According to the National Incidence Study Of Abuse And Neglect (NIS 4, 2010) children are more likely to be emotionally maltreated if (all else being equal):
- they live in a household in which there is parental unemployment
- they live in a household of low socio-economic status
- they live in a household in which there has occurred a family-structural breakdown
- they live in a family in which there are many other children
- they live in a rural county
Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail :
1) They live in a household in which there is parental unemployment: children who live in a household in which neither parent is employed are at double the risk of being emotionally abused and are 3.5 times more likely to suffer emotional neglect than children who live in households in which there is no parental unemployment
2) They live in a household of low socioeconomic status: children who grow up in households categorized as of low socioeconomic status were found to be at four times greater risk of being emotionally abused and at five times higher risk of being emotionally neglected.
3) They live in a household in which there has occurred a family-structural breakdown: children living with a single parent (with or without a live-in partner) are 3.5 times more likely to suffer emotional abuse and/or emotional neglect than those children who live with both biological parents.
Also, children who live with a single parent and this parent’s unmarried partner are at the greatest risk of suffering from emotional neglect.
4) They live in a family with many other children: children who live in families in which there are four or more children are at greater risk of both emotional abuse and emotional neglect than are children who live within smaller families (as regards the number of children)
5) They live in a rural county: children who live in a rural county are at twice the risk (on average) of suffering emotional abuse and/or emotional neglect than are children who live in urban counties.
NB: All of the above statistics relate to the U.S.
The above statistics, as has been seen, relate to both emotional abuse and emotional neglect; I differentiate between these two types of emotional maltreatment below:
The difference between emotional abuse and emotional neglect :
Emotional Abuse: this entails an act of commission (i.e. something the parent actively did against the child, such as constantly telling him/her that s/he was never wanted or that s/he is ugly).
Emotional Neglect: this entails acts of omission (i.e. something the parent did NOT do for the child, the omission of which caused the child psychological damage, such as when a parent never displays love or affection for the child.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)