Child Abuse (cont.)

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What constitutes emotional child abuse?

Isolated emotional abuse is the least frequently reported form of child abuse (7% of all cases). This form is felt to be markedly underreported since it can be difficult to detect and document.

However, since it is a component of all forms of child abuse, it is the most pervasive of all the previously listed forms of child abuse. There are several categories of emotional abuse, and they may occur as unique experiences or together in the same child. They include

  1. rejecting (for example, refusing to acknowledge the child's worth and emotional needs);
  2. isolation (denying the child social experiences: locking child in the closet is an extreme example);
  3. terrorizing (verbal assault with or without weapons);
  4. ignoring (refusing to show affection);
  5. corrupting (reinforcing destructive, antisocial, or sexually exploitative behaviors);
  6. verbal assault (extreme sarcasm, name calling, public humiliation);
  7. overpressuring (criticism of age-appropriate behaviors/skills as inadequate).

Emotional child abuse is also sometimes termed psychological child abuse, verbal child abuse, or mental injury of a child.

What is sexual child abuse?

Sexual abuse is the third most frequently reported form of child mistreatment (9% of all cases). Experts believe that sexual abuse may be the most underreported type of abuse because of the secrecy or "conspiracy of silence" that so often characterizes these cases. A generally accepted definition of sexual abuse is that of a child involved in sexual activity for which consent cannot be given, is outside of the victim's developmental age, is unable to comprehend, and/or "violates the law or social taboos of society." Examples include fondling and any form of genital, anal, or oral-genital contact with a child that is unwarranted. These acts may occur whether the child is clothed or unclothed. Nontouching child sexual abuse would include exhibitionism, voyeurism, and the involvement of a child in prostitution or pornography.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/17/2013

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