Child Abuse

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Abuse most often manifests itself in a lack of love for the child, i.e. a very negative emotional attitude of the educator. An authoritative educator is prone to child abuse. But it is especially intense, cynical, and even sadistic when he is disappointed in the child, when he does not love it or even hates it, perceives it as an unpleasant burden and wants to get rid of it. Then the systematic beating for every little thing is followed by psychological abuse: educators constantly humiliate the child, insult or ridicule it, underestimate it and neglect it with regard to other children.

Insult and humiliation are most often manifested in the fact that a child is called by some derogatory name, that it is insulted in front of other people, that its shortcomings and mistakes are publicly exposed, or that it is branded and ridiculed in various ways. For a child, for example, it is humiliation when it is put in the corner, as punishment, separate from other students, or when a teacher speaks of its parents with contempt or ridicule.

Mocking a child is the source of the most severe psychological trauma that an educator can inflict on a young person. That is why it is the most negative educational method. Here is an example:

While touring the orphanage, we came across two boys in the dormitory who were polishing the floor. In doing so, they wore some funny paper hats on their heads decorated with colorful ribbons, feathers and other little things that gave them a weird look. We asked the warden of the home what that meant. He explained to us that the boys were expelled from class for undisciplined behavior in the classroom and punished by cleaning the dormitory. In addition, they have to wear those hats all day to be made fun by others.

The warden believed this would encourage the boys to behave more properly. We expressed deep doubt because this “educator” made three major educational mistakes:

1) deprived boys of the opportunity to affirm themselves in school (exclusion from classes);

2) he used useful work as a means of punishment (cleaning the dormitory);

3) exposed the boys to the ridicule of other children (funny hats).

In the orphanage, where many children urinated in bed at night, we saw this scene:

In the morning, when they got up, the children had to be divided into two groups: “dry” and “wet”. Then the “dry” made a row, and the “wet” had to throw their wet sheets over their heads and parade past the happier comrades who laughed out loud at them. This was the way the home administration “cured” its cadets of bedwetting. There was no need to ask if there was any success in that. It is quite clear that inflicting psychic blows cannot free oneself from difficulties that are psychogenic in nature, but necessarily intensifies them.

It is psychological abuse when the educator constantly tells the child that it is incompetent, that it is stupid, that it is useless, that it will never develop into a full-fledged person, that it will become a loser and the like. With such statements, a father drove his daughter into such despair that she tried to take her own life by jumping into a deep river. Openly showing a child that he or she is less valued and loved than other children in the family, class, or other child collective is always a severe psychological trauma that can take on the scale of psychological abuse.

There are educators who punish by restraining their sympathy. Then they tell the child that they don’t like it, they don’t talk to it, they act insulted, cold and repulsive. This is a very dangerous and essentially wrong method of upbringing, even when applied for only a short time. We have seen that a child needs the constant conviction that the environment loves it for proper mental development. In its sense of emotional acceptance, the child must not be subject to hesitation; it must not feel that it can lose the affection of its educators. This brings into its mental life a feeling of insecurity that hinders the healthy development of the young person. There is no doubt that resentment should be shown when a child makes a mistake. But it is never necessary to scold, underestimate or reject a child because of that. Instead, an educator should point out the child’s wrong way of doing something. Then the child will gain the conviction that despite condemning its negative behavior, we have retained confidence in it and that we expect more positive behavior from it on another occasion.

Psychological abuse leaves very deep traces in the child’s psyche. The child usually remembers a single tactless, insulting action for a long time and finds it difficult to forgive such an act. Due to long-term and systematic psychological abuse, deep resentment accumulates on educators, and then – in the process of generalization – on other people as well. It becomes a motive for a person to withdraw into themselves, to become selfish, intolerant and antisocial. Roads of injury to one’s own prestige are hard to forgive; they provoke the need for refreshment. This is the reason why many people who have been raised with psychological abuse become unusually aggressive, vicious, vindictive, ready to harm another person – whoever it may be – when given the opportunity. On such a basis, various neurotic problems can arise when an aggressive man tries to hide his hostile attitude towards people, pushing him into the unconscious spheres of his personality.

Thus, a 19-year-old girl, who ended up in a dormitory after a long period of abuse by her guardian, panicked and was afraid of any knife she saw in the room, in the dining room, in the kitchen, anywhere. She calmed down only when the knife was hidden from her. During psychotherapeutic work, it turned out that the unconscious basis of her phobia (pathological fear) is a hidden desire to kill people, whom she is afraid of. That desire appeared in her as a result of years of psychological abuse in the home of relatives who raised her when she lost her parents in early childhood and did not love her.