Child Abuse on a Global Scale: Children of Yemen and Children of Biafra Have the Same Face

By: Anselm Chibuike
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Jan. 20, 2020 - PRLog -- Child abuse and child neglect, according to the U.S.Center for Disease Control (CDC), are terms used to describe the maltreatment of children. According to the CDC, maltreatment of children can be on a physical or emotional (psychological) level.  Because children are fragile and have no self-defense, some adults and caregivers take advantage of them. If you work in a healthcare setting, you know that wicked things have been done to children by adults.  Sneaky adult actions such as knocking an 18-month child on the head with their knuckles, or squeezing a little girl's ears, are other examples of child abuse. Flogging a child with ropes, twigs or belts are other entrenched abuses parents unleash on children. Not picking up your infant to comfort them when they are upset and crying is an example of child neglect. Parents who fail to notice when a child is sick and in need of health care, parents who allow a child to remain covered in filth, are guilty of child neglect.  Consistent failure to listen to and interact with children in a loving way also counts as child neglect.

Researchers and scientists have data to show that beating up children, torturing them psychologically, molesting them in any sexual manner, or ignoring them when they need comfort, all have consequences.  The brains of abused and neglected children do not develop as normally expected, and this abnormality can affect the way children behave and their ability to learn as they grow up and become adults. Everyone has heard the research findings suggesting that, abused and neglected children grow up to have a high risk of certain medical diseases related to their stressful conditions as children. In spite of all these facts about child abuse, when the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and healthcare professionals talk about the problems of the maltreatment of children, they talk as if child abuse emanates only from parents and caregivers.  It is true that many children suffer physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their parents, relatives and community. To further stress this issue, those of us who are in the frontline of pediatric care see some of the atrocities adults perpetrate on children.   However, there is a growing and a chronic source of child abuse and child neglect which does not start at home and is not perpetrated by parents and caregivers. Wars are what I am alluding to.

Twenty-eight million children are under stress due to violence brought by war (UNICEF, 2019). Whether the war originated from inside a country or an act of aggression by another country, the children are the first to suffer during times of conflict (UNICEF, 2019). I cannot imagine any condition more stressful in the life of children who live where there is war. Children Caught in Adult Wars (CCAWs) have become a very familiar image, so much so that the public is desensitized to their predicaments. We have all left these children to suffer in silence. Consider what happens to children when a rich country like Saudi Arabia bombs a poor country like Yemen. Many children, some still breast-feeding, are thrown into chaos, with a cloud of stress hanging over them for months and years.

Children in war conditions are under severe stress. I know that because as a child I lived under war condition during the Nigerian-Biafran wars of 1967 through 1970. Almost on a daily basis I heard the sound of bomb explosions and the buzzing sound of fighter planes crisscrossing over our houses and villages. I was in constant fear.  The physical and emotional toll on Children Caught in Adult Wars (CCAWs) is easy for all to see. Shamefully, the faces of these children are becoming recognizable, like the faces of children with genetic syndromes. For example, faces of Yemeni children look exactly like those of the Biafran children of the Nigerian-Biafra civil war (1967-1969). Like the Biafran children, the Yemeni children are all bones, with no fat under the skin. Their ribs are so visible a passerby can count them from a distance. Inside, their heart is broken – for a world that cared more about the jump in oil prices (stock market oil prices spiked on September 14, 2019 when the Saudi oil depot was attacked) than the hurt in their eyes.  I still wonder where all the adults of the world were when bombs were being dropped on Igbo children in the sixties, especially those adults who had the audience and the influence to speak up and bring the mayhem and the suffering to an end.

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Having grown up during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, Dr. Anselm Chibuike Anyoha gives a realistic view of what children had to endure during these tough times. Seen through the eyes of a child, it shows how children perceive issues differently than adults. Dr. Anyoha is a pediatrician, and a Graduate Student of Infant Mental Health at Fielding Graduate University

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Anselm Chibuike
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Page Updated Last on: Jan 21, 2020



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