Consequences of Abuse & Neglect

Many factors impact the effects of abuse and neglect on a child:

  • age and development status at time of occurrence
  • type of maltreatment
  • frequency, duration and severity of maltreatment
  • relationship between child and perpetrator

The effects of abuse and neglect differ from child to child, based on their “resilience.” Children are not born with a specific capacity for resilience. Resilience is formed in a child through a combination of protective and risk factors. Some protective factors include:

  • healthy attachment
  • self-esteem
  • intelligence
  • emotion regulation
  • humor
  • independence

Physical Consequences

Physical effects of abuse or neglect of children may include:

  • injuries, pain, suffering, or in severe case, death
  • poor physical health such as diabetes, malnutrition and obesity
  • chronic health conditions during childhood or later in life
  • impaired brain development that impacts cognitive, language, academic abilities, and mental health

For more information on maltreatment and brain development, go to:

Supporting Brain Development in in Traumatized Children and Youth

Psychological Consequences

Possible psychological effects include:

  • lower IQ scores, cognitive delays and language problems in infants
  • borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, PTSD
  • severe developmental problems and emotional problems
  • social difficulties such as attachment disorders, aggression and poor boundaries

Behavioral Consequences

These children are more likely to have behavioral issues, including:

  • substance abuse, delinquency, truancy, pregnancy
  • sexual risk-taking which can lead to STDs and sexual assault
  • juvenile delinquency/engaging in criminal activity
  • youth violence and interpersonal violence

Societal Consequences

There are direct and indirect costs to society as a result of abuse and neglect. These include:

  • monetary costs for intervention and safety such as police, welfare, court systems
  • impacts on the workforce associated with employee issues and absenteeism
  • health care costs

For more information, go to

Child Abuse and Neglect



42 Henley Road
Wynnewood, PA 19096
(484) 213-3616

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