Whatever the cause of the abuse and/or neglect, it can have long-standing consequences for the child. The younger the child, and the more vulnerable they are, the more serious the consequences are likely to be, however, with early intervention children can recover from abuse and neglect.

When the abuse is ongoing or long term it can result in the child becoming:

  1. Withdrawn, living in their own world, and suffering low self-esteem.
  2. Abused and neglected children are at greater risk of developing anxiety disorders; they become hypervigilent always alert possible danger.
  3. Attachment disorders are not uncommon, along with learning disorders, including poor language and cognitive development.
  4. Aggressive behaviours including other behavioural problems and developmental delay (which can include eating disorders and physical ailments).
  5. Delinquency and criminal behaviour including violent and aggressive behaviours.

Case Study

Timmy is six years old. He enjoyed being at school and playing with all the other children at play time, but in class he was not able to follow the lessons like the other children. Some times he would find he would be daydreaming and would suddenly realise he was in class and would drag his mind back to whatever the teacher was saying.

He was not comfortable with the teacher walking around the classroom. Sometimes she would hover around the children watching their efforts at painting, offer some advice, and ask what certain aspects of the painting were. This always made Timmy shake. He felt afraid and he did not know why. The teacher was never angry at him and never yelled at him like his Dad did.

Sometimes when she would ask him a question, he would just nod his head. Even when he knew the answer he hardly spoke.

He knew he wasn’t as smart at the other kids, they knew the answers to lots of questions. They were also very eager to put their hand up or yell the answer out. They seemed so brave. Timmy wasn’t very brave.

Lately, when he would be playing with the ball in the playground he found himself punching some of the other boys, or kicking them, really, really hard. He had to go to the principal’s office once for hurting one of his friends. Timmy is not really sure why he got so angry and punched the boy so hard, he was quite shocked that he did it. He didn’t mean to hurt him.

Not all children deal with abuse through violence. Many simply withdraw into themselves, with serious trust issues making genuine relationships difficult.