Free Essay: The Effects of Child Abuse on Social and Emotional Development

Published: 2017-07-20
Free Essay: The Effects of Child Abuse on Social and Emotional Development
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Child development Child abuse Emotional intelligence
Pages: 9
Wordcount: 2407 words
21 min read

Child abuse is an infringement of the childs right of having a safe and violent-free childhood . Its consequences usually have an impact on each child in a different way. The effect of child abuse can extend to adulthood and have severe consequences. Additionally, children who have been abused or experienced any form of violence may not have a fit and fully productive life during adulthood. Child abuse usually has an effect on the social and emotional development of children. The paper will thus focus on the consequences of child abuse in regards to social and emotional development of children. It will entail the types of maltreatment, awareness, impact, statistics and solutions.

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Types of Maltreatment

Child abuse usually occurs in a series of states and as a result of various reasons. Subjection to abuse among children is not usually uniform. There are four types of maltreatment or ill-treatment that children can experience. There is physical abuse that occurs in the form of an injury. It can also include measured hostile actions on a child that results in pain and suffering. Actions that may lead to the physical abuse are such as poisoning, shaking, hitting, burning, throwing or suffocating among others (Schelbe & Geiger, 2017). Severe physical punishment also results in physical abuse of children.

Sexual abuse is another form of maltreatment that children usually undergo. In this case, it entails the aspect of forcing or even inducing a child to partake in sexual activities despite the fact that they may be unaware of what is going on in the entire situation. It may further involve a situation in which an adult exposes a minor to an improper sexual conduct. Moreover, sexual abuse also includes subtle ways of manipulation where a child is forced to believe that the particular action is a manifestation of love (Ruff, 2015).

Children may also be subjected to emotional ill treatment that can then result in severe and persistent impacts on their emotional development. This is referred to as emotional abuse. It may transpire when a person delivers a message to a child that they are inadequate, worthless or even not loved just to satisfy the needs of another party. The exploitation or even corruption of a child as well as making them fear or subject them to any form of danger is also considered to be emotional abuse. One way that a child may be exposed to a risk is making them witness domestic violence, hear or even watch another person being mistreated. Furthermore, the aspect of imposing expectations that are developmentally inappropriate is also form of emotional abuse (Afifi et al., 2014). It may be such as limiting the child from learning and exploring as well averting them from taking part in the regular group contact.

Neglect involves the lack of parental care whereby the child may be deprived of various needs. These are such as medicine, clothing or even food. It may further entail the inadequate form of showing the right legal guidance and morals as well as not giving them love, support, and care as well. In this type of abuse, the health and development of the child are usually impaired (Widom, Spatz, Czaja & DuMont, 2015). It is also necessary to note that neglect may occur during pregnancy when there is the occurrence of maternal substance misuse. Parents who subject their children to this form of abuse may either be addicted to drugs or ill (Korbin & Krugman, 2014). Moreover, they may be too absorbed in different activities, job or even another person so that they are seldom present to care for their children.


Every child has a right to live safely and be free from any form of violence. The month of April has been set aside as a Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. It is usually a significant period to ensure that the community has been sensitized on how to keep their children safe. It is necessary for neighbors, friends, businesses, schools and even families to collaborate in bringing a positive change to the lives of children by promoting the aspects of responsiveness, discourse, and safety. In this way, child abuse can be prevented from ever occurring in the society (Joyful Heart Foundation, 2016). There is also an organization Prevent Child Abuse America established in 1972 which is a national champion for great forms of childhoods for all the children. It promotes the healthy development of children and averts any child abuse before it happens. In this way, it assists children in growing up and positively contribute to their communities (Prevent Child Abuse America, 2017).


When children are abused, they suffer in various ways. Emotionally, they may develop eating disorders. This is where they have irregular eating habits and even severe grief. Children who are abused have trouble in feeding and thus end up growing slowly. This may be as a result of stress that they develop when they are abused and thus have little or no appetite at all in the end. They are also unable to concentrate on various activities in life. For instance, when they are in class, they tend to be absent minded and have little or no concentration in their studies. They may be thinking of the problem that awaits them at home such as being beaten or denied access to food or a comfortable place to sleep (Joyful Heart Foundation, 2016). Sleep is quite important factor among growing children. However, for those who are abused, they tend to develop sleep issues and may either have excessive sleep or even suffer from insomnia. The abuse may be excessive such that they spend long hours at night imagining the next form of violence or suffering that they will experience in the hands of their parents or even guardians. Moreover, they may also experience nightmares in their sleep as a result of the abuse they underwent (Greenfield, Lee, Friedman, & Springer, 2011). Difficulty in falling asleep may also be due to fear that the person abusing them may come and do the same thing in their sleep. The sleep problems may further extend to their adulthood if the abuse is not stopped at an early stage.

Depression also develops in children when they lack some basic needs. When children are denied material needs such as clothing, they may be stressed when going to school without lovely attires while their peers are well dressed. Furthermore, the lack of emotional needs is another aspect that results in depression among children. This is such as lack of love, support, forgiveness, and acceptance among other aspects. In the event of undergoing abuse, some children may even begin to use drugs in an attempt to try forget what they are going through or only to escape the trauma they may be experiencing (Calvete, 2014). Additionally, some children may go ahead and hurt themselves as a way of releasing the overwhelming emotions. It is simply a way of coping as a result of the abuse they are undergoing. As such, they may harm themselves by burning, cutting, scratching, poisoning or even taking an overdose (Young & Widom, 2014).

