What Is Emotional Child Abuse? - Definition & Statistics

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  • 0:06 What Is Emotional Child Abuse?
  • 0:30 Aspects of Emotional…
  • 1:57 Statistics
  • 2:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Emotional child abuse may not be as commonly referred to as physical child abuse or sexual child abuse, but it is a real and unfortunate problem. This lesson defines it and goes over its characteristics and some statistics related to it.

What Is Emotional Child Abuse?

Emotional child abuse occurs when a child's caretaker exhibits a behavioral pattern that impairs a child's emotional development. This may also tie into problems with cognitive, psychological, and social development, since these topics are closely tied in many ways.

In this lesson, you're going to learn more about how emotional child abuse may occur and some statistics about it.

Aspects of Emotional Child Abuse

So what kind of patterns may a parent or other guardian exhibit that would impair a child's emotional development? Well, why don't we meet Mary? Mary is 12 years old and lives in an emotionally abusive home. Her parents have a long-standing pattern of traits and tendencies that are, in effect, emotional child abuse.

When Mary comes home from school, her parents ignore her. Meaning, they don't bother even looking at her or, if they do, do not call her by her name. When Mary cries out and desperately wants a hug from her parents, they reject her by not hugging back. What's worse, they verbally assault Mary when she wants a hug, calling her belittling names when she does so.

Because of this, Mary tries to seek out emotional support from other adults and friends, but her parents isolate Mary. Meaning, they constantly prevent Mary from seeing her friends and other family members. They don't even let her out of the house most days. And when she's stuck at home, she is terrorized by her parents. They create a climate of fear by telling her that if she doesn't follow their orders, they will kill her favorite pet hamster.

But the emotional abuse doesn't stop there. When Mary complains of feeling really sad, to the point where another adult may think Mary is suicidal, Mary's parents neglect her and do not get her the medical and psychological care she needs. It gets worse, they even corrupt and exploit her by encouraging Mary to do illegal things, like drugs and to pose for provocative photos for money.

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