Study: Similar Harmful Effects of Adults Shouting at Children as Sexual or Physical Abuse

New Study Reveals Long-Lasting Effects of Verbal Abuse on Children’s Development

A groundbreaking new study published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect has shed light on the significant negative effects of verbal abuse on the development of children. The study argues that childhood verbal abuse should be recognized as a distinct category of maltreatment, separate from physical abuse and neglect, in order to better prevent and treat this harmful behavior.

Researchers from Wingate University and University College London conducted the study, which was commissioned by Words Matter, a British charity dedicated to ending verbal abuse. They classified verbal abuse as a more “overt” form of emotional abuse, differentiating it from other forms like indifference or witnessing domestic violence. The researchers emphasized the urgent need for special attention to be given to this pervasive issue.

The study found that childhood verbal abuse has lifelong consequences, including mental distress, externalizing symptoms, and physical health issues. These negative effects highlight the urgency of addressing this issue in order to protect the well-being and development of children.

Additionally, the study suggests a possible shift in the landscape of childhood abuse, with emotional abuse on the rise while instances of physical and sexual abuse decline. This finding further emphasizes the need to acknowledge and tackle verbal abuse as a distinct problem.

To accurately measure the prevalence and impact of childhood verbal abuse, the study emphasizes the importance of consistency in defining the behavior. By establishing clear criteria, interventions and support mechanisms can be developed to combat this issue effectively.

The Words Matter website offers resources and guidance for adults to prevent and address verbal abuse towards children. Recommendations include avoiding shouting, insults, putdowns, and name-calling when communicating with children. It is crucial for adults to think before speaking and to take steps to repair the relationship with the child after hurtful words have been said.

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Experts also highlight the significance of considering the child’s age and individual response to being yelled at when devising appropriate discipline strategies. By taking these factors into account, caregivers can provide effective discipline while minimizing the negative impact of verbal abuse.

In conclusion, the study highlights the need to recognize and address childhood verbal abuse as a distinct category of maltreatment. By understanding the far-reaching effects of this behavior, society can work towards providing better prevention and treatment measures, protecting the development and well-being of children worldwide.


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