Family Collaspe: Child AbuseLindsay and Tegan
Defintion: “Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of children, usually by parents, relatives, or caretakers.”
1. Neglect
Neglect is the failure to provide the child with the basic necessities of life, such as adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care and supervision. The physical needs of a child being: food, water, clothing, being bathed, warmth, a place to sleep and caring for the child. This type of neglect is most commonly in families that may have not got enough money to care for a child or the support the child. Also the family may have no knowledge of how to care for a child; the families also may be dependent on drugs and alcohol and focus solely on their addiction. Another type of neglect is the child’s emotional needs not being met by the parent or caregivers, the child may be completely ignored with the parents/caregivers making no effort to take the child to school or care for the child. Another type of neglect that can cause serious damage to the development of infants is being deprived of any type of stimulation for the brain, in other words; a baby being left in a cot with nothing to play with or stimulate the brain, therefore neural connections stop being made.

Physical and behavioural indicators in the classroom may include:
  • Lack of attendance
  • The child being a smaller size for age his or her age.
  • Lack of food (no breakfast, lunch, hungry, the child maybe stealing food from other children)
  • Matted/ unwashed hair and body ( the lack of hygiene)
  • Inadequate clothing ( no shoes, or jumper)
  • No water, books, bag.
  • Always tired/ falling asleep in class
  • Lack of concentration
  • Un-attended medical problems

Impact neglect has on the child:
· This is a picture of the impact the neglect (malnutrition) has had on the brain size of a 3 year old child.
“Malnutrition, both before and during the first few years after birth, can result in stunted brain growth and slower passage of electrical signals in the brain” (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000)


Long Term effects: r651548_4585117.jpg
The best example to show the long term effects of neglect, can be seen in the recent Victorian Court Case.
Neglected Kids Had Shrunken Brains
Thursday 7th October 2010
"Three of five Victorian children allegedly starved in Adelaide's northern suburbs were so malnourished their brains had shrunk, the South Australian Supreme Court has been told."
Newspaper Article: Neglected Kids Had Shrunken Brains
Newspaper Article: Neglect Trial told Kids ate Dog Food
Youtube: News Report

Impact on the family:
  • Families and close peers are usually the perpetrators of all types of child abuse.
  • The child may have siblings that are being neglected
  • May be going threw a divorce separation or death

Strategies that the teacher can use:
  • After School care programs in place- some schools if in the suspected case that the child is being abused schools provide a safe and secure environment for the students to go, some may not be able to gain entry into their own home until later on. Also the after school care program can also enable the student to spend less time at home were they may be subject to being abused.
  • Breakfast at schools program, school-providing lunch.
  • High level of support and careful monitoring of the child
  • If the teacher and school is aware of the abuse or the abuse has previously taken place, teacher being sure to not place additional demands on the student that may be hard for him or her to deal with.
  • Making sure the child feels safe and secure
  • Teachers and schools may also discuss with parents or carer’s as appropriate for information that may help the child’s personal learning needs.
  • Mandatory reporting.

2. Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is that of non-accidental physical harm to a childs body, the physical harm can be bestowed upon a child in many different ways, some of which being things such as; hitting, kicking, slapping, cutting, punching, hair pulling, burning, poisoning and shaking which can be lethal to an infant and in severe cases can cause death.

Some physical indicators would include: unexplained bruises, burns, broken bones, scars, scratches, bite marks and so on. A doctor in 1961 Henry Kempe, first described these type of injuries as ‘Battered child syndrome’ and the phrase is still used today to describe children who have suffered from abuse.


Behavioural indicators in the classroom of physical abuse:
Some behavioural indicators of physical abuse may include the child acting out and being aggressive (hitting, or kicking peers) or may go to the other extreme and be an extremely passive, timid and withdrawn child. Other indicators include constant levels of stress arousal in the child being indicated by a child always being startled easily, cowering or overreacting aggressively. The child may be guarded against adults and show signs of being wary of any physical contact with an adult. The child may also show signs of not wanting to go home or being afraid of the parent or caregiver. The child may also be afraid when other children cry and be extremely polite to adults or may act as the class clown-using humour to disguise the fact that they are distressed.

