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Study Finds Shouting At Children Is As Harmful As Physical Abuse

Getting shouted at as a child may have done more harm than you thought 😳


A recent study, published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect after reviewing 166 earlier studies, reveals that shouting at children can be as detrimental as sexual and physical abuse. The research, offering an in-depth analysis, suggests that this behaviour should be recognized as a distinct form of abuse, characterized by adult-to-child perpetration of verbal abuse through shouting, yelling, denigration, and verbal threats.


This harmful conduct can significantly impact a child’s development, with around 40 percent of children experiencing it. Alarmingly, 10 percent report daily exposure to verbal aggression. Professor Shanta Dube, the study’s lead author and director of Wingate University’s Master of Public Health Program, stresses the importance of addressing this issue, highlighting that adults often underestimate the profound impact of their words and tone on children.


The study concludes that when adults, such as guardians, teachers, or coaches, resort to shouting, it can lead to adverse physiological effects such as depression, anxiety, anger, or low self-esteem. Moreover, it can result in external symptoms, including criminal behaviour, substance abuse, and perpetration of abuse, as well as negative physical health outcomes like obesity and lung disease.


A related 2013 study by Ming-Te Wang, an assistant professor of psychology in education at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education and Psychology, found that harsh verbal discipline can cause depressive symptoms and increase the likelihood of behavioural problems, comparable to the effects of physical discipline within a two-year timeframe.