Child Abuse

Any intentional harm or mistreatment to a child under 18 years old is considered child abuse. Child abuse takes many forms, which often occur at the same time.

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​Types of Abuse

  • Physical abuse. Physical child abuse occurs when a child is purposely physically injured or put at risk of harm by another person.

  • Sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse is any sexual activity with a child. This can involve sexual contact, such as intentional sexual touching, oral-genital contact or intercourse. This can also involve noncontact sexual abuse of a child, such as exposing a child to sexual activity or pornography; observing or filming a child in a sexual manner; sexual harassment of a child; or prostitution of a child, including sex trafficking.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Neglect. Child neglect is failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, clean living conditions, affection, supervision, education, or dental or medical care.

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Symptoms

A child who's being abused may feel guilty, ashamed or confused. The child may be afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, especially if the abuser is a parent, other relative or family friend. That's why it's vital to watch for red flags, such as:

  • 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

  • Sleep problems and nightmares

  • An apparent lack of supervision

  • Frequent absences from school

  • Rebellious or defiant behavior

  • Self-harm or attempts at suicide