Of all forms of maltreatment, emotional maltreatment had the strongest effects on the psyche of children and adolescents, even in comparison with physical abuse, a study revealed.
Researchers carried out an elaborate study on the psychological effects that abuse, neglect and emotional maltreatment have on young people. Examples of emotional abuse considered include when parents subject their children to extreme humiliation, threaten to put them in a home, or blame them for their own psychological distress or suicidal thoughts.
Extensive interviews were used to collect family data, and files from youth welfare offices were analysed. The study of 778 children found that 80% of the children and adolescents who reported having been maltreated had also experienced emotional maltreatment.
In younger children between the ages of three and eight, emotional maltreatment led primarily to behavioural problems, while in older children it was more likely to lead to depression and anxiety disorders.
The findings suggest that the risk of developing psychiatric disorders after maltreatment is already increased in early and middle childhood, which underlines the need for early intervention, the researchers say.
Child Maltreatment bit.ly/CM_emotional_maltreatment
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