Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Emotional Abuse

Certainly, words can be as abusive as any blow. . . .

When a three-year-old yells, “You’re so stupid! What a dummy!”

it doesn’t carry the same weight

as when a mother yells those words to a child. . . .

Even if you don’t physically abuse young children,

you can still drive them nuts with your words.
Mary Kay Blakely

The Columbia World of Quotations. 1996.

I wonder why emotional abuse seems epidemic in our society. On the streets of our neighborhoods. In stores and other public places and spaces. In our schools. In Child Care Centers.

Recently I overheard in a WalMart, a woman scream to a young child sitting in the shopping cart seat.

"Shut up you little b....! Why don't you just shove your hand up your butt(sanitized version) and pull out a bunch of money so we can buy everything you see on television?"

Unfortunately, there is little agreement on defining what constitutes these behaviors, but as with child abuse in general, we all seem to recognize it when we see or hear it.

In 1988, the Colorado Department of Education defined emotional abuse as:

  • Constant belittling and rejecting of a child.

  • Absence of a positive emotional atmosphere.

  • Verbal abuse.

  • Inadequate or inappropriate parenting.

  • Neglect.

  • Belittling the child so or she feels useless.

  • Blaming the child for things over which the child has no control.

  • Ridiculing or shaming the child.

  • Threatening the child's safety and health.

  • Taking no interest in the child's activities or problems.

  • Treating the child coldly.

  • Withdrawing affection.

  • Treating the child differently from others in the school.

  • Engaging in bizarre acts of torture or torment such as locking the child in a closet.
    (In Tzeng & Hanner, 1988; O'Hagan; in Shumba, 2002)

Take Care...Be Aware

Nancy Lee

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