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Common Indicators of Emotional Abuse

Consider the possibility of emotional maltreatment when the child:

  • Shows extremes in behavior, such as overly compliant or demanding behavior, extreme passivity, or aggression.
  • Is either inappropriately adult (parenting other children, for example) or inappropriately infantile (frequently rocking or head-banging, for example).
  • Is delayed in physical or emotional development.
  • Has attempted suicide.
  • Reports a lack of attachment to the parent.

Consider the possibility of emotional maltreatment when the parent or other adult caregiver:

  • Constantly blames, belittles, or berates the child.
  • Is unconcerned about the child and refuses to consider offers of help for the child's problems.
  • Overtly rejects the child.

Author: National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (DHHS)

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