Have you ever wonder why there are some children that as they are growing up, seem to be happy or relaxed, while there are others that seem to be worried all the time, and their actions need to be constantly approved by someone? These latter-mentioned characteristics are found in a child that is victim of emotional abuse or neglect. These two types of abuse are not very well-known among parents or people in general. Because of this, the effects that emotional abuse and neglect leave on their victims usually remain unknown. It is important to make people aware of these effects that the abused child present, in order to understand his or her behaviour. For this reason, I decided to try to answer the following question, what are the effects that emotionally abused and neglected children present? Before going in depth with the effects that victims of emotional abuse and neglect present, we should know what exactly neglect, and emotional abuse mean.
Neglect is the failure to provide a child the basic needs, such as food, clothes, attention, and so on. (Child Welfare Information Gateway. 2008) Sometimes, the victims are left home alone, or not well supervised and their parents or the person that is in charge of them, forget to isolate dangerous things from the child’s environment (Family Relationships Online, 2012). On the other hand, according to Dorota Iwaniec, emotional abuse ‘refers to hostile or indifferent parental behaviour which damages a child’s self esteem’. (p4). This means that, parents or the person that is in charge of the child, not only reject the victim, but also criticize him or her constantly. What is even worse, the victim might also suffer from threats or blackmailing. For instance, the person in charge or the child’s parents, may threat the kid by saying that he or she will leave home if the child does not improve his or her grades.
According to the American organization called Prevent Child Abuse America due to the constant criticism and rejection, the kid’s emotional development is damaged. Emotional abused children may be ignored in the same way as neglected children are. Besides, these children lack support from their parents, or the ones that are in charge of taking care of him or her. Beyond that, most of the time, the child is called with degrading names by the victimizer. Some of the ‘names’ that they are called are idiot, moron, or stupid. Sometimes, particularly in the case of the boys, if the victimizer is a man, he might call the child a sissy or mummy’s boy. Any child from anyplace around the world can suffer from emotional abuse, and does not take into account the child’s age, sex or race. For instance, there have been cases of emotional child abuse in Paraguay as well as in the United States. According to Cardinal McCloskey Services, more than 3.5 million children were reported as victims of neglect or child abuse. The statistics demonstrate the reality: 564,000 children from the United States suffered neglect and other 64,000 children from the United States as well, were psychologically or emotionally abused.
What is more, in 2005, African-American children, as well as American-Indian and Pacific Islander children had the highest rates of victimization. (Cardinal McCloskey Services. 2012) ‘In a 1997 U.S. study, emotional maltreatment was reported in 15% of 817,665 or in 122,650 cases across 43 states’ (Child Welfare Gateway. 2008). In addition, a poll that was taken in 2011 to Paraguayan children of school-year showed that six children out of ten, suffered from some type of abuse. The 13% of those children were emotionally abused at home. (Seguimiento al Estudio de las Naciones Unidas sobre Violencia contra Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes – Datos de Paraguay). As it is mentioned above, the statistics show that children can be victims of emotional abuse and neglect, no matter where they are from, their age, sex or their ethnicity. Anyway, the consequences that this type of abuse leaves in their victim are very harmful.
The sad side of this situation is that most of the time, the abusers are the child’s parents, or the person who is in charge of taking care of them. As Dr. Alice Miller said ‘It is much more difficult for a child to overcome early traumatization if they are caused by their own parents’. This means that the closer the victimizer is, the more damage the victim will receive. When reading or listening to the words ‘emotional’ abuse, people might believe that its effects on the victim may only be psychological or emotional. Nevertheless, there are physical effects that are also presented in the victims. Actually, there are three different types of effects that the emotionally abused or neglect children present. These are, behavioural effects, physical effects, and emotional or psychological effects. The behavioural effects that emotional abuse and neglect leave in their victims can be violent behavior, lying, and irritability. Sometimes, they would also have sleep disorders and/ or habit disorders.
