is child abuse (maltreatment)?
Child maltreatment refers to six types of victimization
against children; they are:
common is the problem of child maltreatment?
Child maltreatment is widespread. Each year throughout
the United States, over 3 million children are reported
to state child protective services agencies. Nearly
1 million cases are substantiated. Child neglect is
the most commonly reported form of maltreatment. The
most common victims of physical and emotional abuse
are infants, toddlers, preschool children and young
are the consequences of child abuse?
The impact of child abuse is far greater than its immediate,
visible effects. Abuse and neglect are associated with
short and long-term consequences that may include physical
injuries, developmental delays, learning disorders,
aggressive behaviors and emotional trauma.
are some of the warning signs of child abuse and neglect?
The warning signs that a child may be a victim of abuse
may vary depending on the type of abuse. Some general
common signs include:
bruises or physical injuries
- A young
child who is left alone or abandoned
evidence of poor hygiene
sexually or showing interest in sex that is not appropriate
for his/her age
and sleep disturbances
problems and aggression toward adults, other children
children are most vulnerable to be victims of abuse
Boys and girls are almost equally likely to experience
neglect and physical abuse.
girls are four times more likely to experience sexual
abuse. Children of all races and ethnicities experience
child abuse. Children of all ages experience abuse,
but the youngest children are most vulnerable.
does child abuse occur?
can be overwhelmed and lack knowledge of critical issues surrounding parenting,
financial or other environmental stressors.
has difficulty in relationships, depression or other
mental health problems can all lead to abusive or
has lack of understanding of the child’s developmental
stages and hold unreasonable expectations for child’s
abilities. Parent is unaware of alternatives to corporal
punishment or how to discipline children most effectively
at each age.
lacks knowledge of the health, hygiene, and nutritional
needs of their children
- The most
common group of people found to be responsible for
neglect of victims is mothers acting alone. In cases
of sexual abuse, non-relatives and fathers acting
alone are more likely to be responsible.
what type of family is abuse or neglect most likely
Child abuse and neglect occur in all segments of our
society, but the risk factors are greater in families
alcohol or drugs
- Are isolated
from their families or communities
- Have difficulty
controlling their anger or stress
uninterested in the care, nourishment, or safety of
- Seem to
be having serious economic, housing, or personal problems
is child neglect?
Child neglect is the most common form of child maltreatment
reported to child protective services. It is defined
as a “type of maltreatment that refers to the
failure to provide needed age-appropriate care,”
such as shelter, food, clothing, education, supervision,
medical care and other basic necessities needed for
development of physical, intellectual and emotional
usually typified by an ongoing pattern of inadequate
care and is readily observed by individuals in close
contact with the child.
of neglect include:
neglect is the refusal of or extreme delay in seeking
necessary health care, child abandonment, inadequate
supervision, rejection of a child leading to expulsion
from the home, and failing to adequately provide for
the child’s safety and physical and emotional
neglect occurs when a child is allowed to engage in
chronic truancy, is of mandatory school age but not
enrolled in school or receiving needed special education
neglect includes such actions as chronic or extreme
spousal abuse in the child’s presence, allowing
a child to use drugs or alcohol, refusal or failure
to provide needed psychological care, constant belittling
and withholding of affection. This pattern of behavior
can lead to poor self-image, alcohol or drug abuse,
destructive behavior and even suicide. Severe neglect
of infants can result in the infant failing to grow
and thrive and may even lead to infant death.
neglect is the failure to provide appropriate health
care for a child although financially able to do so.
In some cases, a parent or caretaker will withhold
traditional medical care during the practice of religious
beliefs. These cases generally do not fall under the
definition of medical neglect; however, some states
will obtain a court order forcing medical treatment
of a child in order to save a child’s life or
prevent life-threatening injury resulting from the
lack of treatment.
is emotional abuse?
abuse attacks a child’s psyche and self-concept,
and the victim comes to see him or herself as unworthy
of love and affection. Children who are constantly shamed,
humiliated, terrorized or rejected suffer at least as
much, if not more, than if they had been physically
abuse is probably the least understood of all child
abuse, yet it is the most prevalent, and can be the
cruelest and most destructive of all types of abuse.
of emotional abuse include:
Parents who lack the ability to bond will often display
rejecting behavior toward a child. They tell a child
in a variety of ways that he or she is unwanted. They
may also tell the child to leave, call him or her
names and tell the child he or she is worthless. They
may not talk to or hold the young child as he or she
Adults who have had few of their emotional needs met
are often unable to respond to the needs of their
children. They may not show attachment to the child
or provide nurturance. They may show no interest in
the child, express affection or even recognize the
Parents may single out one child to criticize and
punish. They may ridicule him or her for displaying
normal emotions and have expectations far beyond his
or her normal abilities. The child may be threatened
with death, mutilation or abandonment.
A parent who abuses a child through isolation may
not allow the child to engage in appropriate activities
with his or her peers; may keep a baby in his or her
room, not exposed to stimulation; or may prevent teenagers
from participating in extracurricular activities.
Parents may require the child to stay in his or her
room from the time school lets out until the next
morning, or restrict eating to isolation or seclusion.
Parents permit children to use drugs or alcohol; to
watch cruel behavior toward animals; to watch pornographic
materials and adult sex acts; or to witness or participate
in criminal activities such as stealing, assault,
prostitution, gambling, etc.
What is sexual abuse?
is any misuse of a child for sexual pleasure or gratification.
It is specifically defined as the involvement of dependent,
developmentally immature children in sexual activities
that they do not fully comprehend and therefore to which
they are unable to give informed consent. Often, sexually
victimized children experience severe emotional disturbances
from their own feelings of guilt and shame, as well
as the feelings which society imposes on them.
sexual abuse offenses include:
children to pornographic material
exposing a child to the act of sexual intercourse
sexual offenses include:
a child touch an adult’s sexual organs
- Any penetration
of a child’s vagina or anus by an object that
doesn’t have a medical purpose
a child for the purpose of prostitution
a child to film, photograph or model pornography
is physical abuse?
abuse is the most visible form of abuse and may be defined
as any act that results in a non-accidental trauma or
physical injury. Inflicted physical injury most often
represents unreasonable, severe corporal punishment
or unjustifiable punishment. This usually happens when
a frustrated or angry parent strikes, shakes or throws
abuse injuries results from punching, beating, kicking,
biting, burning or otherwise harming a child. While
any of these injuries can occur accidentally when a
child is at play, physical abuse should be suspected
if the explanations do not fit the injury or if a pattern
of frequency is apparent. The longer the abuse continues,
the more serious the injuries to the child and the more
difficult it is to eliminate the abusive behavior.
is child abuse prevented?
activities such as parent education, home visitation,
and parent support groups, many families are able to
find the support they need to stay together and care
for their children in their homes and communities.
efforts can help parents
their parenting skills
the benefits of nonviolent discipline techniques
and meet their child’s emotional, physical and
- Help parents
identify other needs they may have and offer assistance
in getting that additional support
adapted from the following sources:
of Health and Human Services
for Children and Families
to Prevention: What Everyone Can Do to Prevent Child
Abuse. 2003 Child Abuse Prevention Community Resource