Child abuse is an worldwide phenomenon occurring in all socioeconomic groups. Reports of child abuse continue to increase and many professionals are likely to see abused children and may be the first contact for an abused child (Nayda and Pridham, 2004).

Being on a paediatric clinical placement, I never thought that I would encounter child abuse, as most of these kids are seen by a number of therapists and their teachers on a daily basis.

This clinical placement tested my ability for my patient to actually trust me and learning to listen to a patient.

The young boy that I have been treating was living on the school hostel and has been emotionally abused by the housemothers of the hostel. He was also just recently transferred to that specific school. He has had a tough time adapting to his new environment as the house mothers are always devaluing, ignoring, rejecting and isolating him.

Due to the fact that he was new at the school he did not know who to talk, after the subjective and objective assessment with him he asked if he could speak to me about other matters which I agreed to. After we spoke I realised that this child has been emotionally abused and immediately I wrote a referral to the psychologist.

Emotional abuse refers to chronic adult behaviour patterns that erode or undermine a child’s self-esteem over a period of time. These behaviours pose a threat to a young person’s mental wellbeing and impact on the ability to reach full potential (Cicchetti, 1995).

Dealing with this matter taught me a great deal of empathy. And changed my views on the manner in which I treat my patients.



Nayda, R. and Pridham, L. (2004). Australian physiotherapists and mandatory notification of child abuse: Legislation and practice Australian Journal of Physiotherapy 50: 103-107.

Cicchetti, D (1995). A deveolpomental psychopathology perspective on child abuse and neglect. Journal of American academy of child and adult psychiatry, 35 (4).




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