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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) 
  • 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 an intern at MomsTEAM and a graduate student in the community social psychology master's 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.