Abuse, emotional child: Emotional child abuse is the third most frequently reported form of child abuse (after child neglect and physical child abuse), accounting 17% of all cases of child abuse.
It is likely that emotional child abuse is greatly underreported, since it can be difficult to detect and difficult to document.
Emotional child abuse includes acts of commission or omission by the parents and other caregivers that could cause the child to have serious behavioral, emotional, or mental disorders. In some instances of emotional child abuse, the acts of parents or other caregivers alone, without any harm yet evident in the child's behavior or condition, are sufficient to warrant the intervention of child protective services. For example, the parents/caregivers may use extreme or bizarre forms of punishment, such as confinement of a child in a dark closet.
Emotional child abuse is also sometimes termed psychological child abuse, verbal child abuse, or mental injury of a child.
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Last Editorial Review: 7/1/2016