Impact Physical abuse has on the child:
Physical abuse can have severe long-term effects; the younger the abuse starts the greater the impact on the child. Short term effects include; loss of concentration, injuries, the loss of feeling safe – if the person who is abusing them is the person is the person who is most likely meant to be protecting them this creates levels of confusion. The child models loss of emotion regulation (eg anger) and control so is more likely to display those interpersonal behaviours. According to Wentworth school factors include the child having “major difficulties accepting authority and external control, and may have a history of defiant and disruptive behaviour outside of the school context”. Worthington and Gargiulo (2006, p293) state that the child may display an inability to build or maintain satisfactory inter-personal relationships with peers and teachers”.child%20abuse.jpg

Long-term effects:
  • conduct disorders
  • impaired concentration and learning
  • dropping out of school
  • criminal activity
  • drug abuse
  • depression
  • eating disorders
  • anger management problems
  • insecure attachments.

Impact on family, peers and acquaintances:
  • A family member is likely to be the perpetrator of physical abuse. The child and siblings may be the victims due to strict discipline or there may be domestic violence occurring with a parent being abused too.
  • Family may be broken or stressed (unemployment, financial)
  • Peers – not feeling safe if child displaying aggressive behaviour towards them.

Strategies that the teacher can use:
  • Mandatory reporting.
  • Create a safe and positive learning environment
  • Behavioural management plan – reinforce positive behaviours.
  • Schools effective counselling services to aid students
  • Create an appropriate relationship and bond with the child.
  • Do not make the child stand out treat all your students inclusively but in the circumstances of the abused child maybe introduce things into the program that you know they enjoy to help them learn (play off their interests)
  • Create a specialized learning plan with the school and family depending on the circumstances.
  • Discuss the classroom behaviours and explore parenting style with parents. Suggest Positive parenting skills programs like PPP.
Also parents may benefit from advice and guidance on how to deal with disciplining their child at home without resorting to physical or emotional abuse, but this may be a very touchy subject with the parent and would only be discussed under the right circumstances.

3. Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse is when an adult or someone older/bigger than the child uses power or authority over the child to involve the child in sexual activity with or without physical force.
Examples:- fondling of the genitals; masturbation; oral, vaginal or digital penetration by a finger, penis or other object; exposure to pornography, internet grooming behaviours.

Sexual abuse has a huge impact on the ability to trust in relationships and destroys a healthy sense of self. Sexual abusers often start with developing a special relationship with the child to build trust and then use threats, shame and blame to control and continue the abuse. They tell the child that this is a secret and gain silence by the threat that no one will believe you or of losing being loved (your parent/mummy won’t love you anymore). They often tell the child that this is their fault ‘you made me do this’. Children often internalise that blame and shame and feel responsible, damaged, dirty and unloveable. Sexual abuse is usually perpetrated by a family member or carer.

Physical or behavioural indicators in the classroom:
  • Overly sexualised behaviours
  • Sexual play with dolls
  • Regression (wetting, sucking thumb)
  • Withdrawal
  • Distrust of adults
  • New fears, particularly of a particular person, or of people with certain physical characteristics;
  • Bruises
  • Medical (repeated UTIs, STD)

Impact sexual abuse has on the child:

  • Severe psychological damage
  • Serious physical injuries
  • Self harm (including attempted suicide for older pupils)
  • Running away from home

Strategies that the teacher can use:
  • Discussion with students what is normal and acceptable behaviour of adults
  • Engaging in activities that may take the child’s mind of the stress
  • If unknown to school, Mandatory reporting
  • Create a safe environment and form an appropriate relationship with all of the students.
  • Hopefully secure attachments may be formed that may not be formed at home.
  • Lessons aimed at improving students communication and interaction skills (hoping to create more confident students)
  • Relaxation and breathing exercises to help relax the student to calm them so they are ready to learn
  • Music in the background or at transitioning times during the school say- helps to reduce stress

4. Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is a form of abuse that includes any action or thing that may be said or done to hurt a child’s feelings or self esteem. A parent or caregiver (the abuser) may not know that they are emotionally abusing the child and may come from any socio-economic background. This type of abuse may include the abuser doing things such as: frequently blaming the child for everything, frequently insulting the child and telling them they are worthless and not good enough and over exaggerating small things that the child has done and turning them into a big problem which the child will be punished for, this confuses the child in knowing what is the write thing to do. The abuser in most cases wont always be insulting or emotionally bashing the child, when the child has don’t the right this according to the abuser the abuser will act overly loving smothering the child with attention. This leaves the child confused but still eager to please and receive that same sort of attention. So in other words conditional love as apposed to un-conditional love. Emotional abuse can also include actions like locking the child in a dark place or behaviour, such as rejecting, terrorizing, scolding, ignoring, or isolating a child.

Behavioural indicators in the classroom of Emotional abuse:

  • “Emotional, such as the child refusing to try anything new for fear of failure, and therefore avoids receiving even more negative messages about themselves”
  • Developing speech disorders
  • Lag in physical development
  • Lag in cognitive development
  • Failure to excel in the classroom and school environment
  • Displays people pleasing behaviors
  • Aggressive or passive
  • The child may develop habits such a sucking, biting or rocking
  • Conduct disorders (withdrawal from the classroom environment, being destructive or cruel)
  • The child may revert in development such as wetting pants and cognitively reverting.
  • This is one of the hardest types of abuse for a teacher to recognise.

Impact Emotional abuse has on the child:
  • This kind of negativity effects the way the child feels about themselves.
  • “Experts state that emotional abuse is the most destructive type of abuse.
  • “Likely to cause, serious impairment of the physical, social, mental, or emotional capacities of the child.”
  • Un able to sleep

An Example of Emotional Abuse on a child can be seen in the 1981 movie, Mommie Dearest
Youtube Clip: Mommie Dearest


Long-term effects:

  • “Parental verbal abuse may wound children's psyches so deeply that the effects remain apparent in young adulthood. Such abuse may wreak psychological havoc greater than that caused by physical abuse.” Arehart, JT (2006)
  • “Although the injurious effects of child physical and sexual abuse have been the subject of considerable inquiry, not much attention has been paid to the possibly noxious effects of verbal abuse on children”
  • Case study results showed-“Childhood verbal abuse had a relatively weak association with current anxiety, the investigators found, but it had moderate to strong links with current depression, anger-hostility, and dissociative symptoms.”
  • “This finding is consonant with studies that suggest that emotional abuse may be a more important precursor of dissociation than is sexual abuse,” Teicher and his team said.

Impact on family, peers and acquaintances:
The impact on the teacher may include having to keep records, having to present information to agencies about the child and the abuse.
Families and close peers are usually the perpetrators of all types of child abuse.

Strategies that the teacher can use:
  • Same types of things as before
  • Mandatory reporting.
  • Schools effective counselling services to aid students
  • Create a safe and positive learning environment
  • Create an appropriate relationship and bond with the child.
  • Do not make the child stand out treat all your students inclusively but in the circumstances of the abused child maybe introduce things into the program that you know they enjoy to help them learn (play off their interests)
  • Create a specialized learning plan with the school and family depending on the circumstances.
  • Teachers need to be informed about the schools procedures for child protection
  • Keep records
  • Teachers need to be observant and alert to the signs of distress and change in behaviour of the student.
  • Be approachable and listen to what the child has to tell you
  • Believe in the child
Offer a high level of support and careful monitoring.


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Nicholson, V (2003) Child Abuse. (Lesson Plan)
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