In found that the effects of verbal and

In
every corner of this world, the issue of abuse has been one of the most
apparent and most persisting problems that people experience. As of today, it
could be said that this issue has been mitigated a lot, especially due to the
intense efforts provided by individuals, groups, and institutions in response
to the dire consequences that abuse (in any form) could inflict to the victims
and even to the general society at large. There are six types of abuse are; (1)
physical, (2) sexual, (3) verbal/emotional, (4) Mental/psychological, (5)
financial/economic, (6) Cultural/identity. In this article, however, the
further focus would be on the verbal/emotional aspect of abuse as experienced
by millions of people around the world. In most cases, this is the type of
abuse, which goes unnoticed, since its effects are less apparent in the
victims. However, what most of us fail to notice is that this is also one of
the most severe types of abuse since it leaves a latent, but long-lasting (even
permanent) damage to an individual that experiences it. In a study done in the
effects of abuse to young individuals, it was found that the effects of verbal
and psychological abuse are much greater for a child and an adolescent,
especially because this is the stage where they are most vulnerable to these
kinds of attacks (Al Odhayani, Watson, & Watson, 2013). However, what makes
this more severe is the fact that abuse is not only experienced by the child
from his/her peers but at times even from parents/guardians, who are supposed
to guide them in their development. In this article a discussion of the effects
of verbal and psychological abuse to children and adolescents. The article will
focus on two forms of abuse (1) the parents/guardians and (2) peer groups
(bullying). Lastly, this article would also try to expound on the effects of
“cyberbullying” for children and adolescents today. This is important because a
large part of verbal and psychological abuse (bullying) happens through social
media and other digital forms of communication, with statistics saying that 1
out of 3 teenaged kids who uses social media has been bullied and received
“cyberthreats” online. Nonetheless, the author of this article believes that
while abuse from the parents would have a much different effect on the
individual as compared to those coming from peer groups, both of them could
have a permanent and detrimental effect on the child/adolescent’s well-being.

Definition
of Terms and Scope of Limitations

In
this article, the definition of Childhood and Adolescent will be defined as
used by Erikson is his Psychosocial Theory. This would include both the stages
of preschool (3-5 years), school age (6-12 years), and adolescent (12-18 years)
(David, 2014). Individuals in these stages are considered to be most vulnerable
to any kind of abuse, but most especially in terms of psychological and verbal
ones. In fact, it is said these types are one of the three most persistent
types of abuse in bullying, which includes verbal, psychological, and physical
(Ronald, n.d.). On one hand, verbal abuse was defined by Patricelli (2005), as
the use of words, phrases, and even body language which are aimed at hurting
and/or inappropriately criticizing another person. On the other hand, she
defined psychological abuse as the control exerted by an individual towards the
availability of information for the victim in order to “manipulate that
person’s sense of reality; what is acceptable and what is not acceptable”
(Patricelli, 2005). Both of these would be included and further discussed in
the succeeding sections of this analysis. Lastly, Bullying is defined as
“unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real
or perceived power imbalance” (StopBullying.Gov, 2017). Bullying could also be
further narrowed down in terms of the types of “aggressive behavior” employed
by the bullies, with verbal bullying, including acts such as name-calling,
teasing, and taunting, while psychological bullying including acts of
blackmailing, intimidation, and even cyberbullying.

Verbal
and Psychological Abuse from Parents/Guardians

One
of the most heavily debated aspects of abuse when it comes to child-rearing is
defining what abuse is relative to the cultural traditions of a society. More
particularly, these cultural-specific patterns of child-rearing have been one
of the most controversial topics in terms of child abuse because what might
seem as abusive for some cultures might not exactly be seen as such in another
(Bornstein, 1991). A good example of this type of duality would be the
difference between Western and Eastern Standards of child rearing and control.
In the United States, spanking and badmouthing is considered to be abusive in
the sense that policies have even been established to mitigate these behaviors
from the parents. However, in countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, and
China, among others, spanking and use of bad words are considered to be normal
as long as it is within acceptable limits (e.g. not inflicting grave injuries
and permanent marks). Nevertheless, contrary to what the western perspective
thinks about the use of intense physical and verbal means of rearing the child,
children in the East are not exactly those how would experience psychological
abuse or other types of emotional repercussions, because in the first place
they know exactly what the is the purpose of acts like this. Now, this poses
the question, if child rearing is relative, what would be considered as abusive
and not, especially in terms of the verbal and psychological aspects of it.
According to Pingleton (2014), while speaking might be an effective way to rear
a child, there still “is a giant chasm between a mild spanking properly
administered out of love and an out-of-control adult venting their emotions by
physically abusing a child”. On the darker side of the spectrum, excessive
verbal and psychological abuse as administered by the parents is said to damage
a “child’s esteem as well as foster hatred and fear” (Heitler, 2014). The main
reason as to why verbal and psychological abuses are much more frequent is
because the guidelines set to prevent excessive abuse only tackle permanents
and manifest marks that are left by physical abuse. Thus, many parents and/or
guardians up to these days provide sanctions for children either by calling
them hurtful names, badmouthing, or even create a “negative environment” where
they could manipulate the child through different methods.

