Looking for other ways to read this?
The outcomes for each child may vary widely and are affected by a combination of factors. Additionally, children who experience maltreatment often are affected by other adverse experiences (e.g., parental substance use, domestic violence, poverty), which can make it difficult to separate the unique effects of maltreatment. This factsheet explains the long-term physical, psychological, behavioral, and societal . Child Abuse and Neglect. Aside from the immediate physical injuries children can experience through maltreatment, a child’s reactions to abuse or neglect can have lifelong and even intergenerational impacts. Childhood maltreatment can be linked to later physical, psychological, and behavioral consequences as well as costs to society as a whole.
Ensuring that young children have safe, secure environments in which to grow and learn creates a strong foundation for effefts their futures and a thriving, prosperous society. Science shows that early exposure to maltreatment or neglect can disrupt healthy development and have lifelong consequences. When cihld responses to children are unreliable, inappropriate, or simply absent, developing brain circuits can be disrupted, affecting how children learn, solve problems, and relate to others.
Sensing threat activates biological stress response systems, and excessive activation of those systems can have a toxic effect on developing brain circuitry.
When the lack of wre persists, the adverse effects of toxic stress can compound the lost opportunities for development associated with limited or ineffective interaction. This complex impact of neglect on the developing brain underscores why it is so harmful in the earliest years of life. It also demonstrates why effective early interventions are likely to pay significant dividends in better long-term outcomes in educational achievement, lifelong healthand successful parenting of the next generation.
Chronic neglect is tbe with a wider range of damage than active abuse, but it receives less attention in what year did isaac newton die and practice. In the U. Science tells us that young children who experience significantly limited caregiver responsiveness may sustain a range of adverse physical and mental health consequences that actually produce more widespread developmental impairments than overt physical abuse.
With more than a half million documented cases in the U. Despite these compelling findings, child neglect receives far less public attention than either physical abuse or sexual exploitation and a zre proportion of mental health services. The negative consequences of deprivation and neglect can be reversed or ehat through appropriate and timely how to answer police oral board questions, but merely removing a young child from an insufficiently responsive environment does not guarantee positive outcomes.
Children who experience severe deprivation typically need therapeutic intervention and highly supportive care to mitigate the adverse effects and efffects recovery. Illustration by Betsy Hayes. View Related Deep Dives. Briefs : 8 Things to Remember about Child Development.
Explore Related Resources
Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect Every child who has experienced abuse or neglect will have their own response to the trauma. While some children have long-lasting effects, others are able to recover quicker and with ease. There is not a right or wrong way for a child to manage effects of the abuse and neglect they have suffered. A growing body of research indicates that the effects of chronic neglect create a harmful accumulation of problems for child well-being, including detrimental impact on early brain development, emotional regulation, and cognitive development. Children who are abused and neglected may suffer immediate physical injuries such as cuts, bruises, or broken bones, as well as emotional and psychological problems, such as .
Not a MyNAP member yet? Register for a free account to start saving and receiving special member only perks. The consequences of maltreatment can be devastating. For over 30 years, clinicians have described the effects of child abuse and neglect on the physical, psychological, cognitive, and behavioral development of children.
Physical consequences range from minor injuries to severe brain damage and even death. Psychological consequences range from chronic low self-esteem to severe dissociative states. The cognitive effects of abuse range from attentional problems and learning disorders to severe organic brain syndromes.
Behaviorally, the consequences of abuse range from poor peer relations all the way to extraordinarily violent behaviors. Thus, the consequences of abuse and neglect affect the victims themselves and the society in which they live. Many complexities challenge our understanding of factors and relationships that exacerbate or mitigate the consequences of abusive experiences.
The majority of children who are abused do not show signs of extreme disturbance. Research has suggested a relationship between child maltreatment and a variety of short- and long-term consequences, but considerable uncertainty and debate remain about the effects of child victimization on children, adolescents, and adults.
The relationship between the causes and consequences of child maltreatment is particularly problematic, since some factors such as low intelligence in the child may help stimulate abusive behavior by the parent or caretaker, but low intelligence can also be a consequence of abusive experiences in early childhood.
Until recently, research on the consequences of physical and sexual child abuse and neglect has been based primarily on retrospective studies of adolescents or adults that are subject to clinical bias and inaccurate recall Aber and Cicchetti, Research on the consequences of abuse is also challenged by the hidden nature of much abuse and because these experiences may not come to anyone's attention until years after they occur. Maltreatment often occurs in the presence of multiple problems within a family or social environment, including poverty, violence, substance abuse, and unemployment.
Distinguishing consequences that are associated directly with the experience of child maltreatment itself rather than other social disorders is a daunting task for the research investigator. Research on the consequences of child maltreatment is also uneven and, as a result, we do not yet understand the consequences on children of particular types or multiple forms of abuse.
