"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 US and London recommends identifying verbal abuse as a separate type of child abuse and never classifying it under the label of 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 of kid abuse. Her Results were published this month within the magazine Child abuse and neglect.

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

Although some studies have used other methods to measure childhood verbal abuse, a typical method is to query the widely used method Quiz about unwanted childhood experiences It asks: “Before your 18th birthday, did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often verbally abuse, insult, degrade, or humiliate you, or behave in a way that made you fearful of being physically hurt?”

“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 essentially the most common type of child abuse within the United States today, 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 show.

“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 lifetime medical and mental health problems, and additionally they have poorer educational and employment outcomes.

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