Emotional abuse is emotional maltreatment of a child, which has a severe and persistent negative effect on the child’s emotional development (Department for Education, 20171; Department of Health, 20172; Scottish Government, 20143; Wales Safeguarding Procedures Project Board, 20194). It's also known as psychological abuse.
Most forms of abuse include an emotional element, but emotional abuse can also happen on its own.
Children can be emotionally abused by anyone:
- parents or carers
- family members
- other adults
- other children.
There are several categories of emotional abuse.
Denying emotional responsiveness (also known as emotional neglect)
- ignoring the child
- not showing affection.
- verbal humiliation
- physical abandonment
- excluding the child from activities.
- putting unreasonable limitations on a
- child’s freedom of movement
- restricting social interaction
- not communicating with the child.
Exploiting or corrupting
- encouraging a child to take part in
- criminal activities
- forcing a child to take part in activities
- that are not appropriate for their stage of development.
- threatening violence
- deliberately frightening a child
- deliberately putting a child in a dangerous situation (Daly and Wright, 20175).
ReferencesDepartment for Education (2018) Working together to safeguard children: a guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children (PDF). [London]: Department for Education (DfE).
Department of Health (2017) Co-operating to safeguard children and young people in Northern Ireland. Belfast: Department of Health.
Scottish Government (2014) National guidance for child protection in Scotland (PDF). Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.
Wales Safeguarding Procedures Project Board (2019) Wales Safeguarding Procedures [Accessed 05/12/19]
Daly, E.M. and Wright, J.E. (2017) Child abuse: prevention through understanding: physical, sexual, emotional abuse, neglect and domestic violence. Miami: Parker.