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Emotional Child Abuse and What all Parents Must do to Eradicate it

Updated on July 21, 2014

Emotional Wounds Take Long to Heal

Emotional child abuse is a result of poor parenting skills which could be genuine lack of knowledge about ideal environment for raising a child. Parenting starts before conception through medical checks and preparing the body to carry a child full term. It is of utmost importance that parents identify preventable birth defects and also chart parenting guidelines that weed-out those societal values and beliefs that have become obsolete.

Child Abuse Defined.

Emotional child abuse is also called psychological abuse. It is the most common form of societal ills that perpetuates undesirable adult behaviors. The subject of child abuse is a global concern and is therefore placed high on United Nations agenda. As a result the United Nation has provided guidelines concerning what constitute the child abuse. This enables countries that signed the Charter to elaborate on cultural practices that could be seen as contravening the general care and welfare of children in the context of that country. American law on child abuse is drawn from the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (42 U.S.C.A. § 5106g), as amended by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010. The child abuse is defines as:

  • "Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation"; or
  • "An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm."

Psychological Abuse Concept Explained

Psychological abuse is verbal or physical maltreatment meant to create fear to the victim, thus causing emotional hurt. These invisible wounds take long or never heal compared to physical wounds. Words spoken with positive or negative emotions carry indestructible energy hence come to pass. In other words, any word that is void of love or blessing brings about undesirable experiences. This then suggest that if you are a parent and you ministered to your child with negative emotions especially during the first eight years of socialization you did not shape his/her behavior for success. When a child is exposed to correction without any form of praise for achieving desired result, parenting bears a brand of abuse because it does not build but destroys self-esteem. Ask yourself these questions: Was my parenting approach a military barracks or a systematic coaching sessions that empowered towards success? Did I use comparison reproach when one of my children behavior ranked below expected standards? Did I embarrass my child in the presence of other siblings or friends? If the answer is yes for any of these questions, you have used abusive socialization approach. The sad truth is that, if your parents abused you, it was normal for you to inflict pain onto your child and did not know that you were destroying that child's sense of self-worth.

The Bible in Philipians 4:8 says: “As a man think, so is he.” Words are products of thoughts. The Creator knowing us and of course wanting the best for us, gave us clear guidelines of how we must think at all times: “…whatsoever things are true, honest…just, …pure, …lovely, …of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” This principle says when we have positive thoughts, we will speak positive words and parenting function will be executed from love. The Scripture also says parents must teach the children what is good and they will not depart from the truth when they grow up.

Child Psychological Trauma Defined

Psychological trauma occurs when a child is exposed to inappropriate environment which poses experience that a child is not able to understand hence cause severe distress; or threatens normal security. Trauma could result from repeated experiences that violates the rights of the child or excessive withholding of expected provisions that supports holistic wellness. It could be caused by some of the following: A physical pain such as whipping for not getting something right; sexual abuse or exposure to inappropriate sexual scenes; police brutality during detention; exposure to domestic violence; indoctrination such as being forced to repeating words of patriotism by teacher or parents or any authority; child labor where heavy objects must be picked or ordered to work under duress; initiation process in new school which includes bullying; discrimination due to ethnic difference or medical condition or biological defects and exposure to inappropriate environment such as occult ceremonies.

Effects of Psychological Abuse in Children

Victims of emotional abuse struggle to find joy even when they have accumulated wealth and therefore lack nothing. A survivor gets fixated in the past unpleasant experience and struggles to develop peaceable or loving attitude. The emotional hurt becomes more pronounced in sexual relationships. The past experience blogs the natural flow of response to trust and love readily. Trust is fundamental and is a pillar upon which all relationships grow. When this has been destroyed in the formative years, a person is not equipped to allow anybody in his/her guarded life.

The ideal situation is one where parents could identify the following symptoms of emotional wounds:

  1. Emotional abuse can affect cognitive development if it occurred in early childhood.
  2. Slow development of language. Survivors are prone to harming themselves because they are frequently stressed and are not able to cope with further life challenges.
  3. Engage in aggressive behavior such as bullying other kids.

Helping Victims of Psychological Abuse

Child abuse is common within the family because it is a unit of relationships. A family has different types of relationships – between parents who are role-models; child and parents who are protectors and providers of both physical and psychological needs; and within siblings as close play-mates coming from the same parents, yet different in many ways. The National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) seeks to protect children, prevents abuse and transforms society so that it could be a safer place for children.

  1. The majority of emotional child abuse cases emanate from parents, care-takers and close relatives who are entrusted to take care of children especially in this era of HIV and AIDS fatalities. The growing number of orphans denotes higher incidents of abuse because the society is unable to cope with the need for willing care-givers who could step in and provide a much needed care.
  2. When parents are fighting, they are unable to give loving attention to their children. All thoughts have frequencies and children are able to pick tension between their parents. Some parents disrespect their children and argue in their presence. Kids do not understand why parents fight and tend to blame themselves. During the fights, children are forced to keep their emotional needs on hold, thus causing distress. Such moments create a defense mechanism which translates into repressed emotions wherein a child refrains from being normal in an attempt to help bring peace. This is a huge burden for children; and they are not equipped to handle such responsibilities.
  3. Each child is unique and should not be compared with any siblings. Mothers are closer to children and it is prudent that she discuss their attributes with their father so that they could jointly avoid focusing on their weaknesses. Whenever a parent expresses non- conformity of one child to other sibling, it impacts negatively because one receives praise and the other is likely to feel shame.

There is a general belief that if you want to change the nation, you must educate women. So it is in the subject of parenting. Ideally a child must have both concurring parents on the content of informal and non-formal education. Socialization is nurturing and effective when it helps a child to recognize given talents and point to successful exit into adulthood. Psychological abuse hinders normal holistic growth and is still a subject of interest in public health training programs.

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