Identifying and responding to emotional maltreatment is a difficult area of child welfare work. One thing that makes it so difficult is that it is both common and rare.
Common, because emotional maltreatment often co-occurs with other forms of abuse and neglect (USDHHS, 2015; Trickett, et al., 2011).
Rare, because in North Carolina emotional abuse is a specific type of child maltreatment with its own relatively narrow legal definition. Indeed, over the course of a long career in child protective services (CPS) it is possible to frequently encounter children who have suffered emotional harm at the hands of their caregivers, but to rarely or even never substantiate “emotional abuse.”
Perhaps this is why, when the NC Division of Social Services asked county DSS child welfare professionals in August 2014 what they’d like to learn more about through publications and webinars, emotional abuse was a top concern.
While addressing emotional maltreatment will never be easy, we hope this issue will strengthen your capacity to respond to this challenge.
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