In recent years the psychological and psychiatric consequences of child abuse have received increasing attention in the scientific literature, but also from experts and staff who, for different reasons, deal with child development and care. This volume comprises a review of the various forms of violence (from mere negligence to physical and sexual abuse) the victims of which are children, their possible effects (including long-term ones) on personality development and mental health, protective factors which provide the basis for effective defensive and recovery treatments. With respect to the past, the reference horizon for this issue has radically changed: on the one hand, children are no longer perceived in negative terms, as carriers of selfish drives that need to hindered and repressed in order to promote socialisation, but rather as subjects fully entitled to certain rights; on the other hand, it is no longer thought that adults' "impulsive" behaviour (outbursts of anger, loss of control, strong emotions), since it is unintentional and sporadic, is relatively innocuous. Due to their fragility, weakness and dependence, children are victims of explicit violence, but also of "everyday", "banal" abuse which nevertheless may foster serious difficulties in adolescence and adulthood: anti-social attitudes, diet and personality disorders, depression, promiscuity, drug and alcohol abuse.
Paola Di Blasio teaches Developmental Psychology at the Catholic University of Milan.