In
another study done about the effects of parent’s verbal abuse towards their
adolescent children, it was found out that teenagers are much more vulnerable
even compared to children when it comes to verbal abuse. This is because
adolescence is the stage in a person’s life where personalities begin to develop,
and these personalities are almost always that ones that a child would carry
into adulthood. To further this idea about the devastating effects of verbal
abuse to adolescents, the University of Calgary, has conducted a study
comparing the effects of verbal abuse with that of physical abuse in specific
cases of parental abuse. According to the results of the study, verbal abuse is
much more severe in the sense that it creates a lifelong trauma that is usually
characterized by feelings of worthlessness, anger, pain, confusion, and even to
the extremes which are the physical manifestations of these emotional damages
(e.g. anorexia and bulimia) (SecureTeen.com, 2013).

In
the cases posted above, it could be seen that while the rules and guidelines
set by specific cultures on child rearing could very differently, a huge gap
still exist in between what is considered as corrective and abusive. In the
latter sense, studies have found out that verbal and psychological abuse almost
always have a longer lasting effect on the child as compared to the physical
abuse that he experiences. However, what is alarming with this is that most of
the time, parents do not intend to elicit this kind of damage, and only does
this while ignorant of the fact that these have more severe effects. According
to LaBier (2015), some examples of psychological abuse that we fail to notice
are indifference, humiliation, denigration, neglect, and unrelenting pressure.
Nevertheless, while these are being mitigated today through campaigns and other
educational materials showing these damages, it is undeniable that these days
bullying from peers is still one of the greatest issues that are left
unresolved.

Bullying
and Abuse from Peer Groups

In
a study done by Brito and Oliveira (2013), they found out that from their
sample of “237 students in the ninth grade of middle school from public schools
participating in the School Health Program in the city of Olinda (PE)”, about
67.5% of them are bullied and/or has experienced being bullied at more than one
point in their high school lives. In their findings, they found out that some
of the most common effects in these cases are low self-esteem. In other studies,
done regarding the same subject matter, it was found out that other effects
could include:

“fear
and anxiety, depression, stress and PTSD, intrusive memories, memory gap
disorders, sleep or eating problems, hyper-vigilance and exaggerated startle
responses, irritability, anger issues, alcohol and drug abuse, suicide,
self-mutilation, and assaultive behaviors” (Holly, 2017)

By
simply looking at the list provided above, it could easily be seen that
bullying is a matter that should be prevented at all cost. In a recent study
done by Yale University, the likelihood for a bullied victim to consider
suicide increases up to 7% to 9% (NOBullying.com, 2016). In another study done
by ABC News, an astounding number of more than 30,000 children do not want to
go to school and rather stay at home due to fear of being bullied.