Sucking, rocking or biting, are some of the habit disorders they can suffer from. Moreover, these victims would have more tendencies to do drugs, drink alcohol or smoke at an early age. On the other hand, the physical effects that emotional abused children may have are speech problems. Such as fluency disorders, stuttering or articulation disorders (when the child has problem in producing sounds in syllables or he or she cannot say a word correctly). As well as facial tics and eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia. Besides, self-harm, such as cutting or burning. Sometimes, the victims will fail in succeed. They would also attempt suicide or commit it successfully. (Child Abuse Effect.2012) When growing up, these children tend to face problems such as teen pregnancy, delinquency, drug use and low academic achievement. What is more, children that were victims of emotional abuse and neglect are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, ulcers or asthma, as an adult. (Child Welfare Information Gateway. 2008)
The psychological effect that neglected or emotionally abused children will always have is low self esteem because their victimizer would constantly remark that they are not good at doing anything. These kids also have trouble in accepting themselves as they are. Emotionally abused and neglected children do not believe that they are good at doing anything or that they are capable to be successful in life. Since they are vulnerable to suffer from depression, they see suicide as a way to stop feeling such miserable feeling. (Child Abuse Effect. 2012) As adults, these victims might suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder and panic disorder, as well as, anxiety and anger. (Child Welfare Information Gateway. 2008) Furthermore, neglected children are more likely to have negative opinions about themselves, be emotionally unstable and also extremely dependent. Those children often lack creativity, and are not normally enthusiastic or persistent.
These children may also experience a lifelong pattern of depression, low self esteem, anxiety, as well as lack of empathy or troubled relationships. (Effects on Emotional Abuse. 2012) It is important to clarify that the child who is a victim of neglect or emotional abuse will not necessarily suffer from all of the effects. For instance, a girl that was abused emotionally might not get pregnant during her adolescence, but she might suffer from severe depression and self-harm. Also, the effects can be presented as a variation of the three types of consequences. Such consequences, as it is explained above, are the behavioural, psychological and physical effects. For example, a victim of this abuse or neglect may not only have some speech problems, but also a low self esteem.
He or she may as well suffer from stress, and for this reason, he or she would smoke, drink or do drugs in order to loosen up. As it is mentioned at the beginning of this paper, those children who have a low self esteem and are unsure about themselves might be suffering from emotional abuse or neglect. The effects that this ‘invisible’ abuse leaves in their victims are very harmful. Besides, they destroy the love these children should feel for themselves. The worst thing is that these victims are abused by their own parents, or maybe, by the person who is in charge of them. If the people that are part of the child’s everyday life were aware of the previously mentioned effects, they would be able to identify and confirm if a child is being abused emotionally or not. Thus, the cause of his or her behaviour will be known and understood.
Cardinal McCloskey Services .” Child Abuse Facts. N.p., 2012. Web. <http://cardinalmccloskeyservices.org/ca_facts.shtml>.
Effects of Emotional Abuse. Effects of Emotional Abuse. Web. http://www.teach-through-love.com/effects-of-emotional-abuse.html>.
Iwaniec, Dorota. The Emotionally Abused and Neglected Child: Identification, Assessment and Intervention . 1995. Web. <http://www.amazon.co.uk/Emotionally-Abused-Neglected-Child-Identification/dp/0471955795>.
Miller, Alice. “The Childhood Trauma.” YWHA. New York City. 22/10/1998. Lecture. Web. <http://www.vachss.com/guest_dispatches/alice_miller2.html>
Paraguay. Secretaria Nacional de la Niñez y la Adolescencia. Seguimiento al Estudio de las Naciones Unidas sobre Violencia contra Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes – Datos de Paraguay. 2011. Web. <http://www.unicef.org/paraguay/spanish/py_hoja_datos_violencia_abr11.pdf>.
South Australia. Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service.Child Abuse. Web. <http://familyrelationships.gov.au/BrochuresandPublications/Pages/childabuse.aspx #section1b>
United States. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Long Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect. 2008. Web. <http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/long_term_consequences.cfm>.
United States. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What Is Child Abuse and Neglect? . 2008. Web. <http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/whatiscan.pdf>.