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Child Abuse Negl. 1994 Sep;18(9):705-14.

The worst combinations of child abuse and neglect.

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Department of Family Practice, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


We have studied the impact of various kinds of abuse and neglect on the child's perception of himself and his future. We found, when considering physical abuse, physical neglect, verbal abuse, emotional neglect, and sexual abuse, that less than 5% of these mistreatments occurred in isolation. Since the vast majority of mistreated children are subject to more than one kind of abuse or neglect, it was important to delineate which combinations have the greatest effect. We found that a combination of physical neglect, physical abuse, and verbal abuse had the greatest impact on children, affecting such things as their enjoyment of living and hopes for the future. An early age of onset for verbal abuse and emotional neglect was significantly associated with greater severity and frequency of mistreatment. Neglect appears to be a precursor to abuse in many cases.

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