Private Practice, Hilliard, Ohio
University of California, Davis
Allen was standing there sobbing and shaking, eyes bulging, nose running, and tears streaming down his face. His father was holding him tightly, holding a knife to his cheek. “This is what 1'11 do if you can't learn to act right, ” his father said. Allen could hardly listen; he'd been spanked pretty hard before, but the knife was terrifying. His mind was racing and he knew that he'd better start acting right. But he was confused; he thought he had been behaving.
Is this a scene from a soap opera or a cheap novel? It sounds like it, but such dramas may be fairly regular among the children attending any given school. How do we respond?
Although it is most common to think of maltreatment as physical and sexual abuse, another kind of maltreatment that can lead to crisis for children is psychological maltreatment. Allen's situation typifies only one type of psychological maltreatment—terrorizing. Psychological maltreatment includes other acts of commission such as humiliating, exploiting, rejecting, and corrupting, as well as acts of omission such as psychological neglect and unavailability of caregiving.