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Effects of Child Abuse on Psychological Development

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Most people do not know how to cope with abused children. I became interested in this topic because when I was a teenager I had a friend who was abused by her stepfather and I didn’t know how to help her. I would like to know how children’s psychological development is affected, and how we can help these children cope with their misfortune. The most common effect is that maltreated children are, essentially, rejected. These destructive experiences impact on the developing child, increasing the risks for emotional, behavioral, social and physical problems throughout life. The purpose of this paper is to outline how these experiences may result in such increased risks by influencing the development of the child’s psychology.

Psychological Development

Child abuse is not a new problem. Each year in the United States alone, there are over three million children who are abused or neglected by their parents or caregivers. Many are brutally beaten and permanently injured. Child abuse has been a problem that has existed through out history and in recent years many researchers have begun dealing with this issue. There is a variation among researches on their approach to the topic. Child abuse is not only the mental or physical injury it is also sexual. These kinds of abuses harm the child’s mental and physical health. The emotional and psychological effects of maltreatment may be far more harmful to the well being of the child than the apparent physical injury. Many studies indicate that abused children are at increase risk of becoming like their parents and repeating the abusive pattern of child rearing to which they were exposed (national committee for prevention of child abuse 1983).

Background

Child abuse and neglect has recently become the focus of attention of all prevention centers and organizations for children care. Mistreatment of children has existed through history. Children are unable to protect themselves of physical abuse. They have been abandoned, terrorized, beaten, killed and sexual abused. A major portion of the literature of my review focused on child abuse has dealt with the personality characteristics of the abusive parent and the abused child rather than focus on the psychological damage sustained by the abused child.

When we think of a “family” in a typical setting around the fireplace we may picture a beautiful and calm environment where everything is perfect. The reality here in this domestic tranquility is when we realize that the concept of “family” is the most frequent place of all types of violence (Gelles, 1979).
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