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Effects of Abuse and Neglect in Sports

Abuse and neglect can have long-lasting and persistent negative effects on the child. In general, these may include:

  • Health and physical effects:
    • Bruises, burns, cuts, broken bones
    • Longer-term effects of brain damage and permanent disabilities
    • Impaired physical development
    • Sexually Transmitted diseases (sexual abuse specifically) Sad teenage girl in front of brick wall
  • Effects on intellectual and mental development:
    • Lower academic achievement and poorer school performance 
  • Emotional, psychological, and behavioral consequences:
    • Low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), impaired attachment, eating disorders, mistrust of others, poor peer relationships, difficulty regulating emotions, self-harming behavior, including cutting and suicide attempts, suicide
    • An increased risk of violent behavior, juvenile delinquency, involvement in crime in adulthood, and substance abuse.
  • Training effects, such as changes in motivation and reduced enjoyment (possibly leading to burnout and quitting sports), impaired focus, and difficulties with gaining new skills.
  • Performance effects, such as diminished performance.

Charlotte Wilinsky is a former MomsTEAM intern and a graduate student in the community social psychology doctoral program at the University of Massachusetts - Lowell. Her research interests include child maltreatment, including abuse and neglect, and psychology and law. Charlotte earned her B.A. with honors in psychology from Amherst College, where she was a member of the women's tennis team.