Child Abuse Impacts Children’s Development

· March 30, 2019
Childhood abuse can sometimes lead to developmental problems, stress and anxiety, distrust, poor impulse control, among many other things.

Child abuse provokes many problems in children, although many of these are not apparent until adulthood. Then, they begin to meet difficulties they can’t manage.

One problem is that a history of child abuse can lead to poor interpersonal relationships. These can take us down a path of bitterness if we don’t know how to solve them.

After all, everything comes from our childhood.

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Child Abuse Can Hurt for a Long Time

Child abuse may come from traumatic familial situations, mistreatment, abandonment, lack of attention, emotional abuse, among many more.

It’s not always about neglect. It’s about any situation that makes a child profoundly uncomfortable and can lead to lasting psychological damage.

Drawing of young boy sad looking out the window

Why do we allow it? Do parents not realize that all of this will negatively affect their children in the future?  These are questions that rarely have an answer. However, many parents mistakenly believe that their children aren’t conscious of what really occurs and that they are “detached.”

The reality is completely different. Children are very receptive and aware of the multiple negative stimuli that they are exposed to. Naturally, all of this will condition their future years.

It is when, after years have passed, that the problems emerge. These problems may include emotional dependency, fear of solitude, and diverse struggles to maintain healthy relationships with others.

Symptoms of Child Abuse

Although it’s true that difficulties are exacerbated when we are adults, many of them can be detected in childhood if we pay enough attention.

That said, we must be alert and pay close attention to children, because some of these issues are intermittent.

Young girl eyes closed sadness illustration child abuse

If emotional neglect is dealt with during childhood, the result will be very positive. However, if we do not identify it and do nothing, children will encounter a multitude of obstacles when they become adults.

The symptoms of emotional neglect in children include:

  • Impulse control problems
  • Abrupt changes in behavior
  • General distrust toward others
  • Aggressive responses
  • Developmental deficiency in language and social skills
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Difficulties expressing feelings and problems controlling emotions

Many of these symptoms move into adult age in ways that are painful and troubling. This is especially true if we find ourselves in an advanced stage of a problem that turns out to be hard to solve.

Developmental Problems

Abuse doesn’t just affect children’s emotions and their capacity to communicate feelings.

In addition, it affects children’s development. This causes serious setbacks in their learning, starting very early in life.

Illustration of two young girls blond and brunette holding hands looking sad in a field child abuse

Stress and anxiety are among the most noteworthy symptoms to pay attention to.

These “adult problems” aren’t normal or healthy for children. After all, childhood is a time of enjoyment and relaxation.

Do these symptoms only emerge in extreme circumstances? The truth is that children don’t necessarily have to go through intense situations of abuse, abandonment, or divorce for there to be serious repercussions. 

Poor-quality home life can also cause developmental damage and create possible future difficulties. One example of raising kids incorrectly is letting them sit in front of the TV for many hours per day.

Sometimes, the parents’ jobs and their lack of interest in putting up with their children’s temper tantrums lead them to use certain distractions. Computers, cell phones, and games are common, none of which are healthy for children’s development.

In these cases, children don’t play, leave the house, or interact with the rest of the world. All that exists is the child and the screen that stupefies them.

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Illustration of young girl looking sad holding butterflies and flowers around her head

Is There a Solution to Child Abuse?

Every child needs attention and interaction to prepare them to be good, responsible people with strong values. If we neglect what they need due to laziness, then it’s very possible that our children will face a world of developmental problems.

Parents and caretakers have a great responsibility when they bring a child into the world. After all, nobody should have the luxury of throwing this responsibility out the window and later complaining about their children’s attitudes.

Ultimately, we need to be more concerned about what happens to children and how they live. As a result, we will help prevent them from developing problems in having a difficult adult life.

  • Fergusson, D. M., Horwood, L. J., & Lynskey, M. T. (1996). Childhood sexual abuse and psychiatric disorder in young adulthood: II. Psychiatric outcomes of childhood sexual abuse. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry35(10), 1365-1374.
  • Heyman, R. E., & Slep, A. M. S. (2002). Do child abuse and interparental violence lead to adulthood family violence?. Journal of Marriage and Family64(4), 864-870.