Psychological abuse in childhood can be just as harmful as physical abuse according to a position statement published in the August on line issue of the journal Pediatrics that was reviewed at the Eureka Alert web site the same day.
While the effects of psychological abuse have been documented in the literature for over 25 years there has been little to no effort to develop a nationwide methodology that recognizes and reports psychological abuse in children. There is also little evidence on potential strategies that might help.
Psychological abuse includes acts such as belittling, denigrating, terrorizing, exploiting, emotional unresponsiveness, or corrupting a child to the point a child’s well-being is at risk. Witnessing family violence in any form incorporates all these forms of psychological abuse.
The symptoms of psychological abuse differ for boys and girls. Boys display more aggressive behaviors while girls are considered to react more passively. The effects may be life long and can include educational problems, socialization problems, and violence. As many as one in six children are estimated to have experienced some form of psychological abuse that is considered chronic.
One resource for people in Alabama to deal with psychological abuse in children is one of the 26 centers accredited centers representing the National Children’s Alliance in Alabama. The contact info for the nearest center in Alabama can be found here.
Dr. Harriet MacMillan, a professor in the departments of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences and pediatrics of McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and the Offord Centre for Child Studies Indiana pediatrician Dr. Roberta Hibbard, an expert on child abuse and neglect; Jane Barlow, professor of Public Health in the Early Years at the University of Warwick; as well as the Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Child Maltreatment and Violence Committee contributed to the development and background research for this position statement.