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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect

The consequences of maltreatment can be devastating. For over 30 years, clinicians have described the effects of child abuse and neglect on the physical, psychological, cognitive, and behavioral development of children. Physical consequences range from minor injuries to severe brain damage and even death. Psychological consequences range from chronic low self-esteem to severe dissociative states. The cognitive effects of abuse range from attentional problems and learning disorders to severe organic brain syndromes. Behaviorally, the consequences of abuse range from poor peer relations all the way to extraordinarily violent behaviors. Thus, the consequences of abuse and neglect affect the victims themselves and the society in which they live.
Many complexities challenge our understanding of factors and relationships that exacerbate or mitigate the consequences of abusive experiences. The majority of children who are abused do not show signs of extreme disturbance. Research has suggested a relationship between child maltreatment and a variety of short- and long-term consequences, but considerable uncertainty and debate remain about the effects of child victimization on children, adolescents, and adults. The relationship between the causes and consequences of child maltreatment is particularly problematic, since some factors (such as low intelligence in the child) may help stimulate abusive behavior by the parent or caretaker, but low intelligence can also be a consequence of abusive experiences in early childhood.
Every child who has experienced abuse or neglect will have their own response to the trauma. While some children have long-lasting effects, others are able to recover quicker and with ease. There is not a right or wrong way for a child to manage effects of the abuse and neglect they have suffered.

What are some factors that can influence children’s responses to trauma?

  • Age
  • Developmental status
  • Type of abuse and/or neglect
  • How often and how long a child was abused
  • How severe the abuse was
  • The relationship between the child and the perpetrator

What are some physical effects of child abuse and neglect?

  • Bruises and welts
  • Scrapes and cuts
  • Burn marks
  • Head trauma
  • Weakened brain development
  • Sprains or broken bones
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Torn, stained, or bloody clothing
  • Pain or itching in the genital area
  • Bruises or bleeding in and around the genital area
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Inappropriate dress
  • Poor hygiene
  • Poor physical health

What are some psychological and mental effects of child abuse and neglect?

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Withdrawn
  • Dissociation
  • Difficulty with making and maintaining relationships
  • Experiences flashbacks
  • Hypervigilant
  • Persistent fear

What are some behavioral effects of child abuse and neglect?

  • Self-harm
  • Eating disorders
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Uncomfortable with physical contact with others
  • Repeating school grades
  • Absent from school often
  • Criminal activity

What are common effects on children who witness domestic violence?

Whether children witness or experience abuse, it can take a toll on their development. Domestic violence victims are not isolated to intimate partners. Children are at an increased risk for emotional behavioral problems regardless if they were directly abused or not. The effects include:
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Academic problems
  • Fearful

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