Socially, children who undergo an abuse also find it hard to cultivate close relationships. They do not trust people easily and may even see everyone who attempts to get close to them as only wanting to hurt them in a certain way. As such, they may prefer being loners or rather have a circle of close friends. They also tend to be excessively friendly with strangers. For their parents or caregivers who abuse them, they tend to distance themselves away from them and prefer being in the company of new people who have not harmed them in any way. Child abuse further results in aloof behavior when children do not interact with those who are the same age. They tend to either hate them or be envious of the fact that they are not as lucky as they are concerning growing up in a comfortable environment. They are also very inactive and tend to avoid participating in most activities that are undertaken by their peers. Children who have been abused do not also have the capability to be spontaneous (Benson & Haith, 2010).


It has been observed that in every ten seconds, a report of child abuse is usually made and annually, the referrals to the state child protective services entail about six million children. Out of the six million, three million are often subjected to a report that has been investigated. Moreover, there were an approximated 702,000 victims of child abuse, but it was said that was only a part of the reported cases since some of them are not usually reported to the authorities and thus are not recorded (Child Help, 2014). Children who are in the first year of their life have been seen to have the uppermost level of oppression of 24.4 per 1000 children in the state populace of the similar age. Neglect has been reported to be the most common form of abuse among children. Almost 80% of the reported cases are as a result of neglect while 18% is due to physical abuse and 9% is as a result of sexual abuse. Additionally, about four out of five of the abusers are usually the parents of those children (National Children's Alliance, 2014).


Child abuse can be curbed using various ways. It is necessary to ensure that the economic support to families has been strengthened. This can be undertaken by providing reinforced household financial security . Moreover, the work policies of the family should also be friendly. This will minimize the levels of stress among parents and caregivers who will not transfer their anger or frustrations to the children. Social norms should also be changed to support the parents and offer a positive form of parenting. The public should thus be engaged in this as well as incorporate education campaigns. The legislative approaches or ways should be set so as to lead to the reduction of corporal punishment that results in physical abuse among children (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). The skills that are applied in parenting should be enhanced in such a way that they promote the development of a healthy child. The best way that this can be undertaken is by conducting home visitation during early childhood. There should also be the utilization of parenting skills and family relationship methods as well. It is also important to provide quality care and education a bit early in life. This can be conducted through accreditation and licensing that will result in the improved quality of child care. Furthermore, preschool should also be enriched with the incorporation of family commitment (Institute of Medicine, Petersen, Joseph, Feit & National Research Council, 2014).

It is significant to intervene and reduce harms and further avert any imminent risks. The improvement of primary care is necessary for this to be successful. It is also important to offer behavioral parent training programs that will impart the skills and knowledge of how to act when offended by their children or even how to treat them in the right way. Treatment can also be offered to prevent problem behavior and later participation in violence. In this case, the right forms of punishing children can be imparted among parents and caregivers that will enable them to avoid any harsh actions (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016).

The evidence-based practice is also an effective way that can be applied to solve child abuse issues. There should be child abuse prevention programs and even policies that are supported by scientific research. The use of evidence-based practice will also offer the standpoints that will be employed in the provision of services to children that will be a depiction of their needs. In this way, it will promote the delivery of the right form of care to the children thus avoiding the possibility of any abuse (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2013).


Child abuse is a dominant issue in our society. It has been detected to occur in various ways that end up hurting the child physically, emotionally, psychologically or socially. The most common form of child abuse is neglect that has been reported at almost 80%. It is thus necessary to take the appropriate actions to ensure that the issue has been curbed. Most of these problems usually extend up to adulthood and the earlier they are curbed, the better it will be for children as they advance later in life. The comprehensive application of the preventive methods of child abuse will ensure that it has been significantly reduced and may even be totally eliminated from the world and society as a whole. Organizing campaigns on a regular basis to sensitize the public on child awareness is one of the most efficient solutions to child abuse. Moreover, early parental education is also necessary for ensuring that children are given the right form of care as they grow.


Afifi, T. O., MacMillan, H. L., Boyle, M., Taillieu, T., Cheung, K., & Sareen, J. (2014). Child abuse and mental disorders in Canada. Canadian Medical Association Journal, cmaj-131792.

Benson, J. B., & Haith, M. M. (2010). Social and emotional development in infancy and early childhood. London: Academic.

Calvete, E. (2014). Emotional abuse as a predictor of early maladaptive schemas in adolescents: contributions to the development of depressive and social anxiety symptoms. Child abuse & neglect, 38(4), 735-746.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, April 5). Child abuse and neglect: Prevention strategies. Retrieved from Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

Child Help. (2014). Child abuse statistics & Facts. Retrieved from Child Help:

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). Preventing child abuse & Neglect. Retrieved from Child Welfare Information Gateway:

Joyful Heart Foundation. (2016). Child abuse awareness and prevention month. Retrieved from Joyful Heart Foundation:

Joyful Heart Foundation. (2016). Effect of child abuse and neglect. Retrieved from Joyful Heart Foundation:

National Children's Alliance. (2014). National statistics on child abuse. Retrieved from National Children's Alliance:

Prevent Child Abuse America. (2017). Great childhoods begin at home. Retrieved from Prevent Child Abuse America:

Widom, C. S., Sally J. C, & Kimberly, A. D. (2015). "Intergenerational transmission of child abuse and neglect: Real or detection bias?" Science 347.6229: 1480-1485.

Young, J. C., & Widom, C. S. (2014). Long-term effects of child abuse and neglect on emotion processing in adulthood. Child abuse & neglect, 38(8), 1369-1381.

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