The Long-Term Effects of Child Neglect and Abuse

The trauma that a child experiences in early life can have lasting consequences that impact not just their life, but can be passed down through generations. According to a 2019 publication by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, there are many varied, physical, psychological and behavioral consequences of child maltreatment. 

Physical Consequences

In addition to the many physical health impacts caused by childhood trauma are issues in brain development. Certain regions in the brains of children who have experienced neglect and abuse can fail to form properly, or fail to function properly. This can cause issues in emotion regulation, learning, memory, motor skills, executive functioning, as well as other issues. 

Psychological Consequences

Child neglect and abuse can have a lasting impact on one’s psychological health. Victims of child neglect and abuse have been known to suffer from diminished executive functioning and cognitive skills, poor mental and emotional health, difficulties forming and maintaining attachments, and post-traumatic stress.  

Behavioral Consequences

It has been observed that as victims of child neglect and abuse grow and develop into adolescents and adults, certain behaviors are commonly seen, including juvenile delinquency and substance use.  

Generational Consequences

A child who is a victim of neglect or abuse can unfortunately learn to treat their own children in the way they themselves were treated. This is one of the ways in which the trauma of child maltreatment is passed down through generations. Additionally, neglect and abuse can alter a person’s very DNA which is passed down, giving future generations an increased likelihood of experiencing a myriad of physical and psychological disorders, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and depression. 

But There’s Hope

The good news is that when caring adults are passionate enough to make a difference, children’s lives can turn out dramatically better. The team at CEDARS works every day to prevent child neglect and abuse and to give kids who have experienced the trauma of neglect and abuse the stability and nurturing environment they need to have hope. 

What we know is that where there have been neglect and abuse, there have been broken relationships and broken trust between child and adult. We also know that true healing from neglect and abuse takes place inside trusted relationships. The work we do, and the work we are supporting our foster parents and community partners in, is to build new and healthy relationships so that healing can take place. 

We know that many families are feeling stretched beyond their capacities right now because of the adjustments in lifestyle, added layers of stress and more factors due to the current public health crisis. If you are a parent needing a little extra help to manage these unusual circumstances, please reach out for help. Our number is 402-436-5437.


(Information taken from