EMOTIONAL ABUSE is a chronic pattern of behaviors such as belittling, humiliating, and ridiculing a child.

EMOTIONAL NEGLECT is the consistent failure of a parent or caretaker to provide a child with appropriate support, attention, and affection. Both types of emotional maltreatment attack a child’s emotional development and sense of self-worth.

PHYSICAL NEGLECT is the failure to provide a child with the adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical or dental care, and supervision he or she needs to be healthy and safe. Physical neglect also includes abandonment, expulsion from home, or not allowing a runaway to return home; and failure to enroll children in school, or permitting chronic truancy. It is important to distinguish between willful neglect and a parent’s (or caretaker’s) failure to provide the necessities of life because of poverty or cultural norms.

PHYSICAL ABUSE is any non-accidental physical injury or threat of injury to a child by a parent or caretaker. Physical abuse includes cuts, fractures, bruises, shaking, burns, and internal injuries. Parents don’t usually plan to abuse their children. They are reacting to serious stress in their lives. Hitting a child is often the only thing they know to do when they’re feeling angry or frustrated.

SEXUAL ABUSE is defined as acts of sexual assault and sexual exploitation of minors (people under age 18) by an adult or another minor. Sexual abuse includes a broad range of behavior and may consist of a single incident or many incidents over a long period of time. Victims range in age from infant through adolescence. Sexual abuse includes fondling a child’s genitals, intercourse, incest, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism (including showing pornography to a minor), and sexual exploitation (such as creating child pornography and selling sexual acts). Experts believe sexual abuse is under-reported because of the secrecy that is often a part of the abusive incident(s).

Child abuse and neglect can lead to:

  • Permanent physical injury and/or death
  • Developmental delays (physical, emotional, intellectual)
  • Chronic health problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor relationships
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Criminal behavior