Child neglect and psychological abuse
Child neglect and psychological abuse

Newsfeed display by CaRP Child neglect, also called psychological abuse, is a form of child abuse. It occurs when someone intentionally does not provide the child of the necessities of life, or do so with reckless disregard for the child's well being. Such necessities include food and water for healthy growth; shelter; clothing; and medical care. They child may also lack a safe environment, and adult emotional support. This set of necessities contributes to proper child development.

Some authorities consider children witnessing violence between parental figures or severe abuse between adults is another form of psychological abuse.

The incidence of physical and emotional neglect of children is difficult to define.

Child neglect and psychological abuse appear to co-exist with child physical abuse about 50% to 75% of the time. The risk factors for both are essentially the same and may include poverty, other stresses in the family, mental illness, or substance abuse by parents or caregivers. Abused children are at risk of becoming abusers themselves as adults.

Children presenting with the syndrome of failure to thrive are at risk for various forms of neglect or emotional abuse. Failure to thrive is characterized by children who fail to grow and develop normally or who have unexplained weight loss. In such evaluations, it is appropriate to consideration of child abuse as a factor.

Psychological abuse may present with signs of childhood depression, including
vague physical complaints:
1. Sleep disorders.
2. Eating disorders.
3. Various forms of rebellious behaviors, including terrorizing or exploiting others
difficulties in school

Children with suspected emotional abuse should be evaluated by a trained mental health professional. All neglected or psychologically abused children also need to be evaluated for other forms of physical abuse. The problems often co-exist.

Treatment of the abused child may include nutritional therapy and mental health.
1. Removing the child from the home may be necessary to protect the child from further abuse.
2. Anyone with suspicion of this form of child abuse should report the matter to Child Protective Services or the police. Health care workers, school employees and child care professionals are mandated by law to report suspected abuse.
3. The goal of child protective agencies is to reunite families after the abuser has received help.
4. Treatment for abusers may involve parenting classes and mental health and medical treatment for mental illness, alcohol, or street drugs.
Expectations (prognosis):
With treatment, most children and parents can be reunited as a family. Long-term outcome depends on the severity of abuse, length of abuse, success of both child and adult psychotherapy, and how well parenting classes worked.

As in all forms of child abuse, severe injury or death are possible.
Other long-term problems may include a lack of self confidence, depression, rebellious behavior, and becoming an abuser during adulthood.

Calling your health care provider:
Call your primary health care provider if a child is appears depressed, is losing weight, or is not growing or developing normally. Remember that suspected child abuse of any form must be reported to the authorities.

School-based programs designed to improve parenting, communication and self-image are important in preventing future abuse and may lead to identifying abused children.

Parenting classes are very helpful. Newlywed adults without children should be encouraged to take such classes before each child is born. The dynamics in the home change with increasing numbers of children.

Home visit programs by nurses and social workers in the first two months of life may be helpful in identifying families at risk. Such programs are becoming more common in the United States and are already popular in many European countries.

Support Groups:
There are many support groups available for both abusers and abused children, including:
Prevent Child Abuse America
200 S. Michigan Avenue
17th Floor
Chicago, IL 60604-2404


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Submitted: 07/25/06

Description: Child neglect, also called psychological abuse, is a form of child abuse. It occurs when someone intentionally does not provide the child of the necessities of life, or do so with reckless disregard for the child's well being.

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