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Emotional abuse

Government guidelines define emotional abuse as: “the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child to the extent that it has a severe impact on the child’s emotional development”.

Emotional abuse may involve:

  • Constantly putting a child down. Or making them feel they are useless or not loved.
  • Not giving a child the space to express their views.
  • Silencing a child, or ‘making fun’ of what they say.
  • Expecting a child to do things that are too much for their age.
  • Overprotecting a child. Preventing a child from taking part in normal social activities.
  • Exposing a child to the ill-treatment of someone else. For example, seeing or hearing domestic abuse.
  • Causing a child to feel frightened or in danger at home.

Emotional abuse can occur on its own without other forms of abuse. However, physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect, involve an element of emotional abuse.

For more information see our advice pages on:

Emotional abuse

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