Friday, September 13th, 2013
Physical and sexual abuse of children has declined over the past two decades, but the number of children who experience emotional abuse and neglect–mostly by their parents–is increasing. These are the findings of a report by the Institute of Medicine, where researchers called the data a mixed blessing. More from NBC News:
Dr. Lolita McDavid, medical director of child advocacy and protection at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, says she believes awareness explains a lot. “I think we are much more aware now that there is physical and sexual abuse and I think we do a much better job of making families and children understand that,” McDavid told NBC News.
“We are empowering children.”
But the experts say it’s vital to look into the reasons that physical abuse may be going down, yet neglect and emotional abuse are staying at the same levels. They call for sustained federal research into what’s going on and a new database to track child abuse statistics.
Even if numbers are going down, overall, many children are abused and neglected in the United States, the panel of experts reports.
“Each year more than 3 million referrals for child abuse and neglect are received that involve around 6 million children, although most of these reports are not substantiated,” the report reads.
Image: Neglected girl, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
Emotional or psychological abuse can be as damaging as physical or even sexual abuse, an article published in the journal Pediatrics argues. Time.com has more:
Psychological maltreatment can include terrorizing, belittling or neglecting a child, the pediatrician authors say.
“We are talking about extremes and the likelihood of harm, or risk of harm, resulting from the kinds of behavior that make a child feel worthless, unloved or unwanted,” Harriet MacMillan, one of the three pediatrician authors, told reporters.
What makes this kind maltreatment so challenging for pediatricians and for social services staff, however, is that it’s not defined by any one specific event, but rather by the nature of the relationship between caregiver and child. That makes it unusually hard to identify.
Keeping a child in a constant state of fear is abuse, for example. But even the most loving parent will occasionally lose their cool and yell. Likewise, depriving a child of ordinary social interaction is also abuse, but there’s nothing wrong with sending a school-aged boy to stew alone in his room for an hour after he hits a younger sibling.
All of this means that, for an outsider who observes even some dubious parenting practice, it can be hard to tell whether a relationship is actually abusive, or whether you’ve simply caught a family on a bad day.
Psychological abuse can also include what you might call “corrupting a child” — encouraging children to use illicit drugs, for example, or to engage in other illegal activities.
In their Pediatrics paper, MacMillan and co-authors say that 8% to 9% of women and 4% of men reported severe psychological abuse in childhood when the question was posed in general-population surveys of the U.S. and Britain.
Image: Sad girl, via Shutterstock
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