Child abuse and neglect occurs when a child is mistreated, resulting in injury or risk of harm. Abuse can be physical, verbal, emotional or sexual.
Physical Abuse is non-accidental physical trauma or injury inflicted by a parent or caretaker on a child. It also includes a parent’s or a caretaker’s failure to protect a child from another person who perpetrated physical abuse on a child. In its most severe form, physical abuse is likely to cause great bodily harm or death.
Physical Neglect is the failure to provide for a child’s physical survival needs to the extent that there is harm or risk of harm to the child’s health or safety. This may include, but is not limited to, abandonment, lack of supervision, life endangering physical hygiene, lack of adequate nutrition that places the child below the normal growth curve, lack of shelter, lack of medical or dental care which results in health threatening conditions and the inability to meet basic clothing needs of a child. In its most severe form, physical neglect may result in great bodily harm or death.
Sexual Abuse includes penetration or external touching of a child’s intimate parts, oral sex with a child, indecent exposure or any other sexual act performed in a child’s presence for sexual gratification, sexual use of a child for prostitution, and the manufacturing of child pornography. Child sexual abuse is also the willful failure of the parent or the child’s caretaker to make a reasonable effort to stop child sexual abuse by another person.
Emotional Abuse includes verbal assaults, ignoring and indifference or constant family conflict. If a child is degraded enough, the child will begin to live up to the image communicated by the abusing parent or caretaker.
Child abuse can happen anywhere – in poor, middle-class or well-to-do homes and in rural or urban areas.