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Child Abuse

Psychological Maltreatment


Children should be protected against all forms of child maltreatment, including physical or mental violence, injury, abuse, or neglect. Children who have been maltreated should be given all necessary support to achieve recovery. These principles now have nearly universal acceptance by virtue of the standards of Articles 3, 19, 34, and 39 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (United Nations General Assembly 1989), a treaty ratified by 191 of the 193 recognized nations of the world.

There are two major types of child maltreatment: physical and psychological. Sexual abuse, generally a combination of the two major types, is primarily psychological in the nature of its acts and consequences. Psychological maltreatment is understood to occur alone as psychological abuse or Studies have documented that psychological abuse is a stronger predictor than physical abuse of both depression and low self-esteem and, in particular, is strongly related to anxiety, depression, interpersonal sensitivity, dissociation, and low self-esteem. CRAIG HAMMELL/CORBIS neglect, to occur in association with other forms of abuse and neglect, and to be the embedded psychological context and meanings of other forms of abuse and neglect.

The present empirical and theoretical knowledge base for child maltreatment supports the view considering psychological maltreatment to be the unifying concept embodying many of the most significant components of child abuse and neglect (Binggeli, Hart, and Brassard 2001). Essential aspects of this knowledge base are presented in this entry.


Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaPregnancy & ParenthoodChild Abuse - Physical Abuse And Neglect, Psychological Maltreatment, Sexual Abuse