Belittling kids as harmful as beating, study finds
By Laura Blue, Time.com
updated 2:56 PM EDT, Mon July 30, 2012

(Time.com)-- It may be the most common kind of child abuse — and the most challenging to deal with. But psychological abuse, or emotional abuse, rarely gets the kind of attention that sexual or physical abuse receives.

That's the message of a trio of pediatricians, who write this week in the journal Pediatrics with a clarion call to other family doctors and child specialists: stay alert to the signs of psychological maltreatment. Its effects can be every bit as devastating as those of other abuse.

Psychological maltreatment can include terrorizing, belittling or neglecting a child, the pediatrician authors say.

Time.com: Child abuse pediatricians recommend basic parenting class...

"We are talking about extremes and the likelihood of harm, or risk of harm, resulting from the kinds of behavior that make a child feel worthless, unloved or unwanted," Harriet MacMillan, one of the three pediatrician authors, told reporters.

What makes this kind maltreatment so challenging for pediatricians and for social services staff, however, is that it's not defined by any one specific event, but rather by the nature of the relationship between caregiver and child. That makes it unusually hard to identify.

Can spanking cause mental illness?

Keeping a child in a constant state of fear is abuse, for example. But even the most loving parent will occasionally lose their cool and yell. Likewise, depriving a child of ordinary social interaction is also abuse, but there's nothing wrong with sending a school-aged boy to stew alone in his room for an hour after he hits a younger sibling.

All of this means that, for an outsider who observes even some dubious parenting practice, it can be hard to tell whether a relationship is actually abusive, or whether you've simply caught a family on a bad day.

Read the rest here.

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Replies to This Discussion

For as long as I can remember, I've thought that belittling kids was as harmful as a beating.  It seems to be true for adults as well.  That's why I dislike "practical jokes" and anything that embarrasses someone.

I agree Idaho Spud

I saw no research to back up the claim in the headline. it was interesting that twice as many women as men reported psychological abuse as children.

You would have to ask Time Magazine about that

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