THE INVISIBLE CHILD ABUSE
How to Spot Emotional
Of all the types of abuse, emotional child
battering can be the most difficult to determine. However, the
law recognizes it as a crime. Mental injury is illegal when
caused by the person responsible for the welfare of a child under
the age of 18.
What You Can See
An emotionally abused child can be
attacked in various ways. In sorting out the situation, our
individual standards as parents can cause confusion about what is
abuse and what is an acceptable child training practice.
In addition, there is no clear definition of
what constitutes as abusive parent. Only a small number of child
abusers are mentally ill or psychotic. Most simply cannot control
their impulses under stress. They take out frustrations, or make
up for a lack of self-esteem, by abusing children.
A sad fact is that many child abusers were,
themselves abused. Their behavior is handed down from their own
parents. In these cases, neither the child nor the abuser may
know what the limits should be.
To a youngster, emotional manipulation can be
as forceful and painful as physical battering. The effects can be
Signs of Abuse
Our children look to us for everything. They
learn that adults control their lives and are not to be
questioned. A child trusts grownups to do what is right. What a
child says is not taken seriously in many cases.
For these reasons, a child may not protest or
understand that abuse exists. But you can be alert for signs such
- Problems with authority figures
- Staying away from home
Types of Mental Abuse
- Bribery. Trading a favor for sexual
- Bullying. Taking advantage of age
- Withdrawal. Denying affection
- Humiliation. Public name calling or
- Betrayal. Exploiting a child's
- Guilt. Blaming the child for family
Rather than confronting a parent with your
suspicions, it's usually better to contact professionals. The
issues are complicated and the people involved may not understand
your intervention. Experts suggest that help be sought from
counselors and social workers. Many organizations, such as
Parents Anonymous and social agencies have 24-hour telephone
numbers for support and assistance.
If you want more information about child abuse,
contact your local child protection agencies, school counselors
and support groups. Most are listed in the telephone directory.
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