ERIC Number: ED369003
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993
The Universality of Emotional Child Abuse.
Firestone, Robert W.
Emotional child abuse is virtually inevitable in the context of the traditional nuclear family and often has a more detrimental effect on children than other, more widely publicized forms of maltreatment. This paper documents clinical, statistical, and empirical evidence showing that "normative" child-rearing practices in our culture have pathogenic properties and effects. Manifestations of emotional child abuse include: (1) behaviors based on parental hostility such as verbal abuse, sadistic socialization measures, lack of respect for the child's personal boundaries, threat of abandonment, and stifling a child's spontaneity; (2) destructive practices based on indifference and neglect, including excessive permissiveness and inconsistency; (3) behaviors based on ignorance, including dishonest role-playing, overprotection, and isolation; (4) overly restrictive or harsh moral codes; and (5) parents' defenses and addictive patterns that are transmitted to their children. A number of factors are involved in the psychodynamics of emotional maltreatment: parents' ambivalent feelings, the projection of parents' negative traits onto children, the confusion between emotional hunger and genuine love, the exclusivity of traditional coupling, and the utilization of the child as a symbol of immortality. It is mandatory that we examine dehumanizing child-rearing practices delineated here in order to help future generations of children. (Author)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Glendon Association, Los Angeles, CA.