Child Abuse

Child abuse is widespread and can occur in any cultural, ethnic, and income group. Child abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual. It can also result from neglect. Abuse can result in serious injury to the child and possibly even death.

Studies show that one in four girls and one in eight boys are sexually abused before the age of 18, and that approximately one in 20 children are physically abused each year. Physical abuse involves harming a child by, for example, burning, beating, or breaking their bones. Child sexual abuse is the deliberate exposure of a minor child to sexual activity that the child cannot comprehend or consent to. This means a child is forced or talked into sex or sexual activities by another person. This behavior includes acts such as inappropriate touching of a child's breasts or genitalia, someone exposing their genitalia to a child, fondling, oral-genital contact, genital and anal intercourse, as well as exhibitionism, voyeurism, and exposure to pornography.

Child neglect occurs when someone does not provide the necessities of life to a child, either intentionally or with reckless disregard for the child's well being. This can include physical neglect, such as withholding food, clothing, shelter, or other necessities. Emotional neglect includes withholding love or comfort or affection. Medical neglect occurs when medical care is withheld.

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Child Abuse. Last reviewed 04/15/2008

Sources:

  • American Psychiatric Association
  • National Library of Medicine
  • Administration for Children and Families
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • National Institutes of Health