A Myth About Child Abuse: It is only abuse if it’s violent or sexual. In fact, emotional abuse and neglect are also considered abuse and are more likely to go unreported.
What is emotional abuse? Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me? Contrary to this old saying, emotional abuse can severely damage a child’s mental health or social development, leaving lifelong psychological scars. Examples of emotional child abuse include:
•Constant belittling, shaming, and humiliating a child
•Calling names and making negative comparisons to others
•Telling a child he or she is “no good,” “worthless,” “bad,” or “a mistake.”
•Frequent yelling, threatening, or bullying.
•Ignoring or rejecting a child as punishment, giving him or her the silent treatment.
•Limited physical contact with the child—no hugs, kisses, or other signs of affection.
•Exposing the child to violence or the abuse of others, whether it be the abuse of a parent, a sibling, or even a pet.
What is considered neglect? It is a pattern of failing to provide for a child’s basic needs, whether it be adequate food, clothing, hygiene, or supervision. Child neglect is not always easy to spot. Sometimes, a parent might become physically or mentally unable to care for a child, such as with a serious injury, untreated depression, or anxiety. Other times, alcohol or drug abuse may seriously impair judgment and the ability to keep a child safe.
Older children might not show outward signs of neglect, becoming used to presenting a competent face to the outside world, and even taking on the role of the parent. But at the end of the day, neglected children are not getting their physical and emotional needs met.
Recognizing Abusive Behavior Do you see yourself or someone else in some of these descriptions, painful as it may be? Do you feel angry and frustrated and don’t know where to turn? Raising children is one of life’s greatest challenges and can trigger anger and frustration in the most even tempered. If you grew up in a household where screaming and shouting or violence was the norm, you may not know any other way to raise your kids.
Recognizing there is a problem is the biggest step to getting help. If you yourself were raised in an abusive situation, that can be extremely difficult. Children experience their world as normal. It may have been normal in your family to be slapped or pushed for little to no reason, or that mother was too drunk to cook dinner. It may have been normal for your parents to call you stupid, clumsy, or worthless. Or it may have been normal to watch your mother get beaten up by your father.
It is only as adults that we have the perspective to step back and take a hard look at what is normal and what is abusive. If you need help yourself or need to report abuse, call the national child abuse hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD or 1-800-422-4453. Calls can be made completely anonymously.
April R. Miller, Executive Director
Tucker County Family Resource Network
Phone: 304-478-3827 or Cell: 304-704-9927
**The Tucker County Family Resource Network is a proud member of the WV Alliance of Family Resource Networks (WVAFRN)**
Submitted By The Tucker County Partners In Prevention Team