Child Abuse and Neglect
In the United States during 2008, approximately 1,700 children died as a result of child abuse or neglect.Reference 2 Those who survive may have long-term emotional and physical problems. Abuse and neglect in children younger than 7 years of age may lead to permanent behavior and personality changes.
- When physical abuse happens repeatedly or for a long time, it can cause permanent damage.
- Certain types of abuse, such as Reference shaken baby syndrome Opens New Window, can be deadly. Children who survive may have permanent Reference developmental problems Opens New Window or Reference learning problems Opens New Window.
- A sexually abused child can get a Reference sexually transmitted infection Opens New Window, such as Reference HIV Opens New Window.
- A neglected child can have long-term health problems, such as not growing or developing normally.
The mental and emotional effects depend on how bad the abuse or neglect is, how often it happens, how long it's been going on, and who the abuser is.
Mental health disorders that can be caused by abuse and neglect include:
- Reference Anxiety Opens New Window.
- Reference Depression Opens New Window.
- Reference Borderline personality disorder Opens New Window. A person with this mental health condition may have trouble controlling his or her anger and impulses. He or she may have a low sense of self-worth and may have extreme worries about being abandoned.
- Reference Post-traumatic stress disorder Opens New Window.
- Reference Suicide Opens New Window or suicidal thoughts.
- Reference Dissociation Opens New Window. With this condition, the mind separates itself from an event or the environment so it can maintain some degree of order and sense.
- Reference Eating disorders Opens New Window.
Other emotional effects include:
- Low Reference self-esteem Opens New Window. Children often unconsciously blame themselves and grow up with a poor self-image. This affects their relationships with others.
- Anger, hostility, or criminal behavior.
- Negative feelings. A person with a history of abuse or neglect may have trouble dealing with normal struggles.
- Reference Drug or alcohol abuse Opens New Window.
- Emotional detachment. A person may have problems making friends. This can lead to feeling isolated and alone. Children may not learn how to feel sympathy for others.
- Impulsiveness. The person acts without thinking about the consequences. They may take risks, such as driving dangerously.
- Sexual problems. Abused or neglected children, especially those who are sexually abused, often have problems developing healthy feelings about sex as they reach adolescence and adulthood. Some may be overly active sexually. Others may be too afraid to be intimate with anyone.
Children who are abused or neglected are more likely to abuse other children and siblings and, later in life, their own children or elderly parents. They are also more likely to become involved in crime .
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference March 12, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Reference Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics