10 Signs of Emotional Abuse from Parents video


What is psychological abuse of a child?

Psychological abuse occurs when a person intentionally causes mental or emotional pain, anguish, or suffering to a child. Psychological abuse includes rejection, name calling, threats, humiliation, intimidation, or harassment through words or actions. It can also include ignoring the child, not talking to her or isolating her from her family, friends or regular activities. Psychological abuse also occurs when a person encourages, uses, or teaches a child to do something wrong.

What increases the risk of a child being the victim of psychological abuse?

  • Living in conditions of poverty, violence or overcrowding
  • Be 6 years of age or younger
  • Learning or memory problems, a chronic medical condition, or special needs
  • Not having family or friends who can take care of it
  • Receive care from a single or adolescent parent, or from a person who lacks knowledge about the normal development of children
  • Being around a person who drinks alcohol, uses illicit drugs, or is in a stressful situation
  • Being around a person who has a history of physical, sexual, or other abuse
  • Being around a person with a personality disorder, depression, or other mental illness

What are the signs and symptoms of psychological abuse?

The child may begin to behave in a way that is not normal for her. You may also have any of the following:

  • Appearance of being disturbed or afraid
  • Need to avoid eye contact or to speak openly with others
  • Anxiety, shyness, depression, or withdrawal
  • Feeling hopeless or having low self-esteem
  • Difficulty to sleep
  • Sudden changes in mood or eating patterns
  • Desire to hurt yourself or other people

How is psychological abuse diagnosed?

A doctor who specializes in child abuse may ask questions to get information about the abuse. You could talk to the child, family members, or others who care for the child. You may ask if the child eats well, takes his medications, provides clothing, or receives care. Doctors may also be interested in knowing who the abuser is and since when the abuse occurs. They may ask the child written questions. This could help doctors learn more about the abuse. The child may also need medical tests.

How is psychological abuse treated?

Your child may be placed in a day care center or foster home. Special services may be offered to help the child feel safe and cared for.

  • Therapy can help the child feel less scared, depressed, or anxious. A counselor can help the child talk about her feelings.
  • Medicines for the child to put him at ease, help him relax, or help him sleep better.

What are the risks of psychological abuse?

If the child is placed in a foster home or care center, it may be difficult for him to be away from his family or friends. Psychological counseling can be difficult and emotionally painful. They can change the child's behavior and school performance. Also the minor could develop other problems. These include alcohol and drug use, depression, and problems with your self-esteem, mood, and relationships in general. The child may want to hurt herself or hurt other people.

How can I care for a child who has been the victim of psychological abuse?

Allow the child to rest if needed. Tell the doctor if the child has trouble sleeping.

Report when you suspect or know that psychological abuse exists. Reporting child psychological abuse can be difficult, but it is of utmost importance. Doctors can help the child if he is at risk or is a victim of psychological abuse. By law, physicians are required to report child abuse. The child may need to be removed from the home and taken to a foster home to protect her from abuse.

Call the police if you have the following:

  • The child expresses the desire to hurt himself or someone else.
  • The child has trouble breathing, chest pain, or a fast heartbeat.

When should I get immediate attention?

  • The child feels that he cannot cope with or recover from the abuse.

When should I contact the child's doctor?

  • The child shows new signs and symptoms since the last medical consultation.
  • You have questions or concerns about the child's condition or care.


You have the right to participate in planning your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it can be treated.

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