Child Abuse

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Child Abuse


Child abuse happens when a parent or other adult causes serious physical or emotional harm to a child. [2]

  • Any intentional harm or mistreatment to a child under 18 years old is consider child abuse. [1]
  • It’s hard to imagine someone intentionally hurting a child.
  • Yet nearly 1 million children are abuse every year just in the United States alone.
  • These are only the report incidents of child abuse many more cases are unreported and undetected, often because children are afraid to tell somebody who can help.
  • Most of the time, kids know their abusers and the abuse happens in the home.
  • This makes it difficult for kids to speak up.
  • They may feel trap by the affection they feel for their abusers or fearful of the power the abusers have over them so they stay silent. That’s why it’s especially important to able to recognize the signs of child abuse. [2]

Physical abuse:

  • Physical child abuse occurs when a child is purposely physically injure or put at risk of harm by another person. [1]
  • When people think of child abuse, their first thought probably is of physical abuse such as striking, kicking, or shaking a child.
Physical abuse can also i.e.:
  • Holding a child under water
  • Tying a child up
  • Intentionally burning a child or scalding a child with hot water
  • Throwing an object at a child or using an object to beat a child
  • Starving a child or failing to provide a child with food

Abusive head trauma, or shaken baby syndrome, is a specific form of physical abuse.

It’s the leading cause of death in child abuse cases in the U.S.

Most incidents last just a few seconds, but that’s enough time to cause brain damage or even kill a baby. [2]

Sexual abuse:

  •  Sexual child abuse is any sexual activity with a child, such as fondling, oral-genital contact, intercourse, exploitation or exposure to child pornography. [1]
  • This happens when a child is raped or forced to commit a sexual act.
  • So, in addition to having sex with a child, fondling a child’s genitals or making a child touch someone else’s genitals.
Sexual abuse also i.e.:
    • Making a child pose or perform for pornographic pictures or videos
    • Telling a child dirty jokes or stories
    • Showing a child pornographic material
    • Forcing a child to undress
    • “Flashing” a child or showing them one’s genitals
    • Penetration [2]

Emotional abuse:

  • Emotional child abuse means injuring a child’s self-esteem or emotional well-being.
  • It includes verbal and emotional assault such as continually belittling or berating a child as well as isolating, ignoring or rejecting a child. [1]
  • Rejecting or ignoring: telling a child he or she is unwanted or unloved, showing little interest in child, not initiating or returning affection, not listening to the child, not validating the child’s feelings, breaking promises, cutting child off in conversation.
  • Shaming or humiliating: calling a child names, criticizing, belittling, demeaning, berating, mocking, using language or taking action that takes aim at child’s feelings of self-worth.
  • Terrorizing: accusing, blaming, insulting, punishing with or threatening abandonment, harm or death, setting a child up for failure, manipulating, taking advantage of a child’s weakness or reliance on adults, slandering, screaming, yelling.
  • Isolating: keeping child from peers and positive activities, confining child to small area, forbidding play or other stimulating experiences.
  • Corrupting: engaging child in criminal acts, telling lies to justify actions or ideas, encouraging misbehavior. [3]

Substance abuse:

The use of alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs can hinder a caregiver’s judgment and put a child in danger, leading to things like neglect or physical abuse.

But in some states, substance abuse is also considered a form of child abuse on its own.

Examples of child abuse due to a substance abuse problem in the house include:
  • Allowing a child to drink alcohol or take illegal drugs
  • Making, ingesting, or distributing illegal drugs in the presence of a child
  • Exposing a fetus to illegal drugs or other substances while pregnant

Medical abuse:

  • Medical child abuse occurs when someone gives false information about illness in a child that requires medical attention, putting the child at risk of injury and unnecessary medical care.


  • Child neglect is failure to provide adequate food, shelter, affection, supervision, education, or dental or medical care. [1]
  • Neglect is any action or inaction on the part of a caregiver that causes a child physical or emotional harm.
  • For example, withholding food, warmth in cold weather, or proper housing is considered neglectful.
  • Basically, anything that interferes with a child’s growth and development constitutes neglect.
This also i.e.:
  • Failing to provide medical care when a child is injured or sick
  • Locking a child in a closet or room
  • Placing a child in a dangerous situation that could lead to physical injury or death [2]
  • Allowing a child to miss too much school
  • Not enrolling a child in school (or not providing comparable home-based education)
  • Keeping a child from needed special education services
  • Not providing preventative medical and dental care [3]

Abandonment is a type of neglect. This is when a child is left alone for extended periods of time or suffers serious harm because no one was looking after him or her.

A child who’s being abused may feel guilty, ashamed or confused.

He or she may be afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, especially if the abuser is a parent, other relative or family friend.

