According to recent statistics from the Child Welfare Protection Services, 80% of child abuse and neglect victims developed at least one psychiatric disorder by the age of 21, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. Moreover, children who experience abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult and 30% more likely to commit violent crimes.
Abused children are also 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy, 2.5 times more likely to develop alcoholism and 3.8 times more likely to develop drug addictions. One third of these abused children will go on to abuse their own children one day. There are several types of abuse and neglect perpetrated against children. Physical neglect involves the refusal of health care to treat a physical injury, medical condition or impairment, or a delay in health care.
It also involves abandonment, which is the desertion of a child without supervision. Kicking a child out of the house, allowing the child to leave overnight without knowing his or her whereabouts and showing reckless disregard for the child’s safety, such as driving while drunk, are all causes of physical neglect. Providing inadequate clothing, food and shelter are common causes as well. With physical abuse, the child is intentionally slapped, kicked, punched, burned or injured in an attempt to control them.
Emotional child abuse and neglect can be one of the most damaging forms because it lurks subtly in the back of the child’s mind always and undermines his or her very confidence and lust for life. The Department of Health and Human Services defines emotional abuse as “inadequate nurturing, affection or attention, chronic or extreme spouse abuse, permitted drug or alcohol abuse, permitted delinquency or assault and refusal or delay in psychological care.”
Children will carry these scars into adulthood and have problems with their self esteem, relationships, perceptions, motivations and learning abilities. Often, emotional violence leads to physical abuse as well and many abused children are doomed to repeat the cycle of violence passed down by their parents if abuse treatment is not sought.
There are many other devastating effects of child abuse and neglect in both the short and long term. Following a severe beating, kids exhibit bruises, burns, lacerations, broken bones and permanent disabilities. Often, parents avoid seeking medical care for fear of being “found out,” which may lead to the child’s death. Psychologists speculate that children who are exposed to consistent patterns of household violence develop neurological problems, either strengthened fear response connections along nerve pathways that lead the child to experience the world as hostile and threatening, or inactive regions of the brain that prompt the child to be overly aggressive and insensitive, or withdrawn and antisocial.
Maltreatment, STDs, cancers, diseases, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse and impaired immune systems are more common among abused children. Children from abusive households are also 25% more likely to engage in risky behavior, like smoking, teenage pregnancy, delinquency, drug use and skipping school. The dangers are all evident. If you suspect a child has been victimized, then call one of the abuse hotlines today.