Children learn to think, speak, and reason when they are very young. The human relationships that children form make a big difference in their social and emotional development. Children who have secure, trusting relationships with their parents or caregivers when they are young grow up much differently than children who learn at a young age that they can’t trust anyone.
When children are mistreated, it can stop or slow their brain development. Witnessing frequent parental fights and growing up with alcohol or drug abuse, mental illness, physical violence, or crime in the home can make the child unable to pay attention, control his or her behavior, trust others, show compassion, or make friends.
The picture on the left shows a healthy, emotionally developed brain. The picture on the right shows the result of abuse and neglect. The dark areas show where the brain is inactive or undeveloped.
Correcting the mistreatment of a child as early as possible is important. The brain can often recover from abuse and neglect if the child starts experiencing a loving home with nurturing, supportive parents.