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Child Maltreatment - Psychological Abuse


Psychological abuse of a child occurs when someone knowingly causes mental or emotional pain, distress, or suffering to a child. A child is anyone younger than 18 years old. Psychological abuse includes rejecting, insulting, threatening, humiliating, intimidating, or harassing through words or actions. This may also include ignoring, not speaking to the child, or isolating him from family, friends, or his regular activities. It is also when someone encourages, uses, or shows a child how to do something illegal.



  • Medicines may be needed to help the child feel more relaxed, less nervous, or sleep.

  • Give the child's medicine as directed. Contact the child's primary healthcare provider (PHP) if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if the child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs the child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry the child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists.

Follow up with the child's PHP or counselor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during the child's visits.

How to care for a child victim of psychological abuse:

  • Let the child rest if he needs to. Tell the child's PHP if the child has trouble sleeping.

  • Report psychological abuse. It may be hard to report psychological abuse of children, but it is very important. Caregivers can help the child if he is at risk for or is a victim of psychological abuse. Caregivers are required by law to report suspected child abuse. The child may need to leave his current living situation and be placed in foster care to protect him from the abuse.

  • Take the child for counseling. Counseling may help the child feel less scared, depressed, or anxious. The child's PHP may suggest that the child see a counselor to help him with how he feels.

Contact the child's PHP or counselor if:

  • The child has new signs and symptoms since his last visit.

  • You have questions or concerns about the child's condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • The child feels like hurting himself or someone else.

  • The child feels that he cannot cope with the abuse, or his recovery from it.

  • The child has trouble breathing, chest pain, or a fast heartbeat.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Child Maltreatment - Psychological Abuse (Aftercare Instructions)