According to a new study, parents, teachers, or coaches who shout at children contribute to lifelong damage that is just as bad as physical or sexual abuse.
Published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, after analyzing 166 earlier studies, the authors found that verbal abuse can be described as its own category of maltreatment.
Currently, child maltreatment is classified into four categories:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
The authors say that shouting or yelling at a child can fit under the emotional abuse category, which is a more overt type of abuse.
The vast majority (76.5%) of shouting was done by parents, but caregivers and other adults like teachers and coaches were also found to inflict verbal abuse on children.
The lead author of the study and director of Wingate University's Master of Public Health Program, Shanta Dube, "Childhood verbal abuse desperately needs to be acknowledged as an abuse subtype because of the lifelong negative consequences."
What are some lifelong consequences of shouting and verbal abuse?
According to the study, children can become mentally distressed and experience depression, anger, low self esteem, and could eventual lead to substance use, or physical health conditions like obesity.
Approximately 300 million children between the ages two to four are physical and psychological abused by their caregivers, according to the World Health Organization. In light of these numbers, recognizing abuse and finding solutions is urgent.
What's more is that verbal abuse has increased over the years, whereas sexual and physical abuse has decreased.
How can parents avoid shouting? Words Matter, a British charity who commissioned the study, suggests avoiding shouting at your child all together. Don't insult your child or name call them, either. The charity recommends repairing a relationship to a child who has been hurt or impacted by verbal abuse.
At the end of the day, words do matter. Reconsider what you're saying before you say them.