"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Verbal abuse must be considered child abuse, says report

October 3, 2023 – A team of researchers from the United States and London recommends that verbal abuse be considered a separate type of child abuse and now not be grouped under the term emotional abuse. The proposal comes against the backdrop of recent reports that emotional abuse of youngsters is now more common than physical or sexual abuse.

Researchers from Wingate University in North Carolina and University College London analyzed data from 166 previous studies on child abuse. Their Results were published this month within the magazine Child abuse and neglect.

For the study, child abuse was defined as “an adult or other caregiver who commits acts that harm a child or deprives him or her of necessary care.” The 4 currently recognized varieties of child abuse, in response to the authors, are physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect.

Although some studies have used other methods to measure verbal abuse in childhood, a typical method is an issue concerning the widely used Quiz on negative childhood experiences It asks: “Before your 18th birthday, did a parent or other adult in your household often or very often verbally abuse, insult, degrade, or humiliate you, or behave in a way that made you fear physical harm?”

“These types of adult actions may be as harmful to a child's development as other currently recognized and forensically proven subtypes of maltreatment, such as childhood physical and sexual abuse,” the authors wrote. “Yet, verbal abuse of children by adults has received less attention as a form of childhood emotional abuse or as a separate category of maltreatment.”

Emotional abuse is now essentially the most common type of child abuse within the United States, in response to CDC data published this summer. About a 3rd of all adults within the United States reported experiencing emotional abuse of their childhood, CDC data shows.

“All adults sometimes get overwhelmed and say things unintentionally. We need to work together to find ways to recognize these actions and stop verbal abuse of children by adults so that children can thrive,” said Jessica Bondy, founding father of study sponsor and British non-profit organization Words Matter, in a opinion.

Children who experience abuse are more likely than their peers to have health and psychological problems throughout their lives and to realize poorer academic and skilled success.

“Clear terminology, definitions and measures are needed to prevent the occurrence and impact of [childhood verbal abuse] for their detection and prevention,” the authors concluded.