More than words: the emotional maltreatment of children

Pediatr Clin North Am. 2014 Oct;61(5):959-70. doi: 10.1016/j.pcl.2014.06.004. Epub 2014 Jul 24.


Emotional maltreatment may be the most complex, prevalent, and damaging form of child maltreatment and can occur simultaneously with other forms of abuse. Children in the first few years of life seem to be at the greatest risk of suffering the most negative outcomes. Medical professionals can help identify and protect victims of emotional maltreatment by carefully observing caregiver-child interactions, paying attention to a family's social history, making referrals to community or counseling programs when necessary, and reporting any suspicions of maltreatment to Child Protective Services. A well-coordinated, multidisciplinary response must be enacted whenever emotional maltreatment is suspected or reported.

Keywords: Child abuse; Child maltreatment; Domestic violence; Emotional abuse; Emotional maltreatment; Psychological abuse.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*