In
retrospect to Erikson’s stages of development, he describes the stages of life
that a person goes through as well as the kinds of “crisis” that an individual
must be able to resolve in each of them. Aside from this he also describes the
most significant figures in a child’s life which changes as they grow up. In
the case of school-aged children (6 to 12 years) and adolescents (12 to 18
years), he pointed out that individuals in this stage of life usually find
their peers as very significant in influencing the decisions that he makes as
well as his development (David, 2014). The phase for Industry vs. Inferiority
(School-aged children), is the phase when children gradually shift their
“authority figures” from their parents towards their peers. As they reach
adolescence, individuals now create stronger bonds to who they think they are
as well as their friends who they affiliate themselves with. In line with our
topic of bullying, it could be said that what makes bullying so detrimental is
the fact that it could lead to a sense of inferiority in school-aged children
or even role confusion for adolescents. However, what is surprising with
regards to this topic is the fact that the relationship between bullying and is
not unidirectional. Rather even the act of bullying is something which is
related to the stage of Identity vs. role confusion, among other external
factors, such as parent’s child-rearing practices during the Industry vs.
Inferiority phase of life. Other factors that could elicit a chronic bullying
behavior are factors such as a strained relationship with parents, anxiety, and
fear, and lack of prosocial behavior among others. In other words, this shows
the important roles of parents and institutions in preventing verbal and psychological
abuse as committed by bullies and received by victims.

Role
of Parents in Child and Adolescent Development

As
stated earlier problematic parenting strategies are almost always problematic
since it elicits chronic and long-lasting effects on the child and the
adolescents. Aside from this, it was also established that irresponsible
parenting directly contributes to the creation of bullying which furthers the
problem of verbal and psychological abuse. From this, it could be seen that
parents are essential for breaking this cycle of violence as well as improve
the well-being of the child. Going back to Erikson’s Psychosocial theory, it
could be said that the role of parents in an individual’s development is much
higher in the stages of school-aged phase as compared to adolescence. This
shows that parents and/or guardians must foster a more pro-active approach
towards a child’s social and emotional development. Usually, in this phase of
Industry vs. Inferiority (aka Latency), children try “are capable of learning,
creating and accomplishing numerous new skills and knowledge, thus developing a
sense of industry” (David, 2014). Thus, in order to develop a healthy social
and emotional well-being, the parents’ role is to provide healthy criticisms
rather than insults and badmouthing, things which the individual would
experience from his peers in the latter stages of his life, thus compounding
its effects. By providing feedback oriented towards development and not
shaming, children in this phase would be able to learn directly from their
mistakes and make amends with confidence rather than with guilt and shame. 

Aside
from fostering a positive environment for the child’s development, another
proactive approach to prevent instances of verbal and psychological abuse is by
talking to the children’s educators with regards to the prevention of these
instances. According to the National Crime Prevention Council (2017), one of
the best things that parents can do to prevent bullying is (1) to talk to
educators and/or the principal and (2) teach your child to build confidence and
to solve problems himself without resorting to violence. By doing these a child
would have more secure room to develop his sense of industry (for school-aged
children) and discover his identity (for adolescents). This would also help the
child to be able to develop his self-esteem even within an environment that
elicits the opposite of this kind of response. Also, by giving emphasis on the
second act (teaching the child confidence and problem solving), bullying
through verbal and psychological abuse could be prevented. This is important
because in most cases, physical teachers and other authorities could only
prevent physical bullying since they are the only ones which are noticeable.

While
parents and/or guardians present the most influence for children (and some for
adolescents) when it comes to preventing verbal and psychological abuse, social
institutions such as the school and the government should also play a vital
role in the prevention of these cases.

Role
of Institutions in Preventing Verbal and Psychological Abuse

The
role of the state as an institution in light of abuse prevention is perhaps as
old as the role of the family in preventing such cases. As of today, it could
even be said that while family provides better quality protection and guidance
for abuse protection, the state provides a more objective definition and rules
with regards to the same matter. This is apparent because today, even abuse,
which is committed by families through child rearing are addressed by the state
through the law stating what should and should not be allowed in rearing a
child. This is particularly the same with bullying, as of these days, almost
every country in the world has a section in their constitution addressing the
problem of bullying through sanctions for either the bully, their parents, or
even the educators allowing such acts. In the United States, every state has
passed their own laws regarding the protection of children from different kinds
of bullying. This includes verbal and psychological abuse, that are given
certain guidelines in order to determine whether it was violated or not
(StopBullying.Gov, 2017). Most of these states are also reported to have an
anti-bullying law which even applies to juveniles or those who are under 18
years old. In most cases, bullying acts are oriented towards the educators and
school administrators in order to prevent cases of bullying which are in most
cases neglected by the teachers.

