Identifying Emotional and Psychological Abuse: A Guide for Childcare Professionals

Identifying Emotional and Psychological Abuse: A Guide for Childcare Professionals

Identifying Emotional and Psychological Abuse: A Guide for Childcare Professionals

Identifying Emotional and Psychological Abuse: A Guide for Childcare Professionals


The principal objectives of this book are to enable childcare workers to understand and deal more effectively with cases of emotional and psychological abuse. The concepts of emotional development, emotional abuse, psychological development, and psychological abuse are fully explored and clearly defined, within the contexts of:
  • Existing literature and research
  • Childcare legislation and practice
  • Child abuse enquiry reports, in particular that of Victoria Climbié
The book identifies emotional and psychological development and abuse in specific age categories, 0-4, 5-12, and adolescence. Case studies and vignettes are used to highlight normal development and abusive situations. Comprehensive frameworks which are easily applicable to current practice, are provided, enabling workers to observe and accurately assess the quality of emotional and psychological life of children.

Identifying Emotional and Psychological Abuse is key reading for health and social care professionals, as well as students with an interest in child protection.


I have often wondered why the 50+ child abuse enquiry reports published in the last 30 years are so easily forgotten, their lessons often ignored. One probable reason is that they are so excruciatingly painful! Not just in the physical sense, though. They are also implicit records of the most damaging forms of emotional and psychological abuse. When Lord Laming (2003: 1.10), for example, tells us that Victoria Climbié was 'transformed from a healthy, lively and happy little girl into a wretched and broken wreck of a human being', what he's saying in effect is that she was physically tortured and emotionally and psychologically abused over a long period of time. It is inconceivable that the perpetrators who systematically tortured and battered her were also affectionately attending to her emotional and psychological needs. You cannot torture or batter a 6–7-year-old girl over many weeks and months without emotionally and psychologically abusing her.

The earliest indicators

The emotional and psychological abuse of Victoria began long before she arrived in England. No one really knows why Marie-Therese Kouao decided to approach Victoria's parents in Nigeria with the offer of taking her to England for a 'proper' education. She had approached another couple before that, who approved but then changed their mind, but whatever she told Victoria's parents, we know that Kouao's subsequent actions ensured that Victoria's educational and social life came to an abrupt end as soon as she stepped off the plane at Heathrow. They had spent five months in France after leaving Nigeria. There is nothing in the testimonies of people who knew Kouao, were related to her, worked with her, or provided services for her, to suggest that she ever really wanted to promote Victoria's interests or welfare. On the contrary, those testimonies provide the clearest indicators that Victoria was to be a tool by which Kouao would promote her own interests.

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