What are the effects of child abuse?
All forms of abuse and neglect have a harmful effect on children and young people. Below is an outline of some of the most common effects:
Emotional scars: Children who suffer abuse or neglect feel most of the pain on the inside. Many children suffer low self-esteem and feelings of guilt, often blaming themselves for the abuse. Children can find it difficult to have trusting relationships and experience loneliness and bullying. Children often have feelings of hopelessness, hate, despair, misery, and rage, sometimes talking about feeling suicidal or self-harm.
Physical scars: Children can have direct physical effects such as bruising, cuts, broken bones, health problems, under-nourishment or even, death.
Impact on future wellbeing: Research shows that children who have suffered abuse are more likely to have lower educational attainment and suffer from drug and alcohol dependency. Long-term physical and mental health difficulties including depression can be a consequence. Research shows that many individuals who commit serious offences suffered from abuse during their childhood.
Impact on families: As well as the impact of abuse and neglect on the child themselves, their family can also be affected with family members anxious and unsure about how to support a child who has been abused. A child’s behaviour and attitudes can be difficult to deal with, and families often struggle to know how to cope.
The Childline report
‘What children say about being abused’ (1995) notes:
‘Take any book describing the effects of domestic violence on women, replace women with children and it will describe the impact of violence on children. Bruises and cuts, even broken bones, dislocated shoulders and burns heal. The physical pain they experience can be shortlived; what they suffer is an assault on their identity and spirit, on their trust and confidence in themselves and their parents and on their emotional development and their capacity to feel loved.’
(Not for reporting child protection concerns)
Moray Child Protection Committee
The Moray Council, Education and Social Care,
High Street, Elgin