In recent years, much attention has been focused on the consequences of child sexual abuse, especially the adolescent and adult sexual behavior of the victim. Less attention has been given to the short- and long-term consequences of child neglect and physical abuse. Only recently has public awareness expanded to include recognition of the psychological consequences that stem from even the most subtle forms of emotional maltreatment.
Some experts now contend that the psychological or emotional components of abuse and neglect are the factor most responsible for the destructive consequences of all types of maltreatment Brassard et al. Nor do we yet know the importance of the particular timing, intensity, and context of abuse on the outcome.
Factors such as the age and developmental status of the child may influence the outcomes of maltreatment experiences. Effects that appear at only one life stage, whether immediately following the maltreatment or later, are often different from those that persist throughout life. What may appear to be adaptive or functional at one point in development avoiding an abusive parent or desensitizing oneself against feelings may later compromise the person's ability to draw on and respond to personal relationships in an adaptive and flexible way.
Given the wide variations reported in the research literature, certain intrinsic strengths and vulnerabilities within a child and the child's environment may affect the extent to which abuse will have adverse consequences. Disordered patterns of adaptation may lie dormant, only to appear during times of stress or in conjunction with particular circumstances Sroufe and Rutter, Little research has focused on gender differences in the consequences of child abuse and neglect. Early clinical reports of violence primarily describe violent male adolescents, although Widom's b delinquency analysis had higher rates of arrests for violence of abused and neglected.
Studies of sexual promiscuity and teenage pregnancy have primarily included females who were sexually abused. Few studies have found consistent differences in the reaction of boys and girls to molestation, although one popular report found boys to have more externalizing and girls to have more internalizing symptoms Friedrich et al. The lack of attention to gender differences may result from the small number of male victims of sexual abuse in most studies and lower rates of reporting of childhood sexual abuse in males.
This chapter is organized in a developmental framework. It begins with a description of what is known about the childhood consequences of child maltreatment, followed by a discussion of what is known about the consequences of abuse and neglect in adolescence and adulthood. A discussion of labeling effects, considering the issues of stigma, bias, and discriminatory treatment, is followed by an examination of a number of potential protective factors. The chapter concludes with recommendations for research.
Physical abuse in infants and young children can lead to brain dysfunction Dykes, and sometimes death. Most fatality victims of abuse and neglect are under age 5. However, the number of child deaths caused by abuse and neglect may actually be much higher, since cause of death is often misclassified in child fatality reports McClain et al. A child does not need to be struck on the head to sustain brain injuries. Dykes has indicated that infants who are shaken vigorously by the extremities or shoulders may sustain intracranial and intraocular bleeding with no sign of external head trauma.
Thus early neglectful and physically abusive practices have devastating consequences for their small victims. Neglect cases may occur at any point of a child's development but are often associated with early childhood, when they are more likely to be discovered by health professionals, educators, and child welfare workers.
One form of child neglect is associated with nonorganic failure to thrive infants. The absence of physical growth in these infants can be measured by objective scales of weight and height Drotar, Neglect is usually suspected when such infants demonstrate significant weight gain following hospital admission or child removal from the family.
Deprivational dwarfism, a medical term applied to children of small stature whose physical. Even after diagnosis and treatment, the psychological consequences of emotional neglect persist. Polansky et al. Drotar notes that factors that trigger nonorganic failure to thrive and child neglect should be separated from factors that maintain these behaviors.
In early periods of neglectful behavior, the child may exhibit stressful behaviors in the forms of feeding problems, irritability, or deficits in social responsiveness that place increased demands on the parent's caretaking duties Powell and Low, ; Powell et al.
In some cases, nutritional deprivation, combined with increased maternal detachment, sets into motion a "vicious cycle of cumulative psychological risk" Drotar, Eventually, the parent may begin to perceive the child as quiet, sickly, or not very competent, perceptions that may not be shared by others who observe the child Ayoub and Miler, ; Kotelchuck, In the absence of growth indicators of nonorganic failure to thrive or deprivational dwarfism, clinical diagnosis of child neglect is quite difficult.
Oates a,b; has described some nonspecific behavioral characteristics of nonorganic failure to thrive infants, which include lack of smiling, an expressionless face, gaze aversion, self-stimulating behavior, intolerance of changes in routine, low activity level, and flexed hips.
Abuse and neglect may result in serious health problems that can adversely affect children's development and result in irremediable lasting consequences. Early studies of physically abused children documented significant neuromotor handicaps, including central nervous system damage, physical defects, growth and mental retardation, and serious speech problems Elmer and Gregg, ; Green et al. Physically abused children have been found to have more mild neurologic signs, serious physical injuries, and skin markings and scars than their nonabused peers Kolko et al.
