Words Matter: Childhood Verbal Abuse

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Delegates only

SlidesProfessor Shanta R. Dube – ‘What Mental Health Professionals Need to Know about Childhood Verbal Abuse: Findings from a Systematic Review’
SlidesJessica Bondy – ‘Help end verbal abuse of children by adults’
Slides Dr. Fiona Pienaar – ‘Words Matter: Insight from Children’

About the webinar

Child maltreatment is defined as an adult or other caregiver engaging in acts that harm or omit needed care to a child. There are currently four subtypes recognised that comprise child maltreatment: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Of the four, childhood emotional abuse has increased in prevalence and a defining attribute is adult-to-child perpetration of verbal abuse.  Childhood verbal abuse is characterised by adults shouting, yelling, denigrating, and verbally threatening the child. These types of adult actions can be as damaging to a child’s development as other currently recognized and forensically established subtypes of maltreatment such as childhood physical and sexual abuse. Yet there is less attention to childhood verbal abuse (CVA) perpetrated by adults as its own category of maltreatment.

Recent research will be presented that demonstrates CVA is largely a hidden problem because it is subsumed within the definitions and terms of childhood emotional abuse, childhood emotional maltreatment, childhood psychological abuse, and childhood psychological maltreatment. Although it is a hidden problem, it is a major component of all forms of maltreatment and is preventable.

About the talks

Professor Shanta R. Dube – ‘What Mental Health Professionals Need to Know about Childhood Verbal Abuse: Findings from a Systematic Review’

Currently, there are four recognized child maltreatment subtypes: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Of these four subtypes, an increase in the prevalence of childhood emotional abuse has occurred. However, childhood emotional abuse is often defined as the adult-to-child perpetration of verbal abuse, which is characterized by verbal threats, shouting, yelling, and denigrating the child. Yet, childhood verbal abuse is currently not recognized as a subtype of child maltreatment and has therefore not received adequate attention. Childhood verbal abuse is not on the radar of detection, making it especially difficult to assess, detect, and prevent. This talk will provide key findings from a recent systematic review of over 150 research studies on childhood verbal abuse. The talk will highlight the observed epidemiological shifts in the prevalence of childhood abuse subtypes and show that currently, childhood verbal abuse has the greatest burden globally. The various terms and definitions used in the studies reviewed will be presented and discussed. Most importantly, the long-term negative impact of childhood verbal abuse across the lifespan will be presented to highlight the need for greater awareness of this form of maltreatment. Implications and future directions will be discussed.

Learning objectives

  • Describe the burden of childhood verbal abuse in the population.
  • Explain the various terms and definitions used for assessing childhood verbal abuse in research and practice.
  • Discuss the long-term health impact of childhood verbal abuse as the rationale for being a specific subtype of child maltreatment.

Jessica Bondy – ‘Help end verbal abuse of children by adults’

Today, 2 in 5 (41%) children experience verbal abuse from adults in the form of hurtful and upsetting words to blame, insult and criticise. It can cause lifelong damage and affect an individual’s ability to function at home, school, the workplace, and in social situations.
Often hidden behind closed doors like other forms of abuse, it is time it was brought out into the open so that its impact on children can be understood and given the attention it needs. This is why Jessica Bondy set up Words Matter, an ambitious new charity to improve children’s mental and physical health and development by ending verbal abuse of children by adults. It is the first organisation in the world to focus solely on this issue and she will be talking about its work.

Learning objectives

  • To increase understanding about childhood verbal abuse.
  • To raise awareness of the impact of childhood verbal abuse by adults.
  • To increase support and interest in bringing an end to verbal abuse of children by adults.

Dr. Fiona Pienaar – ‘Words Matter: Insight from Children’

This presentation acknowledges the sensitive and complex nature of verbal abuse and how it can often be overlooked and underestimated. It amplifies the voices of children (and their parents and carers) to shed light on the impact of verbal abuse within family, educational and social environments. Children also provide insight into how positive communications with adults contribute to their mental health and wellbeing. Information about available resources and support systems will be provided. We hope that the three presentations will leave you informed, contemplative, and inspired to take action to prevent verbal abuse.

Learning objectives

  • To gain insight into the nuanced and prevalent nature of childhood verbal abuse, acknowledging its impact on individuals and communities.
  • To increase understanding of the impact of verbal abuse from the perspective of children.
  • Discuss the role of caregivers, educators, and communities in preventing and addressing childhood verbal abuse.
  • To develop knowledge on accessing resources and support networks.

About the Speakers

Shanta R. Dube
Professor Shanta R. Dube

Shanta R. Dube is Professor and Director of the Master of Public Health Program, Department of Public Health in the Levine College of Health Sciences, Wingate University. She is a social and behavioural epidemiologist with 25 years of experience in public health practice, research, and teaching. She served as one of the early investigators on the CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study and has received national and international recognition for her scientific contribution related to toxic stress and resiliency. She has written over 150 publications and serves as Associate Editor for Child Abuse & Neglect: The International Journal.

Jessica Bondy
Jessica Bondy

Jessica Bondy is the Founder of Words Matter, the new charity on a mission to end verbal abuse of children by the adults. She spent over 20 years supporting some of the world’s leading organisations and brands and coaching and mentoring young people to help them realise their potential. Jessica founded Words Matter as a result of her own personal experience and that of the people she coached who had been so impacted by the words they had heard when growing up. Words Matter (www.wordsmatter.org) was launched in September 2023 and focuses on three things: research, raising awareness and collaboration.

Dr. Fiona Pienaar
Dr. Fiona Pienaar

Dr. Fiona Pienaar is the Senior Clinical Advisor for both Mental Health Innovations (MHI) / Shout (UK), and Whakarongorau Aotearoa New Zealand Telehealth Services (NZ). Previously she was the founding Chief Clinical Officer at MHI and prior to that, the Director of Clinical Services of UK charity, Place2Be. Fiona has a background in primary and intermediate school teaching, special needs education, counselling in schools, postgraduate counsellor/psychotherapist education in both UK and NZ, resource development, and mental health research. Fiona has a PhD (Behavioural Science) from The University of Auckland, NZ, (research that focused on children’s experiences of stress and coping), a MEd (Counselling), Prof Cert in Coaching (Henley Business School), plus various teaching, counselling and special needs qualifications.


Why can this webinar not be viewed without a password??

This is for delegates only. If you were a delegate please email events@acamh.org

this link has been sent out on a Safeguarding bulletin in our area and I would like to watch the video but it asks for a password. Please can you send me the password. Many thanks 🙂

This is for delegates only. If you were a delegate please email events@acamh.org

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