When someone physically abuses a child, it is easy to discover the perpetrator and bring him (her) to justice. With child emotional abuse the story is entirely different. Sometimes no one can easily notice this type of abuse. It can last for years, and no one, including a child, knows that this is a terrible crime.
Because of the monstrous behavior of the parents, children live in trauma throughout life and very often transfer this kind of behavior to their own offspring. And the perpetrator usually remains unpunished.
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What is Emotional Child Abuse and Psychological Child Abuse?
It’s pretty tricky to define the emotional abuse of children. Officially, psychological and emotional child abuse is described as ‘behaviors, actions, and speech of parents, caregivers, and other significant figures in children’s lives that have a negative mental impact on the children’. The U.S. government defined child emotional abuse as a ‘pattern of behavior that impairs a children’s sense of self-worth and emotional development‘.
Do we really know what precisely children mental abuse is? Do you know that depending on the nature and tactic of the type of mistreatment, child neglect is also a form of abuse? Giving an accurate definition of emotional abuse in a child is pretty tricky because we can consider a wide range of behaviors as abusive. There are terrifying data about more than three million reports of child abuse in the U.S. every single year. Things are even scarier if we know that all forms of child’s mistreatment are very often underreported.
Examples of Emotional Child Abuse
Emotional abuse in children includes a wide range of different behaviors such as insulting, name-calling, allowing children to be a witness the emotional and physical abuse of someone else, threatening of violence, allowing a child to use illegal drugs, and so on.
Anyway, the scientific approach to child abuse implies:
Verbally assaulting – humiliating the child by using sarcasm and harsh threats. It is the absolute way to ‘kill’ the child’s self-confidence.
Rejecting – when parents refuse entirely to respect the worth and legitimacy of their child’s needs.
Ignoring – depriving the child of kindness, hugs, touching, conversation and so on.
Over-pressuring – it implies imposing to extreme pressure upon the children forcing them to reach achievements that are far beyond the child’s capabilities.
Terrorizing – it includes intimidating, bullying, and frightening children, and making them believe that the world is a hostile place for living.
Isolating – when parents separate their child from social experiences and prevent that child make friends with peers, letting the child believes that she is all alone.
Corrupting – when parents encourage their child to be antisocial and destructive. This kind of behavior impairs a child’s ability to learn how to behave appropriately.
Emotional Abuse Statistics
Children abuse is not related only to families of a particular material state, education, religion, or ethnicity. Nope. It occurs in all categories of families. Very often these families look like normally, healthy and happy. However, we might say that there are some patterns and that abuse is more common in families who have financial difficulties. Also, it is often about families affected by divorce or faced with single parenthood. And, as expected, child emotional maltreatment is more common in families where one or both parents use alcohol or illegal drugs.
The Statistics is implacable. Every eighth child in the U.S. is maltreated and neglected before the age of eighteen. Over 12.5% of U.S. children experienced a confirmed case of emotional, physical, and (or) sexual abuse by age eighteen, according to the research carried out between 2004 and 2011. Unofficial data show that up to 10,000,000 children are exposed to domestic violence in the U.S. every year. In almost 80% cases it was a problem of child’s neglect. At the same time, maltreatment is confirmed in 1 in 100 children.
The latest Child Maltreatment Report from ‘The Children’s Bureau’ was published last year. It shows an increase in child abuse up to 4 million. The number of children who died from abuse and neglect was 1,580 in 2014 but increased to 1,670 in 2015. Some other reports show that this number is even higher than 1,740. That means that every day in the U.S. almost five children die from child abuse. In over 80% of cases, at least one parent is involved. 74.8% of these children are younger than three years (49.4% are babies under one year). It is believed that between 50-60% of mistreatment fatalities are not noted on death certificates.
The emotional abuse facts are clear. On average, 13% of girls and 12% of boys experience some kind of emotional abuse. Also, one in five black children and one in seven Native American children are victims of some type of maltreatment.
90% of sexually abused children (almost 60,000 per year) know their perpetrator.
In the end, I have to add that many researchers believe that these shocking abuse Statistics doesn’t represent the real situation. The reality is even worse!!!
Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse in Children
There are always behavioral signs of emotional abuse in children, but it’s a question of whether someone in their surroundings will notice that and respond adequately. We can talk about many various signs which may include fear of parents, emotional immaturity compared to peers, and sudden changes in behavior.
These children very often speak poorly about themselves and have a wrong opinion of their personality. Very often they believe that they are stupid and sometimes mention that they hate their parents. Every sudden change in child behavior including unusually bad grades at school or sudden stuttering, for example, can be the clear sign of emotional abuse.
