Consequences of Stress on Children’s Development


I have a friend who was a victim of abuse as a child.  I consider any type of abuse to be a form of violence and I don’t necessarily think that it has to be physical to be violence. The type of abuse that was inflicted upon her was emotional abuse from her birth father. She was the oldest sibling of four children and she often found herself feeling unfavored by her father. He frequently made her feel bad about herself.  He never said anything to make her feel good about herself. As a result she grew closer and closer to mother. She never spoke to anyone about how her father made her feel. She didn’t want anyone to know. Her mother didn’t have the means to leave her father with her four children. She had no family that she could turn too, so my friend was stuck in this situation until she turned 18 years old and moved away from home. Her mother was finally able to leave her abusive husband when my friend was 19. But this was too little too late.   As a result, my friend does not have much of a relationship with her father. But she can also ee how her relationship with him, or lack there of, affected her relationships with men as she dated. She was drawn to guys who were emotionally abusive like her father. Although she wasn’t happy, she didn’t know anything else and she made excuses for them. She did finally meet a wonderful guy, but the way he treated her was difficult for her to handle. She wasn’t used to being treated this way by a man and she pulled away in the beginning. But he fought hard for her and she overcame her relationship issues. They just got married about a year ago. Her father walked her down the aisle, but not once did he tell her how beautiful she looked on her wedding day. She wasn’t surprised but this is still sad.

I was reading up on poverty in Ethiopia. There is alarge percentage of people in Ethiopia with AIDS or HIV. Many die every year. I read that are about 5 million children in Ethiopia who have been left orphaned or in poverty from AIDS. Many of these children end up living on the streets, sometimes making a living as sex workers. They are left with no shelter and no food, often begging in the streets. This effects their biosocial development. They are not getting proper, if any, nourishment for their bodies and brains.  At night the girls are often harassed by men who want to use them for sex (exposing them to HIV).  Many young girls who are out on the streets end up pregnant and stop going to school and start doing drugs. Because of the poor conditions and because many are unable to support themselves, about a 1/4 of all children in Ethiopia are involved in some way, in the work force for on average 6 hours a day. As a result even those who are in school have no time for homework, are frequently absent and often abandon school altogether. Cognitive development because they are not exposed to education and new ideas. Some even from a very young age. According to the UN Development Program, only 34 percent of Ethiopian children attend school. All of these conditions effect their psychosocial development. The daily life they are exposed to can create stress and worry for them.

Please read more at . The video at the bottom is particularly saddening.


About toteachistotouchlives

Hi. My name is Kristen Hammel and I am a first grade teacher in Maryland. I am in my fourth year of teaching and now beginning my Masters program in Early Childhood Education at Walden University. I am very excited for this new journey I am embarking on and am excited to share my experiences with you.

4 responses »

  1. Reading about your friend, I really felt for her. It reminds me of a girl I knew in college who went through a similar yet different experience. Her father was emotionally abusive too, but more so towards the girls mother. He was obsessed with considering women as possessions, as the man’s object. He forced the mom to continually suffer through plastic surgery to make her more attractive as she aged. The girl herself was actually born with a slight deformity, causing her to feel a bit less of a woman. It became apparent as she aged, and the abuse turned onward to her. She said that he feels that what she witnessed with her father towards her mother had much more of an effect than what he had done to the girl herself, simply becuase she was a little older then. It is important to consider the effects of witnessing abuse, as well as just experiencing it. She too, had many troubles with relationships, but was blessed to find a wonderful guy. He has since convinced her to not venture towards the plastic surgery she wanted to ‘correct’ her deformity, and has helped her love herself as she is.

    I hope that this man that married your friend is as lovely as this other person. He sounds like he could be!

  2. Child abuse can also be verbal. Most first child takes a lot and become a mother/father figure for the rest of the siblings. I believe if she would have express her feelings to her father he would have done a little better. All she knew was an abusive relationship and could not open up to other guys.

      • I agree with you that any type of violence- physical, verbal, etc.- is wrong and in a majority of the cases speaking up will not help and in fact may cause more problems. Most people know someone who has experienced violence and we all know that each case if different and therefore if we attempt to compare them it is similar to comparing apples and oranges so it really does not work. The people that I know who have experienced violence in any form had to remove themselves from the situation in order to help themselves. Speaking up did not or would not help in their situations. Also, most of us have at least heard of stories that turned tragic when steps were taken to either speak up and/or leave. Maybe the victim finally had enough and took things into their own hands or maybe the abuser went one step too far but no matter what violence has consequences that cannot be easily solved and there is no right solution. I wish your friend all the best in her life and I am glad that she was able to overcome this destructive part of her life and stand on her own two feet and has now been blessed with a wonderful husband!

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