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  • Writer's picturekellygrigg

Study stresses the impact of childhood verbal abuse across a person’s lifespan

Childhood verbal abuse (CVA) is a largely hidden form of maltreatment which requires further research, a new study has found.

The study, published in Child Abuse & Neglect, states that there is clear scientific evidence that exposure to child maltreatment contributes to negative social, behavioural, mental, and physical health across the lifespan.

Of the four subtypes that comprise child maltreatment (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect), childhood emotional abuse has increased in prevalence. A key attribute of childhood emotional abuse is the underlying adult-to-child perpetration of verbal abuse, which is characterized by shouting, yelling, denigrating the child, and verbal threats. These types of adult actions can be as damaging to a child’s development as other currently recognized and forensically established subtypes of maltreatment such as childhood physical and sexual abuse. Yet there is less attention to CVA perpetrated by adults as either a form of childhood emotional abuse or its own category of maltreatment.

The most common perpetrators of CVA are parents and teachers.

The study concludes that recognizing CVA as a form of maltreatment will be a starting point for its identification and prevention. Primary prevention of CVA using trauma-informed approaches must include adult training on the importance of safety, support, and nurturance during verbal communication with children.

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