Consequences of Child Abuse & Neglect
Many of our youth at Excelsior have been victims of child abuse, which has led to many short- and long-term consequences. Comprehensive treatment and support for these survivors is essential to help them overcome trauma and go on to lead healthy, productive lives.
Child abuse can be psychological, physical, emotional, and/or sexual in nature. The impact of child abuse differs for each individual, but is often categorized into three different types of consequences that are interrelated: physical, psychological and behavioral. It is impossible to separate the consequences that result from child abuse and neglect. For example, physical consequences often have psychological implications; psychological issues can then manifest as behavioral problems; high-risk behaviors can lead to further physical health problems. Each victim experiences trauma differently and no matter how it manifests for the individual their pain and suffering should not be discounted. We must work together to support these victims and prevent further abuse from happening.
The Traumatic Consequences
Physical consequences of abuse and neglect can range from relatively minor (cuts and bruises) to severe or even life-threatening (broken bones, concussions, starvation). In many cases, these immediate effects can lead to more long-term consequences and chronic health conditions, like impaired brain development and poor physical health.
Psychological consequences, such as fear, isolation, and distrust occur for the majority of child abuse victims. These consequences often develop into long-term psychological conditions, including cognitive difficulties, trouble with relationships and poor mental/emotional health that can lead to serious mental health disorders like borderline personality disorder, depression and anxiety.
Behavioral Consequences have been widely observed among child abuse victims as well. While not all victims experience behavioral problems, studies have shown certain behavioral problems are more common among this group. Youth with histories of maltreatment are at risk for behavioral issues such as substance abuse, delinquency, truancy, unplanned pregnancy, and even abusive or assaultive behavior. In fact, having a history of child abuse increases a person’s likelihood of being arrested by 53% (Penn State University).
Prevention: It Takes All of Us
Although the causes of child abuse and neglect are complex, we can work together to break the cycle and reduce the likelihood of long-term consequences. Through raised awareness, prevention strategies, and support for victims, we can address the risk factors and work to prevent child abuse.
Know the Signs
- Sudden changes in school performance
- Learning difficulties
- Always watchful or on edge
- Overly compliant/responsible
- Comes to school early; stays late
- Little concern for the child
- Lacks supervision
- Denies existence of child’s problems in school
- Blames child for their problems in school
- Perceives the child as burdensome
- Demands perfection
- No affection
- No eye contact
- Relationship is mostly negative
- State they don’t like each other
**None of these signs prove that child abuse is present in a family or relationship. Any of these symptoms can occur at some point for any child or parent. However, when these signs appear repeatedly or in combination, it is possible that some sort of maltreatment is occurring. If you witness this please take a closer look at the situation and consider the possibility of child abuse. You do not need to know for sure, but if you have ANY suspicion, please report it so that professionals can conduct an official investigation. Source
The priority will always be to prevent child abuse and neglect, but it is equally important to support the victims who have already suffered. Research suggests that supporting this individuals is most effective through trauma-informed practices – specific programming designed to address and respond to the impact of traumatic stress. For years, Excelsior has used trauma-informed care practices to support all of our youth, which have proven extremely effective, especially in treating our trauma victims. For more information on trauma-informed care, please visit excelsiorcares.org.
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