How can you recognize child abuse that is emotional or psychological?

Emotional/psychological child abuse is more subtle and difficult to recognize than physical abuse. There are no visible bruises, broken bones, marks or scratches. However, the scars of emotional/psychological abuse can affect a child’s development and be crippling in equally damaging ways.

The way Texas defines emotional abuse

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services provides information about various types of child abuse and neglect. It defines emotional abuse as mental or emotional injury to a child. There are observable signs as a result of it. For example, it can impair the child’s growth, development and way of functioning psychologically.

Forms that emotional/psychological abuse can take include extreme forms of punishment. Locking a child in a closet is an example of a severe punishment.

Subjecting a child to habitual scapegoating is another form of emotional abuse. Scapegoating involves blaming the child over small matters, picking on the child and putting them down. Belittling the child and rejecting treatment of a child are also forms of emotional abuse.

Signs of emotional/psychological child abuse

Signs that the child has been emotionally abused include behavior such as:

  • Over compliance
  • Low self-esteem
  • Extreme depression, anxiety or aggression
  • Difficulty forming friendships or playing with other children
  • Falling behind in development—physically, emotionally and intellectually
  • A caregiver who is belittling the child, withholding love and acting overly concerned about the child’s problems

The Texas Department of State and Health Services explains there are risk factors in families that can lead to child mistreatment. Parents prone to mistreating children are often overwhelmed with their caregiving responsibilities. They have a low tolerance for stress and tend to put their own adult needs first. They may exhibit violent tendencies and be unrealistic in their expectations of the child’s behavior. In addition, they tend to have a poor understanding of child development. Alcohol and drug abuse may also be a factor.

Are you concerned about your child’s welfare?

If you suspect abuse or neglect, it is wise seek a legal opinion. Charity Borserine can provide you with compassionate legal counsel and strong advocacy.

Borserine Law represents children, parents, foster parents and grandparents in Child Protective Services (CPS) cases.