The Psychology of Trauma

Child Abuse

What is child abuse and why is it so important in psychology?

While trauma is defined as any terrifying, life-threatening event, child abuse has a more specific meaning, referring to the maltreatment of a dependent child. Maltreatment can range from failure to attend to the child’s fundamental needs to intentionally inflicting harm. Such harm could include violent attacks or sexual molestation. Child maltreatment is generally divided into four categories: neglect, emotional or psychological abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Child maltreatment has received a good deal of attention within the field of psychology because of its extremely damaging and far-reaching effects—child abuse leaves its mark on almost all aspects of psychological functioning.


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