following:

–          Getting the right tools and the right techniques such as Photo – documentation

This is one of the most important tools. This will help the investigator obtain the best possible photographic evidence and a clear focus on whatever findings to be made.

This guide also provides valuable pointers regarding the selection and use of camera equipment, film, and photographic techniques most appropriate for use in cases of suspected child abuse. Proper photographing of the child’s physical condition will help provide evidence for both the health professional carrying out the investigation and a court of law as the case may be.

–          Sharing information among health investigation. There is need for the creation of a

Database allowing investigators and social workers access to police, law and social service records. This helps them track with ease persons and families they are investigating or trying to locate.

   By Emmanuel Elebeke