Discussion: Treating Childhood Abuse

Discussion: Treating Childhood Abuse

According to the World Health Organization, child abuse refers to ill-treatment in emotional, psychological, sexual and neglect forms that lead to potential psychological damage and harm to the health status of a child. Neglect is further described as a sign of omission in care while abuse is an act of commission that leads to actual harm. Examples of physical abuse include: shaking, biting, beating and shaking. Neglect includes the inadequate provision of education, healthcare, protection from environmental hazards, food and clothing. Sexual abuse may be perpetrated through involving children who are developmentally immature in sexual activities which they do not understand or not able to fully consent to. Psychological abuse includes humiliation, verbal abuse and terrorizing a child. This paper discusses the strategies that mental healthcare providers can use to assess a patient for abuse and how exposure to social media is likely to affect the patient. A description of the type of mandatory reporting that is required in child abuse cases will also be provided. Discussion: Treating Childhood Abuse .

Strategies to Employ In Assessing A Patient For Abuse

When conducting an assessment for abuse of pediatric patients, a mental healthcare provider ought to pay attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues in communication, emotional, mental and physical signs. Medical interviews should first be used to gather data in establishing the nature of the relationship that exists between a child, his/her parents, and siblings (Christian & Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, 2015). The medical interview should also include a detailed history of the child as given by the parents/caregivers.  The medical interviews should be conducted in separate sessions with the child, the parents and lastly both of them. The child should be assured of confidentiality and protection to build a good relationship which bases on trust and openness with the mental health provider.

A detailed psychological assessment is integral as this will help to recognize feelings of shame, guilt, confusion, and stigmatization. There are also chances that children may not recognize their individual experiences as neglect or abuse. Be socially withdrawn, aggressive with extreme behaviors and detachment from the caregivers/parents and suicidal tendencies (Pawlik, et al., 2016). A psychological assessment will also reveal a fear of consequences of telling someone or fear of acknowledgment. A physical assessment will reveal unexplained bruises, cuts or welts, wearing inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries such as having long-sleeved shirts on hot sunny days.

How Exposure to The Media/Social Media May Affect The patient

Exposing child abuse victims to social media may expose them to significant emotional and mental effects. Social media resembles a highway with a lot of traffic users with varying age, personalities, and behaviors.  Discussion: Treating Childhood Abuse .This means that by exposing child abuse victims to social media, a lot of people will get to know of it including their close friends and schoolmates. Going by the fact that people respond differently to different situations, the child might face criticism, ridicule or even become stigmatized with peers, which adds to the psychological torture from abuse (Pawlik et al., 2016).


Type of Mandatory Reporting Requires in This Case

When there is high suspicion of child abuse/neglect as evidenced by the assessment conducted by a mental healthcare provider. He/she is legally obliged to report to the Child Protection Services or a law enforcement agency at the local level who will intervene in different ways (Harper & Perkins, 2018). Child Protection Services are designed to treat or prevent family violence and conflicts through interventions such as: advocating and counselling abuse victims, caregiver and family support programs, providing alternative arrangements for living such as out-of-home children placement, service programs to maintain children and families who are at risk of losing their children (Goldman, Avillion & Evans, 2018). Other interventions that can be executed through Child Protection Services may be concrete in nature such as:  providing support for income, medical and legal services, in-home assistance and healthcare services, respite and child care and socialization, mental health services. Discussion: Treating Childhood Abuse .


Child abuse is a global health issue that mental healthcare providers ought to have adequate knowledge in assessing, diagnosing, managing and reporting as it is legally mandated. A good strategy for assessing child abuse victims is having a private medical interview session where confidentiality and protection are guaranteed. The medical interview should be in-depth alongside psychological and physical assessments. Victims of child abuse should not be exposed to social media due to the risk of stigmatization, verbal insults or ridicule which may further impact the child’s health status negatively. When there is a high suspicion of child abuse as evidenced by the assessment of a mental health provider, one ought to immediately report to a local law enforcement agency or Child Protection Services.


Christian, C. W., & Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. (2015). The evaluation of suspected child physical abuse. Pediatrics, peds-2015.

Goldman, S., Avillion, A. E., & Evans, N. (2018). Identifying and Reporting Child Abuse, Neglect, and Maltreatment.

Harper, C. A., & Perkins, C. (2018). Reporting child sexual abuse within religious settings: challenges and future directions. Child abuse review27(1), 30-41.

Pawlik, M. C., Kemp, A., Maguire, S., Nuttall, D., Feldman, K. W., Lindberg, D. M., & ExSTRA Investigators. (2016). Children with burns referred to child abuse evaluation: Burn characteristics and co-existent injuries. Child abuse & neglect55, 52-61. Discussion: Treating Childhood Abuse .

Discussion: Treating Childhood Abuse

In 2012, statistics in the United States indicated that state CPS agencies received 3.4 million referrals for child abuse and neglect. Of these, nearly 700,000 children were found to be victims of maltreatment: 18% were victims of physical abuse and 78% were victims of neglect (CDC, 2014). Child sexual abuse makes up roughly 10% of child maltreatment cases in the United States (CDC, 2014). The CDC considers sexual abuse at any age a form of violence. Child abuse of any kind can lead to an increased state of inflammatory markers in adulthood, as well as multiple physical illnesses and high-risk behavior such as alcoholism and drug abuse. If a PMHNP identifies child abuse, there may be a need to report the abuse to authorities. Once able to provide treatment, the PMHNP can be instrumental in reducing the long-term effects of child abuse.

In this Discussion, you recommend strategies for assessing for abuse and analyze influences of media and social media on mental health. You also evaluate the need for mandatory reporting of abuse.


Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Recommend strategies for assessing for abuse
  • Analyze influences of media and social media on mental health
  • Evaluate the need for mandatory reporting of abuse

To Prepare for this Discussion:

  • Read the Learning Resources concerning treating childhood abuse.
  • Read the Child Abuse Case Study in the Learning Resources.


By Day 3


  • What strategies would you employ to assess the patient for abuse? Explain why you selected these strategies.
  • How might exposure to the media and/or social media affect the patient?
  • What type of mandatory reporting (if any) is required in this case? Why?


By Day 6

Respond to at least two of your colleagues by providing at least two ways that their strategies may be expanded or improved. Discussion: Treating Childhood Abuse.