Effects of Child Abuse

Effectsof Child Abuse

Effectsof Child Abuse

Childabuse is among the key historical issues that have not been resolved,in spite of the large amount of resources allocated to agencies thatare supposed to address them. Children may be abused by strangers ortheir relatives (including parents), which indicates that they arequite vulnerable to cases of domestic violence (Rodrigues, Lima,Nagata, Rigo, Cericato, Franco &amp Paranhos, 2016). In most cases,different forms of abuses lead to long-term effects. The long-termeffects that have been investigated by researchers includesocioeconomic and psychological impacts that can be directlyassociated with child abuse (Kyunghee &amp Breanne, 2015). In thispaper, the long-term effects of child abuse will be discussed.

TheRisk of Developing Criminal Behavior

Theprobability of developing criminal behavior is one of the key factorsthat have been studied among adults who were abused during theirchildhood. Scholars who focus on the relationship between criminalbehavior and child abuse are motivated by the fact that there is ahigh probability that the maltreated kids will develop aggressivepersonalities or fail to acquire the skills that can help themachieve the desired socioeconomic growth. A research conducted byTopitzes, Mersky &amp Reynolds (2011) indicated that the risk ofdeveloping criminal behavior after being abused during childhood isgender-specific. The findings of this study revealed that there is ahigh probability that child abuse can only predict the risk of thedevelopment of criminal behavior in male, but not in the femalesubjects. These differences are explained by the fact that childabuse limits the ability of the male kids to develop suitablesocioeconomic skills and enhance their educational attainment.However, the study conducted by Topitzes, Mersky &amp Reynolds(2011) was based on the sample that was recruited from the low-incomefamilies. This might have affected the quality of the findingsbecause child abuse occurs in both the rich and the poor families.

Thereis a general perception that all forms of child abuse can lead to thedevelopment of long-term criminal behavior that affect individuals,even during their adulthood. However, empirical studies have shownthat the probability of people becoming criminals depends on the typeof abuse that they undergo during their childhood. For example, alongitudinal study conducted by Hyunzee, Todd, Jungeun, Bart &ampMartie (2015) indicated that physical abuse had an indirectrelationship with the process of development of criminal behaviors.Emotional harassment during childhood, on the other hand, had neitherdirect nor indirect association with delinquency. This trend isassociated with the fact that physical abuse has an “additiveeffect” (Hyunzee etal.,2015). In other words, physical abuse creates motivates the affectedkids to harass other people when they feel that they have the energyand the opportunity to do so. This association was also confirmed bystudies showing that individuals who were physically abused duringchildhood had about 21 % chances of being arrested compared to thosewho suffered from emotional maltreatment or did not experience anyform of harassment (Hyunzee etal.,2015). One of the key limitations of the study that was done byHyunzee etal.(2015) is the fact that it included two types of maltreatment(including emotional and physical) only. This reduced the possibilityof making a convincing conclusion about the association between thedevelopment of delinquency and child abuse.

TheRisk of Suffering from PTSD

Childabuse has been associated with the risk of developing post-traumaticstress disorders (PTSD) among the affected kids. According toMachteld, Mathilde, De Schipper, Lamers-Winkelman, Finkenauer &ampSchuengel (2015) about 38 % of the children who are exposed tostressful events are at a higher risk of development systems of PTSDcompared to the general population. However, this risk is higheramong those who are exposed to multiple types of harassment,including bullying, domestic violence, and physical as well as sexualabuse. These results indicate that childhood abuse and the risk ofsuffering from PTSD are positively correlated. Moreover, acombination of child abuse and inter-parental violence also affectsthe normal development process of the affected kids. Thisrelationship between the risk of suffering from PTSD in later stagesof life and child abuse is attributed to the fact that an exposure totraumatic events leads to the development of fear and hopelessnessamong the kids. Additionally, the diagnosis of the PTSD symptoms inlater stages of life suggests that this form of severe stress isamong the key long-term effects of child abuse. However, the studydesign used by Machteld etal.(2015) permitted the inclusion of multiple variables, which made itdifficult to determine whether PTSD was caused by inter-parentalviolence or child abuse.


