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

Verbal abuse ought to be considered child abuse, says report

October 3, 2023 – A team of researchers from the USA and London recommends that verbal abuse be viewed as a separate type of child abuse and that it should not be summarized under the term emotional abuse. The proposal comes amid 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 “actions by an adult or other caregiver that harm a child or deny him or her the care he or she needs.” According to the authors, the 4 currently recognized sorts of child abuse 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 a matter in regards to the widely used Quiz about unwanted 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 can be as damaging to a child’s development as other currently recognized and forensically proven subtypes of maltreatment, such as childhood physical and sexual abuse,” the authors write. “Yet less attention is paid to childhood verbal abuse perpetrated by adults, either as a form of childhood emotional abuse or as a separate category of maltreatment.”

Emotional abuse is probably the most common type of child abuse within the United States today, based on CDC data released this summer. About a 3rd of all U.S. adults reported experiencing emotional abuse during 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 lifelong medical and mental health problems, and now have poorer educational and employment outcomes.

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