Emotional and psychological abuse could be in the form of parental neglect because they are so caught up with their jobs and social lives that they do not have time to look after their children
Frequent yelling, not showing love and affection, harsh jokes, days of utter silence, etc can cause mental anguish in the child leading to emotional abuse
When Child Protective Services (CPS) conduct family assessments, it is the hardest form of abuse to prove because parents are very open about the topic and emotional abuse does not leave any physical evidence behind.
Recommendation 6-2: The consequences of child abuse and neglect should be examined in a longitudinal developmental framework that examines the timing, duration, severity, and nature of effects over the life course in a variety of cultural environments.
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The identification of specific effects of child maltreatment at certain ages may be an artifact of the existing state of knowledge. At present, there has not yet been sufficient research on the relationship between the age of onset of child abuse and subsequent symptomatology.
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The assessment of consequences for abused and neglected children is complicated by the co-occurrence of other problems (or co-morbidity) in the children and their parents. Certain forms of childhood victimization constitute acute stressors, and child maltreatment often occurs against a background of chronic adversity. The presence or absence of certain characteristics or other adverse events may influence a child's response to childhood victimization, and in some cases the combined effects of two stressors (such as family environment and poor caretaking) may be greater than the sum of the two considered separately. The social context is particularly important, since the effects of abuse or neglect often cannot be separated from other problems confronting families experiencing a variety of problemspoverty, unemployment, stress, alcohol and drug problems, and violence in the community.
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Research is needed that assesses direct and subtle consequences across a broad range of domains (cognitive and intellectual, medical and physiological, psychosocial, behavioral, and psychiatric). The effects of different and multiple types of child maltreatment in a variety of cultural contexts should also be considered in future research programs. The common practice of treating abused and neglected children together, or eliminating one type of maltreatment from study, may reveal only a partial portrait of childhood victims' risk for later consequences. Existing research has focused on physical and sexual abuse, with relatively little attention to neglect or emotional maltreatment, yet the accumulation of stress associated with chronic neglect may produce consequences for young children similar to those produced through physical abuse. This would seem particularly important given that the number of reported cases of child neglect far surpasses those of physical abuse in national statistics.
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Widom (1991a) also examined the role of placement experiences in relation to delinquency and violence. Abused and neglected children in foster care and other out-of-home residential experiences, who typically come from multiproblem families, are a particularly vulnerable group because they have experienced both a disturbed family situation and separation from their natural parents. In this research, under certain circum-
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Among sexually abused children, the presence of a supportive, positive relationship with a nonabusive parent or sibling has been considered a positive mediating variable (Conte and Schuerman, 1988). In her review of research on the effects of sexual abuse in childhood, Berliner (1991) noted that the level of impact of child sexual abuse was related to whether the child was believed and supported by his or her nonabusive family members (Everson et al., 1989; Gomes-Schwartz et al., 1990; Morrow and Sorell, 1989). Furthermore, in an examination of the prevalence of depressive disorder among a sample of 56 maltreated children, Kaufman (1991) found that the quality of social support affected the likelihood of abused children's developing depressive disorder.11
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Research suggests that a person's cognitive appraisal of life events strongly influences individual responses to particular events (Lazarus and Launier, 1978). The same event may be perceived by different individuals as irrelevant, benign, positive, or threatening and harmful. In considering the effects of childhood victimization, the child's cognitive appraisal of events will determine at least in part whether they are experienced as neutral, negative, or harmful. Abuse perceived as parental rejection may have more harmful effects than abuse perceived as arising from the parent's externally imposed frustrations. Research on perceptions of children may contribute to understanding the long-term consequences of abuse (Herzberger et al., 1981).
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In speculating about the effects of foster care on behavioral consequences, the developmental literature on children's responses to other forms of stressful life events should be considered. For example, children's responses to parental divorce (Wallerstein and Kelly, 1980; Wallerstein, 1983) and bereavement (Rutter, 1966) vary by age and level of development. Yarrow and Goodwin (1973) found that a child who moved from a foster home to a permanent adoptive home before the age of 6 months tended to show only transitory distress. By contrast, in somewhat older children (between age 7-12 months), such a change involved more pervasive disturbances. Similarly, according to Rutter (1966), the age period of greatest risk for the stress of hospital admission is between 6 months and 4 years of age. Children below the age of 6-7 months may be relatively immune because they have not yet developed selective attachments and therefore do not experience separation anxiety. Children above the age of 4 years are also less vulnerable, probably because they have the cognitive skills necessary to understand the situation.