When we talk about parents or caregiver, there are also signs that they abuse a child emotionally. They usually speak badly about their children and show no regard for them. You can’t notice that they have ever held or touched their child with affection and very often they don’t take care of the child’s medical needs.
Specific symptoms of emotional abuse in children can vary depending on the type of mistreatment. But, be careful. The presence of warning signs such as depression, unusual fears, loss of self-confidence, defiant and rebellious behavior, attempts at running away or even suicide attempt can be but is not a definitive confirmation that the child is abused.
Child Abuse Risk Factors
There are numerous factors which can’t justify child abuse, but it’s the fact that they may increase a parent’s risk of becoming abusive. There are many situations which can be a trigger and a reason for abusing a child.
If parents were neglected and (or) abused as a child, there is 30% of possibility that they will be abusers themselves.
Mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression can be a reason for maltreatment of a child.
Children under age five are victims of any family crisis including marital conflicts, domestic violence, and single parenting.
Physically and developmentally disabled children are too often exposed to both emotional and physical abuse.
Every type of reducing the financial situation of the family, social family isolation, alcoholism, drug addiction, unemployment or sudden financial stress because of job loss and so on can be the reason for exposing a child to aggression, which leads to emotional abuse.
Effects of Emotional Abuse on Children
If someone abuses his or her child, the effects of this kind of behavior are always tricky and long-lasting. Every psychological abuse of the child is connected with poor mental development and consequently with later difficulties to make and keep a good relationship with other people. Plus, these children generally have problems in school, in the neighborhood, at work, and behave in the way which leads to criminal behavior.
All of us know that alcohol and drug addiction lead to many problems in families. But, the terrible truth is that the main victims of this kind of behavior are children. It seems that up to two-thirds of child maltreatment cases involve alcohol and (or) drug use to some degree. According to different studies, children from families in which parents use alcohol and other drugs, have four times more possibilities to be neglected and more likely than three times to be abused than their peers from healthy families.
I have to add one more horrible thing. Those who are abused as children almost never seek help because they usually don’t know that they need help. All the accumulated frustrations break out when they become parents. It is a high probability that they will also begin to abuse their children emotionally.
You should know that these children can completely recover, but they can’t help themselves without other people support. Seeking help is the first and most significant step towards healing. The next step is usually very hard. It is necessary to get help for the other family members and the abuser himself.
Child Abuse Consequences
More than 36% of women and 14% of men in USA prisons were abused as children. Statistic says that there are nine times more likely that an abused child becomes a criminal.
Abused teens are more often engage in sexual risk and experience teen pregnancy. Adults who were physically and emotionally abused as children have higher possibilities to suffer from alcohol and drug addiction. Almost two-thirds of drug addicted people were neglected and (or) abused as children. These people even have a higher risk of developing cancer.
Among 21-year-olds abused children, about 80% suffer from some psychological disorder. Even 193 times is more likely that an abused child suffers psychosis than a child who has a happy and peaceful childhood. There are twelve times higher probability that the abused child will suffer schizophrenia.
One-third of abused children will abuse their own children, and this horrible cycle of abuse will continue.
There are a few simple steps to protect your little one from any kind of child abuse. You can also prevent possible child abuse in your community. Every child deserves stable and safe relationships. Let’s see what the steps you need to take are.
- Listen to your child and offer her a lot of attention. Be involved in your little one’s life and try to develop good communication between you two. No matter what, encourage your kid to avoid secrets. She should be able to tell you everything without fear that you will get angry. It is the perfect way to make your child self-confident.
- Never talk with your child while you feel overwhelmed by other problems. Find the way to keep your stress and anger under control. Your kid is not someone who needs to suffer because you have problems at your workplace or in your relationship.
- Teach her what the word ‘NO’ means. Your child has to know that it’s OK saying ‘No’ when she feels uncomfortable or even scared.
- Teach your kid to use the computer and to stay safe online. Avoid having the computer in the child room. It’s unnecessary allowing a toddler to use it without elder people control.
- There are excellent parental control options for some websites, and you should use them.
- Don’t leave young children all alone. You should hire a reliable nanny who will look after your child while you are at the office. Consider the possibility of taking your little one to the kindergarten. It’s a good option for a child to spend as much time with her peers as possible.
- Keep a close eye on your beloved kid in public. Teach her to keep your hand while you are on the street.
- Love your kiddo as much as possible.
Some children can cope with bad experiences and overcome both psychological and physical effects of child abuse. Unfortunately, for many children, child abuse leaves severe consequences years later, sometimes for a lifetime.
In many cases, emotional abuse does more damage than physical or even sexual. It probably sounds surprising to you, but emotional abuse causes many issues including physical and learning disabilities, attention-deficit, substance abuse, health problems, hyperactivity disorder, even death.
Please, don’t let this happens!