Symptoms may i.e.:

  • Withdrawal from friends or usual activities
  • Changes in behavior such as aggression, anger, hostility or hyperactivity or changes in school performance
  • Depression, anxiety or unusual fears, or a sudden loss of self-confidence
  • An apparent lack of supervision
  • Frequent absences from school
  • Reluctance to leave school activities, as if he or she doesn’t want to go home
  • Attempts at running away
  • Rebellious or defiant behavior
  • Self-harm or attempts at suicide
Signs and symptoms of physical abuse i.e.:
  • Unexplained injuries, such as bruises, fractures or burns [1]
  • Bruises, blisters, burns, cuts and scratches
  • Internal injuries, brain damage
  • Broken bones, sprains, dislocated joints
  • Emotional and psychological harm
  • Lifelong injury, death [3]
Signs and symptoms of emotional abuse i.e.:
  • Delayed or inappropriate emotional development
  • Loss of self-confidence or self-esteem
  • Social withdrawal or a loss of interest or enthusiasm
  • Depression
  • Avoidance of certain situations, such as refusing to go to school or ride the bus
  • Desperately seeks affection
  • A decrease in school performance or loss of interest in school
  • Loss of previously acquired developmental skills [1]
  • Extreme emotions, aggression, withdrawal
  • Anxieties, phobias, sleep disorders
  • Destructive or anti-social behaviors (violence, cruelty, vandalism, stealing, cheating, lying)
  • Behavior that is inappropriate for age (too adult, too infantile)
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors [3]
symptoms of emotional abuse i.e.:
  • Difficulty sitting, walking, bowel problems
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pregnancy, especially under the age of 14
  • Torn, stained, bloody undergarments
  • Bleeding, bruises, pain, swelling, itching of genital area
  • Frequent urinary tract infections or yeast infections
  • Any sexually transmitted disease or related symptoms
  • Sexual acting out, excessive masturbation
  • Unusual or repetitive soothing behaviors (hand-washing, pacing, rocking, etc.)
  • Sexual behavior or knowledge that is advanced or unusual
  • Reports sexual abuse [3]
Signs and symptoms of child neglect i.e.:
  • Clothing that is the wrong size, in disrepair, dirty, or not right for the weather
  • Often hungry, stockpiles food, seeks food, may even show signs of malnutrition (e.g. distended belly, protruding bones)
  • Very low body weight, height for age
  • Often tired, sleepy, listless
  • Hygiene problems, body odor
  • Talks about caring for younger siblings, not having a caregiver at home
  • Untreated medical also dental problems, incomplete immunizations
  • Truancy, frequently incomplete homework, frequent changes of school [3]

A combination of individual, relational, community, and societal factors contribute to the risk of child maltreatment and abuse.

Children are never responsible for the harm inflicted upon them, but certain individual characteristics have been found to increase a child’s risk of being maltreated.

Risk factors are contributing factors & not direct causes.

For Examples :

  • Either Disabilities or mental retardation in children that may increase caregiver burden
  • Social isolation of families
  • Parents’ lack of understanding of children’s needs also child development
  • Parents’ history of domestic abuse
  • Poverty and other socioeconomic disadvantages, such as unemployment
  • Family disorganization, dissolution, also violence, including intimate partner violence
  • Lack of family cohesion
  • Substance abuse in the family
  • Young, single, or non biological parents
  • Poor parent-child relationships also negative interactions
  • Parental thoughts also emotions supporting maltreatment behaviors
  • Parental stress and distress, including either depression or other mental health conditions
  • Community violence


  • If someone suspects a child has abused, they should contact a pediatrician or a local child protective agency for help.
  • Moreover, Physicians are legally obligated to report all suspected cases of abuse or neglect to authorities.
  • They can also recommend a therapist also provide the necessary information for investigators.
  • Doctors may also testify in court to obtain legal protection for the child or to help criminally prosecute an individual suspected of engaging in child sexual abuse.
  • Whatever the nature of the abuse, steps should be taken immediately to report the abuse and obtain help.
  • Delaying a report decreases the child’s chances for full recovery.
  • Additionally, If he or she has abused, a child will benefit from the services of a qualified mental health professional.
  • Parents and other members of the family may be advised to seek counseling so that they’ll be able to provide the support and comfort the child needs.
  • If someone in the family is responsible for the abuse, a mental health professional may be able to treat that person successfully, as well.
  • If a child has abused, a parent may be the only person who can help him or her.
  • Besides this, In most cases, children who are abused or neglected suffer greater emotional than physical damage.
  • A child who has been abused or otherwise severely mistreated may become depressed or develop suicidal, withdrawn, or violent behavior.
  • An older child may use either drugs or alcohol, try to run away, or abuse others.
  • The younger the child is and the closer the child’s relationship to the abuser, the more serious the emotional damage will be.
  • Lastly, As adults, they may develop marital and sexual difficulties, depression or suicidal behavior. Additionally, With early intervention and treatment, these outcomes may be avoided. [4]

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Child Abuse?

Child abuse happens when a parent or other adult causes serious physical or emotional harm to a child.

What are the types of Child Abuse?

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Substance abuse
  • Medical abuse
  • Neglect

What are the causes of Child Abuse?

  • Individual, relational, societal factors
  • Either Disabilities or mental retardation
  • Social isolation of families
  • Parents’ lack of understanding of children’s needs
  • Parents’ history of domestic abuse
  • Poverty and unemployment
  • Family disorganization, dissolution, also violence
  • Lack of family cohesion
  • Substance abuse in the family

Give the treatment of Child Abuse?

  • Contact a pediatrician or a local child protective agency
  • Recommend a therapist
  • Doctors may also testify in court to obtain legal protection
  • Steps should taken immediately
  • Services of a qualified mental health professional
  • Counseling
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