In
line with this, another institution who plays a huge role in the prevention of
verbal and psychological abuse (along with other types of abuses) is the
school. Since this institution would foster and create an environment in which
the child could express his ideas, discover his identity, explore new things,
and learn from his experiences. However, when the school neglects cases where a
negative atmosphere is created through abuse, the aforementioned things that
are crucial to a child’s development is greatly neglected and even worse,
directed towards its exact opposite. This is perhaps the main reason as to why
the state has the biggest responsibility in the prevention of abuse aside from
the family. In every state in the United States, a clause regarding the
school’s responsibility could always be found, holding the educators and
administrators greatly responsible for neglecting these terrible acts of abuse.

However,
it is apparent these days that bullying has moved into a different dimension in
life since both the manifests (physical) and latent (verbal, emotional, and
psychological) types have been sanctioned by most institutions today.
Particularly, this new dimension is through the use of “social media”, that is
greatly used by most people in abusing someone due to the less number of
consequences that they face as compared to face-to-face types of abuse.

Cyberbullying

In
a study done by The Urban Institute regarding the case of bullying, they found
out that cyberbullying affects a significant amount of people who are bullied
online, comprising 17% of all people who experience bullying as compared to 41%
who experiences physical bullying (NOBullying.com, 2016). This number is
expected to increase in the coming years as more and more consumers are
becoming dependent on social media for self-validation and acceptance. As of
today, studies reported that many children and adolescent individuals are
affected with the “popularity” that they are getting through the number of
likes that they get, relying on this as a source of self-validation. This is
just the same as for most individuals who are heavy users of social media, with
researchers saying that the use of Facebook could cause depression, as one
compares his own life with the posts of others and resulting in negative thinking
about their own accomplishments (Walton, 2015). For adolescents, however, this
issue of self-validation is much more apparent since a whopping number of 95%
of adolescents in the world are now using social media (Sterling, 2013). Going
back to our discussion on the relationship of abuse to adolescent development,
it could be said that social media presents itself as one of the greatest
threat to a healthy well-being and development for children and adolescents
alike, because it presents a greater amount of variation when it comes to the
types of abuse that a person could experience. Also, the reason why social
media is a great threat towards the development and well-being of an individual
is the fact that the types of verbal and psychological abuse that are channeled
through this medium of communication is less sanctioned and noticeable for
authorities who are trying to prevent such cases. In other words, any threats,
repetitive insults, and even name-calling could be made through this channel
with significantly fewer risks for the perpetrator/s compared to physical types
of bullying. As according to Gordon and Forman (2017),

“cyberbullied
kids experience anxiety, fear, depression, and low self-esteem. They also may
deal with low self-esteem, experience physical symptoms, and struggle
academically. But the targets of cyberbullying also experience some unique
consequences and negative feelings.”

Going
back to our discussion on Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory, cyberbullying could
then be related to feelings of inferiority for children who are within the
school age, as well as role confusion for those who are in their adolescent
years. This is even more likely to happen because the traditional mode of
“showcasing one’s talents” are now shifting towards online channels (e.g.
posting YouTube videos), which are more vulnerable to attacks and negative
criticisms.

Conclusion

The issue of verbal
and psychological abuse has been one of the most persistent and devastating
conflicts, which are yet to be resolved. In most cases, the reason as to why
these acts are more likely to be committed as compared to physical abuses is
that the marks left by such are not exactly as visible when compared to abuse
through physical means. Aside from this, what makes this issue worse is that
fact that verbal and psychological abuse is committed both intentionally and
unintentionally. On one hand, the unintentional aspect is almost always
committed to child-rearing practices where the parent could unintentionally
cross the gap from a correct use of words towards an abusive one. On the other
hand, the intentional aspect is almost always apparent through bullying from
peer groups. These days, however, verbal and psychological abuse is committed
by many through the new channels of communication, which is social media. This
poses the greatest threats towards a child’s industry and/or an adolescent’s
identity (from Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory) since 94% of all teens today are
using social media all over the world. Nonetheless, as discussed earlier in
this article, the importance of institutions like the family, school, and the
state relies on the fact that they could become the vanguards against abuse. On
one hand, while the family provides a more direct and high-quality approach
towards bullying prevention, the state provides the rules and more objective
laws that could mitigate both unintentional abuse at home, neglect from school,
and direct acts of bullying from one’s peers. Nevertheless, what is apparent is
that in order to stop verbal abuse once and for all, each and every institution
must work together hand-in-hand against these acts of violence and misconduct.