Intrafamily Abuse due Negligence: Need for Prevention

In recent years, but especially for several months, situations of domestic abuse due to negligence have increased. Despite its seriousness, it seems that society is not very aware; like is not a priority issue. Our collaborator Sara Vila Verde developed a complete prevention program for Primary Education students, with a base of 9 sessions complemented by 11 annexes to work on the complex situations that arise from this type of abuse. However, for its effectiveness and given the importance of the topic, it should be carried out in the different educational stages, adapting the content to the psychoevolutionary development of the students.

Note: For more information about the program, contact the author at the email in her link.

There are more and more cases of domestic abuse registered towards minors in Spain, this being a truly alarming and worrying problem that is increasing, especially after the pandemic derived from Covid-19.

Data from the Crime Statistical Service of the Ministry of the Interior of Spain reflects an increase in approximately 1,000 reported cases from 2020 to 2021, with negligence being the prevailing type of abuse with almost 43%, followed by emotional abuse, which represents almost 31%. Physical abuse and sexual abuse are at 17% and 10% respectively. The seriousness of the issue is based on society’s lack of knowledge and awareness of what violence and abuse are, their consequences, what are the factors that cause it, and the scarcity of prevention mechanisms from different areas: health , social, educational and economic.

¿What do we mean when we talk about domestic abuse?

It is the form of violence exercised by fathers, mothers or primary caregivers towards a minor that causes damage to their physical, emotional and psychological well-being, harming their development.

Abuse is classified according to whether it is an action (active) or omission (passive). Action being physical abuse, psychological or emotional abuse and sexual abuse. And by omission, physical and emotional neglect.

¿ Why does abuse happen? What factors cause it?

Abuse is produced by various psychological and psychiatric variables of the parents and/or the minor, as well as socio-environmental variables. Risk factors include:

  • With respect to the parent: Alcohol dependence, instability and poor emotional control, low tolerance for frustration, mental disorders…
  • With respect to the minor: Age, special needs, absence of social competence.
  • The parenting style, lack of support in parenting, family breakdown.
  • Social structures that surround the family environment such as unemployment, tension, or job dissatisfaction…
  • Cultural variables: thoughts about parenthood, the right of parents over their children, attitude towards childhood, and socioeconomic variables related to the distribution of resources, economic crises.

What are the consequences of neglect for the minor?

It is difficult to categorize the consequences of negligence since several types of abuse usually occur at the same time. Some of them are:

  • On a physical level: skin or bone injuries or craniocerebral trauma due to lack of supervision, somatic consequences due to lack of hygiene, food or health care.
  • On a psychological level: problems in the nervous system due to physical and/or psychological trauma; alterations in cognitive functions that lead to maturational delays, memory, and attention problems.
  • At a socio-emotional level: anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, self-esteem and self-concept.

The lack of stimulation and support in their learning, or not attending class, together with the lack of interest in an affectionate interrelation, generates learning problems in reading-writing acquisition, comprehension and expression, calculation and problem solving, as well as as in locomotion and fine motor skills. All of this will depend on the age of the minor and the time at which the abuse occurs.

What to do from the school sector?

The reduction of abuse starts from carrying out preventive programs to create and promote awareness, give visibility to this reality, and avoid/reduce the appearance of risk factors and their consequences. From the school, as a socializing agent, we can provide this information and help with emotional and behavioral management techniques adapted to the different educational stages.

In this way we can help the minor to distinguish which behaviors towards them are correct and which ones.

Some general activities to introduce the concept with children in the first cycle of Primary Education would be related to the following topics:

  • – Physical negligence
  • – Emotional neglect
  • – Assertiveness
  • – Other training in relaxation skills, breathing, meditation, mindfulness, etc.

Finally, a concrete example of an annex used in the program is proposed:

Author: Sara Vila Verde

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