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Child Abuse and Neglect: Defined, Signs
If you suspect a child is being harmed
and report the incident; don't wait. Any concerned person can report suspicions of child abuse
and neglect. . Some people (typically certain types of
professionals) are required by law to make a report of child
maltreatment under specific circumstances-these are called
For more information about where and how to file a report,contact your local police department or child protective services agency. An additional resource for information and referral is the National Child Abuse Hotline (800.4.A.CHILD)
The following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect.
The Parent and Child:
The four Types of child Abuse
1. Physical Abuse
2. Sexual Child Abuse (Rape, molestation, child pornography production and possession)
3. Emotional Abuse (Aka: Verbal, Mental, or Psychological abuse)
4. Neglect (Physical neglect,
educational neglect, and emotional neglect)
Who does it happen to?
1. Physical Abuse
Inflicting physical injury on a child.
Characterized by injury, such as bruises, lesions and fractures that result from hitting (hand, stick, strap, or other object), punching, shaking, kicking, beating, choking, burning (with open flame or hot objects – boiling water, cigarettes), throwing, stabbing or otherwise harming a child.
The parent or caretaker
need not have intended to hurt the child
Other types of physical child abuse include:
> Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is the collection of signs and symptoms resulting from the violent shaking of a baby that can cause tearing of the brain lining (dura), bleeds, permanent brain injury, or death).
> Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome - Inducing medical illness in a child or wrongly convincing others that a child is sick. This is a serious psychiatric disorder of parents or caregivers of children.
> Drug, cigarette or alcohol use during pregnancy. Alcohol use can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Physical abuse indicators include when the child:Has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, black eyes, or welts in the
shape of an object (wire hanger, stick, belt etc).
> Has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school.
> Seems frightened of the parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home.
> Flinches or cowers at the approach of a parent or adults.
> Reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver.
> Offers conflicting, unconvincing, or no explanation for the child's injury.
> Describes the child as ‘evil,’ or other negative way.
physical discipline with the child.
2. Sexual Abuse
Any sexual behavior with - or sexual exploitation of - a child.
There are four types of sexual offenses against children: Rape, molestation, production, distribution or possession of child pornography. exploitation-trafficking
Any vaginal or anal intercourse with a child is rape. A child cannot legally give consent to sexual activity.Sexual abuse is never a child’s fault.
Child sexual abuse includes a wide range of behaviors, including:Vaginal or anal penile penetration (Rape)
> Oral sex by or to any adult
> Genital contact without penetration
> Fondling of a child's breasts or buttocks
> Indecent exposure
> Production or possession of child pornography by an adult
> Sexual Exploitation: Use of a child in prostitution, pornography
Most (90%) sexual abuse is incest perpetrated by a family member (40%) or someone the child knows (50%), including those in biological families, adoptive families, and stepfamilies. Strangers account for 10% of sexual abuse. Incest most often occurs within a father-daughter relationship; however, mother-son, father-son, and sibling-sibling incest also occurs.
Sexual child abusers can be: fathers, mothers, siblings, relatives, friends, childcare professionals, babysitters, clergy, teachers, athletic coaches, foster-parents, neighbors, and strangers.
There are no medical signs in the vast majority of sexual
Some signs of sexual child abuse:
interest in or knowledge of sexual acts.
Sexual abuse may have occurred when the child:
sexual abuse by a parent or another adult caregiver.
Neglect is a pattern of failing to provide for a child's basic needs. It is abuse through omission; of not doing something resulting in significant harm or risk of significant harm.
There are three types of neglect: Physical neglect, educational neglect, and emotional neglect.
1. Physical Neglect: Failure to provide food, clothing appropriate for the weather, supervision, a safe and clean home, medical care.
2. Educational Neglect: Failure to enroll a school-age child in school or to provide necessary special education. Allowing excessive absences from school.
3. Emotional Neglect: Failure to provide emotional support, love, and affection to a child. Exposure of to spousal, pet, or drug and alcohol abuse.
These types of abuse are more typically found in combination than alone. A physically abused child, for example, is often emotionally abused, and a sexually abused child also may be neglected.
Consider the possibility of neglect when the child:
frequently absent from school.
Failure to thrive is a condition
in which children fail physically to develop to their normal
full genetic potential. It is caused, most commonly, by
medical conditions that can result in children not growing
as expected. A lack of interaction between parent and child.
It can be caused by intentional or unintentional behavior on
the part of the parent.
Emotional child abuse is any attitude, behavior, or failure to act that interferes with a child's mental health or social development. A repeated pattern of caregiver behavior or extreme incident(s) that convey to children that they are worthless, flawed, unloved, unwanted, endangered, or only of value in meeting another's needs.
It can range from a simple verbal insult to an extreme form of punishment. Emotional abuse is almost always present when another form of abuse is found. Emotional abuse can have more long-lasting negative psychiatric effects than either physical abuse or sexual abuse.
Emotional abuse is illustrated by:
rejecting, ridiculing, blaming, scape-goating, bullying
Consider the possibility of emotional maltreatment when the child:
extremes in behavior - overly compliant or demanding
Sign and Symptoms -Expanded (Click)
National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information
Administration for Children and Families
National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect
National Institutes of Health & the National Library of Medicine
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
With thanks to: Child Welfare Information Gateway
Abuse: An Overview" was written by C. J. Newton, MA,
Learning Specialist and published in the Find Counseling.com
(formerly TherapistFinder.net) Mental Health Journal in
This site has been underwritten by One Child International Inc..
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