45 CHILD ABUSE AWARENESS Child Abuse and Neglect: 6 Short-Term Effects Depending on their age, children who experience abuse and neglect can respond to it in a variety of different manners. Preschool-aged children or toddlers may start bed-wetting and displaying signs of severe anxiety. Elementary school kids might have low grades or very few friends. Some teenagers experiment with drugs and alcohol or fight with their family members. (continued) 1. Depression and Anxiety Teenage girls have a higher chance of developing depression and anxiety from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. However, a child of any gender or age can experience depression and anxiety as a result of abuse. Feelings of guilt and anger are also common among adolescents. 2.Altered Sleep Cycle Child abuse victims may also suffer from an altered sleep cycle. Nightmares, sleep disturbances, and hypervigilance can contribute to their sleep problems. These symptoms typically occur in preschoolers. 3. Regressive Behavior Regressive behavior occurs when a child regresses to an earlier developmental stage emotionally, socially, or behaviorally.Wanting a bottle or pacifier after they have already been weaned off them is one example of regressive behavior.Age regression can occur to people at any age. Children around three to four years of age may also show regressive behavior after witnessing domestic violence. 4. Separation Anxiety Disorder Preschool-aged children may develop a separation anxiety disorder as a result of abuse and neglect. Symptoms for this disorder include constantly shadowing a caretaker around the house as well as stomach aches and dizziness in anticipation of separation. 5. Low Self-Esteem Victims of child abuse often develop low self-worth.They may internalize the abuse and believe they caused or deserve it.These feelings of incompetence and shame can carry into adulthood and become long-term effects of child abuse. 6. Engagement in Risky Behaviors Teenagers may start to engage in unsafe sex or start abusing drugs and alcohol as a result of abuse or neglect.They may also start fights in school or bully others, though this behavior is observed more in boys than girls.