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Child Abuse

Child Abuse or Punishment

04/10/2003

Question:

This specifically is probably not serious enough to be considered abuse, but...What would a 9 year old have to do to justify his mom constantly telling him that there was something wrong with him and that he was an abusive monster and always would be? What if it was true and that child`s parent were just being brutally honest or retaliating in a fight? If it was true, would that make it reasonable for that parent to threaten to have social services take the kid away? I know that certain things are not a child`s fault (like being hit or shaken, or being used as mom`s therapist), but what about things that a kid actually does deserve?

Answer:

Parents should recognize the fact that constant criticism of a child can result in a self-fulfilling prophecy, i.e. if you only expect bad behavior then that is what you will get. If the child`s behavior is out of control, the parent should seek appropriate counseling services or perhaps even juvenile court intervention to assist in managing the child`s behavior. I do not think that a parent should threaten to have a child taken away. Threatening to abandon the child, even verbally, will only serve to make matters worse.

 

Heidi A. Malott, LISW Clinical Coordinator, Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children

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Response by:

Robert Shapiro, MD
Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati