Emotional abuse, sometimes called psychological abuse, is probably the category of abuse which is the most difficult to define and also to recognise that it might be taking place. Working Together 2013 states that “some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone”.  Emotional abuse is defined in the 2013 document as “persistent emotional maltreatment to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development.”

The characteristics of emotional abuse are varied and may include the following:

  • Conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person.
  • Not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate
  • Age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children
  • Interactions that are beyond a child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction
  • Seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another
  • serious bullying (including cyber bullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger,
  • the exploitation or corruption of children

To learn more about child abuse and how you can safeguard the children you work with click here to see details of our online child protection courses.