The long-term effects of child maltreatment on social behavior
Even after the maltreatment ends, children who experienced it might have unhealthy or risky behaviors that could harm them and the people around them.
For instance, child maltreatment might trigger:
- Unsafe sexual practices
- Alcohol and other substance abuse
- Juvenile delinquency, which can turn to children involved in crime
- Perpetration of abuse to other people
Most, if not all, of these long-term effects of maltreatment or abuse are multifactorial. It is not to say that every child that experiences abuse will be guaranteed to exhibit these behaviors and that children who grow up in healthy homes cannot. Part of the reason they develop these behaviors may have something to do with being raised in an environment where negative behaviors are the norm.
For example, a child who sees their parents physically and emotionally harming each other will likely believe that is how all parents communicate. In turn, they may also exhibit this behavior, whether or not they were directly abused.
What you can do to help
The weight of child abuse and neglect is heaviest on the victims. Still, experts highlight that society also “pays the price.” Oftentimes, abuse is a vicious, generational cycle and can be extremely hard for victims to even know they are being abused let alone break free.
For this reason, we must step up if we suspect child maltreatment.
According to the Department of Justice, it is our civic and moral duty to report a case of child abuse and neglect. In fact, some people, like teachers, heads of hospitals, and barangay officials, are required by law to report child abuse cases.
Please note that you can report a child abuse case to:
- Local Barangay Council for the Protection of Children
- The nearest city prosecutor
- The police department in your area
- Commission on Human Rights
- Anti-Child Abuse, Discrimination, Exploitation Division (ACADED) of National Bureau of Investigation
- Department of Social Welfare & Development (DSWD)
The effects of child maltreatment don’t end with the incident. Often, the negative impacts follow the child into their adulthood. While there is no way to turn back time, there are things we can all do to help minimize the damage, break cycles of abuse, and nurture a child’s development into a healthy adult. For this reason, we must take action if we know a case of child abuse.
Learn more about Other Child Health Issues here.