Psychological Maltreatment of Children: A Common Threat to Children’s Well-being?


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Verbal abuse (photo by Mr. Gunn)

Verbal abuse hurts kids too. Photo by Mr. Gunn

Eventually, MacMillan would like to see “all  clinicians working with children become aware of the importance of preventing  psychological maltreatment, as well as those in the education and social service  fields.”  With the emotional and verbal abuse or neglect of children being discussed in such an esteemed journal as Pediatrics, both dialogue and awareness will undoubtedly increase.

Emotional Abuse Hurts Too: Selling the Concept

Although the idea that neglect and emotional or verbal abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse is still new in some circles, the authors forsee using  a variety of approaches, including media-based strategies, such as leaflets, books, and videos, among others, to educate caregivers about the effects of psychological maltreatment.

Still, child-rearing practices vary by class and ethnicity.

Despite the adversion to spanking held by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which states that spanking is “…harmful emotionally to both parent and child. It is the least effective way to discipline,” it is still commonly accepted behavior in many social circles.

Defining non-physical actions as harmful may be seen as potentially intrusive, but the authors have brought this dark topic into the light to begin the discussion.


Hibbard et. al. Clinical Report: Psychological Maltreatment. (2012). The American Academy of Pediatrics, Volume 130, Number 2. Accessed July 30, 2012.

Healthy Children. What About Punishment? Accessed July 30, 2012.

Shelov, S., et al. The Complete and Authoritative Guide for Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. (2004). American Academy of Pediatrics. Bantam.

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