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Child abuse doesn’t have to be physical to cause deep harm

It is well-known that physical abuse can take a big toll on a child. However, child abuse doesn’t have to be physical in nature to have deep negative impacts. As a recent study underscores, non-physical types of abuse, such as emotional abuse, are just as capable of causing a child significant harm.

In the study, researchers looked at the mental health of around 2,300 children, around 1,200 of whom had been exposed to some form of maltreatment in their lives. The types of maltreatment the kids experienced fell into four main categories: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect.

The study looked at how the kids who had experienced maltreatment compared to those who hadn’t when it came to rates of neuroticism, anxiety, withdrawal and depression. The study found that the kids who suffered maltreatment, whichever of the four maltreatment categories the abuse they experienced fell into, had higher rates of these mental health problems. The results suggest that, generally, non-physical types of child abuse like emotional abuse can have similar mental health effects to physical forms of child abuse.

Thus, just as protecting their children from physical abuse is very important for parents, so too is protecting their children from emotional abuse. Consequently, one thing that could fill a divorcing parent with a lot of worry are suspicions that their ex may be acting in an emotionally abusive fashion towards the kids. A parent in such a situation may wonder what options are available to protect the emotional health and wellbeing of their children. Attorneys can provide divorcing parents who suspect their ex of emotionally abusing their kids with guidance on what sorts of protections for the kids can be sought in things such as child custody proceedings.

Source: Reuters, “Emotional child abuse may be just as bad as physical harm,” Lisa Rapaport, Oct. 19, 2015

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