Theprobability of suffering from various psychological difficulties canbe attributed to different factors. However, child abuse is one ofthe major risk factors that increase one’s vulnerability to thesedifficulties. The psychological challenges are long-term because theycan be experienced, even during adulthood. The relationship thatexists between these difficulties and child abuse was confirmed by astudy indicating that the maltreatment experienced by girls impairstheir parental functioning (Briere &amp Jordan, 2009). In otherwords, girls who undergo different kinds of maltreatment duringchildhood are unable to function properly or assume parental roleswhen they become adults. For example, the affected persons find itdifficult to establish a positive parent-child attachment. Theirinability to carry out parenting roles worsens their psychologicaldistress. However, this study had some limitations, including thefailure on the part of researchers to take account of the impact ofother factors (such as poverty) that affect women disproportionately.

PoorMental Health

Thepsychological distress that people go through when they are abusedduring childhood may subject them to the risk of suffering fromdifferent mental conditions. The mental disorders that people sufferfrom depend on the type of maltreatment that they have experienced.For example, kids who undergo physical abuse are at a higher risk ofsuffering from psychosis and alcohol dependence than those who werenot abused (González, Kallis, Ullrichc, Barnicot, Keers &amp Coidc,2016). These mental conditions are detected during adulthood, whichconfirms that they are long-term impacts of child abuse. However, astudy done by González et al. (2016) failed to consider the impactof other factors (such as poverty and frustration resulting fromunaccomplished goals) that could lead to similar mental challenges.


Childrenare more vulnerable to different forms of abuse than adults. Sexualharassment, physical abuse, and emotional bullying are some of themost common types of maltreatment that children go through in life.These types of maltreatment affect them in the long-term because theyare too young to develop suitable coping skills. Therefore, thelimited ability to manage the consequences of abuse increases theirvulnerability to the risk of suffering from psychological,socioeconomic, and mental disorders. In some cases, the affected kidsend-up becoming violent criminals. These challenges affect kids, evenduring their adulthood.


Briere,J. &amp Jordan, C.E. (2009). Childhood maltreatment, interveningvariables, and adult psychological difficulties in women: Anoverview. Trauma,Violence, &amp Abuse,10(4), 375-388. doi: 10.1177/1524838009339757

González,R., Kallis, C., Ullrichc, S., Barnicot, K., Keers, R., &amp Coidc,J. (2016). Childhood maltreatment and violence: Mediation throughpsychiatric morbidity. ChildAbuse &amp Neglect,52, 70-84.

Hyunzee,J., Todd, I. H., Jungeun O., Bart, K., &amp Martie, L. (2015).Effects of physical and emotional child abuse and its chronicity oncrime into adulthood. Violenceand Victims,30(6), 1004-1018.

Kyunghee,L. &amp Breanne, L. (2015). Head Start`s Impact on Socio-EmotionalOutcomes for Children Who Have Experienced Violence or NeighborhoodCrime. JFarm,31:499-513. doi 10.1007/s 10896-015-9790-y.

Machteld,D., Mathilde M. O., De Schipper, C., Lamers-Winkelman, F.,Finkenauer, C., &amp Schuengel, C. (2015). Family functioning andchildren’s post-traumatic stress symptoms in a referred sampleexposed to inter-parental violence. JFam,31, 127–136.

Rodrigues,J., Lima, A., Nagata, J., Rigo, L, Cericato, G., Franco, A. &ampParanhos, L. (2016). Domestic violence against children detected andmanaged in the routine of dentistry: A systematic review. Journalof Forensic and Legal Medicine,43 (2016), 34-41.

Topitzes,J., Mersky, J. P., &amp Reynolds, A. J. (2011). Child maltreatmentand offending behavior: Gender-specific effects and pathways.CriminalJustice and Behavior,38(5), 492–510.