Reporting of emotional abuse in children
Turnbull, Allyson Tracy
Background: There is a growing clinical and research interest into emotional abuse and its detrimental impact on child welfare and development, yet increasing evidence suggests that it remains both under-recognised and under-reported. Objectives: The primary objective of this study was to describe the prevalence and nature of emotional abuse experienced by a random sample of children referred to a multi-agency Child Protection team, located within an NHS board, due to concerns about maltreatment. The secondary objective of this study was to examine the prevalence of children within the sample who were disabled. Method: The study was a retrospective case note survey. Random samples of 108 case files were selected and reviewed using the Maltreatment Classification Record Abstraction Instrument – MCRAI (Trickett et al., 2009). Fifteen items of parental behaviour regarded as emotionally abusive were coded and organised into four subtypes of emotional abuse. This information was applied to two psychological maltreatment frameworks. Non parametric and descriptive statistics were used for data analysis Results: There was a significant difference found in the identification of emotional abuse between clinician reporting, n=33 (30.6%), at the time of referral and the use of the extraction tool with either psychological framework, n=78(72.2%). There was only a small number of children with a disability identified within the random sample who had experienced abuse and/or neglect n=12. Conclusions: Greater awareness and understanding of emotional abuse would be valuable in ensuring that children’s psychological needs are met and to avoid the detrimental impact of this form of abuse. Clinicians would also benefit from a greater understanding of the complexities of disabilities and how these can impact on child protection investigations.