The Effects Of Child Abuse
How abuse affects the child ...
Any type of abuse will affect the child in some way; a one-off traumatic event; repeated physical, emotional, sexual abuse or neglect over a period of time; or a slow ‘drip drip’ effect of constant abuse throughout the child’s childhood. Children may suffer long-term consequences after experiencing any type of abuse, and the effects of child abuse has on each individual child may vary enormously, depending on:
- The type of abuse the child has experienced.
- How bad and how long the abuse has been.
- How long the abuse has gone on for.
- The child’s age, vulnerability and developmental stage.
- Whether or not the child is normally well-looked after at home.
- Whether there is anyone in the child’s life who is loving, caring and reliable.
Physically abused children may ...
- Seem over-cautious, watchful and wary of adults around them.
- Have difficulty in playing with others, and being spontaneous.
- Be aggressive and abusive towards both adults and/or other children.
- Be very passive around others, and allow themselves to be bullied by others.
- Find it difficult to trust both adults and/or other children, resulting in a lack of friends.
- Have difficulty concentrating at school, resulting in poor behaviour (aggression, truanting etc), or underachieving resulting in a poor education.
- Have a lack of cause and effect thinking, resulting in thoughtless behaviour.
- May get into trouble at home, school and with the police.
Sexually abused children may ...
- Change their behaviour suddenly.
- Have problems concentrating in school, resulting in underachievement.
- Have a poor view of themselves, and constantly put themselves down.
- Become depressed and have difficulty motivating themselves.
- Behave in a sexualised way (including conversations) or become seductive or flirtatious.
- Have sleeping problems, including insomnia and nightmares.
- May wet/soil themselves during the day, and start removing clothes when anxious.
- Withdraw from adults and/or children and become secretive.
- Start using drugs or alcohol.
- Develop an eating disorder, or overeat and have problems with their weight.
- Be cautious and wary of adults, especially with physical touch.
Emotionally abused or neglected children may ...
- Have impairments in their normal development – this may be related to their eating, speech and language, walking, growing, and learning.
- Have difficulties concentrating at school and underachieve.
- Have difficulty in making and maintaining friendships and other close relationships.
- Have boundary issues (e.g. over-friendly with strangers).
- Have difficulty in playing creatively and imaginatively, or be over creative and imaginative whilst withdrawing from other adults and/or children.
- Have a poor sense of self, self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Have aggressive outbursts.
Long-standing abuse is difficult to detect by those adults closest to the child, and as it is very difficult for the child to tell anybody about the abuse (this could be impacted by threats from the abuser), because they either think that it is their fault, that no one will listen or believe them, that they will be punished in some way, or that they want to protect the abuser because it is somebody they love. This usually means that the abuse goes undetected for a long time, having a further effect on the child and re-enforcing his/her belief that they are ‘not to tell’.
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This articles forms part of our Child Protection Policy.