Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

2011 Edition
| Editors: Sam Goldstein, Jack A. Naglieri

Emotional Abuse

  • Lindsay Weymouth
  • Tasha R. Howe
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-79061-9_984



A persistent pattern of negative behavior directed at child by a caregiver, which diminishes a child’s integrity and well-being.


A type of abuse in which a caregiver degrades, corrupts, berates, belittles, rejects, threatens, ignores, exploits, assaults, spurns and/or terrorizes a child in a repeated pattern [1, 2]. Emotional abuse may also consist of denial of psychological treatment, extreme verbal punishment, unreasonable expectations, and/or lack of responsiveness. This pattern of behavior from caregivers may adversely affect the child cognitively, emotionally, and socially. A caregiver may make a child feel unloved, flawed, or worthless through name calling and/or scapegoating or may be unconcerned with a child’s troubles [1, 5]. The presence of emotional abuse may adversely affect later development of the child including symptoms of aggression, depression, poor emotional regulation,...

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  1. 1.
    Emotional Abuse. (2008). Child welfare information gateway. Retrieved October 30, 2008, from http://www.childwelfare.gov/can/types/emotionalabuse/
  2. 2.
    Hamarman, S., Pope, K., & Czaja, S. (2002). Emotional abuse in children: Variations in legal definitions and rates across the United States. Child Maltreatment, 7(4), 303–311.PubMedGoogle Scholar
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    Moran, P., Bifulco, A., Ball, C., Jacobs, C., & Benaim, K. (2002). Exploring psychological abuse in childhood: I. Developing a new interview scale. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 66(3), 213–240.PubMedGoogle Scholar
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    Teicher, M. (2002). Scares that won’t heal: The neurobiology of child abuse. Scientific American, 286(3), 68–75.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lindsay Weymouth
    • 1
  • Tasha R. Howe
    • 1
  1. 1.PsychologyHumboldt State UniversityArcataUSA