Child abuse and neglect may affect an individual's physical and mental health in a number of direct and indirect ways. Negative effects on physical development can result from physical trauma (e.g., blows to the head or body or violent shaking) and from neglect (e.g., inadequate nutrition, lack of adequate motor stimulation, or withholding medical treatments). Maltreatment during infancy and early childhood has been shown to negatively affect early brain development and can have repercussions into adolescence and adulthood. The immediate emotional effects of abuse and neglect—isolation, fear, and an inability to trust—can translate into lifelong consequences including low self-esteem, depression, and relationship difficulties.
Associations Between Childhood Abuse, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Implicit Emotion Regulation Deficits: Evidence From a Low-Income Inner City Population
Powers, Etkin, Gyurak, Bradley, & Jovanovic (2015)
Focuses on the emotion dysregulation and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to childhood abuse. The article provides evidence for the negative effects child abuse has on outcomes in adulthood.
The Biological Embedding of Child Abuse and Neglect Implications for Policy and Practice (PDF - 774 KB)
Jaffee & Christian (2014)
Society for Research in Child Development, 28(1)
Identifies ways in which maltreatment affects memory, attention, stress, and inflammation, which increases the risk for poor mental and physical health and school performance. The article calls for integrated services for children and families in the child welfare system to reduce the risk of revictimization.
Childhood Emotional Maltreatment and Mental Disorders: Results From a Nationally Representative Adult Sample From the United States
Taillieu, Brownridge, Sareen, & Afifi (2016)
Child Abuse & Neglect, 59
Focuses on the long-term impact of emotional abuse and neglect on mental health. The article indicated emotionally abusive acts increased the odds of lifetime diagnoses of mood and personality disorders.
Childhood Neglect Predicts the Course of Major Depression in a Tertiary Care Sample: A Follow-Up Study
Paterniti, Sterner, Caldwell, & Bisserbe (2017)
BMC Psychiatry, 17
Discusses how childhood maltreatment, assessed in childhood or adolescence, predicts the course of poor prognosis of depression in adulthood.
Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect
Peterson, Joseph, & Feit (Eds.) (2014)
In New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research
Discusses the cascading consequences for children who have experienced abuse and neglect, including a range of development, health, and mental health outcomes. The book chapter examines the influence of profound neglect on brain electrical activity; the potential effects of abuse and neglect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis; cognitive, psychosocial, and behavioral outcomes; and health outcomes, including gross motor development, physical illness, and obesity.
Depressive Symptom Trajectories Among Sexually Abused Youth: Examining the Effects of Parental Perpetration and Age of Abuse Onset
Carlson & Oshri (2018)
Child Maltreatment, 23(4)
Examines the relationship between sexual abuse in childhood and increased symptoms of adolescent depression as well as the effects of parental perpetration and the age of abuse onset.
Does Developmental Timing of Exposure to Child Maltreatment Predict Memory Performance in Adulthood? Results from a Large, Population-Based Sample (PDF - 500 KB)
Dunn, Busso, Raffeld, Smoller, Nelson, Doyle, & Luk (2017)
Child Abuse & Neglect, 51
Examines the effects of child maltreatment on cognitive functioning, especially working and short-term memory. The article shows results that sexual abuse may have different effects on working memory depending on when during the course of development it occurred.
Health Consequences of Emotional, Physical, and Sexual Abuse (PDF - 303 KB)
Candib, Dickinson, & McMahon (2015)
In World Book of Family Medicine – European Edition
Discusses the impact of child abuse on mental health and the long term physical health effects of sexual and physical violence. The article offers suggestions for medical clinicians working with children who may have been abused.
How Childhood Abuse Could Impact Your Health
Lists health conditions associated with mental, physical, and emotional childhood abuse; strategies for healing emotional scars; and steps to prevent health effects from abuse.
Paradise Lost: The Neurobiological and Clinical Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect (PDF - 3,246 KB)
Summarizes the changes to neuroendocrine and neurotransmitter systems that are associated with child maltreatment as well as alterations in brain areas that affect mood. This article also discusses genetic changes that can lead to major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder for those who have experienced child maltreatment.
|Series Title||Issue Briefs|
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Download (PDF - 443KB)