Child Abuse: Life Span Growth & Development


The uprising in child abuse cases in America is forcing the country to open its eyes and investigate the underlying issue. Psychologist, social workers, law enforcement and researcher are all working hand and hand to combat the dilemma, yet all face the puzzling question “Why does this continue happen? And “Where does the issue stem from?”. These are two question that once solved could substantially decrease cases of child abuse. Erik Erikson in 1963 was one the first to divulge the importance of human development.

His approach was generally based off his findings and description of the eight periods of human development. Throughout the detailed stages he described how pivotal and fragile each stage was for childhood development, regarding the exposure the child met. This exposure could be negative in the case of child abuse. Succeeding Erickson’s early research and discoveries, further research defined child abuse in various forms each with detrimental and traumatic effects, on a child’s psychological, physical and emotional state.

Despite the advancements in detailed psychological analysis, strides towards an effort to alleviate child abuse have been made, but much aid is still needed to resolve child abuse.

Child Abuse

Children who suffer from long terms child abuse or malnourishment have showed negative signs of their childhood development. “The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations – losing on average between four and seven children every day to child abuse and neglect” (Child Abuse Statistics, n.d). “Nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.

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S annually. An estimated 683,000 children (unique incidents) were victims of abuse and neglect in 2015, the most recent year for which there is national data” (National Statistics on Child Abuse, n.d). Throughout this paper, I will address what types of abuse and what influences can cause abuse. I will also be going over how Eric Erikson’s theory play a role in human development and how children who are abused are affected later in life. Child abuse can be used in many different forms and can affect the child’s development negatively.

According to National Children’s Alliance “Neglect is the most common form of maltreatment. Of the children who experienced maltreatment or abuse, three-quarters suffered neglect; 17.2% suffered physical abuse; and 8.4% suffered sexual abuse. (Some children are polyvictimized—they have suffered more than one form of maltreatment)” (National Statistics on Child Abuse, n.d). Child Abuse are seen in many types of different forms for example some children suffer from sexual, physical, neglect or verbal abuse. These types of abuse can impact a large effect on a child’s development process. Three things that influence child abuse is culture influence, poverty and social isolation (Santrock, 2016). Some examples of cultural influence are how we punish our children when they don’t meet our expectations. For example, spanking your child when they misbehave can be taken beyond what is considered appreciate. For poverty this happens due to lack of income or not enough resources to support a child which causes a stressful environment. Lastly you have social isolation, this happens when they have little support from high valued people in their life to deal with stressful events. when a child goes through these traumatic experiences, they tend to show problems later in their life. According to Chapter 7 of our books “children who are abused and have no physical damage have showed signs of having poor peer relationships, being disruptive at school; earn low grades and test scores, have disturbed cognitive development, experience more depression, are more prone to abuse their children/spouses and to consider or attempt suicide as adults, when a child is raised it is expected to meet certain phases so it can become a well-developed individual when they grow up” (Santrock, 2016). Eric Erikson was a well-known psychologist who divided a human’s life span into eight periods called phases. The eight phases Erikson included was trust vs. mistrust, autonomy vs. shame/doubt, initiative vs. guilt, industry vs. inferiority, identity vs. role confusion, intimacy vs. isolation, generativity vs. stagnation, and integrity vs. despair. According Eric Erikson if a human doesn’t complete a phase or skips a phase, they may carry it onto the next phase. Depending on how this person may cope with this problem may depend if it will impact them later in life. Erikson’s description of human development can play a hefty role in a child’s development. Let’s say the child was abused emotionally by being left to cry and never getting attention from his parents, this could affect their toddler stage of the Erikson’s theory. The toddler phase states that they will either learn to trust or mistrust so if the toddler is not getting the correct attention it may not hold good relations later. According to Kalat “John Bowlby proposed that infants who develop good attachment have a sense of security and safety, and those without strong attachments have trouble developing close relations later as well” (Kalat, 2017). Another phase of Erikson’s that can be affected is young adult (intimacy versus isolation), due to the abuse they may have not been able to hold a healthy relationship causing them to most likely to swing towards isolation. When someone can’t find someone or is isolated a lot of times people become depressed or don’t feel their life being worthy. Due to this crisis in this phase it could cause someone to become suicidal. This is just one of many theories that can be affected when a child is abused. Due to many child abuses throughout the country they have been able to create programs and preventions for such traumatic events. Most of these programs are held at a medical facility and help both children and parents with education on prevention and mentoring. According to our book “Some preventive measures are reducing positive attitudes toward physical punishment, reducing poverty and its stressful effects, maintaining social supports that advise parents and provide opportunities to vent, increasing counseling and training in parenting skills (e.g., for at-risk families due to child illness), maltreatment is typically a consequence of ignorance and burden, not malice, etc (Santrock, 2016). Even though children who are exposed to this type of traumatic event seem to be difficult to help, they all need that one person to help them move forward and succeed in their life.

In conclusion, child abuse is used more than not to handle other people’s emotion or past traumatic events. Throughout this paper you will notice that there is more than one kind of child abuse that is used every day in America. In some situations, most connect back to parents or someone that is close to the child that inflicts this type of event due to influence we face every day. Erikson’s stages of human development can also help many people understand what a child or teenage may need to achieve to be a successful human being. If we used the table of Erikson’s stages of human development, we may be able to create a healthier environment for a child’s upbringing. Due to many programs that have evolved over time people can find ways to prevent abusive situations and switch them with healthier alternate solutions. With all of these resources and evidence child abuse should be able to be eliminated and be able to provide children with a more health environment.

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Child Abuse: Life Span Growth & Development. (2021, Mar 09). Retrieved from

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