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WHAT ARE THE MAIN TYPES OF MALTREATMENT?
There are four major types of child maltreatment: physical abuse, child neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse.* To report Child Abuse and Neglect call police if child is in imminent danger otherwise call your local hotline or Childhelp USA 1-800-422-4453.

  • Physical Abuse
    Physical abuse is the infliction of physical injury as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning, shaking, or otherwise harming a child. The parent or caretaker may not have intended to hurt the child, rather the injury may have resulted from over-discipline or physical punishment.
  • Child Neglect
    Child neglect is characterized by failure to provide for the child’s basic needs. Neglect can be physical, educational, or emotional. Physical neglect includes refusal of or delay in seeking health care, abandonment, expulsion from the home or refusal to allow a runaway to return home, and inadequate supervision. Educational neglect includes the allowance of chronic truancy, failure to enroll a child of mandatory school age in school, and failure to attend to a special educational need. Emotional neglect includes such actions as marked inattention to the child’s needs for affection, refusal of or failure to provide needed psychological care, spouse abuse in the child’s presence, and permission for drug or alcohol use by the child. The assessment of child neglect requires consideration of cultural values and standards of care as well as recognition that the failure to provide the necessities of life may be related to poverty.
  • Sexual Abuse
    Sexual abuse includes fondling a child’s genitals, intercourse, incest, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism, and commercial exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials. Many experts believe that sexual abuse is the most underreported form of child maltreatment because of the secrecy or “conspiracy of silence” that so often characterizes these cases.
  • Emotional Abuse (Psychological/Verbal Abuse/Mental Injury)
    Emotional abuse includes acts or omissions by the parents or other caregivers that have caused, or could cause, serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders. In some cases of emotional abuse, the acts of parents or other caregivers alone, without any harm evident in the child’s behavior or condition, are sufficient to warrant child protective services (CPS) intervention. For example, the parents/caregivers may use extreme or bizarre forms of punishment, such as confinement of a child in a dark closet. Less severe acts, such as habitual scapegoating, belittling, or rejecting treatment, are often difficult to prove and, therefore, CPS may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm to the child.

Although any of the forms of child maltreatment may be found separately, they often occur in combination. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other forms are identified.
*National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information

RISK FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT

  • Social Conditions – Economic pressure, values concerning the role of the child in the family, attitude toward physical punishment, less use of available economic, health and social resources when needed, teenage mothers, unwanted pregnancies, the burden of child care for one person without a support system, unrealistic expectations from child’s maturity level, domestic violence.
  • Behavioral Characteristics of Parents/Care Givers – Immature or needy, isolated (poor psychosocial skills or low self-esteem preferring isolation), emotionally deprived, abused or neglected as a child, feel worthless, unloved and uncared about, poor health, substance abuse, frustrated with a mental and or physically disabled child, self-centered.
  • Survivors’ Aftereffects of Child Abuse and Neglect; Person may not always be affected. It depends on the individual’s length of exposure, and absence of a support system. Basic descriptions given — see bibliography for further reading.
  • Physical Aftereffects 
    Death, brain damage, neurological deficits, physical disabilities, illness and malnourishment.
  • Psychological Aftereffects 
    Insecurity and Difficulty in Trusting Others – stems from unpredictable and inconsistent parental care that is often self serving rather than relative to the infant’s or child’s needs. The child’s need to feel safe remains underdeveloped.
    Lack of Pleasure – child frustration and pleasure are managed inadequately with negative or absence of reinforcement. As a result the adult victim may have difficulty experiencing happiness, robotically going through life and/or operating in a lingering mild state of depression. 
    Low Self-Esteem – As an abused child they learn maladaptively that their feelings and needs are insignificant, and no one cares about their outcome. A destroyer of enthusiasm for life.
    Problem with Self-Image – They may perceive themselves as bad, ugly, stupid, inept, clumsy, sexually deviant or defective. They learned not to be who they really are but to be the person who the abusers treated them as.
    Cycle of Violence – Abused inflicting abuse. Mechanisms are from poor rearing skills, and from suffering from psychological aftereffects of abuse. 
    Aggression – Lacked the experience to express and negotiate emotional needs in other ways. May also be a coping mechanism to deal with fear and rage. Unconsciously may want to hurt before being hurt. Directed inward becomes self-destructive, self-mutilating or suicidal. 
    Lack of Coping Skills – The child’s individual thinking and problem solving are disregarded and disrespected. As adults they are baffled by small problems and tend to overreact, resulting in the inability to cope with everyday stresses.
    Delinquency – Maltreated children have a persistent, insatiable need to find something to alleviate their low self-esteem and satisfy their need for love and care. They desire to be part of something regardless of the consequences, for example joining a gang, prostituting, drug dealing or running away.
    Learning Difficulties – A good sense of reality is hampered. Inconsistent relationship between one event and another. The child cannot use the memory of cause and effect to predict or understand future events. Stumbles through school, believes they are inadequate drops out or does what is minimally required. Carries on the same attitude throughout adulthood.

TREATMENT
Therapy with a Psychiatrist or a Psychologist, Sociologist or Psychiatric Nurse with a degree in Mental Health Counseling. Social Services- for economic and community resources. Education – Self-healing, understand the reasons for child abuse and neglect. Identify normal stages of child development and undo maladaptive coping behavior.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Become emotionally independent, accept and love yourself, attain functional interpersonal relationships, strive toward living up to your potential, break the cycle of violence and pass on healthy parenting skills.

RECOMMENDED READING

  • Brian Trappler, M.D., Identifying and Recovering from Psychological Trauma: A Psychiatrist’s Guide for Victims of Childhood Abuse, Spousal Battery, and Political Terrorism.
  • Farmer, Steven, M.A., M.F.C.C., Adult Children of Abusive Parents. 1990.
  • Connelly, Elizabeth Russell, Claire Reinburg, Carol C. Nadelson (Editor). Child Abuse and Neglect: Examining the Psychological Components. Chelsea House, 1999.
  • G.G. Jung, The Development of Personality (Collected works Vol. 17)
  • Miller, Karen. Ages and Stages: Developmental Descriptions and Activities. Birth Through eight  Years. Telshare. 1985.
  • Mlodinow, Leonard, PHD, Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior. 2012.
  • Jantz,Gregory L., PHD, McMurray, Ann, Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse. 2009.
  • Shapiro, Francine, PHD, Getting Past your Past: Take Control of your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy. 2012.
  • McGregor, Kim, Dr., Surviving and Moving On: Self-Help for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. 2008.
  • Alexander, Charles N. (Editor), Ellen J. Langer, (Editor). Higher Stages of Human Development: Perspectives on Adult Growth. Oxford University Press, 1990.
  • Rudner, Rima, Happiness Coach, Choose to be Happy. 2008.