Child abuse is more than bruises and broken bones. While physical abuse might be the most visible, other types of abuse, such as emotional abuse, neglect and sexual abuse, also leave deep, lasting scars.
More than 800,000 children are confirmed as victims of abuse or neglect each year in the U.S.
- Neglect is the most common form of child maltreatment, followed by physical abuse.
- Younger children (ages 0-6) are the most vulnerable to abuse.
- One in three girls and one in five boys will be sexually assaulted before they reach the age of 18.
- Perpetrators often consist of family members, friends, and acquaintances. 95% of all victims know their perpetrators.
Disclosure of child sexual abuse is a process. It is estimated that only one in ten child victims disclose abuse. There are a large percentage of children who do not disclose abuse until adulthood, if ever.
Some consequences of child sexual abuse include fear, loneliness, self-blame, lack of trust, poor self-esteem, anger, and mental health issues.
What is child abuse and neglect?
When a parent, guardian or custodian inflicts or allows the infliction of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment.
- Physical abuse includes non-accidental physical injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns, cuts or other injuries.
- Sexual abuse occurs when sex acts are performed with children. Using children in pornography, prostitution or other types of sexual activity is also sexual abuse.
- Neglect occurs when children are not given necessary care for illness or injury. Neglect also includes leaving young children unsupervised or alone, locked in or out of the house, or without adequate clothing, food, or shelter. Allowing children to live in a very dirty house which could be a health hazard may also be considered neglect.
- Emotional abuse of a child is evidenced by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal or improper aggressive behavior as diagnosed by a medical doctor or psychologist, and caused by the acts or omissions of the parent or caretaker.
- Exploitation means the use of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian for material gain.
- Abandonment means the failure of the parent to provide reasonable support and to maintain regular contact with the child, including providing normal supervision, when such failure is intentional and continues for an indefinite period.
Types of Child Abuse
There are four commonly recognized forms of child abuse.
- Physical Abuse is characterized by any non-accidental physical injury that results from punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting, burning, shoving, etc.
- Sexual Abuse is any sexual acts involving a child which includes sexual acts between children.
- Neglect occurs when there is a failure to provide for a child's physical needs. This includes lack of supervision, inappropriate housing, and inadequate provision of food, inappropriate clothing, abandonment, or denial of medical care.
- Emotional Abuse is an attitude or behavior which interferes with a child's mental health or social development.