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.
Child abuse is not just physical violence directed at a child. It is any form of maltreatment by an adult, which is violent or threatening for the child. This includes neglect.
Types of AbusePhysical abuse
Physical child abuse occurs when a child is purposely physically injured or put at risk of harm by another person.
Physical abuse is when a child's body has been hurt. Hitting hard with a hand or an object like a belt can leave bruises or cuts and cause pain. Shaking, pushing, choking, punching, painful grabbing, and kicking also can be physical abuse.
Sexual child abuse is any sexual activity with a child, such as fondling, oral-genital contact, intercourse, exploitation or exposure to child.
Sexual abuse is sexual contact (like sexual acts) or non-contact sexual activities (like taking or sharing sexual photos and sexual talk) between:
1. an adult and someone younger than 18
2. an older child or teen and a much younger child
3. one person who has power over another, no matter their ages
Most cases of sexual abuse involve a close trusted adult or family member who abuses the child's trust. Often, the child is pressured or talked into the activity, offered gifts, or asked to keep secrets, not physically forced into it.
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.
Emotional abuse happens when adults caring for a child judge, threaten, put down or reject kids or teens, withholding love so the child feels bad about themselves or worthless.
Neglect Child neglect is failure to provide adequate food, shelter, affection, supervision, education, or dental or medical care.
Substance abuse when adults use drugs or too much alcohol, can put a child in danger. It can cause adults to neglect, physically, sexually, or emotional hurt a child. When adults use drugs or overuse alcohol around a child, many state laws say this is child abuse, even if no one neglected or physically hurt the child.
In some states, it's child abuse if:
adults let a child drink alcohol or take illegal drugs
adults make, take, or sell illegal drugs in the presence of a child
a woman uses illegal drugs 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.
Medical child abuse is when adult caregivers harm a child with too much medical care, such as medicines, appointments, surgeries, or lab tests that are not needed.
In many cases, child abuse is done by someone the child knows and trusts — often a parent or other relative. If you suspect child abuse, report the abuse to the proper authorities.