Child abuse is a common problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC), more than 3 million referrals of child maltreatment are
received by state and local agencies in the United States every year.
The situation in India is
not quite different. According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government
of India, around two third of children in India are physically abused, and
around half are sexually or emotionally abused. Most of these children do not
report the matter to anyone.
A Canadian study, recently published in the Canadian
Medical Association Journal,
that nearly one-third of the study population was exposed to physical or sexual
or intimate partner violence during their childhood.
These various abuses were
related to the development of several mental
later in life. The mental disorders studied were depression
, bipolar disorder,
generalized anxiety disorder, alcohol abuse/ dependence, drug abuse/dependence,
obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic
, panic disorder, phobia
learning disability, attention deficit disorder, eating
suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts. Data was obtained from the 2012
Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health.
While the men in the
study were more commonly exposed to physical abuse, women were more commonly
exposed to sexual abuse and intimate partner violence.
The study found that
certain types of child abuse were more commonly associated with certain mental
disorders. For example, obsessive-compulsive disorder was associated with sexual
, eating disorders with physical abuse, posttraumatic stress
disorder and learning disability with sexual and physical abuse, and bipolar
disorder with exposure to intimate partner violence and physical abuse. Drug
abuse, suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts were associated with all three
types of abuse.
Though the study found
the association between various types of child
and the development of certain mental problems, it cannot
definitely state that the mental disorders are caused by the abuse. Further
research is necessary in this regard. However, the study does suggest that
mental disorders can be reduced to a certain extent if child abuse is brought
1. Tracie O. Afif et al. Child abuse and mental
disorders in Canada. CMAJ 2014. DOI:10.1503/cmaj.131792