Idaho should add to its definition of child abuse

I recently learned more about the programs and guidelines that define Idaho’s Child Protective Services.

It came to my attention that emotional and verbal abuse are not included in the definitions that Idaho has for types of abuse. The types of abuse that are included are any form of physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, and sexual abuse.

Although, these are extremely important and are never to be taken lightly, I feel that Idaho is missing a detrimental part of what abuse is.

Emotional abuse defined by the American Humane Association as “a pattern of behavior by parents or caregivers that can seriously interfere with a child’s cognitive, emotional, psychological or social development.” These are hugely changing and quickly progressing areas of development for children, young children especially.

Although every parent may “slip up” and say something harmful that they didn’t mean, emotional abuse is not typically an isolated incident.

The tricky part here is that verbal and emotional abuse is not as easily and clearly discovered as something like physical abuse. Cases of verbal abuse may be much harder to deal with on a legal level but that does not mean it should be ignored.

Research says that verbal and emotional abuse often is just as harmful to a child’s development and well being as physical abuse may be. Children who are verbally abused are more likely to continue to be victims of abuse, become abusers themselves, become severely depressed and self-destructive, and/or develop anxiety.

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Like I said previously, emotional abuse is much harder to detect than something like physical abuse.

Some warning signs that a child is being emotionally abused include: insecurity, poor self-esteem, destructive behaviors, angry acts, withdrawal, alcohol or drug abuse, difficulty forming relationships, and possibly attempted or successful suicide.

With all of these effects laid out in front of me, I see no reason that the state of Idaho shouldn’t step up and add emotional and verbal abuse to the legal definitions.

No child deserves to suffer from any form of abuse at home or any other setting and who are we to determine what is “OK” and what is not for any individual child. Children cannot express these opinions for themselves so as educators, caregivers, parents, and lawmakers we must inform ourselves and stand as their advocates.