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Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse occurs when a child's basic needs for love, security, praise and recognition are left unmet. It may result in a child becoming withdrawn, nervous, unhappy or lacking in confidence.

Emotional abuse may happen when an adult constantly behaves in an uncaring and hostile way towards a child, perhaps through inconsistency, bullying, rejecting, frightening, criticising, racially abusing or scapegoating the child.

Some adult carers can be very possessive or overprotective towards a child. In severe cases, children may be subjected to cruel treatment and punishment like being locked up in cold, dark surroundings.

Children may be in a situation where basic needs like food, drink and warmth may be withheld or have to be earned.

Warning signs

  • A child who is constantly blamed for things that go wrong
  • A child who is made to carry out tasks inappropriate to their age
  • A child who is not allowed to do usual childhood activities
  • A child in a household where there are arguments and violence

If you suspect emotional abuse, report it