Parents and caregivers who resort to yelling and screaming at children may unknowingly inflict long-term harm on their psyches, suggests new research. The study, published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, sheds light on the potential negative consequences of what is termed childhood verbal abuse (CVA) and emphasizes its impact on children’s mental and physical health throughout their lives.
The study is based on an extensive review of 166 previous research studies related to “childhood maltreatment” spanning more than four decades, from 1976 through May 2022. “Child maltreatment” encompasses four broad categories: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect.
CVA, which primarily involves shouting, yelling, denigrating the child, and issuing verbal threats, falls under the category of emotional abuse.
The Effects of Childhood Verbal Abuse
Childhood verbal abuse, often overshadowed by other forms of maltreatment, can be a hidden problem. Unlike physical abuse, which leaves visible marks, CVA’s scars are internal and may not manifest until later in life. The study’s findings illuminate the significance of recognizing this less visible yet equally damaging form of abuse.
The research findings suggest that CVA can have profound and lasting effects on children’s well-being. These effects extend beyond the immediate emotional distress caused by yelling and screaming.
CVA can leave lasting imprints on the child’s psyche, influencing their mental and physical health throughout their lifetimes.
Children subjected to CVA may experience a range of mental health challenges, including increased risk of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The emotional scars from CVA can affect their self-esteem, emotional regulation, and ability to form healthy relationships later in life.
Surprisingly, the impact of CVA extends to physical health as well. The stress and trauma associated with constant verbal abuse can contribute to long-term health problems such as cardiovascular issues, weakened immune function, and even chronic pain.
One of the critical takeaways from this research is the importance of addressing childhood verbal abuse. Often hidden behind closed doors, CVA may go unnoticed by friends, family members, and even the children themselves. Raising awareness about the potential harm of CVA is essential for identifying and addressing this form of abuse.
To prevent CVA and its associated long-term consequences, it is crucial to foster supportive and nurturing environments for children. Providing parents and caregivers with resources and education on effective communication and stress management can help reduce the incidence of CVA.
Recognizing signs of CVA and seeking help when needed are essential steps in protecting children from its effects. Professionals in education, healthcare, and social services play a vital role in identifying and addressing CVA cases, providing support to both children and their caregivers.
The research conducted by Wingate University and University College London highlights the potential harm of childhood verbal abuse (CVA) and emphasizes its long-term effects on children’s mental and physical health.
As society becomes increasingly aware of the hidden nature of CVA, there is an opportunity to break the silence and provide support to those affected.
By addressing CVA and promoting healthy communication and parenting practices, we can work toward creating safer and more nurturing environments for all children.