Effects of Psychological Abuse on Children's Mental Health and Emotional Well-being

Effects of child psychological abuse include serious mental health and behavior problems. Learn about specific effects of psychological abuse on children.

Effects on children who are victims of psychological abuse plus family conditions which may produce psychological abuse of children.

When a complex phenomenon like the psychological abuse of a child is examined, researchers generally agree it is usually impossible to establish a simple cause-and-effect relationship. So there is rarely a simple relationship between an act of violence and its consequences. This is even truer in cases of child psychological abuse, which is often associated with other forms of maltreatment. Yet researchers have observed the following effects of psychological abuse on children:

  • Children who are victims of psychological abuse experience more emotional problems than children who are not victims of this type of maltreatment.
  • Those who are victims of direct psychological abuse are more affected: more socially withdrawn, depressed, insecure, and much more likely to engage in behavior that puts their safety at risk.
  • A large number of children who are psychologically abused or neglected have serious behavioral problems.
  • A greater proportion of children who witness domestic violence are anxious and insecure than those who do not.

Conditions Producing Effects of Child Psychological Abuse

Children who are victims of psychological abuse live in families grappling with many problems:

  • Families are struggling with substance abuse.
  • Families are in a precarious economic situation: one or both parents are on welfare or employment insurance.
  • Parents are separated or divorced.
  • There are mental health problems in families.
  • Families are socially isolated.
  • Criminal activities are taking place.
  • Physical health problems.
  • Intellectual disability.
  • Single-parent or blended families are over-represented, compared with the general population.

article references


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APA Reference
Gluck, S. (2008, November 23). Effects of Psychological Abuse on Children's Mental Health and Emotional Well-being, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, September 28 from

Last Updated: May 2, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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