Tony is a brilliant and handsome little boy of about six years old. He is dark in complexion and very skinny. His brilliance radiates among his peers in class.

However, whenever he does anything wrong, his teacher is always fast to call him,“ You this tiny mosquito, black like charcoal”. This is usually accompanied by a chorus of laughter from his friends. Not too long,

Tony became withdrawn, and his once shining brilliance began to dim, evident in his academic work.

One cannot also hurriedly forget the case of the bright and beautiful Wura; light-complexioned and very soft-spoken. Wura is in primary three but hardly relates with other classmates. 

When her teacher took the time to find out, Wura explained that her parents and siblings always shouted her down whenever she had something to say at home. She told her teacher that she was told a young girl like her had nothing to offer and must always keep shut.

Delight is equally a lovely, plump and cheerful little girl with a tiny voice. She is in primary two, very friendly, and generous but not too good academically.

 As a result of her poor academic performance, she is often called names such as ‘dullard, fool for nothing, fatty bombom, olodo. Consequently, she became agitated and was always reluctant to go to school. Even the home which should be a source of encouragement equally echoed the sounds heard in school. Her mother once shouted at her and said, “Can you ever amount to anything in life?

These are just but a few of the experiences of children clubbed by dehumanizing utterances from the lips of parents, teachers, caregivers, relatives and other stakeholders in their lives.

Subjecting a child to constant verbal aggression, intimidation, manipulation and humiliation is what is described as emotional or psychological abuse. 

When a child is treated this way unchecked, he or she grows up feeling worthless, unloved, lonely or scared.

As a result, the child begins to withdraw, run away from home, lose self-confidence, becomes agitated, and anxious, develops low self-esteem, inferiority complex, prone to depression, suicidal attempts, and eventual death, if the situation is not remedied.

This verbal assault can also in the long run deprive the affected child of the opportunity to fulfil his or her destiny because the hero in him would have been silenced.

Such children might fail to develop basic social and language skills early in life. These signs, experts warn, should not be taken for granted as they may leave a negative impact on the child for the rest of his life.

Therefore, a child that is suffering from emotional abuse must be well attended to and treated to heal on time.

If emotional abuse is severe, the safety of the child is first recommended before treatment so that he can move forward in a healthy way.

A child psychologist may be involved to give the child therapy which would help him or her to trust again.

The child should also be helped to rediscover himself and develop once again, self-esteem to regain self-confidence.

Parents and other stakeholders responsible for child care and development should avoid making negative pronouncements upon these God-given treasures, realizing that they owe it a duty to impact positively, pronounce blessings on them and not curses.

Olaitan Oye-Adeitan


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