Author: American Psychological Association
Published: 9th Oct 2014 - Updated: 14th Jan 2015
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: Sexual Bullying Publications
Summary: Children who are emotionally abused and neglected face similar and sometimes worse mental health problems as children who are physically or sexually abused.
Childhood psychological abuse as harmful as sexual or physical abuse - Often unrecognized, emotional abuse prevalent form of child abuse, study finds...
Children who are emotionally abused and neglected face similar and sometimes worse mental health problems as children who are physically or sexually abused, yet psychological abuse is rarely addressed in prevention programs or in treating victims, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.
"Given the prevalence of childhood psychological abuse and the severity of harm to young victims, it should be at the forefront of mental health and social service training," said study lead author Joseph Spinazzola, PhD, of The Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute, Brookline, Massachusetts. The article appears in a special online issue of the APA journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.
Researchers used the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Core Data Set to analyze data from 5,616 youths with lifetime histories of one or more of three types of abuse: psychological maltreatment (emotional abuse or emotional neglect), physical abuse and sexual abuse. The majority (62 percent) had a history of psychological maltreatment, and nearly a quarter (24 percent) of all the cases were exclusively psychological maltreatment, which the study defined as care-giver inflicted bullying, terrorizing, coercive control, severe insults, debasement, threats, overwhelming demands, shunning and/or isolation.
Children who had been psychologically abused suffered from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, symptoms of post-traumatic stress and suicidality at the same rate and, in some cases, at a greater rate than children who were physically or sexually abused. Among the three types of abuse, psychological maltreatment was most strongly associated with depression, general anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, attachment problems and substance abuse. Psychological maltreatment that occurred alongside physical or sexual abuse was associated with significantly more severe and far-ranging negative outcomes than when children were sexually and physically abused and not psychologically abused, the study found. Moreover, sexual and physical abuse had to occur at the same time to have the same effect as psychological abuse alone on behavioral issues at school, attachment problems and self-injurious behaviors, the research found.
"Child protective service case workers may have a harder time recognizing and substantiating emotional neglect and abuse because there are no physical wounds," said Spinazzola. "Also, psychological abuse isn't considered a serious social taboo like physical and sexual child abuse. We need public awareness initiatives to help people understand just how harmful psychological maltreatment is for children and adolescents."
Nearly 3 million U.S. children experience some form of maltreatment annually, predominantly by a parent, family member or other adult caregiver, according to the U.S. Children's Bureau. The American Academy of Pediatrics in 2012 identified psychological maltreatment as "the most challenging and prevalent form of child abuse and neglect."
For the current study, the sample was:
The data were collected between 2004 and 2010 with the average age of the children at the beginning of the collection between 10 and 12 years. Clinicians interviewed the children, who also answered questionnaires to determine behavioral health symptoms and the traumatic events they had experienced. In addition, caregivers responded to a questionnaire with 113 items pertaining to the child's behavior. Various sources, including clinicians' reports, provided each child's trauma history involving psychological maltreatment, physical abuse or sexual abuse.
Article: Unseen Wounds: The Contribution of Psychological Maltreatment to Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Risk Outcomes, Oct. 8, 2014
Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy Joseph Spinazzola, PhD, and Hilary Hodgdon, PhD, The Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute, Brookline, Massachusetts; Li-Jung Liang, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine; Julian D. Ford, PhD, University of Connecticut Medical School; Christopher M. Layne, PhD, and Robert Pynoos, MD, National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, Los Angeles, and University of California, Los Angeles; Ernestine C. Briggs, PhD, National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, Durham, North Carolina, and Duke University School of Medicine; Bradley Stolbach, PhD, University of Chicago.
|Latest Sexual Bullying Publications|
The above information is from our reference library of resources relating to Sexual Bullying that includes:
|Greater Adolescent Empathy Helps Prevent Bias-Based Cyberbullying|
Florida Atlantic University study first to explore empathy types in early U.S. adolescents and the relationship to online bullying.
Publish Date: 8th Aug 2022 - Updated: 5th Jan 2023
|Romantic Relationships Buffer Gay and Lesbian Youth from Emotional Distress|
Lesbian and gay youth showed significantly less psychological distress and were buffered against the negative effects of bullying and victimization when they were in a relationship.
Publish Date: 15th Feb 2018
|Opinion: Sexual Harassment: Doing Nothing Not an Option|
While the current discussions of sexual harassment have raised awareness for many, it will be meaningless unless it results in a change of behavior.
Publish Date: 21st Dec 2017
|Resilience to Adversity Determines if Children Survive or Thrive When Bullied|
Article looks at whether there is a major personal characteristic or trait that buffers and protects kids against internalizing the harm intended through bullying and cyberbullying.
Publish Date: 15th Oct 2017
1How Many Genders Are There?
Alphabetical list of gender identities.
2Transgender Reporting Guide
How to write about transgender people.
3Glossary of Sexuality Terms
Definitions of sexual terms & acronyms.
4Glossary of Gender Terms
Definitions of gender related terms.
5Am I Gay? Questions to Ask
Think you may be gay or bisexual?
• Submissions: Send us your coming events and LGBTQ related news stories.
• Report Errors: Please report outdated or inaccurate information to us.
• (APA): American Psychological Association. (2014, October 9). Psychological Abuse as a Child is as Harmful as Sexual or Physical Abuse. SexualDiversity.org. Retrieved November 29, 2023 from www.sexualdiversity.org/discrimination/bullying/41.php
• Permalink: <a href="https://www.sexualdiversity.org/discrimination/bullying/41.php">Psychological Abuse as a Child is as Harmful as Sexual or Physical Abuse</a>