The Long-Term Impact of Child Abuse and How Everyone Can Play a Role in Prevention

A child and parent walking while holding hands. This image is showing caring for children, the opposite of child abuse.

In 2021, it was estimated that 600,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect nationally. In 28% of these child abuse cases, the children were no more than 2 years old (National Children’s Alliance).

The Impact

While there are immediate impacts of abuse such as physical injuries, there are also long term emotional and psychological problems including anxiety and post-traumatic stress, that come with being a survivor. These problems, often untreated, can evolve into bigger obstacles for these kids to battle as they get older, which may land them in trouble.

These kids, often labelled as “juvenile delinquents” or “troubled youth,” may have never been offered help from anyone, and therefore turned to other coping mechanisms to survive. Psychiatric issues such as depression, behavioral disorders, and impaired cognitive skills and functioning are common barriers faced by kids who have been abused, which can lead to substance use issues, criminal acts, and more as they get older.

What we do

At Rite of Passage, it is our mission to improve the lives of these kids, so they can truly say one day that they had normalized childhood experiences, and someone was there for them. As an agency, we serve many kids who have been through these abusive and traumatic experiences or worse, and we approach every individual through a trauma-informed lens to ensure we are providing the safest and highest quality care we can give and to promote a positive healing environment.

Without proper treatment, positive mentors, and a safe environment where kids can achieve their goals and celebrate successes, it’s unlikely that the kids who bring negative histories with them will ever feel inspired to navigate their future positively.


So the question is, how can we stop the cycle before it ever starts? How do we spot the mistreatment and prevent it from continuing?

There are many common signs of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. While these signs can also be results of other causations, it is important to stay aware and understand that reporting abuse can be intimidating for individuals on the receiving end of the abuse, especially kids.

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Sexual behavior and knowledge
  • Depression
  • Low school attendance
  • Poor hygiene
  • Concerning behavior from parents
  • Social withdrawal · And more.

Childhelp, a partnering organization of Rite of Passage, has a 24/7 national hotline for contacting counselors, reporting child abuse, and getting live help as well as resources for people to read more on the topic of child abuse.

Of course, if you suspect immediate danger, the best action is to call 911 for help.

How to Support Organizations Built to Help Child Abuse Survivors

There are many organizations out there dedicated to providing abuse survivors resources they need to get out of their current situation, heal, and thrive in their futures. So how can you support them and help prevent child abuse? Here are some options:

  • Volunteer
  • Mentor
  • Educate yourself on the topic
  • Donate

With your help, children can live out their lives as every child should–happy, filled with positive experiences, free of abuse, and with the opportunities to do everything their mind can dream up.