Shouting At Children Equally Harmful As Physical Abuse: New Study

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New research conducted jointly by scholars from Wingate University in North Carolina and University College London (UCL) has brought to light the alarming impact of shouting at children, suggesting that it can be as damaging as physical abuse.

Shouting At Children Equally Harmful As Physical Abuse

Commissioned by the UK charity Words Matter, the study, recently published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, calls for the official recognition of childhood verbal abuse (CVA) as a distinct form of maltreatment.

The comprehensive analysis encompassed 149 quantitative and 17 qualitative studies focused on CVA. Researchers identified key elements of abuse, such as negative speech volume, tone, and content, all of which were found to have immediate and long-lasting effects on children. Disturbingly, parents, mothers, and teachers were identified as the most common perpetrators of CVA.

The repercussions of CVA, the study revealed, can extend throughout a child’s life, leaving them with underlying emotional and psychological trauma. This trauma manifests in various ways, including an increased risk of obesity, anger issues, substance abuse, depression, and self-harm.

Currently, childhood maltreatment is categorized into four types: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. The study underscores that childhood emotional abuse, especially verbal abuse, has seen a concerning rise in prevalence over the years.

Professor Peter Fonagy, head of the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at UCL and co-author of the study, emphasized the importance of addressing childhood verbal abuse, stating that preventing such maltreatment is crucial for reducing child mental health problems. He praised the efforts of the charity Words Matter in shedding light on this issue and called for better-defined measures to identify and combat CVA effectively.

The study’s authors argue that recognizing CVA as a distinct type of maltreatment is a critical first step in its prevention. They also advocate for adult training programs focused on safe, supportive, and nurturing verbal communication with children.

Lead study author and Wingate professor Shanta Dube stressed the urgency of acknowledging childhood verbal abuse as a subtype of abuse due to its profound and lasting negative consequences.

In conclusion, this groundbreaking research highlights the alarming impact of shouting at children, placing it on par with physical abuse. The study calls for the formal recognition of childhood verbal abuse as a form of maltreatment and emphasizes the need for proactive measures to identify and prevent it effectively.


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