These guidelines are written to provide front-line child protection workers with the
information and tools to understand what psychological maltreatment (PM) is, to detect it in all its forms, to understand how it relates to other types of maltreatment, and to determine the nature and degree of its existence. They can also provide guidance to child welfare agencies and family or criminal courts for cases where PM may be an issue.
- Nature and Significance of Psychological Maltreatment
Humans are psychosocial beings. Beyond basic survival needs for food, water, shelter,
temperature control, and physical health, human needs are primarily psychological in
nature: to be safe from danger; to be loved and cared for; to love and care for others; to be respected as a unique and valued individual; and to have a say in one’s life
[1, 2, 3].These needs are fulfilled for the most part through social experiences. The degree and manner in which these needs are met determines, to a large extent, a person’s evolving capacities, identity, and behavior. These psychological needs are so vital to the health andwell-being of the individual that having them met should be considered a basic right
,and in fact, they have been identified as foundational for human rights [5, 6].
Psychological maltreatment (PM) occurs when the child’s attempts to have these
psychological needs met are thwarted, distorted, or corrupted.