41 CHILD ABUSE AWARENESS Effects of child abuse 12 Long and Short-Term Effects of Child Abuse Child abuse and neglect are serious health problems that can have detrimental long-term and short-term effects on victims. Child abuse includes all types of abuse and neglect toward individuals under the age of 18 by a caregiver or adult in a mentorship role.This can include sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Unfortunately, victims of child abuse may also face a greater risk of becoming abusers themselves later in life. That’s why it is important to recognize the effects of child abuse and to report signs of abuse and neglect whenever you see them. Child Abuse and Neglect: 6 Long-Term Effects Physical, psychological, and behavioral consequences are the three main long-term effects many child abuse victims suffer from. Even years after the abuse ends, victims can still find themselves dealing with the long-term effects of the physical, emotional, or sexual abuse they faced. This impact can even span generations if the victim is unable to seek treatment and prevent the cycle from repeating with their own children. 1. Physical Health Problems While some long-term effects of child abuse occur instantly, such as brain damage from head trauma, others can take months or years to become detectable. Child abuse victims face a higher risk for a variety of long-term or future physical health problems, including: • Malnutrition • High Blood Pressure •Arthritis • Cancer • Bowel Disease • Diabetes • Heart Disease • Lung Problems Victims of child abuse and neglect are also at risk for stunted or improper brain development. Regions of the brain, including the amygdala, which plays a large part in processing emotions, and the hippocampus, which is critical for learning and memory, are negatively affected by child abuse and neglect. However, with the help of treatment and intervention, it is possible to help these areas of the brain recover. 2. Substance Abuse Children with parents who struggle with substance abuse face a greater risk of experiencing abuse or neglect. It also increases their risk of turning to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism for themselves when they grow older. One long-term study that followed child abuse victims until they reached 24 found that suffering from physical abuse during the first five years of life is strongly linked to developing substance abuse later in life. Unfortunately, victims of child abuse and neglect are more likely to become abusive to their own children. Seeking treatment for substance abuse is imperative to breaking this cycle of abuse and neglect. (continued)