Children who have been sexually abused, and some children who have been physically neglected, have shown heightened sexuality and signs of genital manipulation. A particularly serious biological consequence of child and adolescent sexual abuse is the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including human immunodeficiency virus, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Cognitive and language deficits in abused children have been noted clinically Augoustinos, ; Azar et al.
Abused and neglected children with no evidence of neurological impairment have also shown delayed intellectual development, particularly. Some studies have found lowered intellectual functioning and reduced cognitive functioning in abused children Hoffman-Plotkin and Twentyman, ; Perry et al. However, others have not found differences in intellectual and cognitive functioning, language skills, or verbal ability Alessandri, ; Allen and Oliver, ; Elmer, ; Lynch and Roberts, Problematic school performance e.
The findings for sexually abused children are inconsistent. Dodge and colleagues found that physically harmed 4-year-old children showed deviant patterns of processing social information, related to aggressive behavior, at age 5. Physically harmed children relative to nonphysically harmed children were significantly less attentive to social cues, more inclined to attribute hostile intent, and less able to manage personal problems.
They explain possible cognitive deficits in abused and neglected children by suggesting that physical abuse affects the development of social-information-processing patterns, which in turn lead to chronic aggressive behavior. The experience of severe physical harm is associated with the "acquisition of a set of biased and deficient patterns of processing social provocation information" p.
Differences in findings on the cognitive and intellectual consequences of childhood maltreatment may be related to the failure to control for important variables, such as socioeconomic status, and the lack of statistical power of small sample sizes. More recent studies have excluded children with obvious neurological impairments. Yet maltreatment, especially early maltreatment, can cause injury to the central nervous system that results in future cognitive impairments Lewis and Shanok, Some studies suggest that certain signs of severe neglect such as when a child experiences dehydration, diarrhea, or malnutrition without receiving appropriate care may lead to developmental delays, attention deficits, poorer social skills, and less emotional stability.
Consequences of physical child. Poorly attached children are at risk for diminished self-esteem and thus view themselves more negatively than nonmaltreated children. In several studies, school-age victims of physical abuse showed lower self-esteem on self-report Allen and Tarnowski, ; Kinard, ; Oates et al. The consequences of neglectful behavior can be especially severe and powerful in early stages of child development.
Drotar notes that maternal detachment and lack of availability may harm the development of bonding and attachment between a child and parent, affecting the neglected child's expectations of adult availability, affect, problem solving, social relationships, and the ability to cope with new or stressful situations Aber and Allen, ; Main et al. One study by Rohner has presented impressive cross-cultural evidence of the negative consequences of parental neglect and rejection on children's self-esteem and emotional stability.
In a prospective study of the qualitative range of caregiving in a high-risk sample, Egeland and Sroufe a identified a group of mothers who were psychologically unavailable to their infants. These mothers were detached and unresponsive to their children's bids for care and attention. Children from this group were compared with physically abused, neglected, verbally rejected, and control groups from the same high-risk sample. Using multiple measures across different situations and outcome measures designed to assess the salient developmental issues of each age, the results indicated that children in all maltreatment groups functioned poorly Erickson et al.
Over time their functioning deteriorated. There were many similarities in terms of the pattern of development between the maltreatment groups, but there were also a number of interesting differences. Nearly all the children in this study whose mothers were psychologically unavailable were anxiously attached at 18 months of age, with the majority of these classified as anxious avoidant 86 percent. These children were observed with their mothers in a problem-solving situation at 24 months and a teaching task at 42 months and were found to be angry, noncomplacent, lacking in persistence, and displaying little positive affect.
One of the most dramatic findings for these children was the nearly 40 point decline in performance on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development between 9 and 24 months. In the preschool classroom, these children presented varied and serious behavior problems.
Studies have reported evidence of other psychosocial problems in young children. Higher incidence of suicide attempts and self-mutilation have been. Comparison studies with nonphysically abused children indicate heightened levels of depression, hopelessness, and lower self-esteem in physically abused children Allen and Tarnowski, ; Kazdin et al. Greater emotional difficulties in older physically abused children have also been identified Kinard, , In a more recent investigation involving prepubescent ages 7 to 12 maltreated children, Kaufman found a disproportionate number of the maltreated children who met the diagnostic criteria for one of the major affective disorders.
Linkages between parental behaviors that have emotionally or psychologically destructive consequences on children have not been clearly established. While verbally or symbolically abusive acts designed to terrorize or intimidate a child such as constant belittling or the destruction of a favorite object or pet are associated with severe long-term consequences Vissing et al. The failure to provide age-appropriate care such as parental availability and nurturance , cognitive stimulation, or achievement expectations also can have profound psychological impact, especially when such omissions occur during critical child and adolescent developmental periods.